Things To Do in Giants CastleGiant's Castle Hikes
Where? Giants Castle, Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal
When? Daylight hours.
How much? Price on request
Giant's Castle refers both to the landmark rock massif in the central Drakensberg, where it rests in amongst the peaks of Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak, and the game reserve of the same name, proclaimed way back in 1903 to protect a declining population of eland.
Other than the now over 600 recovered eland, the reserve is home to mountain reedbuck, blesbok and oribi, and a huge variety of birds.
It is also a hiker's domain with over 25 hikes spread across a 285 km network of trails that range from 3 km to 30 km and take from an hour to several days to achieve.
Short walks include:
The popular Bushman's River Trail that takes 3km or an hour to do, hence its popularity.
The Grysbok Bush Trail (8km or 4 hours) that follows the path past the Main Caves (now a museum, protecting some of the best perserved San rock art in the area), before climbing up to a dense wood of wild olive and oldwood trees, to Grysbok Bush and the first river pool.
Longer walks that include overnight trails:
Giant's Hut via Giant's Ridge is a circular 20.5 km hike that takes roughly 9 hours to complete. It also follows the path past Main Caves and then climbs steeply away from the Bushman's River Valley. Two further steep climbs follow, with a reasonably gentle walk between them, up to the spine of the ridge, over another ridge and then onto the contour path to Giant's Castle Hut. The return follows Two Dassie Stream, criss-crossing several times and allowing time for pool swimming. In this way it rejoins the path past Main Caves and back to camp.
Langalibalele Pass trail is a 21 km, 10 hour hike that follows Grysbok Bush path, detouring to steeply climb along the spine of a ridge to the contour path. Find the Langalibalele Pass turnoff about 1 km along the path. It takes you steeply upward to the top of the pass, where a cairn marks the spot of the battle between the British and Chief Langalibalele's tribe in 1873. Return using the same route.
Giant's Pass and Giant's Castle is a 30 km, two-day trail that heads up Giant's Ridge to the contour path. Right and along the path for 2 km brings you to the Giant's Castle Pass, which you climb, ascending quite quickly. The last bit, particularly, is steep. From the pass a further path takes one to the summit. Return along the same route.
Giant's Cup Trail is a 60 km, 5-day hike, overnighting in four different huts. The trail takes one along the foothills of the Drakensberg from Sani Pass to Bushman's Nek through Cobham, Garden Castle and Bushman's Nek. It is possible as a self-guided or guided walk and leaving without a map is inadvisable. Features of the hike include the Mzimkhulu Valley and Giant's Castle. Although five days, it is considered one of the easier hikes.