We have booked Sleeping Beauty cave for two nights for the long weekend in September. There are members of our group who are lovers of wild places, and want a gentle intro to the Drakensberg. I have never been to Sleeping Beauty cave, but have read that one can access the Hidden valley from this area. We have one full day of exploring and I was wondering whether anyone here has some ideas for that day? Perhaps Rhino Peak? I also see three pools cave is in the vicinity. I will be buying a map of the area soon, so will have a better idea, but any suggestions welcome:) Also, any advice for hiding our food stash from baboons in Sleeping Beauty while we are out exploring . Thanks in advance.
We might bump into your group on the way - I’m hiking up Tsepeng Pass that weekend, and will go past Sleeping Beauty Cave to get there.
Getting to the Hidden Valley from the cave requires slogging over a big ridge entirely off trail, although the ridge between the cave and the valley is worth exploring. If you don’t know the area, its very easy to get lost. Just a heads up - it looks easy to get from the cave to Cod’s Eye cave, but that’s a very difficult route to find and is easy to get lost trying. I’ve tried to find Cod’s Eye Cave twice and always gave up after a few hours of getting stuck in thick vegetation.
Rhino and Three Pools are completely different routes and require going past the offices to reach.
The route I’d suggest exploring: head a short distance out of the cave and take the faint trail to the right. You’ll reach a short eroded bit and then below a waterfall where the trail seems to die - turn 90 degrees to the right, cross the stream and climb an eroded steep bank on the other side and you’ll find the trail again. From here the trail is easy to follow. This takes you to Engagement Cave and Waterfall Cave. If you keep following the trail, you’ll be hiking towards Bollard Pass. I wouldn’t suggest Bollard Pass as a route to the top for an inexperienced group, but you can explore the valley below the pass, which has some great views. The ridges on either side of this valley both have great views.
Here’s a story of my second attempt on Bollard Pass, which ended in a rescue - it has some photos for context of the valley. We didn’t get close on my first try. I did go back and do the pass a year later, and then again after that - so I technically have a 50% success rate on it
Ps. if you get lost in the area, remember that the Giants Cup Trail is downstream of where you are. So if you aren’t sure where you are, follow the river downstream till you hit a trail, and follow that downstream till you find a clear path with erosion barriers, which you can follow back to the offices.
Ghaznavid, thank you so much for your advice. We will certainly be finding engagement cave. I now have a map of the area. I really enjoyed your rescue story. Hope to meet in person!