The 60km, five-day Giant’s Cup Hiking Trail (R75 per person per night, includes entrance fee to the reserve), part of which traverses a depression that explains the trail’s name, is the only laid-out trail in the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg. It starts at the Sani Pass road, then leads through the foothills of the Southern Drakensberg and winds past eroded sandstone formations, overhangs with San paintings, grassy plains and beautiful valleys with river pools to swim in. No single day’s hike is longer than 14km and, although there are some steep sections, this is not a difficult trail – you need to be fit to enjoy it, but not an athlete.
The mountain huts at the five overnight stops have running water, toilets, tables and benches, and bunks with mattresses. It’s essential to bring a camping stove, food and a sleeping bag. The trail can be shortened by missing the first day and starting out at Pholela Hut, an old farmhouse where you spend the night, then terminating one day earlier at Swiman Hut close to the KZN Wildlife office at Garden Castle. You can also lengthen the trail by spending an extra night at Bushmen’s Nek Hut, in an area with numerous caves and rock-art sites.
The trail is restricted to thirty people per day and tends to get booked out during holiday periods; bookings should be made through KZN Wildlife (kznwildlife.com), where you can also get a map and a trail booklet.