Medium range treks in the Central Drakensberg

Panoramic - Summit of Cathedral Peak

The Central Drakensberg, effectively ranging from Cathedral Peak down to the north side of Giant’s Castle, offers a wide range of possibilities for treks lasting for 3 or 4 days. Unlike those in the Southern Drakensberg, which can be done on a self-carry basis only, treks in the Central region can be run either be run on a self carry OR a fully-supported basis, although the latter increases the cost.  Our two recommendations are as follows:

Cathedral Peak Circuit

The Cathedral Peak area offers excellent scope for challenging circular treks of 3 or 4 days in length, using the Cathedral Peak Hotel or Didima Camp as a base.  This circuit makes use of the Organ Pipes Pass and the Mlambonja Pass (3 day option) to access and descend the main escarpment between Cathedral Peak and the Ndumeni Dome, traversing one of the most awe-inspiring sections of the Drakensberg. Cathedral Peak (3005m) dominates much of the vista as you traverse - it’s one of the Drakensberg’s most prominent free-standing peaks, separated from the main escarpment line.  The section around the top of Xeni Pass and the crinkled rim around Elephant, Plum and Cockade is certainly a Drakensberg highlight, and the ascent of the Organ Pipes pass has some spectacular situations.  Cleft Peak (3277m) is the highest point reached, although this can be skirted if desired on the Lesotho side. Nights are spent in tents, with the exception of Twins Cave, where you can spend a spectacular night before descent of the Mlambonja Pass, enjoying classic evening and sunrise views over the escarpment.  From Twins, you can opt to take an additional day and do the Bell Traverse to Cathedral Peak itself, which can be climbed, and descend from there.
(Vertical gain 1927m)

Mafadi (3450m), Injisuthi

Situated above the Injisuthi valley, Mafadi is the highest point in South Africa - not to be confused with Thaba nTlenyana, which is the highest point in Southern Africa.  Injisuthi is possibly the wildest and most rugged of the Central Drakensberg valleys, as well as one of the most spectacular - the climb to Mafadi is one of the most demanding medium range treks in the region, but also one of the most rewarding. The summit can be gained either by an out-and-back climb using Leslie’s Pass, or by making a circuit using Corner Pass for ascent, and Leslie’s Pass for the return. However, Corner Pass is not for everybody, and has a tendency to ice up in winter - there is a chock stone halfway up the gully which requires a bit of scrambling, and possibly a rope, to get over it. The Upper Injisuthi Cave commands spectacular views over KwaZulu-Natal, and makes for a memorable night-stop.
(Vertical gain 1975m)

Central Drakensberg Alternatives:

Shorter:
Stay in the Champagne Castle valley and request an early morning transfer round to Injiusthi Hutted Camp.  Then hike back to the Champagne valley over Ship’s Prow Pass - this is a demanding day hike requiring 9 to 10 hours.

Softer:
Base yourself at Injisuthi Hutted Camp (self-catering) for a few nights, and enjoy one of the myriad of excellent day hikes in the valley.