Blyde River Canyon


Kilometres – 6 – 6.5km

Starting Point – Cathedral Peak Hotel

Hiking Level – First 4km – Easy

– Last 2 – 2.5km – Moderate

Over the past weekend me and a couple other peeps made the 3 hour drive from Durban to the great and beautiful Drakensberg Mountains. Our Destination: Xeni Cave, a vast cave in the Cathedral Peak region with a waterfall that falls directly over the lip of it. A sight to behold.

Wake up time was 4:00am and by 5:30, we had gathered our group and we where off. We numbered 13 in total, 7 adults and 6 kids. We arrived in the berg around 9 after a stop at Windmalls, a must stop coffee and bakery shop for any Durban – Berg roadtrip, at the N3 Exit R132, Nottingham Road.

We arrived at Didima resort where you pay the fee for hiking, R100 per person per night. We then made our way over to Cathedral Peak Hotel, a short drive away, where you pay R50 parking per night per vehicle.

 We set off on our adventure at around 10am. Spirits where high and the dad-jokes where flowing. We were making good progress, the first few km’s flew by pretty fast. I was excited to be back in the mountains again after such a long break. The beauty and vastness of the berg never ceases to amaze. We had quite a few berg hiking first timers and it was really cool to see their eyes light up as they viewed this new world of peaks and ravines. Sun was out in full force which is both a blessing and a curse in the berg. It was well over 30 degrees Celsius and we were cooking!

(The best time of year to visit the berg is recommended to be in the months of April and May as this autumn, where the temperatures are less extreme and storms are less common.)

We stopped at some natural swimming holes,  to escape the midday heat, catch a swim and eat some lunch. The water was fresh but not extreme. We stayed here for around an hour and then around 1pm we where off again.

After a short stretch of gentle ups and downs the path led us onto the riverbed. This was around 4km from starting point. 2km’s of boulder hopping really does a number on your legs and frequent rests are required. 

After jumping from rock to rock like a mountain goat for a while my legs were screaming bloody murder! The riverbed trek didn’t seem to be ending any time soon. It just seemed to go on and on seemingly into infinitum. And then……..we got Lost…

After an hour of map checking, trail blazing and debating our course of action we eventaully decided to push on, onto the dreaded riverbed once again.

20 Minutes later we had another dilemma. We could see our cave but it was way up on the cliff face, way, way up. It was steep as well, probably around 250-300m up from the riverbed. So after another 30minutes of fighting the slopes we finally reached our home for the night.


Xeni Cave, a massive spacious overhang with a powerful waterfall flowing over the edge of it. The cave could easily sleep our 13 and maybe 10 – 15 more quite comfortably. There are 2 benches for cooking and a fire pit. The floor is littered with dead grass that serves to cushion your sleep just a little bit from the hard ground. Around the corner of the cave is a smaller cave that I nicknamed, ‘The War Zone’, because everywhere you look there are landmines(of the excrement variety) with white flags(toilet paper) littering the battlefield, a tragic reminder of the ongoing war that hikers face on a daily basis.  ‘The War on Business in the Bush’!

The clouds started to role in around 6pm covering our beautiful mountain views in a depthless white. Dinner was sausage and mash and a assortment of snacks. After a quick birthday celebration of sparklers and smores we chatted a while, played some card games and then crashed around 9. 

We all woke around 7 to a eerie misty morning. After a 2-minute noodle breakfast, a couple of speeches and prayers and by 9 we were off. This day wasn’t as eventful as the first and we made good time. The clouds cleared around 11 and our sunny friend was back. We stopped off for lunch at the same spot we did the day before. By 2pm we were back at our cars, very sore and very relieved!

Here’s to the next one!

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