I am planning to do a 3 night hike with a few mates at the end of January 2021.
We have an idea of an itinerary we would like:
Day 1: Start with Mnweni pass, see the source of the Orange river, sleep the first night at Mponjwane (a cave?). Is it even possible to reach the escarpment via Mnweni pass in a day?
Day 2: Hike from Mponjwane to Fangs and camp the might there.
Day3: Hike from Fangs to Ifidi cave and spend the night there. Any info on this or any other caves for sleeping in would be appreciated?
Day 4: Hike from Ifidi cave to the Tugela falls, from there down to Sentinel car park via the chain ladders is a route I am familiar with.
After some research it appears to be a 40km hike. I have found no other info regarding this particular hike. I have no idea if I am underestimating or even overestimating this route. I would really appreciate any and all tips/advice regarding this route or any part thereof.
It is possible to do Mnweni pass in a day, it is quite a slog though (19km in total), I have done it numerous times. So it all depends on your groups fitness levels and pack weight. You could grab a lift with the bakkie from the Cultural Centre for the 5km dirtroad, this will save you about 60-90min. Most groups do it over a 2 day period, spending the first night in Chi-Chi bush camp below the pass. Mnweni Pass itself is not long, just steep and there is a path all the way to the top.
Should you opt to do Mnweni Pass in a day you can sleep Ledgers cave, which is closer than Mponjwane.
- The section between Mnweni Pass and Fangs Pass is “easy” hiking if you make use of the “Mnweni Highway”, a path well worn by the Basotho Smugglers. So that is more than possible in a day. Fangs Cave is situated about 150m down Fangs pass, this is a option to use rather than camping. It is very sheltered and worth a visit.
- Ifidi Cave is a good option to use, although it is not well sheltered.
I would alter the itinerary as follows:
Day 1: Cultural Centre to Chi-Chi Bush Camp
Day 2: Ascend Mnweni pass and traverse to Fangs Cave
Day3: Fangs Cave to Ifidi cave
Day4: Ifidi to Sentinal
You can always alter the hiking plan should you reach Chi-Chi at lunch and therefore do Mnweni pass in a day. The route is roughly 40km, but it is by No-means flat on the escarpment.
- The Mnweni Valley gets really really hot in summer, unlike other areas of the berg, the approuch hikes in Mnweni is mainly in the valleys. This also adds to the slog to do Mnweni in a day.
- January is wet month in the berg, thunderstorms roll in like clockwork in the late afternoons, and can catch you in the open.
- Be careful camping in the Kubedu Valley behind Icidi/Ifidi Pass, there has been incidents in the past in this area.
Check out the following links on Vertical Endeavour:
Shout should you need more info
Thank you very much for the reply, it covered everything I wanted to know about and now we’re even more excited to get up there. I’ve found the GPS coordinates for the caves to camp in including Ledgers, as you suggested.
Will be sure to reach out if there’s anything we’ll need some more advice on!
Once again, much appreciated.