Giants Cup Slackpacking Trail

The Giants Cup Slackpacking Trail follows the well-marked hiking trail that runs along the base of the southern Drakensberg. Contouring around the Sandstone outcrops of the Little Berg, the trail affords magnificent views of the high mountains and a good chance of game sightings.

This slackpacking trail effectively covers the first 4 days of the Giants Cup Trail in three, and can be extended to cover the full 5-day 60km trail all the way through to Bushmens Nek. Overnighting in comfortable lodges and farm-stays.

  • Trip Duration3 Hike Days / 4 Nights* Extra hike day & night avail
  • Daily DistancesDay 1: 13km / 5-6hr Day 2: 18km / 7-8hrDay 3: 9-12km / 4hrs
  • Trail Grading3/ 5 - Fitness. Day 2 (18km) is a relatively long day though the ascent is not great.2/ 5 - Technicality. A clear path (relatively well maintained), with no sheer vertical sections.
  • Trail TerrainThe trail contours around the Clarens Sandstone hills of the Little Berg (at 1250 – 2000m altitude).Clear hiking path, mostly maintained by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
  • AccommodationCountry cottage / B&B accom with lodge upgrade options
  • Logistic SupportThis is a fully-catered & vehicle supported trail, sleeping in comfortable farmhouses or lodges.The trail is self-guided but follows a well-marked trail with emergency support service.
  • Group SizePreferred min of 4 persons - maximum 12 per group
  • PricingOn a group of 4 persons: from R8,500 - R9,500/pp/sharing
At a Glance

This slackpacking trail effectively covers the first 4 days of the Giants Cup Trail, and can be extended to cover the full 5-day 60km trail, all the way through to Bushmens Nek. At the end of each days hike, you are ferried a short distance to a comfortable lodge or farmstay, with your bags awaiting your arrival. This means you can hike the trail without the burden of a heavy pack, giving you more time to take that swim in a refreshing mountain pool or photograph the wild flowers along the way.

Being a three day trail, it is a good option for a long weekend getaway. For those walkers who want to marry fine dining and more luxury lodgings to the experience, this trail can be upgraded to do so.

  1. Day 1Arrival Day

    Self-drive to Himeville or Sani Pass road

    Overnight: Himeville Guesthouse / Sani Pass Accom (Dinner)

  2. Day 2Hike Day 1: Sani Pass to Cobham Nature Reserve (13km/ 5-6hr hike time)

    After breakfast, you will be transported to the start of the trail, a few km up the Sani Pass road. After crossing between the Mkomazana and Gxalingwa valleys, Ngwenya Pools makes an ideal refresher point, before the trail ascends gradually through attractive country into the Pholela valley. The suspension bridge marks the entry into Cobham reserve, from where you will be collected & transferred to your overnight stay.

    Overnight: Himeville Guesthouse / Sani Pass Accom (Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

  3. Day 3Hike Day 2: Cobham to Drak Gardens (18km/7-8hr)

    After breakfast, you will transfer back to Cobham, and continue the trail. The trail ascends Siphongweni Ridge, past Tortoise Rocks, before traversing its southern flank and dropping down into the Mzimkulwana valley. Mzimkulwana Hut (normally the 2nd nights hut on the GC Trail) makes for a shady rest point, as from here it is a steady climb out of the valley, towards Little Bamboo Mountain.

    On the top of the ridge you will find a number of small ponds (tarns) where blue cranes frequent, and the remains of a petrified forest. The trail then follows the beautiful Killiecrankie stream, down to Drakensberg Gardens Valley, where you will be collected and transferred to your next night’s guesthouse.

    Overnight: Drak Gardens Rd - Guesthouse/ Cottages (Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

  4. Day 4Hike Day 3: Castleburn to Drakensberg Gardens Hotel (10km/4hr)

    From Castleburn you will again pick up the marked Giants Cup Trail. The first half of the trail ascends the ridge to the west of Garden Castle mountain via the scenic but steep Black Eagle Pass which reaches an altitude of 1900 metres. Many pleasant vistas present themselves as you follow the contour path to the top of the Drakensberg Gardens hotel, at which point you will come down.

    Return transfer to your vehicles

Gxalingene River Valley

It is an option to hike up this valley starting at Sani Pass hotel - Day 1 of the Giants Cup Slackpacker

Farmstays and 3-4 Star equivalent Guesthouse / B&Bs – in Himeville and on the Drakensberg Gardens Road

Farmhouse - Drakensberg Gardens
  1. Do we carry our own backpacks?

    No. Your overnight luggage will be transported from lodge to lodge on this trail. You just need walk with a daypack with your water, lunch and supplies for the day.

  2. What type of footwear is appropriate?

    Worn in hiking boots for ankle support if you wish, otherwise a hiking or trail-running shoe will be fine for this little berg trail.

  3. What is the best time of year for this trail?

    Autumn (Mar-May) and Spring (mid August - Oct) are some of the best months. For the most stable weather, winter months (June-July) can be the best: chilly starts but generally warm and dry days with a warm lodge to snuggle down overnight. The hottest months (Nov-Feb) tend to have heavy afternoon thunderstorms.

  4. Can this hike be lengthened?

    Yes, if you have the time, you can do the final hike day which goes from Swiman’s hut (just beyond Drak Gardens hotel) through to Bushmens Nek hotel – approx. 12km. A night at Bushmens Nek hotel is a great way to finish off the trail.

  5. Can this hike be run?

    Absolutely. It makes a great trail run. The whole trail can be comfortably run in 3 days or over a weekend. There is an event which does this trail, but we can organise it for you as a private run with your friends.

at a glance

To be quoted based on accom choice, but from R8000/pp based on a group of 4 or more persons

Whats included in this tour
  • 4 nights DBB accommodation (sharing basis): 2 nights in Himeville or Sani Pass & 2 nights Drakensberg Gardens valley
  • Packed lunches on all 3 hike days
  • Daily Shuttles to/from the trail each day
  • Luggage Shuttle
  • Maps provided (trail is self-guided)
  • Park Entry x 3 days