Drakensburg Mountains

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May 23rd 2011
Published: June 30th 2011
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As you approach the Northern Drakensburg, you feel mesmarised by the dragon mountains covering the horizon. Baboons run wild across the road while african children burn the land while hunting with dogs. The smell of smoke lingers in the air, while you are met with beautiful lakes and misty mountains. At only 3482 metres above sea level, this place truely is a hikers paradise.

While in Johannesburg I met a couple of lads that showed me some photos of the dramatic landscapes in the Northern Drakensburg. They warned me hiking in the mountains isnt cheap and getting there is difficult on public transport, but even on a backpackers budget, I knew the challenge was set and it had to be done.

The Northern Drakensburg is a remote part of South Africa, close to the country Losoto. Basing myself in KwaZulu Natal and joining a small team of hikers, we caught a minibus to the base of the mountian and wondered off in search for the famous Ampitheatre pass.

It was a strenious 4 hour hike along dangerous mountain passes to the summit. Scrambling up lose rocks between a george was not the smartest way to start a 10 month trip. One backpacker had already fallen from the mountain breaking his leg. As the rescue helicopter hovered above, I knew the challenge of attempting Cape to Cairo on public transport would be difficult - but on one leg, now that would not be an option!

Climbing the old chain ladder up the side of the cliff face was an extremly un-nerving experience. As the wind picked up along the side of the mountain, I knew one slip and it would be over. As the chain ladder began to wobble in the wind, I clung on desperately while taking each step. As I lost my footing, my heart raced and the adrenaline began to pump. The views were spectacular, but it was a long way down. This wasnt the day to die!

From the summit, the views of the Ampitheatre are breathtaking. Sitting in a rock pool at the top of a waterfall while eating sandwiches sure was a good way to start my challenge through Africa. Seeing colourful fields, cascading waterfalls and reflective lakes across the top of a mountain range was both enchanting and surreal. This place truely is a world class adventure playground, with unique landscapes that I have not found anywhere else in the world.

-- I am attempting Cape to Cairo Overland on Public Transport --

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