4 day slackpacking trail in the Southern Drakensberg
The Giants Cup Hiking Trail is part of the National Hiking Way. The hike follows a well established and clearly marked trail that runs southwards from Sani Pass in the north to Bushmans Nek in the south, the full trail being approximately 60km in length. It falls within the Ukahlamba Wilderness Area (a World Heritage Site) and is administered by KZN Wildlife who provide 5 overnight huts along the route – at Pholela (Cobham valley), Mzimkhulwana, Winterhoek and Swimans (in the Drakensberg Gardens valley) and at Bushmans Nek. Spekboom Tours has introduced slackpacking to this trail for those who would like to walk the trail during the day and stay at comfortable lodges at night where all meals are provided for.
Hikes normally take over long weekends (Friday to Sunday) and include the best sections of the trail from Sani Pass to Drakensberg Gardens. Private parties of 4 to 8 hikers are scheduled for departures in the spring and autumn months when the weather is predictable and mostly fine – outside of the summer thunderstorms and cold winters.
Flora and Fauna : Most of the hiking trail traverses treeless mountains and Themeda grasslands, with a few scattered protea species and patches of montane bush in the protected river valleys. Although the Drakensberg has rich grassveld during the spring and summer months, the severe winters result in a dramatic decline in its food value and the area cannot support large populations of animals. Many species have adapted to these extreme conditions and are endemic to the area. None are plentiful but all are interesting. Antelope species that you may encounter include Eland, Reedbuck, Rhebuck and Oribi. There are about 200 species of birds in the region, including the endangered Bearded Vulture, Jackal buzzard, Black and Martial eagles and Secretary birds. Smaller birds such as sugarbirds, sunbirds and flycatchers are endemic to the area. Others are summer migrants to the region such as the blue and wattled cranes while several species including the fairy flycatcher migrate down the berg from Lesotho during winter.