Hike Planning

South African hike planning & weather in the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal & Lesotho.

 Hike planning in the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa is very important.

Summer in the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa (from the middle of October to middle of March) is quite warm, with average temperatures ranging from 24 to 32 degrees Celsius, even higher when one considers the heat humidity factor in the height of summer.

Winter on the other hand can get surprisingly cold. Temperatures can get down to below -10 at night. Also the wind chill doesn’t help.

The East coast of South Africa, which is where you find the Drakensberg mountains experiences a summer rainfall season.  The countryside and the Drakensberg, are usually full of new growth and lots of flowers.  The South African rainy season is known for the rapid onset of storms, usually in the afternoon, which needs to be considered when planning a summer hike in South Africa.

Northern Drakensberg Traverse
Mnweni circuit hike

Weather you can expect in the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa.

The heat humidity factor in KwaZulu-Natal usually makes temperatures feel much higher than the averages, therefore you may prefer to start your hike earlier in the morning to get the bulk of your walking done before it gets too hot, so enjoy an afternoon of relaxation.

Winter in the Drakensberg and in Lesotho can become extremely cold because of the elevation (up to 3,400m above sea level).  As a result it is not unusual to see the Drakensberg wearing it’s winter jacket (snow) for weeks at a time in winter.  Night time temperatures in winter in the South African Drakensberg usually range between -5 and -15 degrees Celsius. Hence overnight camps and hikes will careful require planning.  Winter daytime temperatures in the Drakensberg and Lesotho, although very cold in the mornings, warm up during the middle of the day, making hiking or traveling pleasant.

It is important to ensure that you have appropriate hiking equipment for winter camping

If you are planning to join us for a winter hike in South Africa, or an overland tour of Lesotho with us and don’t have the necessary hiking equipment and warm gear, please feel free to contact us about equipment hire.

Many of the items listed here will also be useful for your overland tour of Lesotho or wilderness trail experience, so be sure to check these lists anyway if you are using Drakensberg Hiker to organise an overland tour of Botswana, Namibia or Lesotho or a wilderness trail in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve!

 

You can check the current weather conditions in the South African Drakensberg here, and the current weather conditions at Sani Pass here.

hike planning

planning your hike in South Africa

When planning your South African hike with us,

please note that although many things are provided by DrakensbergHiker, including main meals, first aid kit, tents, etc, there are some things you either need to bring or arrange to hire from us.

Please contact us about hiring any of the following:

  • We have one or two man hiking tents, specially selected for their suitability for hiking in the Drakensberg, in all weather conditions;
  • For all our hikes, we provide a large mess tent. As a result we can comfortably accommodate up to 10 people for a wonderful dinner after a hard day’s Drakensberg hiking.
  • We have high quality and comfortable sleeping bags and sleeping mats for hire as well, so if you need to hire any of these items from us, please be sure to tell us when you enquire about our Drakensberg hikes.

The things you need to provide when hiking with Drakensberg Hiker include the following:

  • Snacks for you to consume between main meals whilst hiking, any chocolates, nuts, trail food or snacks that you prefer;
  • You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, backpack and sleeping mat.
  • If you don’t have these, or are concerned about  having the appropriate sleeping bag for our climate,
  • please contact us to enquire about hiring them
  • or ensure that your sleeping bag is appropriate for camping in the Drakensberg;
  • Any drinks for personal consumption other than water, coffee or tea;
  • Your own hiking boots, if you are in doubt about whether your hiking boots are appropriate for the Drakensberg terrain your hike will cover, please contact us to ensure that they are;

Also to consider

Any personal medications you may require, especially those prescribed for chronic conditions, this does not include those typically carried in a first aid kit;

Your personal grooming kit and a roll of toilet paper.

Sunscreen, please bear in mind that hiking in the Drakensberg is at a higher altitude than ‘normally’ experienced by most people, and the temperatures can get quiet high, so the probability of sunburn is significant, an SP factor of 30+ is generally recommended, going up to 50+ if your skin is very fair;

As the weather in the Drakensberg can be unpredictable

and (as with any mountain range) fluctuates between extremes, it is strongly suggested that you ensure you have clothing appropriate for a range of weather conditions with you.

Check here for weather conditions in the Drakensberg in the weeks prior to your hike, and here for weather conditions in Lesotho for the weeks prior to your hike; and please do ensure that you have thermal gear with you in case of a surprise cold front in summer or spring.

Please download our packing checklist from here to assist you with your packing – if you have any inquiries about what we supply, or what equipment you need to bring, please do not hesitate to contact us to ensure that your hike with Drakensberg Hiker is a memorable and positive experience for you!