A bunch of 12 intrepid explorers set off on a very pleasant Saturday morning at the end of March to spend the weekend on top of the Amphitheatre in the Northern Berg. Of the group, only 3 had actually ever been to the summit of the Berg, so there was quite a lot of excitement mixed with trepidation at having to tackle the two notorious chain ladders. We hiked up the zig-zag path from the car park quite quickly and then meandered along the contour around the base of the Sentinel towards the chain ladders. Happily, zero casualties later, we were all at the top of the ladder and looking out at the vast view across the Malutis into Lesotho, the Free State and on the other side down into Royal Natal National Park and out over KZN.
Following the course of the baby Tugela River (its source is on Mont Aux Sauces which was just behind us), we reached the escarpment edge where the Tugela falls over the Amphitheatre cliffs into KZN, forming the second highest waterfall in the world. We had a relaxing picnic lunch at a sheltered little spot at the top of the falls and dipped our feet in the icy water, before setting off across the ridge behind us and into the next valley where we knew of a beautiful little campsite next to the river. We pitched our tents and then walked over to the edge of the cliffs to watch the sunset. Most people had an early supper before climbing into sleeping bags for the night – it proved to be a jolly freezing night! Next morning we were all up early to catch the sunrise – absolutely beautiful – the sky was bright orange and the clouds just lifting over KZN.
Our return hike hugged the escarpment and we were really fortunate to see two Lammergeiers soaring above us. There are very few of these magnificent birds left in the world and the Drakensberg is one of their last remaining strongholds. Two chain ladders later and lots of nervous chatter from those waiting to descend, we made it back to the car park (where lots of plans were made for the next hike to the Mnweni area of the Berg) before all heading home – a little more tired and a lot more dirty than when we arrived, but definitely more energized and ready to tackle the week ahead after spending the weekend with good company in the beauty of the Berg.