Northern Drakensberg Traverse

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AdrianT
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Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by AdrianT » Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:32 pm

I'm just curious if anyone knows what the current status is with regards to safety on the escarpment? I'm going to hike from Sentinel car park to Cathedral Peak in about 2 weeks time so was just curious. In the past I know camping at Tugela Falls has been problematic (I just hiked one valley more to the Bilanjil River to avoid those issues and have always been left alone), but if anyone has heard of any incidents, a headsup would be grand. Only SAA allows one to fly with a firearm, and not if it's registered for self defense so my original plan got shot down pretty quickly.

Thanks,
Adrian

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by Viking » Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:20 pm

There is a dedicated Mt Aux Sources / Amphitheatre thread:
http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum ... hread.html

Alternatively call the Officer in Charge at Royal Natal, Stephen Richert 036 438 6412 and ask him for any recent updates.

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by AdrianT » Sat Apr 23, 2016 8:28 am

Excellent, thanks for the info! :thumright

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by Justin » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:05 pm

On the 24th of April 2016 at around 01h00, a group of three South African hikers who were camping on a path junction in the valley leading up to Fangs Pass, were attacked by three Basutho males with dogs.

Read more: Drakensberg Safety – recent attack
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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by AdrianT » Thu Apr 28, 2016 11:30 am

Really terrible news :( Thanks for the mail Justin, much appreciated.

First hand account:
http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum ... t=20#68011

I've booked a flight already, hiking 9 May. Will exercise as much caution as possible, and if being watched towards the end of the day when we set up camp, we won't stop hiking. Sad that we live on a continent where this happens.

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by Justin » Thu May 05, 2016 2:40 am

From the 20th of May 2016, the Amphitheatre region will be closed to all persons.

http://www.climbing.co.za/2016/05/drake ... nt-attack/
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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by mokganjetsi » Thu May 05, 2016 7:53 am

A nice alternative route would be to go up via Fangs pass in the Mnweni cutback; distance would be about the same and far more scenic (and quite a bit more adventurous). The logistics of moving between Mnweni Cultural Centre and Cathedral Peak is also easier - much shorter distance than to Sentinel.

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by AdrianT » Thu May 05, 2016 10:24 am

Yip, pity they are closing it. Only on 20 May, (I get to the Berg 8 May so technically we can do it) but we have decided to start at Cathedral Peak and hike down to Monks Cowl. The wife and families feel better about it, and at least I don't have to constantly live in fear. Not that I consider the escarpment safe by any means, anywhere.

Fangs is considered to be a hot spot for attacks too currently.

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by mokganjetsi » Thu May 05, 2016 11:13 am

has there been any issues around the base of fangs? the route i prefer is MCC to fangs base (past 5-star cave up to the first waterfall; there is a few flat spots for tents). you can do Fangs and traverse across the escarp to the hanging valleys in a day (early start). no need to camp at the top of fangs.

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by AdrianT » Thu May 05, 2016 1:03 pm

I'm not certain to be honest. Have a read through this thread:
http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum ... mitstart=0

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by mokganjetsi » Thu May 05, 2016 1:29 pm

from what i read (back to 2014) it seems only the amphitheater area and sani-pass has recurring incidents (and sani pass seems limited to "pestering" which is not really an issue). quite a few of the theft events were shepherds rummaging through stashed packs and stealing only food - does put things in a different perspective.
only gun-related events i know about are clashes in the dagga-trade and retribution for cattle theft.

personally i'd be happy to hike & sleep over anywhere except around the amphitheatre; be in a group of at least three guys and be vigilant.
from my experience the shepherds are generally friendly, curious and non-threatening; will always ask for food and tabacco and are generally just keen for a bit of interaction. in 2013 (doing the grand traverse) we got lost in heavy fog and got stranded on very steep terrain at dusk. a shepherd boy discovered us there and took us to his shelter; later (after dark) they guided us down the mountain without asking for anything in return. we gave then R100 each for which they were very grateful.

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by AdrianT » Thu May 05, 2016 5:32 pm

Fangs is still plenty close to Mount Amery. There are other threads too and not all incidents are covered there.

Your story is a good one. It instills faith in what I believe to be very good people. Understanding the Basotho is very important. I found this article very interesting:
http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum ... llers.html

I've never had anyone throw stones at me, nor beg for sweets. I guess I was never there enough when I did live up country.

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by Viking » Fri May 06, 2016 11:23 am

There was a tent-cutting incident by a single individual near the top of Fangs earlier this year. I doubt it was related to the rock throwing incident.

http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum ... t=50#68106

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by Ghaznavid » Fri May 06, 2016 6:08 pm

mokganjetsi wrote:sani pass seems limited to "pestering" which is not really an issue
I was above Sani on day 12 of a 14 day GT on New Years Day this year. Long story short - we spent a good 30 minutes sitting in a gully by the river behind the Hodgesons Peaks waiting for some locals carrying large white packs to pass. This was after hearing some very loud gun shots - we saw the shepherds in the valley running down the river, so we figured we'd do the same. When we found the concealed spot, we waited there. When we eventually walked over the Hodgeson's Ridge, there was a guy behind a rock about 10m above us - gave me the fright of my life when I noticed him :lol:
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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by Overide » Thu May 12, 2016 2:06 pm

I saw this and i recalled that you guys were talking about it.

http://traveller24.news24.com/News/Aler ... s-20160512

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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by Justin » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:27 am

Q: does anyone know if the drakensberg amphitheatre area has been closed?
TIA
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Re: Northern Drakensberg Traverse

Post by AdrianT » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:35 am

It is still open currently. I'll update here on anything new.

I forgot to post a link to my article. We hiked 7 days, covering 83 km. Very good hike from Cathedral Peak Hotel to Injisuthi camp site. Check out the photos:

https://adriantregoning.wordpress.com/2 ... erse-2016/

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