Things To Do in Cathedral PeakThe Bell Traverse
Where? Start at Mike's Pass in the Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal
When? Booking is essential.
How? Call SpanAfrican Adventures on +27 (0)33 330-6125
How much? Price on request
Start: Mike's Pass
Finish: Cathedral Peak Hotel
Duration: 42 km (3 days)
Fitness: difficult; for the experienced hiker
Our tip: though not actually a pass, the Bell Traverse gives hikers access to the escarpment
There are those who regard this route as one of the most beautiful passes in the Drakensberg and among the best hikes in the world.
The Bell Traverse contours below the Cathedral peak range of mountain peaks with incredible views out over the Mnweni and Cathedral valleys.
To add a thrill element to the trail a lot of the path is so narrow that it literally follows alongside a series of sheer drops.
Hikers do the Bell Traverse in either direction, taking the Cathedral Peak path through Orange Peel Gap and up Bugger's gully, or from Mike's Pass via the Organ Pipes and Twins Cave.
Day one: Mike's Pass to Organ Pipes Pass, 11km roughly 7 hours
It is a long and gruelling trail across to the Organ Pipes Pass, rewarded in no small way by the scenery, which is nothing short of spectacular. Once on the pass you are in the neighbouring country of Lesotho, where you pitch tent on the escarpment looking down into South Africa.
Day two: Organ Pipes Pass to Twins Cave, 14 km roughly 8 hours
A steep climb to Cleft Peak, one of the highest points in the Drakensberg, from which there are unequalled views. A descent into the Maloreng Valley is steep, before heading up over the Elephant and into the Kwakwatsi Valley. Twins Cave is your overnight shelter.
Day three: Twins Cave – Cathedral Peak Hotel
This is what hikers refer to as the Bell Traverse – the route from Twins Cave. The exceptionally beautiful route takes in the Mitre, Chessmen, Inner and Outer Horns, the Bell and finally the intimidating Bugger's gully.