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Hike the Dragon's Mountain - the Amphitheatre & Tugela Falls

Chain Ladder Route, South Africa



4 miles

Elevation Gain

1300 ft

Route Type



Added by Kevin Guevarra

This is one of the most amazing hikes I've done in my life and should definitely be on everyone's bucketlist. Hiking to the top of the escarpment is a must do for all those traveling to South Africa; the view from the top is one of the most beautiful in the world. What you'll get out of this hike: expansive views of Kwazulu-Natal and the Free State, close encounters of the baboon kind (steer clear of them), a vertical climb up two chain ladders to the summit, and a view of Tugela Falls (the highest in Africa and second highest in the world).

There are two ways to get here: take a tour from Bergville or drive yourself.Taking the tour from the Amphitheatre Backpackers in Bergville is probably easiest if you're using the Baz Bus and don't have a car.

From Johannesburg take the N3 towards Durban, exit the R74 towards Bergville, take the R712 towards Clarens, and follow R57 towards Phuthaditjhaba. Continue onto Mota Road and follow the signs for 'the Sentinel.' You'll pass the Witsieshoek Lodge (pronounced vit-sees-hoook) where there'll be a gate and you'll have to sign in. Continue up the dirt road and park at the Sentinel Car Park where an entry fee is charged.

The hike starts at the carpark and climbs up a number of switchbacks for maybe a half mile. From there it's a gradual climb to the chain ladders; be sure to take in the views and breathe in the crisp mountain air. Before you reach the top of the escarpment, you'll come across a set of chain ladders. The first is about 40 metres (130 feet high) and the second is about 20 metres (65 feet) high. Don't worry, the ladders are anchored well into the rock face and if you're acrophobic, don't look down. Once you make it past the chain ladders and get to the top, you'll have an amazing view of the waters of Tugela Falls plunging 1000 metres down the rock face to the valley below.

You can also camp up here if you like. The skies up here are some of the clearest and make for amazing views of the Milky Way in summer.

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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