This is one of the best and most scenic day hikes in the Berg and not to be missed. Sweeping views of the Amphitheatre, forested ravines, beautiful blue-green pools beneath towering sandstone rock faces and the view of the world’s second highest falls, the Tugela Falls, from the base.
Allow 5 and a half to 6 hours and choose a dry day. It is of intermediate level: easy to start with and then challenging with boulder hopping and a chain ladder towards the end is optional. Be aware that it is slippery in wet weather and the chain ladder should then be avoided.
Distance : 17.5 kms return. Takes about 6 hours in total.
Start at the Thendele Car Park where you can leave your car for the day. The start of the trail is clearly marked. After a km cross a bridge and you will soon see the Policeman’s Helmet on your right, a sandstone pillar eroded at the base.
‘The trail takes you in and out of lush forests, with beautiful views of the Amphitheatre wall. Along the way you will most likely see wildlife, including deer, birds and baboons’
After about 6kms you will reach the riverbed of the Tugela. The riverbed itself becomes the remainder of the trail that will take you to the Tunnel of the gorge. Generally this section is not too difficult. After a few kilometers you will get to the Tunnel which is impassable.
Although the river is seldom in flood, you should assess if it is safe to continue.’
This is one of the most special places in the Berg. The Tunnel is basically white sandstone that has formed rock pools. The sandstone walls are wonderfully shaped. The water here is crystal clear, and fantastic for a swim, albeit icy!
‘On the one side of the gorge you will see a trail that will take you to higher ground on the opposite side of the Tugela. It is really worth getting up on that side for another incredible view of the Amphitheatre and the Tugela Falls.
The chain ladder takes you up and into a lush forest, with iron pegs that have been mounted for your convenience. Here you will have to be careful. We would certainly not recommend climbing this section if it is raining, as the path will be very slippery. Rainy weather may make walking in the Gorge dangerous too, so best avoided.
If dry: ‘Once you are on the top of the gorge, you will be able to look down in the tunnel from above. Continue on the trail, and after about half a kilometer you will be rewarded with an incredible view of the Tugela Falls and the wall of the Amphitheatre.’ It is another 20 to 30 minutes from the ladder to see the falls.
When looking at the falls, be aware that they may in fact actually be the tallest falls in the world, as there is some controversy over the geological survey height of the Angel Falls, Venezuela.