Vulture Hiking Trail

This newly launched slackpacking trail allows hikers of moderate fitness to explore a little traversed section of berg wilderness, and get a birds eye view of one of only two vulture colonies in the Drakensberg. The Cape and Bearded Vultures have made the cliff faces of the Little Drakensberg their home, and it’s a sight to behold.

The hike covers between 15 - 18 km/day of mainly contoured trail with some short steep climbs, and a few fairly steep descents.

Being just 3-3.5hr drive from either Johannesburg or Durban, this Northern Berg slackpacker offers the perfect long weekend getaway for friends and family. Overnight in tasteful and uniquely positioned cottages and log-cabins, with top notch catering, guiding, and limited cell phone comms – all you need to escape reality for a while.

  • Trip Duration2 Hike Days / 2 Nights – extra day options avail
  • Daily DistancesDay 1: 15km/ 5.5hr (560m Ascent)Day 2: 14km/ 4.5-5hr (288m Ascent)
  • Trail Grading3/ 5 - Fitness. As mountain trails go, this one has a gentle gradient, but one still needs to be hiking fit.2/ 5 - Technicality. Mainly contoured trail with gradual ascent, though there are one or two tricky descents.
  • Trail TerrainMountain terrain. Starting at 1700m on the top of Oliviershoek pass, traversing the tail-end of Sterkfontein dam, and then up the ridge and back down to Mountain Lodge, also sitting at an elevation of 1700m.
  • Accommodation1 Night in 4-star Comfy Berg Cottages1 Night in Mountain Log Cabins
  • Logistic SupportThis is a fully-catered trail, sleeping in comfortable cottages &cabinsInformative GuideLuggage transferred by vehicle
  • Group SizeFrom 2-10 persons / per group
  • PricingOn a group of 4 or more persons: R4,300/pp
At a Glance

This 2 day hike is a great option to do as a weekend break. It is a good option for families or groups with mixed ability. The hiking trail covers between 15 - 18 km/day of mainly contoured trail with some short steep climbs, and a few fairly steep descents.

You will overnight in tasteful and uniquely positioned cottages and log-cabins, with top notch catering, excellent guiding, and limited cell phone comm’s – needed for a proper breakaway.

  1. Day 1Arrival Day

    Self-drive to Northern Berg (3-3.5hr) from Durban/JHB.

    Overnight: Berg Cottages (Dinner provided)

  2. Day 2Hike Day 1: Top of Oliviershoek – Drak Mountain Lodge via Vulture Colony (15km/5.5hr/560m elevation gain)

    Early morning vehicle transfer to top of Oliviershoek Pass.

    The route follows cattle paths and trail on private farmland straddling the border between KZN and the Free State. Enjoy panoramic views across Sterkfontein dam, before a gradual ascent up to the ridge line, enjoying the impressive sandstone formations along the way.

    We aim to be at the Vulture colony by midday, when thermal activity is at its peak and the vultures soar, adeptly navigating in and out of their nesting site in the cliffs below.

    Most groups arrive at Drak Mountain Lodge by mid to late-afternoon, in good time for sundowners on the deck and a hearty 3-course dinner to look forward to.

    Overnight: Drak Mountain Lodge (Breakfast & lunch enroute. Gourmet dinner at Lodge)

  3. Day 3Hike Day 2: Drak Mountain Lodge back to Berghouse Cottages (14km/4.5-5hr/288m ascent)

    Today’s hike follows the valley in an easterly direction back to Berghouse.

    The sandstone cap of the little berg forms the backdrop as the trail meanders through indigenous forest pockets and communal pastures. You may be lucky enough to spot the large herd of Eland, which have made this valley their home.

    You should arrive back at Berghouse by early afternoon, with plenty of light to travel home, or stay another night.

Lunch Break - Day 1

With a view of the vultures soaring on the thermals below

1 Night at Berghouse Cottages – homely, well appointed cottages with some of the best views onto the Amphitheatre range.

1 Night at Mountain Lodge – log cabins nestled under sandstone cliffs.

Cosy room at Berg House Cottages - Night 1
Log Cabins at Drak Mountain Lodge - Night 2Framed by sandstone cliffs and spectacular views
  1. Do we carry our own backpacks?

    No. Your overnight luggage will be transported from lodge to lodge by vehicle.

  2. What type of footwear is appropriate?

    Worn in hiking boots for ankle support if you wish, otherwise a hiking or solid trail-running shoe will suffice.

  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.

    You will need to avoid peak school & public holiday periods due to 1 nights. Also better to arrive on a Thursday night for a weekend trail.

  4. Can this hike be lengthened?

    Yes, and we strongly recommend an extra night spent at Mountain lodge where you can take a horse ride, go flyfishing in one of the dams or enjoy the rock swimming pool with stunning views across to the Amphitheatre.

2 Day / 2 Night Hike

Based on a group of 2-3 persons: R5200/pp

Based on 4 or more persons: R4300/pp

3 Day / 4 Night Hike

Based on a group of 4 or more: R6400/pp

Whats included in this tour
  • 2 or 4 Nights Accom (twin or double sharing basis): Cottages and Log Cabins
  • All meals: from dinner on arrival night to packed lunch on the final hike day
  • Hiking Guide - for all hike days
  • Transfers - to the start of Day 1 and return transfer to vehicles as required