Amphitheatre Heritage Trail
The Amphitheatre is the most recognisable and dramatically imposing feature of the entire Drakensberg range, a World Heritage Site of outstanding environmental and cultural significance. A mighty wall of basalt rises over 1000 metres from the Tugela valley to the Lesotho plateau nearly 3000 metres above sea level. Part of its aesthetic appeal arises from its near perfect symmetry, extending as a sheer wall of rock some 5 kilometres in length from the Eastern Buttress to the Sentinel Peak in the west- altogether an area of majestic and incomparable beauty providing some of the finest scenery in the world.
The trail is in the Northern Drakensberg in vicinity of the Royal Natal National Park.
Nearest village is Bergville, with the towns of Harrismith and Ladysmith within easy driving distance.
Away from transport hubs. Self-drive or private transport arrangements to and from the Cavern Hotel.
Trip Duration / Options
3 days and 3 nights with an optional extra night at the Cavern Hotel
Start / Finish
Start: The Cavern Hotel 28˚38'9.54 S / 28˚ 57'44.62 E (groups meet)
Finish: Mahai Campsite – Royal Natal National Park 28˚41'23.68 S / 28˚ 56'44.38 E with transport provided back to the start.
Daily Time / Distances
Day 1: 15 km 5½ to 6½ hrs
Day 2: 16 to 18 km 7 hrs
Day 3: 11 km 5 hrs
On a grading of Easy – Moderate – Strenuous
Strenuous walking with some steep walking and short sections of exposure and 35 metre chain ladder. Gully alternative to the chain ladder via a slightly longer route.
A high level of hiking fitness is recommend regular long hikes and steep ascents in preparation.
Technical detail / Terrain
On path terrain, steep in sections with some exposure to height but no technical climbs or scrambles. Ascent of a well secured 35 metre chain ladder with alternative longer route.
Comfortable hotel beds with hot showers
Food Supply / Catering
Fully catered with bar facilities – drinks not included.
Logistic support / Guiding
Fully guided trail with appropriate logistical support for luggage and transfers.
The views from the escarpment and the headwaters of the Tugela Falls
San Rock Art deviation (25 minutes on day 1).
Fauna & Flora
Rich biodiversity due to extremes of altitude, from 1 000 metres above sea level to 3 500 metres. It is home to aquatic, forest, scrub, fynbos, savannah, mountain grassland and heath plant families, with19 species listed as globally endangered. High alti-montane grasslands is mainly Tussock grass, creeping plants, and small shrubs such as ericas AND aloes. The lower slopes are mainly grassland but are also home to Podocarpus conifers, which are rare in Africa.
Hikers must understand that the Drakensberg has a temperamental climate with four seasons possible in one day and should be prepared for extreme weather events any time of year. Hikers must respect the decision of their guide if his/her advice is to turn back early, not summit, or not hike at all, due to inclement weather conditions.
Seasonality & Best Time Year
All year round. In summer it is wise to make the most of the mornings and presume afternoons will be wet. Whilst days are shorter in winter because the weather is more stable, the whole day can usually be used for hiking. Spring & summer are the best months for wild flowers.
Minimum 2 persons – Maximum 12 persons (recommended group size 8 to 10)
From R5600 per person for group of 10 pax.
Price review date:
Please ask for price confirmation before booking
- 3 nights accommodation (pp sharing)
- All meals and pack lunches
- Hiking guide
- Hiking permits
- Transfers to and from Cavern Hotel & Sentinal car park to Mountain Lodge
Here you'll find any scheduled trails that you can join. Trails may be booked up to one year in advance, so be sure to scroll ahead using the arrows on the left to find if there are any available. The trail operator page will also list any scheduled trails.
If you would like to enquire about different dates, please fill in the form below. Trails are initiated when someone makes an enquiry, and go ahead once the minimum numbers are confirmed.
Scheduled Amphitheatre Heritage Trails
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