Sentinel Peak, done and dusted

We decided to start doing a hike once a month as a family and as our first hike this year we decided to do Sentinel Peak, yes I know a full day hike might not have been the best option, just ask Tamaran! I’ve decided that walking my 6000+ steps a day plus regular exercise would help me, and it did help a whole lot, as I’m not really stiff, just feel like I had a good leg day at the gym.

But anyone that is living in the Eastern Free State and haven’t done the hike, you really need to go! It’s absolutely stunning the views cannot be explained or captured in a picture as the real life view. You feel small in the awesome and spectacular views you looked at.

The Sentinel Peak according to is the highest free standing peak in the Northern Drakensberg, South Africa. The climb is 3165m. Using the chain ladders you will have access to the Mont-Aux-Sources Plateau, the Amphitheatre and Tugela Falls.

There is two sets of chain ladders, one of 40m and the other of 20m and then you had two styles as well, the one had rings to hold onto and the other one was plain ladder.  I prefer the wheels to hold on up onto the peak, but down I preferred the one without the rings, but my children preferred the ring ones, so I guess its all depending on your own personal choice.  Two of my girls are afraid of heights and they both made it to the top and down again.  It did take a little coaching and encouragement, but we all made it up and down without any injury 🙂  That it takes guts is no lie!

We almost missed the Falls as when we reached the top of the chain ladders we climbed to the top onto the Plateau and seen some rocks on a heap and thought, ‘this is it we reached the top’, fortunately a couple returned from the Falls and told us not to stop there, we have to do the extra 30 or so minute hike to the Falls to see the spectacular views there. So thank you stranger and your companion for telling us about it.

So according to the internet and with different sources via my google search I’ve discovered that the Falls we were at is called the Tugela Falls, which is the highest Falls in Africa and 2nd highest in the world. Apparently the highest is the Angel Falls in Venezuela. The Angel Falls have a drop of 979 meters and the Tugela Falls a drop of 947 meters.   It’s amazing to think we were standing basically in or on the frozen Tugela Falls, and it’s also very scary to think that we casually stood there on the edge.

Mont-Aux-Sources is just over 3254 meters above sea level.

The Sentinel Car park at 2500 meters above sea level at the Witsieshoek Resort and can only be reached via Phuthaditjaba, which in turn is only a short distance from Kestell and about an hour drive from Bethlehem.

Standing literally on top of the world made me feel very small indeed.  This is one hike I will recommend to anyone with a little sense of adventure.  Just make sure that you use a SUV or a bakkie as the road to the parking area is really bad and will take a little while before they are finished with the paved road, then it would be a pleasure.  And we were so fortunate to have the clear skies for our whole day hike, as lots of people tell me they had it wet and misty, I don’t think I will be brave enough to do it in that conditions.  We had a little wind when we came down the chain ladder, but that was it.  Oh and it’s much cooler and even cold on top at the Plateau.  The stream all the way to the edge was frozen, and even though it was frozen there were little black fishes swimming in the pools, amazing how nature adapts to circumstances.Sentinel Peak072 I am so proud of my eldest for finishing the whole route as this is not what she deems fun and is really scared of heights.  On her way up on the chain ladder it moved and she started having a panic attack half way up, it was so scary and fortunately Danielle was right next to her on the other ladder and was talking her through it and she managed to stop the attack by breathing slower and slower.  Her husband Francois literally ran up the ladder to get to her, that is not really advised, should only have one person on the ladder at a time.  This photo was taken at the mouth of the Falls.  Well, done Tamaran!

Bronwen must have the biggest blisters I have ever seen a person can get, but she also persevered to the end and was rewarded with the stunning view.  And also having a slight scare of heights she did amazingly well!  Danielle our born mother hen, nearly had a nervous breakdown!  She kept saying don’t go so close to the edge, be careful, think, rather walk slower…  But she also made it up and down without any permanent damage.  Francois was in his element and thought he was in heaven.  And me, if I can do it you can do it, I am a mother of 3 adult daughters and one teenager (who stayed at home as she is petrified of heights and doesn’t like anything remotely sporty). And to top it all off I had to carry my camera with to the top and back, no questions asked.  Thank you Danielle for helping me with the carry work.

Sentinel Peak060

Sentinel Peak ticked off from my bucket list, so many more to do…


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