Tips for outdoor wedding ceremonies in the Natal Midlands
Wedding Planning Tips
Overnight hike at Giants Castle
January 31, 2014
This two-day overnight hike in Giant’s Castle Reserve, which is two hours’ drive from Pietermaritzburg is an ideal way to fall in love with the Drakensberg Mountains.
Starting at 1800 metres at Giants Castle main camp, the first day is a ten kilometre walk up to Bannerman's Hut at 2200 m. The first part of the hike involves some steady climbs on a well-trodden path, with wonderful views of the mountains in front of you – a wide wall of rock rising steeply in front of you.
The views of the Drakensberg mountains and then back down the rolling foothills into KwaZulu-Natal are spectacular. You have the feeling of getting away from it all - it is very quiet, you only hear the occasional bird and the wind. You can expect to see eland - which the San (Bushmen) used to hunt with bows and arrows - baboons, other antelopes and dozens of birds, including kestrels and eagles.
After six kilometres you reach the ‘contour’ path, which runs horizontally beneath the steep face of the mountain. You north and walk for an hour and a half to Bannerman’s Hut. Inside its thick ironstone walls are four hard bunk beds, a table, benches and a surface for cooking. You have to bring your own gas stove if you want hot food, as lighting fires is not allowed. There is no running water, but there are streams nearby.
Set off early the next morning for the top. It can be cloudy but if you get above the clouds you are in for a spectacular treat. The pass, which is 3km to the top, becomes steep and for an hour or so and involves some scrambling over large rocks, with occasional cairns often the only way to tell if you are on the right track.
The summit of Giants Castle is spectacu;lar, with a long view of the barren valleys of Lesotho and the incredible view off the escarpment. Then there is the long walk down in order to get back home by the end of the weekend.
If you go in summer (November to February) there is a greater chance of thunderstorms or of walking in clouds and mist. The best time to go is just after or before winter, when the weather is dry, sunny and clear.