The Spectacular Drakensberg and the Tugela Falls Hike

After I left Johannesburg, I started my journey down to Cape Town by the BazBus with no specific itinerary yet. I just decided that my first stop would be in Northern Drakensberg, to see the spectacular Amphitheatre.

South Africa, Drakensberg
Breathtaking View of the Drakensberg Mountain Range

The view of the high and steep semi-circular cliffs (from which it was named Amphitheatre’) is stunning. My first thought was that the Drakensberg looks very different from European mountains. I guess this is related to the vastness of the valley and the shape of the mountains. I know nothing about geology, but the scenery reminded me somehow the Canyons in the USA and the Tepui in Venezuela.

South Africa, Drakensberg summits
The Flat Summits of the Amphitheatre

The Amphitheatre is home to the Tugela Falls, the second highest waterfalls in the world with their 948m plunge from the top of the cliffs. I wanted to have a close-up view of the Drakensberg mountains so I decided to join a group walk of the Tugela Falls hike organized by the backpacker’s lodge. After a long ride, we reached the Sentinel Peak car park from where the daily hike starts.

The guide started walking at a good pace, too quickly for me. I am a ‘slow hiker’, I like to take my time, stop and enjoy the view, listen at the sound of nature. Being the last one of the group made me feel a little uncomfortable, but catching every piece of the superb and wild scenery was the reason I was there. I don’t really care if it takes me longer to make a hike, as long as I can absorb all the beauty surrounding me.

South Africa, Hiking Tugela Falls
The Start of the Path Leading to the Tugela Falls

Yes… I didn’t manage to finish the Tugela Falls hike

Once arrived at the point where the path becomes a steep boulder trail leading to the Mount-Aux-Sources summit, I was tired and discouraged by the uncaring guide and didn’t feel like facing the ascent. I didn’t make it up to the Tugela Falls…

South Africa, Drakensberg View
The View on The Valley, Between Sun and Clouds

It’s probably a pity, but I’m old enough to know my limits and cope with them. I walked alone to the point where the chain ladder from the upper trail rejoins the lower path and waited for the group to return. Meanwhile, I admired the breathtaking scenery and the view of the valley, which seemed endless. The ever-changing weather offered fascinating glimpses: foggy peaks, clouds running fast in the sky, from time to time, a little opening, with the sun drawing a golden light on the mountains.

Even though I didn’t see the Tugela Falls, my first encounter with the Drakensberg mountains offered me beautiful moments. And I was keen to see more.

Have you ever felt like ‘giving up’ was the best thing to do while traveling?


About Me

Travel addict and passionate about photography, Simon Falvo started Wild About Travel back in 2009. Leveraging her strong PR background, she developed an extensive knowledge of Digital Communications and Content Creation. Besides travel writing Simon holds workshops and trainings, she collaborated with tourism boards for digital marketing campaigns and participated as a speaker at several events.

9 thoughts on “The Spectacular Drakensberg and the Tugela Falls Hike”

  1. Amazingly beautiful. Even though you didn’t get to go to the waterfall, the ampitheatre is already amazing!!

    I’m a slow hiker too. Most of us, will only be visiting once in our lifetime given the huge world and time+ money constraint. I’d rather enjoy the stunning views rather than rushing up and end up getting exhausted.

    • I’m glad that you share my ‘philosophy’ of slow travel / slow trekking. And yes, I didn’t see Tugela Falls, but I’ll never forget the stunning landscape.

  2. Absolutely beautiful! I’ve had Cape Town on my list for a while. However, seeing these photos have convinced me more than ever that I need to go! 🙂

  3. We didn’t make it to the falls either, but they were frozen anyway (we were there in August). Beautiful hiking in the gorge, though.

  4. I don’t know as I would say you “gave up”. You just chose to do something that was more appealing to you. And judging by these gorgeous photos, you were right to do so!

  5. I definively love your posts! Here is another stunning place with superb pictures…and (of course) I’d like so much to add myself to that queue of walkers!
    PS. We need time not only for our breath but also (or first of all) for letting views and scenes get more impressed in our memories! 🙂

    • Thank you, Luigi. You’re way too kind! I’m glad that you share my views on ‘slow hiking’… 🙂


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