New here and to hiking

Hi all, just a quick into, new to the site and to hiking, been getting into trail running and loving being out in nature. Have a mate i run with who is also keen on hiking, so looking for some decent spots in KZN for day hikes and overnight hikes (most likely 1 night to start off) so any suggestions please sned then through.

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You cannot do better than the berg in SA.

KZN Wildlife-Ezemvelo (not the reserve called Ezemvelo) is a good place to start. Camp there, do day hikes, familiarise yourself with the terrain, weather etc. Then start overnight hikes.

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Thanks for the advise. Iv done a few small hikes in the Southern Drakensberg, love it out there.

Will look into KZN Wildlife-Ezemvelo

KZN has awesome hiking. The trails at Kloof Gorge, Giba Gorge, Oribi Gorge and Umgeni Valley are all great for beginners. I just hiked up Nhlosane near Dargle on Sunday, also a great hike with awesome views, and very beginner friendly.

KZN does also have the legendary Drakensberg. Some beginner friendly 2 day hikes include:

  1. Sleeping Beauty Cave at Garden Castle
  2. Tarn Cave at Bushman’s Nek
  3. Lakes Cave at Cobham
  4. Bannerman Hut at Giants Castle
  5. Marble Baths Cave at Injisuthi. Or for that matter or Lower Injisuthi Cave, Wonder Valley Cave or Grindstone Cave
  6. Schoongezicht Cave at Didima
  7. Up the Chain Ladders to Tugela Falls makes a great day hike

The Drakensberg has insanely good multi-day hiking. Once you are experienced enough to start doing trips to the top, there are hundreds of possibilities. Or even the 5 day Giants Cup Trail, which has huts for each night.

Here’s the guide I wrote to Drakensberg passes, and the range in general. Arno did a guide for the Giants Cup Trail, and between Willem and myself there are a few Drakensberg pass route guides too.

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Amazing thank you.

Iv done Giba Gorge, Pilar cave and 3 pools at Drakensberg Gardens. Want to do Rhino Peak there as well, and been up the chain ladders, wouldnt mind doing that as an over night as well.

How do you go about booking if you looking to over night in a cave or Hut ?

Incidentally Rhino Peak was my first overnight hike. I’ve stood on that summit many times, always a great hike! Mashai Pass has a few spots where its easy to lose the trail, and that pass is a pain if you are off route. On the way down, there’s a very convincing false path that drops you in the riverbed, which is a pain if you take it. I wouldn’t suggest doing it the first time without someone who knows the route because of how many spots there are where the path is not clear if you don’t know where to look.

Most caves are booked by phoning the office and hoping you’re the first one to arrive at the cave. Injisuthi Caves can be booked on the KZN Wildlife booking website. Huts are always booked via the bookings website.

Giants Castle is a great place to get a proper intro to Drakensberg passes. Lots of the passes are simple gullies and have good trails, and the passes are generally relatively easy. Note that an easy pass is still a mountain pass, and thus not trivial.

The king of easy Drakensberg passes is Langalibalele Pass at Giants Castle - it has a good trail to the top, and the hardest part is the approach via Langalibalele Ridge. The pass itself is short and reasonably gentle. From the Giants Main Office, you just take the main trail and go straight at every junction - they are usually marked in any case. On the way back down, there’s a false trail right at the top of the pass if you stay too high which leads nowhere, so just stay on the lowest trail for the top section of the pass and you’ll be fine. You can camp on the river behind the pass - there was a massive incident here about 17 years ago, but I’m not aware of any recent problems in the area. I’ve camped above the pass a few times. Obviously be careful.

Bannerman Pass (also at Giants) is a bit harder and doesn’t have a trail above around halfway up the pass itself - but its hard to get lost in a narrow gully. It also has Spare Rib Cave halfway up, which is handy - make sure you use the massive cave around the corner from the tiny horrible cave you see from the gully (i.e. you turnoff when you see the horrible cave, walk past it and around the corner is the proper cave). Looping Bannerman and Langalibalele makes for a great weekend in the mountains, but finding one from the other is really hard if you don’t know the layout of the valleys behind the passes - so I wouldn’t recommend trying this without someone who knows the route.

Here’s a writeup of one of my favourite Drakensberg loops, although there’s a few places where a fall could be serious, the passes are a bit hard for a beginner and I wouldn’t recommend doing it either solo or in a day!

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Thank you for all the info @Ghaznavid much appreciated