The Water Explorer SA team took some time out over the winter to do a 5 day hike in the 3000m high uKhuhlamba Drakensberg mountains which are the source of 2 of South Africa’s most important rivers, the Tugela and the Orange-Senque.
Both these rivers are born in Lesotho and supply most of Kwazulu-Natal, the Free State and Gauteng with water, that more than half the population of SA. We were really interested to see what the source of these rivers looked like in light of the current drought the country is experiencing.
The source of the Tugela River is the Mont-Aus-Sources plateau which extends several kilometers beyond the Amphitheatre escarpment in Lesotho. The Tugela also gives rise to the 2nd Highest waterfall in the world, at a whopping 948m. Our hike began with a nerve-wracking ascent of the 80 odd metres of chain-ladders to the plateau after which we encountered the Tugela. It was clear that the river was just a shadow of its normal self, as the falls had almost resorted to a mere trickle over the edge of the escarpment. We camped at the top of the falls for the night and were simply grateful that there was enough water for us to replenish our water bottles with and to cook for that evening.