18 January 2022

Want to get away from it all? A hiking holiday might ‘peak’ your interest

Submitted by Hlumelo Matshanda
Want to get away from it all? A hiking holiday might ‘peak’ your interest

Do you like to get high? Of course you do! There’s no better feeling than the rush of getting to the top of the world and surveying the beauty that our world has to offer. Of course, it’s not just about the top, it’s about the journey and the friendships you make along the way.

Mzansi’s sheer breathtaking scenery and outdoor beauty makes our country a prime location for some of the best hiking trails this world has to offer.

If you are looking to set off on on the ultimate social distancing holiday with a best views, you are going to need to check off a few things on this list first.

Here’s the ultimate hiking starter kit:

A tent (if you are embarking on a multi-day hiking adventure)Hiking boots/shoes (these are essential and will make or break your hiking experience)Thick socks (to combat those bushy shrubs and cheeky creepy crawlies)Rain jacket (the weather can change quick up there)A full-brim hat (a good companion to keep the sunburn away)A pocket knife (to cut yourself out sticky situations)Lots of water (hydration is key under the hot African sun)Packets for trash (there are no dustbins or clean up services out there so keep our country clean)Painkillers and antihistamines (you never know what could sting or bite)Energy snacks (to keep you on the up and up)

Now that you are all geared up and want to turn your attitude into altitude, then here are some of the highest peaks the Drakensberg has to offer:

Mafadi & Njesuhi

As the second highest mountain in Mzansi, the Mafadi peak involves a particularly a 4-day 65km hike that takes you through some of the most beautifully remote parts of the Drakensberg Mountain range on one of the most popular hikes. .

But make no mistake. If you are gunning to climb one of the highest peaks, then you are in for a challenge or two along the way.

Not 1.5km east of Mafadi lies another mountain peak worth exploring. Much like Mafadi, Njesuthi is an accessible hike the summit but it is going to take at least three days and nights to get there. As an added bonus, and for an incredibly unforgettable experience, the upper Njesuthi Cave is a useful place to sleep and will make you feel like a proper adventurer.

You can take on this adventure from about R4600pp.

Champagne Castle

One of the most famous areas to explore and have fun in the Drakensberg, Champagne Castle got its name after the first people to ascend its peak brought with them a bottle of bully. This area is renowned for having five ‘big’ peak hikes that pose a worthwhile challenge to anyone who calls themselves a mountaineer.

Champagne Castle itself is actually the second highest peak in the Drakensberg mountain range. At 3377 meters, it is no easy feat but the view from the top is totally worth popping open a bottle of bubbly (and then consuming responsibly – it’s a long way down). The hike usually takes a few days (although the best of the best can do it in a day), but the most favoured route is over Gray’s Pass.

For a 4 day-hike, you can look at a starting budget of R1600pp to hike and camp.

Table Mountain

Of course, you can’t think about hiking up a mountain in Mzansi without considering the most famous mountain of them all. Look, it’s not the most challenging hike, but can be a great start for beginner hikers. It’s a good workout and you also get to say you conquered one of the Seven New Wonders of the World.

There are multiple hiking trails one can take up and around Table Mountain featuring caves, gorges and some of the best views of Cape Town you’re likely to find anyway. Just beware that some trails are harder than others, and the Western Cape weather can be unforgiving at times. However, if you want to tackle one of the harder trails and fear you are too inexperienced, there are plenty of guides available to take you where you want to go.

For a Table Mountain pass, you can hike up and take the cable car down at R210 per ticket and if it’s your birthday you get a ride for free!

The Magaliesberg Mountain Trail 

Just under an hour’s drive from Jozi, avid hikers can immerse themselves in nature by climbing to the top of the Magaliesberg mountain range with the Mountain Trail at Shelter Rock. This 8km, 4-hour hike will take you to the summit of a mountain and have you wander through nature, human history and fascinating geology.

If endless horizons and majestic mountain ranges are your idea of the ultimate Sho’t Left then explore more of South Africa’s  breathtaking scenery and visit www.shotleft.co.za to book your next summer holiday.

#GimmeSummerThatShotLeft and remember to #TravelWiseMzansi