Hiking South Africa’s Highest Peaks
By: Anita Musevenzo
Mafadi 3451m, Namahadi 3291m, KwaDuma 3019m, De Berg 2331m, Seweweekpoort 2325m, Murch Point 2156m, Iron Crown 2126m, Toringkop 1913m, Nooitgedacht-West 1816m.
These are the highest peaks in each of South Africa’s nine provinces and I am on a casual mission to climb them all.
Anyone can attempt the nine peaks challenge and there are different ways of going about it depending on how much of a challenge you would like it to be. I am taking a leisurely approach, combining each peak with some sightseeing and exploring more of South Africa as I go. The complete opposite of this is also possible. The nine peaks challenge can be done as a race, the fastest known time, record held by Greg Avierinos, Ryno Griesel, Ruan van der Merwe, is 2 days 16 hours - yes, 2 DAYS and 16 hours to drive across the whole country and climb all those peaks along the way. It took me two days just to reach the top of Mafadi, I have no idea how they did it.
So far I have done five of the nine peaks. The first one was Iron Crown in Limpopo. To make it a bit more challenging I started my hike from Haernertsberg, a quaint mountain village that stole my heart, and then hiked 10km to the peak of Iron Crown. If you want to bag this peak but don’t want to spend the day doing it, you can drive round to the other side of the mountain and climb a much shorter route from there.
After that I went to De Berg in Mpumalanga, this was one trip as they are close to each other and I climbed it as a stop over on my way back to Johannesburg. Although it is the fourth highest peak there is not much hiking to do. You drive up most of the mountain and from the gate, it is a 4km walk up a tarred road.
Next on my list was Nooitgedacht-West in the North West. For this peak you need the GPS co-ordinates otherwise you will struggle to find it. Just next to this peak is an even higher peak with a beacon. Do not be fooled into thinking that that beacon marks the highest peak in the North West.
Toringkop in Gauteng is located at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. From the road it is just 400m to the peak with an elevation gain of 4m. A quick easy peak to bag.
Then Mafadi. Mafadi is not only the highest peak in KwaZulu Natal, but also the highest in South Africa AND the 2nd highest in Southern Africa.
The peak isn't obvious, in fact, I almost walked right past it while having a fat chat.
Mafadi is different, she offers so much more than being the highest point in SA. Her highlights are in all that is around her. The trail to Mafadi is one of the most beautiful and challenging trails. Each day along the route is absolutely breathtaking, continuously outdoing the previous.
In the Western Cape the highest peak is Seweweekspoort Peak. At 2325m above sea level it does not sound like a very difficult hike, but do not underestimate this mountain. I climbed it in one day and had an elevation gain of roughly 1800m. What made the hike even more strenuous was that this mountain is rocks on top of rocks on top of rocks every step takes so much effort. Out of all the peaks I have done so far this one is the one I found most challenging.
I am currently two thirds of the way, still to go is Namahadi - Free State, KwaDuma - Eastern Cape and Murch Point - Northern Cape.
The best part about this challenge is doing hikes that I would not have ordinarily thought of doing. Mainly because I would not have heard of them.