Outdoors Magazine

Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a Hike with Friends - June 2011

Posted on the 19 June 2011 by Spanafrican

Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Not a bad spot for lunch, is it? It was a spectacular day.


Even though I have been spending lots of time hiking in the Drakensberg lately as a mountain guide, I was looking forward to sharing the Berg with some of my friends, just for the sheer love of it. Without the weight of responsibility I could relax and admire the mountains I love so much.
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.

Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Sarah posing with the Sterkspruit Valley, Cathkin Peak and Sterkhorn


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

14km after the start of our hike at the Monk's Cowl camp we could finally feel away from civilization. The Mhlawazini Valley just before sunset


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

An overexposed version of the same picture.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Matt on the ridge that separates the Mhlawazini Valley from the Culfargie Area. The ever-present Cathkin Peak in the background. The Zulu name for Cathkin Peak is, very appropriately,  Mdedelelo which means the "bully" or "the one that stands out".


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Matt, dish-washing in the bush (with biodegradable soap, of course)


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

We spent the first night in Vaalribbokkop Cave in the Hospitalspruit Valley. As we were about to leave, Matt had to unpack his backpack after discovering a leak in his water bladder.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

On our second day, we followed the Hospitalspruit Valley down to the Mhlawazini Valley.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Protea trees thriving in the warm slopes of the Little Berg


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

After an hour's walk we reached the Mhlawazini Valley which then we followed upstream.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

A picturesque spot in the Mhlawazini Valley - Not many hikers come to this part of the valley.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

The path runs high above the river before dropping down to the river again. Here my 3 fellow hikers (Sarah, Matt and Kath) admiring the landscape.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Looking downstream. The Mhlawazini river joins the Mlabonja river 15km later in the Cathedral Peak area.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Sarah and Kath with Clarens sandstone cliffs for a background.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Lunch in the Mhlawazini river. Yes, that's Cathkin Peak.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

My friends had a swim before lunch. I decided to take pictures instead ;-)


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

And we had good snacks for the trail. What else can you ask for?


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Zulu Cave, our second overnigth spot, in a side valley of the Mhlawazini Valley.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

In Zulu Cave we were joined by the rest of our friends, who could only come for 1 night.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Jack, one of our friends suggested climbing to the top of Intunja (in Zulu, "the Eye of the Needle") or in Afrikaans Gatberg ("the Mountain with a Hole") I thought it was a great idea so up we went, Jack and I. The rest of our friends took the path back to Monk's Cowl


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

One of the rewards of climbing peaks, apart from the sense of accomplishment, is the bird's eye vistas. Intunja is a great vantage spot. Here looking down into the head of the Mhlawazini Valley. From Left to right: Sterkhorn, Cathkin Peak, Monk's Cowl and Dragon's Back.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

From left to right, The Amphletts' and Turret below Sterkhorn (out of sight on the right hand side).


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

I couldn't help myself and I asked Jack to take a picture of me.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Self-portrait with the hole.


Vaalribbokkop and Zulu Caves, a hike with friends - June 2011

Jack and I joined the rest of our friends on the way down Keartlands Pass. Here a panoramic shot of the broad Sterkspruit Valley (named by the Zulus Mpofana) where Monk's Cowl  Camp is set on.


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