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Mnweni and Rockeries


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Camp Flowers
Mnweni and Rockeries – Drakensberg – Sue Desmond
September 2007
The Team: Bengt Dressler, Brian Lloyd, Neil Ransome, Olga Braude, Paul van Beek, Sue Desmond, Uri Norman.
We all travelled down to Bergville together with trailer in tow, except for Neil who met us at Bingelela where we had dinner. Here we bumped into George’s group who were going to hike in the Cathedral Peak area. We enjoyed a pleasant evening with the Team limiting their intake of fine wine and beer so as to get a fresh and energetic start in the morning. Thanks to George we were able to complete the necessary form before arriving at the Mnweni Tourist Centre allowing us an early start.
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Mnweni Pass Mnweni Pass
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Top of Mnweni Mnweni Valley
The route took us along a dirt road for a few kilometres before head up into the Mnweni valley. We were expecting temperatures of 29o C- 30o C and were looking forward to reaching the Mnweni River for a swim. Parts of the valley had been burnt as was the case with many of the areas in the ‘Berg. We reached the river at the bottom of Fangs Pass for lunch and spent a couple of hours relaxing and enjoying the scenery; some people were brave enough to swim in the icy berg water. A couple of horses were grazing near by and one of them decided to venture down to the water. Olga greeted the horse but he wasn’t convinced that the party was friendly and decided to retreat to a safer spot. We continued past Sheppard’s Cave and made camp at the bottom of Rwanga Pass. It was a perfect summers evening with not a breath of wind as we sat and made dinner under the stars.
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Neil hidiing Olga and Sue
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Sunrise Rockeries Pass
Sunday saw us heading up towards Mnweni Pass where we met Patrick, the nephew of a staff member at the Tourist Centre. He was out patrolling with his three dogs and he watched our progress up the pass from his view point on the opposite side of the valley.
Half way up the pass the wind picked up strongly, forcing us to grip onto rocks and tuffs of grass to prevent being blown over. Unfortunately the wind stayed with us for the day creating a ‘wind chill factor’. On reaching the top we headed over to the source of the Orange River, hoping that there would be some drinkable water, as we had passed some hikers coming down that had told us that there was very little water to be found. There was no flowing water but a substantial pool of clear water was good enough to fill our bottles.
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Lunch was spent here in the shelter of the rocks against the strong wind that continued to blow. After lunch we walked over to Ledgers Cave, where Bengt, Olga and Uri decided to go down and take a closer look. From there we continued up to Nponjwane Cave, which to our delight was completely sheltered from the wind. Thus it was decided to camp there the night rather than pitch tents at the top of Rockeries.
That evening we could socialise and, as it turned out, entertain our neighbours with our chatter. We had met three hikers doing the same route as us the day before and were now sharing this wonderful accommodation. There was ¾ moon lighting up the cave and the mood was jovial. Olga wanted to go for an evening walk but she couldn’t get any takers as we could all hear the wind in the distance and no one was going to venture out into it. She admits that she would have backed out if anyone had taken her up on it. In the early hours of the morning Venus shone brightly into the cave followed by the most beautiful sunrise as the sun rose over a sea of cloud.
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The edge The team
We set off early in the morning for Rockeries Pass, grateful that the wind had died down to a gentle breeze. The path down the pass is very well trodden with lots of loose gravel making our decent quiet slow. We passed by the rock fall that had occurred some years back and we marvelled at the large chunk of mountain that had come down. We took a break at the first stream where the water flows directly from a small hole in the mountain. On reaching the lower valley the blue flowers were out in profusion making the landscape ‘picture perfect’. The Tourist Centre was reached by 12:30. After a drink and a shower we were all fresh and ready to set off for Little Switzerland to enjoy a good meal in beautiful surroundings, and a lovely way to end a great weekend.

Last Update: 2007/10/12 / Author: admin
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