This past weekend, Kylie and I headed north into the Drakensberg Mountains to camp at Monk's Cowl. We were reluctant to leave as one of the biggest hurricanes was headed straight for Galveston (at least this was the case a the time), but I am really glad we left.
The Central Drakensberg is only about 3 hours away from Durban. So we arrived Friday night just before dark. We set up our tent, our camping table and new camping chairs and made a great dinner of pasta and guacamole. Just as we headed to sleep, it started raining. This was fine because we were warm and dry in my tent.
I'll take this opportunity to thank L2 (lifelong friend and fellow tent enthusiast) for convincing me to purchase this tent. I was on my way to investing in a cheap tent, but he convinced me to go for the 3-4 season Mountain Hardware shelter. He said the last thing you want when you are camping is to find your tent leaking and wet. I went a head and bought the nice tent, and I am SO GLAD I DID. Its kept me dry and warm in Guatemala, Texas, Colorado, and now Africa. So I pass this advice along to you. Even if your only a casual camper, invest in a good tent. You'll thank yourself later.
We woke early Saturday morning to eat breakfast, and set out on our hike. We decided to hike up to Blindman's Corner. It was about a 12 km hike that was supposed to take 6 hours, but we figured we could handle it in at least 5. We passed a waterfall called crystal falls. Here we filled our water bottles with fresh mountain water and DIDNT USE ANY IODINE! That's right, this is one of the few places on the planet where the water is pure enough to drink right out of the ground. The water was cold and tasted good. There werent even any floaty things in it!
Then up to the plateu where we hiked just under the Sterkhorn, a massive peak that was just at 3000 m (10,000 feet or so). This is the peak on the right. The one on the left is Cathkin Peak (3377 m). It was a long way up, but the real challenge was going back down. We seemed to descend for hours. But it was a sunny, warm day, and there were nice views all around us, so we didnt mind too much. We plan on returning and hiking to the base of the Sterkhorn later this summer to camp for the night, and hopefully summit the peak the following morning.
We ambled back to the campsite making the round trip in only 4.5 hours (yes, we are tough). Ate lunch, had a well deserved nap in the shade, and then went to some a few miles up the road. Good dinner of Mputu, beans, and Choc-Kits for desert.
That night, we heard a four legged animal creeping outside our tent. First we heard one animal, then there were 2-3 all around us. They were close enough that their tails brushed up against the tent while we waited nervously for them to leave. Its always scary to hear something outside your tent, especially in an unfamiliar campsite. The animals eventually left after a few minutes, and we eventually went outside to make sure all was well. We're still not sure who the culprit was, but we think a pack of dogs or perhaps some jackals are the leadning suspects.
The next day we hiked to Stirkspruit falls, and then to some nice pools. The water was freezing, but the sun was warm, so we went for a swim. Was painful gettting in, but was nice to warm up in the sun afterwards. We hiked back, packed, up and drove to Karkloof for a zipline canopy tour
. We zipped down 180 m wires while attached to these harnesses. It was lots of fun and in a beautiful forrest.
We made it back to Durban around 3:30 PM. The surf was up and the wind was right, so we immediately threw the boards on the car and went to Dairy Pier for a quick surf before dark. As if the weekend of hiking and ziplining wasnt enough. Needless to say, we slept well Sunday night.