Dargle Discoverer Trail

The Dargle Discovery is a 3-day slackpacking hike encompassing some of the best of the KZN Midland's hidden gems. Traversing privately owned land in conservancies otherwise not accessible to the public, the area is renowned for its rich biodiversity and high level of endemism. The ever-changing landscapes include highly threatened Mist-Belt Forest, Afro-Montane grassland, rolling farmlands and challenging summits.

Every season brings its own floral display including Aloes, Kniphofia (red hot pokers), Gladiolus, Hypoxis, Watsonia, Brungsvigia (river lilies) and Wahlenbergia (bell flowers).

As a 2 or 3-day trail with flexible daily distances, it is well suited to a family weekender.

  • Trip Duration3 Hike Days / 3 Nights* Shorter & longer variations
  • Daily DistancesDay 1: 7-10km / 5-6hrDay 2: 15km / 5-7hrDay 3: 10-15km / 5-7hrs
  • Trail Grading2-3/ 5 - Fitness. A fair level of fitness is required2 -3/ 5 - Technicality. Cleared paths, but also some off-camber grassy trails (relatively well maintained), and a few vertical up and down sections.
  • Trail TerrainVaries between well maintained yellowwood forest logging paths, stone terraced paths, mountain paths, ravine trails and rocky ridges
  • AccommodationFarm stays & 2-3 star equivalent B&B's and rustic farm style lodges
  • Logistic SupportA fully guided and catered lodge-to-lodge tour with vehicle back-up and daily luggage transfersReturn transfer provided
  • Group SizePreferred min of 4 persons and max 12-14 persons per group
  • PricingOn a group of 4 persons: from R5,100/pp/sharing
At a Glance

The upper Dargle/Impendle area, although part of the Midlands, is also considered the start of the mighty Drakensberg escarpment, and this hike combines some more rugged berg hiking with the luxury of Midland's comforts.

Given the variety of ecological niches, the Dargle valley is home to over 200 bird species including the rare Cape Parrot and White-winged Starling. Due to the protection status of this area, it is not uncommon to find highly specialised animals like the elusive Samango monkeys playing in the Cape Chestnut trees, or some of the successfully re-introduced rock dassies sunbathing in the forest fringe. Blue duiker, oribi and mountain reedbuck are also frequent visitors.

Some steep ascents and off-camber grassy trails, make this hike challenging at times. As with the Karkloof Falls2Falls, 10% of profit will go towards local conservation projects.

  1. Day 1Arrival Day: Late afternoon arrival in the Dargle valley

    Sundowners

    Overnight: Dargle Farmstay (Dinner)

  2. Day 2Hike Day 1: Inhlosane Summit (7-10km /764m ascent/ 5-6hrs)

    Today’s hike starts with a slow ascent up the ridge using a well-marked indigenous forest trail, up onto the saddle of iNhlosane mountain. From here there are a few rocky and steep inclines across the highland grasslands, which in Spring and Summer are swathed in a blanket of delicate wildflowers.

    At 1976 meters above sea level, iNhlosane is the highest mountain in the Midlands. From the summit, you will be rewarded with stunning vistas of the Midlands. From here it is a short but steep walk through indigenous forest back to your farmstay.

    Overnight: Dargle Farmstay (breakfast, packed lunch, dinner)

  3. Day 3Hike Day 2: The Heart of the Midlands (+/- 15km / 5-7hrs)

    Today's hike is relatively easy walking; taking hikers through typical Midlands farm scenery and past an expansive wetland (an important nesting site for cranes), before descending to pass by one of the oldest farmhouses of KwaZulu-Natal, renowned for its architecture.

    From here, it's an undulating stroll through mistbelt grassland to your next nights accommodation, nestled under the eaves of one of the most ancient indigenous forests.

    Overnight: Dargle Guesthouse (breakfast, packed lunch, dinner)

  4. Day 4Hike Day 3: The ancient Dargle Forest (10-15km /200m ascent/ 5-7hrs)

    Using old logging trails and newly developed hiking paths, todays hike takes you through the cool undergrowth of Mistbelt forest, in the heart of the Dargle valley. There are plenty of spring mountain streams to drink from, as well as frequent sightings of tree dassie's, oribi, reedbuck and perhaps a Samango monkey.

    At the top of the forest you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the Dargle and Lidgetton valley, with the iconic Nhlosane mountain as a backdrop.

    A ‘local is lekker’ picnic lunch ends off the experience, with finger foods selected from the surrounding producers: a true taste of the Midlands.

    Transfer provided back to vehicles or alternative arrangements made.

Montane forest and mistbelt grasslands

Farmstays & 3-4 star equivalent B&B's and Country Cottages

Bedding and towels provided

Locally sourced and almost all organic country cuisine

Farm stay accommodation
  1. Do we carry our own backpacks?

    No. You will just need to carry a daypack with your packed lunch, water and supplies for the day. Your overnight bags will be transferred by vehicle from lodge to lodge.

  2. What type of footwear is appropriate?

    Hiking trail shoes or trail-running sneakers are best suited for this trail.

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

    The relative altitude has a moderating effect on summer temperature with day time temperatures seldom exceeding 30 degrees C. Summer nights can be cool > 15 degrees C. The rainy season is in Summer ( November to February).

    Winter days are warm and dry, often above 20 degree C with night temperatures 1-10 Degrees C. Occasionally there is a small scattering of snow in surrounding higher altitude areas

    Please try to avoid peak season holidays (Mar-Apr & Dec-Jan) as the lodges have to give priority to long-stay bookings over such times. Autumn and Spring are great times of year for the Midlands.

  4. Do you run scheduled trips?

    Scheduled tours will be a run a couple times a year (enquire regarding dates) otherwise private trips also avaiable - date/ avail permitting.

  5. What are the trail highlights?

    Comfortable lodges, log-fires and healthy, local and ethically sourced country cuisine, spectacular 360 degree panoramic views of the Dargle and Lidgetton Valley, challenging summits, flower spotting and ancient Yellowwood forests.

3 Day / 3 Night Dargle Discoverer

Group SizePrice (PP) 
4 Persons
R5200/pp
5-7 Persons
R4900/pp
8-10 Persons
R4600/pp
Whats included in this tour
  • 3 Nights Accom (sharing basis): country cottages
  • Full Catering: 3 packed lunches for the hike days, 3 dinners and 3 breakfasts
  • Professional Hiking Guide - for all hike days. FGASA qualified to explore the fauna and fauna with you
  • Hiking Permits and private Land Permissions
  • Return Transfer
  • Vehicle Luggage Support
  • 10% of profit donation to the local conservancies