Destinations Magazine

A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

By Spanafrican

A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011


Once on top we were surprised to see that the Berg was mostly covered in snow, especially on the southern slopes.


This year winter arrived early and in full force. At the beginning of June, a powerful cold front coming from the south west left the whole High Berg covered in snow, a beautiful wintry sight like I hadn’t seen in years. However, I was hoping that most of the snow would be melt for my next hike in 2 weeks time. It wasn’t going to be.
Snowy landscapes are picturesque, inspiring, beautiful..., especially in Africa, but soft snow is not a hikers’ favourite. Matt, Tank and I tried and walked for 2 days at a crawling pace. That was enough. It was decided to take the first escape route out of the escarpment to spend the final 3 days in a more pleasant environment.
If you would like to do this hike contact us at info@spanafrican-adventures.co.za or have a look at our website www.spanafrican-adventures.co.za for other exciting options.

A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Tank and Matt on the path leading from Sentinel Car Park to the Chain Ladders with the snowy Maloti Mountains in the background.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Tank in the final metres of the Chain Ladder. He was very happy to be over. He definitely felt the rush!


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Matt loving the void!


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

A beautiful wintry sight. So nice to see but not so much when you keep on sinking in soft snow.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

On top of the Amphitheatre with Beacon Buttress and the Sentinel looming behind us.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Overlooking from the 1000m basalt cliffs of the Amphitheatre.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

In a clear day, the vistas from the Amphitheatre are simply mind-blowing.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

We especially struggled on the Southern slopes which were fully under the snow. We would have died for a good pair of snow shoes.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Sometimes we would even go down to our hips.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

This is the spot of our second campsite. We had to put the tent on the snow for the second time. A new experience for the 3 of us.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

As usual the wind picked up during the night and in the morning it was still blowing. In the southwest direction the sky was full of cirrus, a harbinger of an approaching cold front


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

The weather deteriorated quickly in the next few hours. Gale force winds were expected for the next few days which, together with the struggle in the soft snow, suggested that it was time to get out of the escarpment.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

So we took the first pass down, Fangs Pass, not the easiest of the Berg passes.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

There was no path to follow and for most of the time we were boulder hopping. The going was at a crawling pace but we had no other choice but to be patient and try not to sprain an ankle. On the other hand it was a pleasure to be out of the wind and take some layers of clothes off.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

In spite of being only 18 Matt proved to be a tough hiker. He just kept going and going without any complaints. He was having a good time after all.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Tank, who had been with me in a previous hike, was loving the challenge. That night he was already asking for the next one.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

That night we stayed at 5-Star cave at the end of the Mbundini Valley


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Mweni Baths at the bottom of the Icidi Valley


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Matt gave it a go and had a swim in the freezing waters. Tank and I were more than happy to be spectators.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Walking in the beautiful red grass (Themeda triandra).


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

makeshift aerial in the Mnweni Area. It works!


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Enjoying a rest at the local spaza shop


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

From there we've got a lift to the Mnweni visitor's Centre


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

For the 4th night I thought it was a good idea to stay with a local Zulu family


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Local guide Chaiphus Mthabela has been hosting tourists at his home for years


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Caiphus' children enjoying the morning warm sunlight


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

Caiphus and his 4 children.


A Snowy Hike in the Drakensberg - June 2011

The Saddle, a prominent landmark in the Mnweni area.


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