Daniel, my mountain goat guide, with Cathedral Peak in the distance—Caroline Helbig
I consider myself quite fit, but three-quarters up Cathedral Peak, in South Africa’s Drakensberg Range, I was an oxygen-starved, foul-mouthed mess. I had long given up trying to keep pace with my guide, Daniel, a man of few words who must have been a mountain goat in a previous life.
Cathedral Peak (3005 m) is a strenuous but popular Drakensberg hike. From the trailhead at Cathedral Peak Hotel it is approximately 20 km round trip (8-10 hours), with an elevation gain of about 1665 m. It’s a long, steep climb, with some exposed sections. The final ascent involves a few scrambles and a chain ladder. Continue reading
Trailhead for Olifants Camp mountain biking trips—Caroline Helbig
Mountain biking among the Big 5 in South Africa’s Kruger National Park is a unique and exciting activity, but what happens when a 2000 kg hippo stares you in the face?
Kruger National Park is one of the world’s greatest game parks. Most visitors see the animals from the comfort of a private car or open-air safari vehicle. We did that too, but also opted for a more active adventure—mountain biking at Kruger’s Olifants Camp. Continue reading
Lion sighting just minutes from Kruger Park’s Crocodile Bridge Gate—Caroline Helbig
Buckler’s Africa, an outstanding small lodge near Kruger Park’s Crocodile Bridge Gate, is a great alternative to the park’s mediocre rest camps and pricey private game lodges. I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this gem of a place.
Buckler’s is a B&B and self-catering lodge only ten minutes from Kruger Park’s Crocodile Bridge Gate. It is a great location for exploring the southern section of the park. Kruger Park is massive, so it’s a good idea to divide your time among two or three locations. We spent a couple of nights at Kruger’s centrally located Satara and Olifants camps—cat and elephant country. Buckler’s became our base for three days of exploring the park’s southern reaches that boost the best chances of spotting the Big 5. Continue reading
Monster sand dunes along Kosi Bay Trail hike—Caroline Helbig
South Africa’s gorgeous Kosi Bay is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site that stretches 200 km along the Indian Ocean coastline. Kosi Bay is located in the remote northern reaches of the park near the Mozambique border. A great way to see the splendors of Kosi Bay’s deserted beaches, lakes, and coastal forests is via a guided, 3-day slackpacking hike—all meals are provided, and luggage is transported between lodges.
We had an awesome time on our hike with local guides Agripa and Enoch who expertly led us along beaches, a crazy network of footpaths, and a few shallow water crossings. The Kosi Bay Trail is not difficult, but it is also not well defined, nor is it signed. Without guides, we would have got hopelessly lost. Continue reading