Things To Do in UnderbergTarn Cave Hike
Where? Start and finish at Bushman's Nek Wilderness Area, southern Drakensberg
When? Bookings are essential.
How? Call Spanafrican Adventures on +27 (0)33 330-6125
How much? Price on request
Start: Bushman's Nek Wilderness Area, southern Drakensberg
Finish: Bushman's Nek
Duration: 10 km each way; 2 days
Fitness: moderate to difficult
Our tip: during winter this area of the 'berg can be most uninviting, with heavy snow and rain; you can still hike during the season, but will have heavier than usual backpacks and need iron resolve to head off into the mountains
Tarn Cave, regarded as one of the finest examples of a natural shelter in the 'berg, is a deep overhang in Clarens sandstone. From its inner sanctum are incredible views from the Devil's Knuckles (three mountain peaks that look a little like the knuckles of one's hand) to Garden Castle.
The cave is fairly high up in the mountains on the border with Lesotho.
To reach Tarn Cave head up Bushman's Nek Pass, a route highly eroded by donkeys as it serves as one of the major traffic paths for the people of Lesotho.
From the main camp to the cave there is little 'proper' path to follow. The trail follows the Ngwangwane River and then up the hillside towards the ridge that borders the Sehlabathebe National Park of Lesotho.
The cave lies in this sandstone ridge.
It is named 'tarn' cave for the small mountain pools above it
Once there the cave can serve as an overnight stop, or as a base from which to climb Devil's Knuckles or enter Lesotho from one of the passes of Devil's Knuckles – passes that are easy to reach from the cave - an opportunity not to be missed for those in search of great heights.
The cave can sleep 12 people and has two sleeping areas. Water is plenty as during summer there are a few rather large 'drips' (not quite waterfalls) and in winter there is plenty available in nearby tarns, however you may need purification tablets.
The cave is an overhang with relative shelter. It can get windy. And during storms the 'drips' can become cascades.
In summer stop off on the return hike at Cedric's Pool, a popular pool only 5 km from Bushman's Nek camp.