Royal Natal National Park

In September 2015 we went camping to Mahai campsite in the Royal Natal National Park.

Mahai is a great campsite with good ablution for ladies and men and also has a great scullery area.

There are campsites under the trees on the perimetre of the site and then all of the grassed areas in between as well.

There is easy access to various walks from the campsites and the reception area with a small shop is only a short walk down the road.

Of course setting up is half the fun.

The girls have this down to a fine art
Nearly all set up

 

Mahai campsite nestled in the trees below

While we were there the Mont-Aux-Sources Challenge, a 50 Km run was being held. Of course I couldn’t resist a few early morning shots when I realised what was on the go 🙂

Camping is really great family time and especially beautiful with all the amazing camp sites available in South Africa from the coast, to the mountains to a variety of wild life parks.

And of course who could resist a sunrise and then a good cup of coffee.

Drakensberg Ampitheatre in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

A few minutes drive away is Rugged Glen, also an Enzemvelo Wildlife site.  Here they have more activities available and we decided to go horseriding.

Looking out to the mountains from the stables
Ready to go, it really was quiet a treat to all go riding at the same time

On the way home we decided to stop off at the really well known pizza place.  It really was worth it. We had heard so much about the place and we were definitely not disappointed.  The Tower of Pizza is a restaurant and farm shop which also has accomodation.

The Pizza Tower
To keep the errrr kids entertained
The restaurant and farm shop

Mount-Aux-Sources hike

In March 2016 we decided to do this hike with some friends. It’s still a chilly time of the year and it’s a very unpredictable area with the summit being around 2000 metres+.

Sentinal car park

The start of the hike if you’re using the chain ladders, is from Sentinal car park at Witsieshoek where you need to sign the registers and pay an access fee. These fees go to Witsieshoek mountain resort and will be used should a mountain rescue be needed.

From the car park there is a well laid out foot path to the chain ladders with magnificent scenery along the way.

The path is well laid out most of the way

 

very easy to follow path but a little uneven in places
The team 🙂

These altitudes are accessed via a few gorges or you can go the easier way up a 100 rung chain ladder that is broken into 2 sections. It isn’t as bad as it looks as I am not fond of heights but made it easily even with my backpack.

Looking up the first lot of chain ladders
Leia reaching the top
others waiting at the top of the chain ladders

There were a lot of people at the top of the chain ladders.  Some had got there and just catching their breath before carrying on others waiting to go down.

As we planned to stay at least 3 nights on the top we took tents and general hiking gear and all our own food.

Anya and Leia sitting far too close to the edge of the mountain and Tugela Falls for my liking
the beginning of Tugela Falls
Anya on top of the world sitting next to the edge of the Tugela Falls
Views well worth walking for

The source of the Tugela River, the 2nd highest waterfall in the world, is an easy walk from the chain ladders.

It was really windy and cold but thankfully not raining.  Too windy for a tripod and sunrise pics unfortunately.

setiing up camp on the first night

We decided to pitch tents fairly close to the falls and within in site of the guard hut as we knew there were rangers staying there which was a good thing having heard some scary stories about attacks on hikers over the past few years.

A cellphone panned image of where we camped on the first night

I was hoping for some great sunset and sunrise images but due to really strong winds they just weren’t possible with the tripod shuddering so much

Day two our goal was a cave some distance away.  We also planned to go along the edge of the escarpment but this changed as it was far too windy and setting camp too close to the edge didn’t sound like a good idea.  It also turned out that the shepard’s were occupying the caves.

Getting close to where the cave is supposed to be.
Local sheppards who wanted their pics taken with us

As you can see there really isn’t anywhere to pitch tents that’s out of the wind and the weather was very very windy and a lot of the ground was quiet mushy.  We eventually found a good spot to put up camp.

This is a stiched panorama of part of the edge of the ampitheatre
Top of the ampitheatre – just around the corner from the chain ladders …… sort of

 

the edge of the escarpment was just around the corner from where we camped on the second night

We decided to spend the third night closer to the guard hut and chain ladders again so on the third day we made our way back in that direction.

The wind was absolutely hectic, so much so we could barely keep our gas stoves lit to make a hot drink let alone breakfast. Very miserable indeed.

Lunch break
on the edge of the escarpment
they just had to go sit on the edge

By the time we got to the guard hut we were pretty exhausted and hungry for something hot and a cup of tea was really really needed.  We got ready to go put up tents but the guards convinced us that sharing the hut was a better idea.  They didn’t have to do very much to convince us, simply being able to get out of the wind to make tea was more than enough.  Who cares about the hard floor.

 

arrival at the guard hut
view from the guard hut – lots of people wondering around on the top

 

Time for a hot cuppa and supper

Children all snug and cozy and ready for bed

After a not so good night, we were all more than ready for the walk down the ladders and the drive home.

stitched panorama of the trail from the car park to the chain ladders

I did run Endomondo for this hike but only seem to be able to find the first day.  I now run Relive and absosultey love it especially when I’m able to pop the link into my website and get this sort of view of the first day.

Feel free to have a look at it here.