The Northern Drakensberg Traverse - 6 Days


Activity Description

This scenic Trek follows the Drakensberg escarpment through some of the most dramatic mountain views in South Africa. It is renowned as one of the World’s top 10 treks and starts in the Northern Drakensberg near the Sentinel Peak and the Amphitheater then winds along spectacular mountain scenery towards Cathedral Peak. Each day is filled with continuous breathtaking views of the jagged peaks & massive cliffs that form the escarpment, contrasting with the rolling highland meadows and emergent streams of Lesotho.

The Drakensberg escarpment divides South Africa and Lesotho, so as you trek roughly Southward, the KwaZulu Natal Lowlands are visible below colossal Drakensberg peaks and Lesotho rises & falls at an altitude of around 3000m to the right. An unusual experience, hiking in the high berg takes place ‘on top of’ the mountains and often above the clouds.

This is a wilderness trek meaning there are no footpath’s and that each night is spent in mountaineering tents, there are no designated campsites and all provisions are carried in and out of the mountains. The Drakensberg mountain streams are plentiful so water is in abundance. The area is vast, the mountains spectacular and unpopulated, at night absolute silence is the perfect accompaniment to the brilliance of the starry Southern sky.

The ‘Transberg’ adventure takes place in a beautiful rugged isolated mountain range; to enjoy it fully, Backpackers must be fit, determined, enjoy wilderness camping. There are full participation or fully supported options available for this trek.

Day 1
Meet at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge at 9am and transfer to the trail head at the Sentinel Car Park in the Northern Drakensberg, you’ll hike to the top of the Drakensberg escarpment via the Mont-aux-Sources chain ladders. Spend our first night at the source of the Tugela River one of South Africa’s main rivers emptying into the Indian Ocean. Awesome views over the Tugela valley, Amphitheater and the Sentinel.
Highest point 3000m. Lowest point 2400m Approximate distance 8km

Day 2
Tugela Falls to Stimela Ridge pass the Ifidi pinnacles at lunch with stunning views over the valley, Icidi waterfall & Buttress, Camp at Stimela Ridge with superb views over the escarpment.
Highest Point – 3180m, Lowest Point – 2940m approximate distance 12km

Day 3
Stimela Ridge to Orange River Plateau
Skirt around the remote Mnweni cutback, viewing Mnweni needles, great views of Madonna and her worshipers, The Fangs, Rwanqwa Pass and 12 Apostles. The top of Rwanqwa Pass is the highest point of the trek at 3218m. Camping on the Orange River plateau, near the source of one of South Africa’s main rivers which winds its way to the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay
Highest Point – 3218m, Lowest Point – 2840m approximate distance 16km

Day 4
Orange River Plateau to Kwakwatsi River
Climbing up to a view point above Rockeries Pass affords magical views of the rugged Rockeries ridge, the huge wedge of North peak looms ever closer as you pass the Cape Griffon Vulture nesting site. Passing through the saddle between North and South Peak, you’ll ascend a to a knife edge ridge, once over it you’ll have amazing views of Cathedral Peak Range. Camp on the Kwakwatsi River.
Highest Point – 3100m, Lowest Point – 2800m approximate distance 15km

Day 5
Kwakwatsi River to Mhlambonja River
Stunning views over Cathedral Peak, Mhlambonja Buttress and the Bell, the Mitre and Chessmen surround you as you descend about 1000m over 4 km. Camp is on the Mhlambonja River at a beautiful Berg river pool, perfect for an early afternoon swim. An option dependant on weather and time is a quick detour to Twins Cave, a typical Berg Cave.
Highest Point – 3100m, Lowest Point – 2010m Approximate distance 13km

Day 6
Mhlambonja River to Cathedral Peak Hotel
A short climb up past Mt Helga where Eland often graze, contouring through the Little Berg’s rolling hills. The Column and Pyramid tower above you as you head down to the hotel.
Early afternoon transfer to Witsieshoek for a welcome shower and civilised luxuries!
Highest Point – 2080m, Lowest Point – 1400m approximate distance 9km

Day 7
Breakfast at the Hotel
Depart at your leisure or transfer back to Johannesburg or Durban


ProviderGoVertical Mountaineering & Trekking
DurationOpen Ended
WhenAll year round
WhereWitsieshoek Mountain Lodge Reception. GPS Co ordinates -28.6856, 28.899
WeatherAll weather
What to WearPlease see kit list
Things to BringKIT LIST: ABSOLUTE ESSENTIALS – We will not proceed with the trek unless you have all of the absolute essentials. • Back Pack MINIMUM 75 liters, must have waist belt ** Available for hire see below • Tent light weight mountaineering tent ** Available for hire see below. If you are using your own tent please let us know what make and model it is. We would like to ensure its suitability. • Sleeping bag sub-zero -8 recommended (it can get cold even in summer) ** Available for hire see below • Sleeping mat – foam or Thermarest - We include foam rubber mats • Waterproof outer shell • Light weight waterproof rain pants • Hiking boots & socks ESSENTIALS • Water bottle 1 – 1.5 liters • Changes of clothing- layering is best with a good fleece for warmth • Gloves • Beanie/ Balaclava • Towel • Sun block • Sun glasses • Sun hat/ Cap • Toiletries (eco friendly) • Toilet paper • Torch + batteries, preferably headlamp OPTIONAL • Personal first aid eg plasters, deep heat, headache tablets, medication etc • Personal Energy sweets and drinks • Hiking staff • Camera AVAILABLE FOR RENTAL • 3 season 2 person mountaineering tents (2.3 kg) • Sleeping bag(-8 C, 1,4kg) with liner • Foam sleeping Mats • Backpack NOTES • Please remember to leave space in your Back pack for the cooking gear, food, utensils and 1st Aid, which will be shared between the group members. • You can expect to carry up to 15 kg in your back pack including your personal gear. • PORTERAGE • Clients carry a day pack and the porters will carry a maximum of 15kg per person which would include a clients personal belongings eg tent, sleeping bag as well as the clients share of food provided by GoVertical. A realistic balance would be 7kg of personal gear and 8kg of food/ provisions. • South African Porters use backpacks, so all your gear would need to be packaged so that it can fit inside their backpacks. • Please ask GoVertical Mountaineering if you are unsure about any items on this list
Guests or SpectatorsUnfortunately not


Minimum Age8 years
Minimum Height0.0 m
Maximum Height0.0 m
Fitness LevelFit
QualificationsNot Applicable
Maximum Weight0.0 kg
CertificationNone Required
Experience LevelIntermediate

Inclusions and Exclusions


• 6 days and 5 nights trekking in the Drakensberg mountains
• All meals for the trek which will be prepared for you by GoVertical guides from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 6
• General Camping gear e.g. stoves, plates, cups
• Park fees
• GoVertical Mountaineering guides
• 1 night Bed and Breakfast accommodation at Mountain Lodge
• Transfer from Cathedral Peak/ Trail end to Witsieshoek


• Dinner at the Mountain lodge
• Alcoholic beverages and beverages consumed at Mountain Lodge
• Personal camping gear and the items suggested on the kit list
• Medical/ rescue insurance
• Transport to/ from the Drakensberg


Optional extra’s available:
• Transfers to the Drakensberg from Johannesburg or Durban (Approximately 5 hours from either city)
• Transfers are done the day before the trip starts so you would need a night of pre trek accommodation
• Dinner, Bed and Breakfast accommodation at mountain lodge before/ after the Adventure
• Gear hire
• Porters

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