Want to experience the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg in all its glory? Make it an unforgettable trip and take on Rhino Peak, like adventurous Wild traveller Agustin Ritacco. Spend the night in a cave, wake up to unparalleled views and marvel at the world from incredible heights.
The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg is one destination he will never get enough of, says Agustin Ritacco. At an altitude of 3,056m, Rhino Peak offers beautiful views for those brave enough to take on the 21km hike.
If you’re very fit, you can complete the trip in 10 hours of walking. If you’re in no rush, overnight in Pillar Cave and complete the hike over the course of two days. But make sure to book your spot at Pillar Cave.
I’ve been hiking with friends in the Drakensberg for over 12 years, typically doing a couple of hikes a year. This particular hike started and ended at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Garden Castle Reserve, with a roundtrip up Mashai Pass to Rhino Peak and back down via Wilson’s Pass.
We set off after work on a Friday and started hiking after 18:30 in the evening. This first day was a short 3km walk to Pillar Cave, a route that we were familiar with. After about an hour it got dark and we followed the path to Pillar Cave using head torches.
Once we reached the cave, we cooked dinner and got ready for the next day’s adventure.
The next day we woke up to the most beautiful view of Rhino Peak: the goal for that day. At this stage Rhino Peak was standing tall – over 1,050 vertical metres higher than us.
We made an early start up Mashai Pass. This is a relatively easy pass to ascend, only about 4km from the cave to the top of the pass but 900m of vertical climbing. Near the top of the pass we enjoyed the sight of the unforgettable Mashai Falls.
Only a couple of hours after setting out from Pillar Cave, we were at the top of the pass. A quick 2km walk and another gradual 100 metres of climbing saw us standing on the top of Rhino Peak for lunch. The views were magnificent with clouds swirling around us, making it look as if the mountains were gasping for breath.
The day wasn’t over yet. After lunch, we headed approximately 6km south along the escarpment towards the area where we would sleep that night. Along the way we tackled two more peaks: Mlambonja (3,265m) and Matebeng (3,282m).
We finally made our way to the top of Wilson’s Pass where we would pitch our tents for the night. From our campsite at the top of the pass we could see the clouds pushed up the edge of the escarpment in the golden afternoon light.
The next morning we woke up early to watch the sun rise from the top of Wilson’s Peak – 3,255m on the edge of the escarpment. There’s no other view like this. This is what makes it all worthwhile and what keeps us coming back for more.
After watching the sunrise we headed down Wilson’s Pass and back to the start (about 8km in total). While coming down the trail still requires a lot of effort, the pace is much quicker and allows you time to swim and enjoy the Berg’s beautiful rivers and valleys.
Rhino, The Peak – the ultimate challenge
Join other nature lovers, hikers and trail runners and conquer Rhino Peak as part of a challenge. By snapping selfies at designated spots on the route, you can have your name entered on the challenge’s leader board. Find out more about Rhino, The Peak, and get useful tips on equiment, clothing and how to keep your hike green.