Training Runs: Central Drakensberg

The Drakensberg Mountains form the border between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, with peaks rising over 3000 metres above sea level. The mountain range is separated into north, central and south regions. I had previously visited the north on a number of occasions to relax, to hike and to run. But I had never been to the central or south regions.

Looking for somewhere new to run some trails I made by way to the Central Drakensberg region. I planned out two days of running, with the route for day one suggested by an American staying at the same accommodation and the route for day two suggested by the owner.

When I met up with the same American for dinner and drinks in Cape Town a few days later he started by apologising for not considering the difference between his hiking of the trail and my running of it. The run took my around the area of Cathedral Peak, climbing up an escarpment before taking a path that followed the contour of the land. Unfortunately the weather was quite grey and overcast, but the surrounds were spectacular. But the biggest problem was the sharp grass and thorny bushes that crowded the trail. For a hiker in pants they did not present too much of a problem, but for a runner in shorts I returned back to the base with extremely scratched shins from a few hours of gradual cutting and scratching.

Cathedral Peak - The Trail Down
Cathedral Peak – The Trail Down

My second run took me around the Monk’s Cowl area. I was greeted with perfect blue skies, and once again ran up to the escarpment before following the contour while taking in the stunning scenery. The early running paths were in great condition, and when they started to become overgrown and more difficult to follow I decided to turn around for the return journey.

Monk's Cowl - The Contour Trail
Monk’s Cowl – The Contour Trail

The Central Drakensberg region contains beautiful surrounds, but unfortunately is let down by some poor condition trails and route markings that are more often non-existent than hard to follow. With some investment in route marking and trail maintenance it could certainly be a world-class destination for hiking and trail running.

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