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30 South Tribe Expedition to the Drakensberg

The 30 South Tribe

At 30 South we have always aimed to be more than just a sunglasses brand, and being adventurers at heart, our way of showing appreciation to our tribe is to bring some of them along with us on our adventures.

The competition winners for this trip; James, Clayton, Claire, Tanika and Karl joined 30 South founders Jamie and Richie, 30 South head of branding Kyran, and guides Michaela and Sophie on a 3 day hike and camp in The ‘Berg.

So read on to hear about the first ever 30 South Tribe Expedition, in the Drakensberg World Heritage Site taking on the mighty Didima Route.

Day 1- Easing into it

The team met up at the Cathedral peak hotel at 0900hr on Friday to begin the hike, for most of the group it was the first time meeting in person, but you would hardly have guessed, such was the ease in which everyone chatted. After a quick briefing by Drakensberg Guide extraordinaire; Michaela ‘Mix’ Geytenbeek of Pathfinder’s SA, the team set off to conquer one of the best hiking routes in the Drakensberg, the Didima Route.

 

The first day was a good warmup as the team headed along the contour path, stopping at mushroom rock for photos and a snack, before pressing on to Tsekesteke pass, an imposing, near vertical gully, forged in the face of the escarpment by the Tsekesteke river. The going got tougher as herdsman trails were replaced by boulder hopping and the previously gentle inclines became steeper and steeper. After 6 hours on the trail, almost 10km covered and 600m of elevation gained, the team arrived at their home for the night; Tsekesteke hut, a corrugated steel structure perched on the edge of a series of waterfalls. Most of the group went for a dip in the near freezing water, before making camp, cooking dinner, and sharing stories and jokes while watching the sun set.

 

Day 2 - The Monster - Tseketseke Pass

The night didn’t pass without incident, torrential rain battered the outside of the hut before a troop of baboons had a noisy disagreement right outside, waking everyone and putting on a 30-minute show.

The next morning thick cloud surrounded the campsite and the air itself felt cold and wet. The decision was made to press on, the determination of some of the less experienced hikers was impressive, and so the hard graft of one of the Drakensberg’s most challenging passes began. The cloud lifted slightly, allowing the path to be more enjoyable, but still concealing the true magnitude of the gorge.

That all changed in an instant, when 300m from the top of the pass, the cloud suddenly dropped below us, and the magnificent escarpment stood proudly over the thick cloud inversion, it looked like a scene from the lord of the rings triology, no photograph could ever do it justice.

 

After a short rest at the summit of Tseketseke pass the team were up and moving again as they pushed on a further 5km to reach the Roland’s Cave for the night. Roland’s cave is situated in the cliff face of the escarpment and looks over the stunning organ pipes, and the iconic cathedral peak mountain range.

Settling down to some warm coffee and hot food, we watched as the sun set over the unforgettable views and reflected on a day that had seen us climb more than 1200m and cover over 13km.

Day 3- Back down to earth

The nights sleep was chilly but comfortable, and we awoke to a clear morning with the views no longer obstructed by the cloud inversion. We marveled for a while as the sun rose over the valley almost 2000m below. Then, after a quick breakfast, the team assembled early to begin the long hike back down to the start. The sun beat down on us as we made our way down camel pass, and every turn provided more magnificent views. The going was slow, with some tired legs and sore feet, but the team dug in together and we finally made it back down to Cathedral Hotel, a cold dip in the pool and a well-deserved milkshake.