Bushman’s Nek Cave
Bushman’s Nek
Southern Drakensberg
17 - 18 November 2012

Bushman’s Nek Cave in the Southern Berg is one of those caves that never really drew my attention , or , sort of called to be visited. Then the opportunity came to take a hike up to this cave. Information Keith, who was to lead the hike was that it was not a hard hike, and although the altitude of the cave seemed to put it high up a step valley, he said that the hike was a steady up hill all the way to cave, with numerous river crossings to negotiate. If the rivers were full, taking boots off at many of the wider streams could slow our progress somewhat. Also the cave would only sleep about 10 people in some comfort. Others who wanted to come had to bring tents.

So, the group met at the Bushman’s Nek EKZN Wildlife office at Bushman’s Nek, signed the Mountain Rescue Register and got ready to hike. One couple brought a tent as they were late bookers for the hike.

Pic 3 getting ready at the car park.

The beginning of the walk , up to Half Way Cave is a very easy walk, with a gradual climb. The lower valley is very pretty, with numerous river/stream crossings, some more difficult than others in terms of stone hopping to keep boots dry. There are numerous sparkling pools and waterfalls. A large pool is found near Half Way Cave, where time can be spent cooling off in the clear cold water.

Pic 8, 9, 10 , 11 Many fast flowing streams to cross
Pic 12 Half Way cave

As the broad valley started to narrow and get steeper , and a major river fork was encountered, it was time to get a GPS point for future reference. The path had now started to disappear in places, and the slopes became steeper and more rugged. The scenery changed from the more open gentle valley , to steep sided rocky outcrops and high rock formations.

Pic 13 A good GPS point
Pic 14 , 15 - Steep sharp valley with high rock pinnacles

Lunch time was a very well earned break for some, especially for those hikers who had to rise very early from Durban to get to the start point by 08h30

Pic 16 lunch break

After lunch the climb became steeper and quite an effort for the not so fit hikers. The scenery was very pretty. If one could spend some time dwelling on this changing scenery, and not where the badly overgrown path was leading, the climb was very rewarding.

Pic 17 , 18 Wonderful views all the way up.

Eventually the “cave” was reached, some hikers were more than happy and relieved at this stage. But, looking at the cave , the question on all our minds were – where is the cave. The weather had been kind to us all morning, cool , with thick mist at high up altitudes, but as we reached the end, the conditions changed, and a heavy mist rolled in. The “Cave” did not look like it would offer much protection from the elements at this stage of the afternoon.

Pic 19 “The Cave” no place to hide !
Pic 20 – 21 Settling in , with the mist rolling up the valley
Pic 22 Wet and cold trip to get water from the stream
Pic 23 - “ Snug as a bug in a rug “

The view from my sleeping place was very limited due to the mist. However, next morning with rising of the sun , a good view opened before my eyes.

The trip back to the cars was much easier than the trip up. Great views of valleys and misty high points gave an ever changing scenery and something new to look at all the time

Pic 26 – 30 ever changing scenery

Getting down to the lower , flatter areas, swimming pools started to appear again , and there was time taken out for a quick swim by some of the hardier hikers.

Pic 31 - a great pool and waterfall
Pic 32 - a good rubdown to get the blood circulating again.

There was still the numerous rivers and streams to cross, however , as the water levels had dropped a bit it seemed easier to cross the waters than on the way up.

Pic 33 - skip across the rocks and keep your boots dry.

The berg flowers were not out as we had expected, but there were a number of places where some flowers had opened. If one has the time, get up and close to the flowers, and take a close look at the intricate details of this wonderland of colour and beauty.

Pic 34 - a white daisy type flower
Pic 35 - take a closer look at the hart of the flower, and intricate weave of colour, form , shape and texture - quite incredible to look at under a zoom lense of a camera

The rest of the hike home was done at a slow pace to give time to look around, check the flowers and the different shades and colour of the grasses. Back at the cars , a quick change into fresh clothes, and then the long trek home. Another great week end spent in the hart of mother nature. We are indeed privileged to have this great wilderness on our doorsteps.


Thanks to Keith for his leadership, and to all who took the time to enjoy this hike. To those who had not hiked for a long time and were very gratefully to get to the cave the previous afternoon – don’t despair – you can get stronger with practice.