Things To Do in Monks CowlVaalribbokkop Cave Hike
Where? Start and finish at Monk's Cowl / Mdedelelo Wilderness Area, northern Drakensberg
When? Booking is essential.
How? Call Spanafrican Adventures on +27 (0)33 330-6125
How much? Price on request
Start: Monk's Cowl/Mdedelelo Wilderness Area, northern Drakensberg
Finish: Mdedelelo Wilderness Area
Fitness: moderate to difficult
Our tip: Vaalribbokkop is close to the more popular Stable cave
To overnight in a cave in the Drakensberg is one of the highlights of any hike. Many of them, like Vaalribbokkop, are long overhangs, not caves, yet serve as good deterrents to the weather and provide a dry and smooth surface on which to sleep.
You reach Vaalribbokkop cave by climbing Jacob's Ladder (not a ladder as such, but rather a steep zigzag path that takes hikers up to the top of the Little 'berg (this access is common to many hikes in the wilderness area).
Views from the cave are lovely, if not spectacular. The cave lies in a shallow valley and as such, lies in amongst a series of hills and mountains.
Vaalribbokkop's overhang divides naturally into three comfortable sleeping areas – one under a group of yellowwood trees (this sleeping area is rather sandy), one at the far end, past the waterfall (which acts as both shower and drinking water during summer) at the edge of the gorge, and the last closest to the access path.
There are some examples of rock art in the latter, but they have deteriorated to the extent that people are allowed to overnight here.
More importantly, even when it rains, the cave remains dry, apart from the yellowwood trees that get a little wet.
Behind the cave lies Vaalribbokkop, a rather conspicuous dome that stands 30 metres high, its slopes covered in proteas. It serves as a landmark for many of the hikes in the Mdedelelo Wilderness Area and lies between Vaalribbokkop and Stable caves.