How To Plan A Guy Trip To Hike The Drakensberg Mountains

The Secret Adventurer, Henk Brand, has all the answers.


Kelleigh Korevaar |

In July 2018, Henk Brand and his two mates Mark Tuna and Justin Bakerman headed to hike the Drakensberg mountains for three nights. In that time they covered 42km and spent their days, as they say, “sourcing water from frozen streams, searching for caves, cooking up a storm in the caves, bromance talks, banter, smoked ciggies with the local Basotho (mountain herds men) snoring and farting in the caves.”

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“It is one of the most beautiful and scenic hikes in South Africa and a bucket list for all adventurers. We came up with the plan to do the ‘horseshoe route’ in 3 nights, which is quite a challenge as you need to cover over 12km and climb 1400m on the first day. We accepted the challenge,” says expedition leader, adventure experience curator and The Secret Adventurer, Henk Brand.

So how exactly did they plan it, in-between busy lives, relationships, commitments, families and life’s unexpected curve balls? Well, that’s what Henk is here to tell you.

The 4 Rules Of  Planning:

  1. “If it’s your first time, never go alone. Hike with a local guide.”
  2. “Plan your route, identify the caves and ensure you finish during the day.”
  3. “Plan your water supply. Don’t carry 3L, it’s too heavy with all your gear in the backpack.”
  4. “Waterproof your essentials. If you have space, take a lightweight hiking tent for backup.”

Related: Hiking Snacks: 7 Of The Best Superfoods To Take On Your Next Trip

Where To Hike:

“We started from Cathedral Peak Hotel and made our way up Organ Pipes, where we stayed over in the elusive Rolan’s Cave. The next day we crossed over the Lesotho Escarpment to Twins Cave and finished off with the exciting and adventurous Bell Traverse, and [then] finished the climb down Cathedral Peak back to the hotel.”

Where To Camp:

“We did our homework upfront. Allocating GPS points to the caves we had to find for our shelter each night. This is super important as you don’t want to get stuck when the sun sets, and the chance of snow is high during winter, so caves are crucial for shelter in the Drakensberg.

“We also planned our starting time for each day, to ensure that we had enough time to source water along the way, prepare lunch and have some time to watch the insane sunsets on these beautiful mountain ranges!”

Related: How Hiking Can Make You Just As Strong As Those Dudes Pumping Iron

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What Supplies To Take:

“[Take a] bottle of water to stay hydrated [and a] 3L empty water bladder to fill up water along the way or at the end of each day,” says Henk.

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“Take water purify tablets and lots of energy bars, GU sachets, bananas and nuts. We love cooking in the mountains, so we made some smash with biltong and peppadews, [and took] spaghetti bolognese (frozen beforehand).”

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“Full medi kit with lot’s of grandpa’s (for altitude headaches).”

“Extra socks, thermals, gloves, beanie and down jacket to stay warm and some waterproof gear (for electronics, cellphone and food).”

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Ultimately, if you want to hike the Drakensberg mountains with your mates, you’re in luck because it’s a fairly forgiving one and it’s not like you’re in the middle of a different country. That’s why it’s a top choice for us if you’re wanting to spend a few days in nature with some friends.

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