The Amphitheatre Heritage Hike

The Tugela Falls which plunges some 948m over the Drakensberg Escarpment is the world's second highest falls

 

The Amphitheatre is the most recognisable and dramatically imposing feature of the Drakensberg mountain range. It is a World Heritage Site of outstanding environmental and cultural significance.
The Amphitheatre is a mighty wall of basalt which rises over 1000 metres from the Tugela Valley to the Lesotho plateau nearly 3000 metres above sea level. The Amphitheatre gains much of its aesthetic appeal from its near perfect symmetry - extending as a sheer wall of rock some 5 kilometres in length from the Eastern Buttress to the Sentinel Peak in the west - altogether an area of majestic and incomparable beauty.

The Tugela Falls, the world's second tallest falls (and the highest in Africa), plunges 948m over the basalt face of the Amphitheatre, down to Royal Natal National Park below. The highest point on the escarpment is the Mont-Aux-Sources at 3283m.

This Amphitheatre Slackpacking Trail has been designed to enable walkers of average fitness to reach the summit and be rewarded by these never-to-be-forgotten views: a feat normally only undertaken by very fit and experienced hikers who would normally have to camp overnight in tents or caves.

By spending 3 days and 3 nights on the route, staying at conveniently located lodges along the way and accompanied by an experienced trail guide, it is possible for anyone who is reasonably fit and unafraid of heights, to stand on "top of the world" and experience the same sense of accomplishment as the hardened hiker.

On this trail, you'll do between 25-30 kilometres over 3 days of hiking with a total ascent of nearly 1200m. The views along the way will be worth every drop of sweat!

 

 

The famous chain ladders  provide an easy-access (vertical) ascent onto the roof of Africa. For those with a fear of heights - there is the gully option which also takes you to the topThe views from the top will take your breath away


AMPHITHEATRE
- HIKE ROUTE / ITINERARY

Arrival Day � Self-drive (or an airport pick-up can be arranged) to Sung Mountain Camp � Northern Berg Resorts, near Cavern Berg
- Take a short stroll to the river, have a swim or begin to unwind in the peaceful surrounds.
Overnight: Sung Mountain Camp

Sung Mountain Camp - your first night's accommodationHike Day 1:
Sung Mountain Camp to Witsies Resort
Hike Distance: Approx 12km. Avg Hike Time: 5.5 � 6.5 hrs.
Ascent Climb: From 1500m � 2189m: 689m Ascent


After a hearty breakfast, you will be met by your guide. Today's hike will commence with a fairly stiff climb via Sugar Loaf Gap, to get above the Sandstone Cliffs. The route continues along a mountain ridge, bypassing Broome Hill and onto Basotho Gate where you can enjoy wonderful views in all directions. Witsieshoek, your overnight stop, straddles the divide between KZN and the Free State. Overnight: Witsies Mountain Lodge

Hike Day 2:
Sentinel Car Park � up the chain ladders to Tugela Falls - return
Hike Distance: 13-14 km. Avg Hike Time: 6-7hrs hrs.
Ascent Climb: From 2564m (Sentinel Car Park) - 3036m (Tugela Fall): 472m Ascent


An early start is called for to make the most out of today! We will transport you up to the Sentinel Car Park to save you 8km of dirt road. After filling in the mountain register, you start your hike along a well maintained path which ascends gradually towards the Witches and the Zig-Zags, taking you to the base of the Sentinel massif. From here, you swing right and follow the contour path below the Western buttresses with the land sloping steeply to the north and east giving you wonderful views of the Malutis and the Witsieshoek plateaux.Time for reflection on the 'Roof of Africa'For those with a height aversion, there is the option of hiking up the gully which will take you to the top of Beacon Buttress (3121m). However, the gully should not be tackled in wet conditions. The famous chain ladders (the more popular choice) are a kilometre on from the gully. The chain ladders consist of two sections (40 and 20 metres respectively) and are firmly bolted onto the rock. After surmounting the ladders it is an easy level walk to the source of the Tugela Falls. It usually takes about 2.5-3 hrs to reach the top which allows enough time �on top' to explore and really savour the magnificent views as you picnic atop the sentinel massif. Overnight: Witsies Mountain Lodge

Hike Day 3: Hike from Witsies -to Royal Natal (Alternative: Witsies to Cavern Berg � full day option for fitter groups)
Hike Distance: approx 7km to Mahai Campsite. Avg Hike Time: 3-4hrs.
Total Descent: From 2189m (Witsies) - 1432m (Tugela Fall): 757m Descent


Today is a relatively easy day as you descend back down to Royal Natal National Park, with several route variations taking you back along the Mahai River valley. Along the way you will criss-cross the river several
times, passing small waterfalls and pools giving you a chance to go for a dip or to picnic as you should have plenty of time on hand. The vegetation and topography changes dramatically as you descend and you will
pass through patches of cool mist-belt forest on the southern facing slopes. You will be picked up from Mahai
campsite or the visitors centre and then transferred back to your vehicles left at Sung Mountain Camp. On the final day of the Amphitheatre Trek, there are a number of opportunities to take a refreshing dip in the mountain pools

Optional Activity: Take a guided tour to some Bushmen Paintings near the park entrance (1.2km hike)

Total Hike Distance / Ascent: Approx 33km & 1200m ascent

Group Requirements: This hike can be done by anyone with an average - to good level of fitness.
Whilst the daily distances are not high the ascent gain is more significant. Both luggage support &
self-supported hike options are available. Minimum group size of 2 is required.

Seasonality: This hike can be done anytime of year, but the months of Autumn and Spring are recommended
as the weather tends to be more predicatable & outside of the colder winter months & summer thunderstorms.

Tour Package

We will provide you with a group price based on group size and needs.
Please visit the enquiry page to fill in your details and specific requests.

Tour package generally includes:

�  3 Nights Accommodation
�  All meals - 3 dinners, 3 packed lunches, 3 breakfasts
�  Local Hiking Guide for 2 days
�  Optional - Luggage Support (Porter or Vehicle transfer depending on grp size)
�  Transfer to Sentinel Car Park & return
�  Pick-up from Royal Natal - transfer back to Vehicles

The 5km stretch of basalt wall forms a natureal 'amphitheatre' in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg - World Heritage Site

 

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