Rhino Peak circuit trek

Hike the Rhino Peak circuit with Peak High Mountaineering!

Duration: 4 days.

Venue: Southern KwaZulu Natal, Drakensberg

General Information

Rhino Peak is located in the southern Drakensberg. It takes its name from the long summit ridge and horn at the eastern end.  The summit stands at 3056 meters and is the most prominent point in the southern “Berg”.

The southern Drakensberg rises to similar heights as the northern part of the range. There are however fewer freestanding peaks and pinnacles in this area and the overall landscape is more gentle. The lower hills or “Little berg” is not as steep as in the north, which makes for easier cross-country trekking.

Southern Drakensberg area (Rhino Peak in top right hand corner)
Southern Drakensberg area (Rhino Peak in top right hand corner)

The trek starts from the Nature Conservation office at Garden Castle in the mZimkhulu wilderness area.  It is a circular route with 2 nights spent on the Lesotho summit plateau.

The real feature of this area is the wide-open spaces and amazing sandstone rock formations. There is also an abundance of primitive San/Bushman rock art in many of the caves of this area. The entire trek takes place within the Drakensberg World Heritage Site. Traditional Lesotho herdsmen and boys are often seen along plateau area.  These herders tend flocks of sheep in the summer in this area.

Basutho on a horse in the Drakensberg
Basutho on a horse in the Drakensberg

The Route and some variations

The start is at Garden Castle ranger station at 1820 meters. There is a campsite and ablution facilities and a small shop situated here. The trek heads south for about 5 kilometers and then turns west up Hidden Valley for another 5 kilometers to the over night stop at Sherry Cave (altitude 1900 meters).

Day two is the hardest day as the route climbs up the Mzimude Pass for six kilometers to the Lesotho plateau at altitude 3050 meters. The summit of the pass is high on Walkers Peak, one of the highest peaks in the Drakensberg.  An informal campsite is found two kilometers north of the peak and is in a wild wilderness area.

Day three is a fifteen-kilometer hike across open country with short alpine grass and huge rock formations. The overnight stop is on the summit ridge of Rhino Peak. The next morning (day 4) a short walk along the ridge brings one to summit of the Rhino. The rest of the day is spent descending Mashai Pass and the foothills back to the starting point. The Mashai Pass is a rough pass, which in winter can contain snow and ice.

Some possible variations: This trip can be made into a 5-day hike by traversing further south on the first day. The route then goes up a pass further to the south of the Mzimude Pass.

Note: The caves that are used for camping in are not what most people envisage a cave to be. Drakensberg caves are more like huge over-hangs of rock. They are not deep dark tunnels going into the mountain!

Southern Drakensberg
Southern Drakensberg

When to visit:

This trek can be done at anytime of the year.  It must be noted that June to September are the colder months with night temperatures often below freezing. Snowfalls can also occur. During the southern African summer the mountains receive afternoon thundershowers and high daytime temperatures. However, cold, wet and windy weather can be encountered at anytime of year!

Guided Trekking

Peak High offers this trek at any time of the year. No set dates are used as each trip is individually put together. Parties could consist of one to as many as ten people in a group.

Unless porters are used, clients are required to carry their own backpacks, equipment and provisions for a 3-5-day round trip. Peak High can provide all communal equipment including stoves, pots, tents, cutlery, food and maps. Extra items such as sleeping bags can be hired for a nominal fee.

Peak High offers a personal door-to-door service including airport transfers to and from Durban.  If flying from overseas, all flights land either at Johannesburg or Cape Town from where a connection must be caught to Durban or Pietermaritzburg. All guiding and climbing is done by a professional, certified guide.

What to bring:

Clients need to bring the usual personal items, including breathable shell clothing, polar fleeces, large backpack, hiking boots, hat, gloves, flash-light, water-bottle, sun-cream large rucksack, sleeping bag, mattress, cup, plate and cutlery.

For more information and bookings contact Gavin:

Cell: +27 (0) 82 990 5876

Phone: +27 (0) 33 343 3168

Email: gavin@peakhigh.co.za

Also view the Peak High web site at

http://www.peakhigh.co.za/trek.php for more info on trekking.

Published by

Gavin Raubenheimer

About Peak High Mountaineering and Gavin: Peak High Mountaineering is owned by Gavin Raubenheimer and has been operating since 1992. The business is registered with Tourism KwaZulu-Natal as a Tour Operator. Gavin Raubenheimer is a certified Mountaineering Instructor (M.I.A.) endorsed by the Mountain Development Trust of SA and the U.I.A.A. He is a NQF National Mountaineering, Cultural and Nature Guide (NQF level 4). Gavin is a past President of the KwaZulu-Natal Section of the Mountain Club of SA. He has been involved in mountain rescue since 1992 and since 2005 has been the Convener of Mountain Rescue in the province. He is sponsored by first Ascent outdoor clothing company and by RAM Mountaineering. For more information and bookings contact: Gavin on 082 990 5876 or +27 (0) 33 343 3168 or gavin@peakhigh.co.za Also view the Peak High web site at http://www.peakhigh.co.za

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