Hiking South Africa s highest provincial peaks MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Hiking South Africa’s Tallest Mountains

Last year, I, Mandy Ramsden, did something amazing. I became the first South African woman to join the Seven Summits Club. This club is made up of climbers who have reached the highest peak on every continent. Recently, more and more people have taken up the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro and then aiming for the ultimate prize, Mount Everest. If you find yourself envious of these adventurers, but lacking the money, time, or desire to tackle such massive mountains, I have a suggestion for you. Why not take on a more manageable challenge? Hike to the highest peak in each of South Africa’s provinces. While it may not earn you the same bragging rights as conquering Everest, it’s still a fun and rewarding goal to pursue.

You should know that there aren’t any official trails to the mountain peaks. However, some of the smaller peaks do have footpaths that will take you close to them. But if you want to reach the higher peaks, it’s important to have good navigation skills. The Drakensberg peaks, in particular, are a serious challenge. They require long walks and overnight stays. For example, KwaDuma is 23 kilometers away from the nearest gravel road. So if you want to reach the summit, you’ll need to plan for a four-to five-day round trip. Don’t forget to exercise caution and follow the rules of mountain safety if you decide to take on this challenge.

The Tallest Peaks in South Africa

Contrary to what we learned in school, the highest peak in KwaZulu-Natal (and in all of South Africa) is not Mont-aux-Sources at 3,282 meters. It’s actually the fortress-like Mafadi, located further south, which stands at an impressive 3,451 meters.

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The Eastern Cape has its highest point in the magnificent Drakensberg mountain range. Known as KwaDuma, it stands tall at 3,019 meters, right on the Lesotho border near Ongeluksnek. But there’s more to explore! If you’re up for a day adventure, head to Compassberg near Nieu-Bethesda. At 2,502 meters, it’s the highest non-Drakensberg peak, and the views are breathtaking.

Why not turn it into a weekend getaway? Just cross the border into the Northern Cape and conquer Trig Beacon 29, also known as Murch Point. It reaches a height of 2,156 meters and is just eight kilometers away. It’s a perfect opportunity to experience two incredible peaks in one trip.

For those in the Western Cape, Seweweekspoort Peak is the highest point waiting to be conquered. Standing at 2,325 meters, it offers a challenging hike that can be done in two days. You have the option of spending the night in Seweweekspoort Peak Cave or setting up a tent. Whichever way you choose, be prepared for a strenuous and unforgettable adventure.

Explore these stunning peaks to experience the beauty and majesty of South Africa’s highest points. They truly offer a taste of the country’s natural wonders that will leave you in awe.

I’ve always been fascinated by the towering peaks of the Free State. It’s incredible to think that some of them reach heights exceeding 3,000 meters! The sheer magnitude of these mountains is awe-inspiring. One such marvel is the Namahadi Peak, towering proudly on the west side of Namahadi Cutback. Depending on where you look, it clocks in at an impressive 3,291 or 3,275 meters, making it the highest peak in the area.

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But the adventure doesn’t stop there! There are other peaks in South Africa just waiting to be conquered. For a slightly easier climb, you can head over to Mpumalanga’s Steenkampsberg and take on Die Berg at a height of 2,331 meters. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a more accessible summit.

If you’re up for a challenge, you can venture to Ebenezer Dam, east of Polokwane, and conquer Iron Crown. At 2,126 meters, this peak stands proud and beckons climbers to test their mettle.

Another option is Toringkop in Suikerbosrand, located south of Johannesburg. Standing at 1,913 meters, it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Lastly, there’s Nooitgedacht West in the North West’s Magaliesberg Mountains, reaching a height of 1,806 meters. This peak is a beauty and should not be missed.

Peak bagging in South Africa is an incredible experience. Each summit has its own unique charm and beauty. It’s a chance to challenge yourself, connect with nature, and witness the awe-inspiring vistas that these mountains have to offer. So, are you ready to embark on your next adventure and conquer these incredible peaks?

If you’re looking for the latest information on access to mountain peaks, a good place to start is the Mountain Club of South Africa. They have up-to-date info at www.mcsa.co.za. Another great resource for lists of peaks around the world is www.peakbagger.com.

What gear do you need?
An essential tool for mountain climbers is a good watch with an altimeter. Suunto is a top brand in this field, and their Extreme Core Edition Everest is inspired by the world’s highest mountain, reaching 8,848 meters. Learn more at www.suunto.com.

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Here’s a helpful tip:
When you’re facing a long uphill climb, make sure to tighten the laces of your boots snugly below the midfoot. If your boots don’t have locking laces, use a double overhand knot. On the other hand, for long descents, it’s a good idea to tighten your laces back up around your ankles.

Did you know?
In Scotland, a popular activity among climbers is called munro bagging. This involves ticking off the peaks in Scotland that reach 3,000 feet (915 meters) or more. In South Africa, mountains that reach 3,000 meters or more are known as kulus.

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