I turned 35 earlier this month; and dragged the hubs and friends to go on an adventure trip! Main activity was doing the Tugela Falls hike, although we did get up to a few more things!
I’m sharing the information & tips with you guys incase you’d like to do the hike 🙂
I highly recommend it!
1. It’s only 4 hours away from Joburg
2. It’s amazingly breathtaking
3. Anyone who’s reasonably fit (& not scared of heights 😄) can do it &
4. The hike itself only costs R95.
Well, there is actually some controversy that they could be the highest in the world (something about the way they made the calculations, etc) ….but how cool is that?!? Right in our backyard!
GETTING TO PHUTHADITJABA
Driving to Phuthaditjaba from Joburg was pretty easy and straightforward, just hit the N3! I can’t say what the scenery is like because we drove at night ☺️.
ACCOMMODATION CLOSE TO THE TUGELA FALLS HIKE
I’ll be honest and say I was very nervous about the accommodation 😬.
I usually book on Airbnb or Booking.com when we go away & never have issues but found it quite challenging to find nice options in the specific locations where I was looking.
We also wanted to stay quite close to the starting point because we had to start early. The closest place we could find was Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge & let me say that I would recommend the place.
We went with it for proximity even though it’s not the kind of place I’d typically go for☺️. And I must say I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived, the rooms did look better than their photos on the website (whew!). We stayed at their Sentinel rooms, which are their top-tier option & it was a decent, comfortable stay.
The views from the rooms are breathtaking, they have heaters and electric blankets in the rooms (we went in winter) & I loved the Basotho blankets on the beds 😍.
They also have a hiker’s cabin, and their standard rooms as other options as well. Go for the Sentinel rooms, if it’s within your budget, ok 😄.
THE TUGELA FALLS HIKE
The Tugela Falls hike is a full day hike, well, depending on how quickly you can and want to walk up and back down.
They estimate 6 hours. I think we took about 7, including the many photo, snack & just chilling breaks; we weren’t exactly in a rush to finish.
From Witsieshoek, it took us about 20 minutes or so to get to the starting point. You can drive there, only if you have a solid 4×4, the road there is really tough. Otherwise, the lodge also has a shuttle that transports guests there.
The views even as you are approaching are honestly just endlessly awesome! It’s just majestic mountains in every direction 🙌🏾
At the base of the mountain, you park and each pay the entrance fee of R95 (less than $7) & off you go! There are a few view points at the bottom, but the view from the top is much better 🙂
ON YOUR MARKS…
We started closer to 10am, and the temperature was around 2 degrees celsius & quite windy (I’ll have to do another post on gear, etc…trying not to make this one too long).
The hike itself is relatively easy, it’s mostly just a lot of walking and I found the terrain quite manageable, you don’t need any particular skill or expertise, just general fitness.
Buuuut…..and here’s the big butttttt!!!
Now, this part, you will either completely love or hate!
So, you are going up a mountain, and this is the point where you climb! And by climb, I mean, climb a steel-chain ladder that’s drilled onto the mountain rock.
I love a challenge, so this was exhilarating for me but not so for my companions 🤣🤣🤣 but they did it anyway.
(PS: you need to come down these same ladders on your return)
There is another way to go up (called the Gully) if you don’t want to do the ladders but I’ve heard it’s not really a better option, that it’s quite steep and dangerous looking but we didn’t actually see it, so I can’t confirm this.
Typical to hiking up any mountain, the views just keep on getting better the higher you go.
Next time, I’d actually love to have an earlier start just so I can have more time to just sit and gaze at the beauty.
When you get to the top, it’s quite flat and grassy; but there’s something about it that makes it feel like you’re walking on another planet!
I tried to take photos but just couldn’t capture it. There are beautiful little streams of water at the top as well.
And then there’s the stream that feeds the waterfall.
There’s also a beautiful natural pool that has formed amongst the rocks, that made me wish we’d come in summer! Next time, I’m packing a bikini for that pool!
So, the only bleh part of the hike was that we only got to see a trickle of the waterfall 😑 because we were there in winter and there had hardly been any rainfall.
But it was really a tiny “bleh” because everything else about the hike is sublime 🙌🏾
And that is it! We did it!
I hope I’ve encouraged you to do this hike because it’s totally worth it!
Please let me know in the comments below.
Also let me know if you’re interested in a Part 2, with the kind of gear you’d need for this hike.
Do it! 😊