What is the Drakensberg Grand Traverse?

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse is a 220-240 km hike across the Drakensberg mountain range, South Africa.  Although there is no prescribed route, or even trail, there are certain checkpoints that one must complete along the way in order to be able to say that they have completed the DGT.  These checkpoints include the most significant peaks along the way, all well over 3000m. The checkpoints are as follows:

1 Ascend the escarpment via the chain ladders at Sentinel Peak

2 Summit Mont Aux Sources (the source of Kwazulu-Natal’s Tugela river)

3 Summit Cleft peak

4 Summit Champagne Castle

5 Summit Mafadi (The highest point in South Africa 3451m)

6 Summit Giants Castle

7 Summit Thabana Ntlenyana (In Lesotho, the highest point in Southern Africa 3482m)

8 Descend via Thamathu Pass

This list is the only commonly accepted essence of the GT.  From there, opinions and personal choice influence each trip.  Some insist the GT must be unsupported, others see it as a race and yet others choose to take a longer route in order to experience the beauty of the Drakensberg that much better.  In any case, there is no authority governing your movements, and so the hike becomes exactly what you would like it to be.  Except maybe comfortable.

We decided to complete all checkpoints, on a 12 day schedule with resupply teams meeting us 3 times en route.

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