Hike to Roland’s cave in the Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is South Africa’s premier hiking area, which offers many short hikes that keep the beginner and experienced hikers coming back for more.
If you’re in the mood for a challenging hike and sleepover, then you’ll enjoy a lesser-known gem, known as Roland’s Cave.There is no way to make a booking for this hike, as it’s based on a first come, first serve basis.
Also, it’s best to keep in mind that the cave can only comfortably house five to eight people. Although, due to the physical endurance needed to get there, nine out of ten times you probably won’t encounter any other hikers at the cave.
Besides the sleepover, you’ll be mesmerized by the most outstanding and dramatic sunrises – the best in southern Africa. And as you sit above the clouds, it’s breathtaking to witness the sun peeking up and above the clouds. Just this experience alone makes the tiring journey up to the Roland’s cave more than worth it.
Many hikers park at Didima Camp, which is where you get your permit for the hike. If you would like to eliminate 4 hours off the hike, you can rather park in the Cathedral Peak Hotel car park and start your hike from there. Depending on your fitness level, an easy paced hike should take you 4 days to the cave and back. For a more moderate level, you can hike it in 3 days and 2 days if you’re feeling super fit.
Once you’re ready to start, you’ll hike 13km to the bottom of Cockade Pass, where you’ll camp for the night. The second day you hike 4km straight up the Cockade Pass till you reach the escarpment. The third day consists of hiking across the escarpment, over Clefts Peak till you reach the cave. It’s quite easy to spend hours looking for the track to the cave, so make sure you have the coordinates for the track and cave before you begin your hike.
The last few metres of the hike up to the cave is the most stressful part. You’ll hike along a narrow one-metered-wide ledge, enduring mist, strong winds, a heavy backpack and very tired legs. There is a 100m drop-off to your left as you make your way along this ledge, which can be rather daunting.
“…there is a 100m drop-off to your left as you make your way back along this ledge…”
The 12km hike back to the hotel is one of the highlights of this journey. You’ll hike down Camel Pass, taking in the extraordinary views over the Drakensberg.
You’ll definitely feel on top of the world and if it’s a hot day, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in many of the small rivers and pools you come across.
This cave is NOT suitable for young or poorly supervised children. The vertical drop is a mere 100 metres in front of the cave! Remember to be especially careful in wet or windy conditions and in the snow or ice.
GPS Coordinates: WGS 84
S29 00.929 E29 11.318 at 3 099 metres (Landlubbers)
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