RHINO PEAK MT. DRAKENSBERG
Duration: 4 days.
Venue: Southern KwaZulu Natal, Drakensberg
Rhino Peak is located in the southern Drakensberg. It takes its name from the long summit ridge and horn at the eastern end. The summit stands at 3056 meters and is the most prominent point in the southern “Berg”.
The southern Drakensberg rises to similar heights as the northern part of the range. There are however fewer freestanding peaks and pinnacles in this area and the overall landscape is more gentle. The lower hills or “Little berg” is not as steep as in the north, which makes for easier cross-country trekking.
Southern Drakensberg area (Rhino Peak in top right hand corner)
The trek starts from the Nature Conservation office at Garden Castle in the mZimkhulu wilderness area. It is a circular route with 2 nights spent on the Lesotho summit plateau.
The real feature of this area is the wide-open spaces and amazing sandstone rock formations. There is also an abundance of primitive San/Bushman rock art in many of the caves of this area. The entire trek takes place within the Drakensberg World Heritage Site. Traditional Lesotho herdsmen and boys are often seen along plateau area. These herders tend flocks of sheep in the summer in this area.
Basutho on a horse in the Drakensberg
The Route and some variations
The start is at Garden Castle ranger station at 1820 meters. There is a campsite and ablution facilities and a small shop situated here. The trek heads south for about 5 kilometers and then turns west up Hidden Valley for another 5 kilometers to the over night stop at Sherry Cave (altitude 1900 meters).
Day two is the hardest day as the route climbs up the Mzimude Pass for six kilometers to the Lesotho plateau at altitude 3050 meters. The summit of the pass is high on Walkers Peak, one of the highest peaks in the Drakensberg. An informal campsite is found two kilometers north of the peak and is in a wild wilderness area.
Day three is a fifteen-kilometer hike across open country with short alpine grass and huge rock formations. The overnight stop is on the summit ridge of Rhino Peak. The next morning (day 4) a short walk along the ridge brings one to summit of the Rhino. The rest of the day is spent descending Mashai Pass and the foothills back to the starting point. The Mashai Pass is a rough pass, which in winter can contain snow and ice.
Some possible variations: This trip can be made into a 5-day hike by traversing further south on the first day. The route then goes up a pass further to the south of the Mzimude Pass.
Note: The caves that are used for camping in are not what most people envisage a cave to be. Drakensberg caves are more like huge over-hangs of rock. They are not deep dark tunnels going into the mountain!