Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal

About Xeni Cave Hike

Start: Didima camp, Cathedral Peak
Finish: Didima camp, Cathedral Peak
Fitness: moderate to easy
Our tip: this is a far easier hike than many as it does not scale any peaks; it is also ideal for children, although advisable to take a guide as the path is not that obvious

Xeni cave is a wonderful spot in which to overnight. Water flows over the top of the cave, providing an early morning shower facility, provided there has been enough rain (in winter it might not be so accommodating).

The cave, which lies in the Xeni valley, is large and deep, providing an almost perfect sleeping space on its large, flat floor (up to 30 hikers at a time could manage to sleep in here, although only 12 at a time are allowed up here).

From the entrance to the cave, the views out over the Mlambonja valley are superb.

The route is not difficult, intercepting no fewer than three rivers. It starts on tar from the hotel, before following a jeep track to the trout hatcheries, where a left takes one up the hill.

Now the trail follows the left bank of the Mlambonja River (in autumn things can get awkward with grasses as high as your head). You may not know it but you walk between the Mlambonja River and the Xeni stream as it comes down from Xeni cave until you reach a concrete sign, where you take a left.

After a little while you reach the Xeni stream, which you cross and then re-cross, following a faint path that takes you onto the boulders of the stream itself. Don't rely on cairns, although there are numerous on the path, as they tend to get washed away by flooding.

Around now is when a guide is handy, as you need to head up a narrow wooded valley towards a large buttress, which is not always easy to find. It leads to a little cave that is not Xeni. Head further upstream, following the path over grass until a clump of trees that hides the heavy overhang of Xeni Cave.

Need to Know

WhereStart and finish at Didima Camp in Cathedral Peak, Drakensberg

WhenDaylight Hours

How muchPrices on request.

OvernightThe closest town is Cathedral Peak, in KwaZulu Natal

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