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Bald Ibis Hiking Trail

Swinburne, Near Harrismith

The Bald Ibis Trail is now classified as a wilderness trail, which means that those who embark on the trail need to follow a GPS track or map. The old hiking trail markers are still there but because of cattle, these can no longer be relied upon. The GPS tracks are available when booking.

There are many weekend backpack trails within easy reach of Gauteng. These vary in degrees of difficulty and interest. The Bald Ibis trail has been in existence for several years and must rank as one of the best. The trail offers both a two day backpack route plus an easier day route option for those who would like to have a less strenuous time of it.

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Basecamp Braai area

The Accommodation

The Basecamp at Bald Ibis consists of a converted old barn equipped with bunk beds and mattresses and an inside fireplace to snuggle round on those cold Drakensberg nights. Hot showers and flush toilets go to make up a well equipped and comfortable venue.

The trail -- Day One 17,7Km

From the start of the trail the path ascends steeply until it reaches the base of the krans. From here the trail follows the base of the krans until Windy corner is reached.

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The Start On the way up
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View back to base

The path follows a Jeep track for a little way
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The views from the mountain are spectacular. Windy corner can be a little difficult to negotiate when the wind is blowing.

The views and rock formations are spectacular.

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Once Windy Corner is passed the trail descends a little way and follows a contour for some distance.

Millions of years of erosion have left some amazing contortions of rock formations.

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Rocks, rocks and more interesting rocks
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The first day is long and can be tough especially when the weather is hot.

After a while the trail comes to a junction. From here a path leads very steeply up to the summit of the mountain. The main trail continues and descends to cross open grassland until once more ascending to the caves that provide overnight accommodation for the hiker.

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The late afternoon provides some beautiful  and mystic shadows.

The radiance at the end of a beautiful day
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The overnight caves

The overnight caves have pallets to sleep on. Wood has to be carried some distance so it is important to take a hikers gas stove along with you. Alternatively, a bag of charcoal could be divided among the hikers

The Trail-Day two 9Km

The second day of the trail is much easier than the first and consists mainly of a walk below the magnificent towering cliffs of the mountain

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This is a lovely trail but certainly one that can be considered quite strenuous. If you consider that the backpacking route might be beyond you then the day route option might appeal to you as an alternative. However, the backpack route is certainly worth doing if possible.

'In a nutshell'
Distance from nearest town Harrismith 25km
Access road status From turnoff N3 a good gravel road takes one to the basecamp
Trail type Overnight backpack trail. Day trails from the basecamp also available
Difficulty Moderate  but the first day of the backpack trail can be long and quite difficult
Marking When evaluated the trail was well marked
GPS Co-ordinates Turn off at Montrose Shell S28.21.376 E29.16.970

Base camp - S28 22.875 E29 16.580

Cave -    S28 24.964 E29 15.808

Cell phone reception Base camp - Yes

Cave - No

Facilities Basic with beds, mattreses, braai, braai grid with limited wood supplied. Ablutions include flush toilet and hot shower at base. Overnight cave has water tank, wooden platform beds and veld toilet. No firewood is provided.


The Bald Ibis Hiking Trail can be booked through

Jacana Marketing and Reservations

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Telephone  0861Jacana (0861 522262)

Direct phone: Port Elizabeth 041 378 1439

Pretoria: 012 803 9109

Direct fax: PE 041 378 2548

Pretoria: 012 803 4144

 PE e-mail

Pretoria e-mail:

Footprint Hiking Club

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