Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal

About Rugged Glen to Mahai Hike

Start: Rugged Glen camp site, Royal Natal National Park, northern Drakensberg
Finish: Mahai camp site
Duration: 14 km, roughly 6 hours
Fitness: difficult
Our tip: Rugged Glen and Mahai camp sites are connected by road, allowing easy transport between the two, or an easier return walk (only 6 km)

This route takes hikers from Rugged Glen Nature Reserve over the mountains, past Surprise Ridge, Sigubudu Valley and Sunday Falls. The campsite is a beautiful one, in among the trees, added as something of an afterthought long after the park was proclaimed.

The hike is not easy.

Head up the Zagidhlana Stream towards the Camel's Hump on the eastern end of Surprise Ridge. After 2.5 km the path begins to steepen and stays steep, so set an even pace. You will cross the Zagidhlana roughly five times in all, despite the path's veering to and away from the stream.

You begin climbing in a steady zigzag up the Camel's Hump as a road joins the path from the right. The trail finally joins a contour path of sorts off to the left under the Hump. Follow the contour path into the Mahai Valley (a steady 9 km).

En route you will round the Hump, The Diamond and climb a rather taxing switchback below Castle Rocks, crossing no fewer than seven streams before landing below Plowman's Kop.

Keep going until you reach Golide Stream just below the Grotto and then the worst of the uphills are over. From now on there are downhills, starting below the cliffs of the Kop, past where the Mud Slide meets the ground (from here, should you need it, there is a short cut down left to Mahai).

Otherwise bear right and climb easily into Gudu Bush, crossing the Mahai River. The path now falls away from the river, rounding Lookout Rock (don't take the path to Tiger Falls). From here it is straight down to Mahai Campsite.

Need to Know

WhereRugged Glen Nature Reserve, Drakensberg

WhenDaylight hours.

How muchPrices on request.

OvernightThe closest town is Bergville, in KwaZulu Natal

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