South African Climbing Wiki
Welcome to the largest & most comprehensive online database of Southern African climbing information.
- 1 Rock Climbing in South Africa
- 2 Access Considerations
- 3 Climbing Areas by Province
- 4 Map of Climbing Areas
- 5 General Information
- 6 Route Hit List
Rock Climbing in South Africa
South Africa offers some of the best climbing in the world. There are many different rock formations all with different features. Oudtshoorn crags are limestone with hanging stalactites and tufas. The Cederberg is compact sandstone with ledges that offer solid gear placements. There is great sport climbing in Montagu, a small Klein Karoo town, where it is almost always dry (except for when it floods). Waterval Boven is probably the most developed sport climbing area in the county with about 600 routes in a most beautiful setting. In the Free State, Mt Everest and Swinburne offer sport and trad climbing and awesome bouldering. The famous Wave Cave at Shongweni is just outside of Durban and has hard overhanging sport routes. You can do seaside cliff climbing at Morgan Bay. There is world class bouldering at Rocklands in the Cederberg, remote multi-pitch trad climbing at Magaliesberg and the Drakensberg Mountains. Ok, I could go on, but you get the point. The settings are beautiful and uncrowded by hoards of people. The small towns have a really nice laid-back country feel. The people are friendly and genuine. And the food, wine and atmosphere is always great!
A lot of climbing areas are on private land, so please be courteous to anybody you meet while in the area (it might be the landowner). Please don't litter. Only go to the toilet far away from the crag. Keep on the paths.
Climbing Areas by Province
Eastern Cape climbing offers a variety of different rock types. There are many small crags with good potential for new route development. There is an Eastern Cape section of the MCSA and the Rhodes University Mountain club.
Often thought to be a flat province but there is actually unlimited outcrops of sandstone mountains sometimes over 200m high. Mnt Everest Reserve & Swinburne offer good sport routes and bouldering in secure and beautiful settings.
This province is the smallest but also the most densely populated. Cities such as Johannesburg, Sandton and Pretoria are all situated here. There are several climbing related clubs in the area including the MCSA Johannesburg Section (+/- 750 members, http://http://mcsa.org.za/jhbjoom/), MCSA Magaliesberg Section (+/- 450 members, http://http://mag.mcsa.org.za/), the WITS University Mountain Club , the WITS Technikon Mountain Club, The RAU Mountain Club, Exploratio (the University of Pretoria climbing and hiking sports club) and a few others. There are also several climbing shops as well as hand full of climbing gyms and climbing walls in both Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The Magaliesberg mountain range across the northern part of Gauteng which is shared with the eastern part of the Northwest Province is the main mountainous feature of the province. There are a few small crags in the Johannesburg city areas (the long-forgotten Pretoria based ones are not in use any more) but most of the good climbing in Gauteng is in the Magaliesberg (Chosspile being the best general sport climbing crag and the Tonquani complex the best general trad area). The Bronkies crag is the most popular general sports crag.
The Johannesburg section of the Mountain Club of South Africa meets every Wednesday evening at 20h00 at their club house. Visitors are welcome to come along and meet other climbers and to get to know the local climbing scene. The address is Cnr Scott & Stirling Streets, Waverly, Johannesburg. The MCSA Magaliesberg/Pretoria Section meets 19:30 every second Tuesday at their club house.
This province includes the city of Durban around which you will find some excellent climbing areas. There are a few Climbing related clubs in the area including the MCSA Kwazulu/Natal Section , Univeristy of Natal Club. Except for the odd rain and humid conditions this province provides good all-year round climbing. In the Eastern part of the province the Drakensberg mountains also provide a bit of mountaineering and ice climbing in winter.
Limpopo Province (Northern Province)
Home to some of the higher crags in South Africa including Blouberg a 400m high cliff.
This is a very beautiful province which includes one of our best sport climbing areas, The Restaurant. This area attracts year round visitors from around the world. It has become famous for its good selection of good quality routes that are easily accessible. Manoutsa, not too far from the Restaurant offers multi-pitch traditional climbing. Overall this province has a large amount of rock with very little of it developed. Beware, certain areas do have malaria (The Restaurant is usually pretty safe though). It is also recommended not to drink from & often not even swim in most of the rivers.
The main climbing here is in the Magaliesberg which has over 1800 climbs, mostly multi-pitch trad routes in the beautiful kloofs (gorges). Access is mainly from Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The Cape is full of mountains and provides a mecca of climbing. Cape Town being the main center is a good base to start from. There are a few clubs mainly the MCSA Cape Town Section which has over 1200 members and a bouldering wall in their club room. The University also has a good bouldering wall and there is a climbing gym in Cape Town too. Good climbing is only a few minutes drive from Cape Town and the furthermost areas about 4-5 hours away.
With winter rainfall which often sets in and hot conditions in summer, spring and autumn are the best times to visit. Most of the areas are relatively safe and guidebooks cover most of the areas and are available from the MCSA, Mountain Mail Order and the climbing stores. The best areas are Rocklands for bouldering, Montagu and Oudtshoorn for sport routes and Table Mountain, Du Toit's Kloof (1hr from Cape Town) and Cederberg (3 hrs from Cape Town) for trad routes.