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Cathkin Peak and Mdedelelo Wilderness hikes, Drakensberg

The impressive scenery in the Mdedelo Wilderness Area, uKhahlamba-DrakensbergThe 29000ha Mdelelo Wilderness Area in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg incorporates the familiar and impressive landmarks of Monk’s Cowl, Cathkin Peak, Gatberg and Dragon’s Back. The scenery in this area is spectacular. It is bordered to the north by Cathedral Peak and to the south by Giant’s Castle Game Reserve.

One of the most popular routes in this area is the contour path via the Sphinx. This route takes you to the higher peaks and passes of the area and gains some 450m in altitude. The scenery is dominated by Cathkin Peak (3149m). The Zulu word for it is Mdelelo, which means ‘make room for him’ and refers to the theory that Cathkin Peak pushed aside other peaks to make room for itself.

Gray’s Pass is also reached by following the contour path via the Sphinx. To reach Keith Bush Camp, a beautiful campsite at the head of the Mhlawazini River, hikers must climb a steep path 2.5km long and which ascends 700m in altitude. This route offers uninterrupted views of Monk’s Cowl (3234m). Nkosozana Cave is a good place to spend the night. From the top of the pass, hikers can make an easy ascent of about 3km up Champagne Castle (3377m). However, do not attempt to descend along the northern fork of Ship’s Prow Pass, which is extremely dangerous.

Monk’s Cowl is one of the most challenging peaks in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg and was only successfully scaled in 1942. When joining the contour path via the Sphinx, hikers can hike to Ndedema Gorge. Gatberg is a peak with a hole through its base, and is a prominent landmark along this route. Further along the route hikers will encounter Dragon’s Back, an impressive array of block-shaped peaks.

Trail info: 185km network of trails in the area, from 1 to 58km. 30mins to overnight hikes. Maps available from Reservations Office. Campsite with ablution facilites available at Monk’s Cowl.

Getting there: from Durban, take the N3 going through Mooi River and Estcourt. Take the R74 going to Winterton. Look out for signs to Monk’s Cowl and Mdedelo Wilderness Area.

Tel: +27 (0)36 468 1103

More info on the town of Winterton More info on the Drakensberg area

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