White Umfolozi River

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In a nutshell, what you find at the White Umfolozi is a selction of over two hundred and twenty routes, including more than sixty sport routes, all on superb rock. It is only 3 hours drive from Durban and 4.5 drive from Joburg. This is a real "out of Africa" climbing venue and as a bonus, it is a wilderness area that will delight any nature lover.


The chances of rain at the White Umfolozi in winter are close to zero. Even in summer the chances are extremely low. This part of the river is in an arid, rain-shadow area. Even when it is pouring with rain along the coast, it is usually dry in this valley.


Trad and bolted routes

The climbing

There are about a hundred and sixty trad routes and more than sixty sport routes at teh White Umfolozi. These range in grade from 8/3 to 27/7c and in length from 5m to 45m. There are good belay points at the top of most routes and the majority of these can be easily top-roped.

Getting there

The White Umfolozi crags are situated in the heart of Zululand about midway between Melmoth and and Vryheid. (Consult the guide book for directions and see the map.) The crags on the north and south banks are now in the hands of separate owners. Climbers are no longer allowed unconditional access to both sides of the river. Do NOT stray across the imaginary line down the middle of the river. Check the MCSA-KZN web site www.mcsa.org.za/kzn or Gavin Peckham for the latest information.

Food and accommodation

There is camping and a rustic hut - consult the route book for information and contact details.

Guide Books/References

Rock Climbing at the White Umfolozi River by Gavin Peckham (Out of Print)

Here is a link to the latest PDF (2017). It can be shared and distributed provided no-one attempts to make any money from it.



Left to right: The Purple Python, Purple People Eater, The Dark Arts

The Purple Python (22) ****

Start as for Purple People Eater but then tend left up a vague crack for ~3m before following a right slanting ramp (no gear) for ~4m to a horizontal break. Continue up and then slightly right to the chains on Dingiswayo.

FA: R. Halsey and R. Strate (Oct 2019)

The Dark Arts 30m (26?) ****

A physically and mentally demanding voyage…

Start on Dingiswayo but continue up the big corner and then fight through the slick, undercut open book (take care with cams as the rock is hard and slippery). At the roof rail left to where the finger crack continues up to the final roof. At this point there is a very narrow horizontal slot for micro cams that are strenuous and fiddly to place. Embrace the run out and traverse left across the tricky face for ~3m to a good foot hold and horizontal seam for micronuts – these features are at a point below a good undercling in the final roof. Head up to the roof, and at the undercling and pull back right through the roof on great holds. Notes: Double ropes recommended. Consensus grading needed – cruxes are about grade 24, but the overall experience is considerably harder.

FA: R. Halsey and R. Strate (Oct 2019)