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Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

Sydney, Australia
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Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

DH & I will be leaving Graaf-Reinet on the 7th September. We have a Battlfields Tour booked out of Dundee on the 13th. I am really struggling with these last 6 days of our almost 4 mnth trip.

I really can't figure out the most practicable way to drive from Graaf-Reinet to Drakensberg, and how to make the most of our time.

I want to do a trip up the Sani Pass and I would like to see the best view looking up to the Ampitheatre. I doubt either of us are capable of climbing the ladders, but happy to hike part of the way to Tugela Falls. I actually think the best view is from a distance (the one on wikipedia).

Thought we would stay at Sani Lodge Backpackers and Honeyguide cottage (but open to other suggestions) and do there tour up the Sani Pass. Although I have noted there is a tour run by two different companies in town. Both The Cavern or Cathedral Peak hotel have been recommended of where to stay in the Drakensberg. Not really keen on self catering.

To those who have already contributed previously thank you. Hopefully I can stop dithering and make some decisions.

Northampton, United...
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1. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

Hello and I am not sure on your plans for the drive to Dundee or exact timings however, just a couple of suggestions. If you want a wonderful wildlife/safari experience then take a look at Nambiti Pvt Game serve. We have been there several times and love it. Its just outside Ladysmith and not far from Dundee. For the Berg we have stayed at Cathedral Peak Hotel and thought it was wonderful. Great views, lots to do and good food. If you are really into food then check out Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse. Just off the Berg is Three Tree Hill overlooking Spionkop, a lovely lodge and very special in many aspects. Perfect to for the Spionkop Battlefield. For the Amphitheatre try and get as close as you can. I have not stayed anywhere other than the KZN Wildlife self catering cottages. I did stay at Drakensberg Mountain Retreat which is on the opposite side of the valley with great views. There is a lot to do in the area generally so you will easily fill your time especially if you visit Sani Pass. I have been holidaying there for 20 years and always wish I had longer in the province!

Mark - Owner - SafariKZN

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

MarkH90 after we leave Dundee we will be heading for Kruger until the 27th when we finally fly home. The first part of our trip is a 73 day camping trip through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Mozanbique & Zanzibar.

I am looking for suggestions on the best way to get from Graaf-Reinet to the Drakensberg and how to maximise our time.

I am wondering if we could drive to Kokstad(700kms 9 1/2hrs) then drive to Underberg for our Sani Pass tour on the morning of the tour or is that pushing it? If we allowed 2 hours for the 1 1/2hr drive would that be sufficient.? Sunrise 0630 and sunset 1810.

Several people have suggested driving to Clarens and the other side of Lesotho. If we did this I am not sure how we would proceed.

Northampton, United...
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3. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

Hello and my apologies and I have not driven across that way. However I see no reason why you can't. From Underberg you can explore the Berg from the southern section upwards and include Sani pass.

Mark - Owner - SafariKZN

Pretoria, South...
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4. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

I'm familiar with the Kokstad-Underberg leg and it's a beautiful drive and takes only a couple of hours. Graaff Reinet-Kokstad on the other hand sounds rather gruelling but I don't have first-hand experience. Underberg and Himeville are of course in the Drakensberg:-) and are very beautiful - favourite places of mine. My chosen accommodation in the area is Lake Naverone but it's self-catering so may not suit you. There is an adequate supermarket in Underberg and a couple of outlets for farm produce, artisinal cheeses, etc.

From Underberg to Dundee you would take the R617 to Howick and pick up the N3 there (unless you have the time and inclination to do the scenic route and take in part of the Midlands Meander - in which case hit the N3 at Mooi River). I think you leave the N3 at Ladysmith but your maps will tell you that.

Pretoria, South...
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5. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

Just noticed the Amphitheatre part. The Cavern is lovely and very convenient. You could go there after Underberg. To get to Dundee from there you'd have to go back to Bergville and Ladysmith

Howick, South Africa
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6. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

The photo on Wikipedia appears to have been taken by someone standing on the rocks in the Tugella river and looking upstream. There's a road in the Royal Natal park which goes alongside the river for a while and from where there's a great view of the Amphitheatre. A photo I took standing outside our car on that road looks very similar to that on Wikipedia and there's no trekking involved at all. At the end of the same road is a parking area at the beginning of some walking trails.

It would be quite a long drive from the Himeville area to Royal Natal and may be worth considering a two centre stay-over. Note that both Sani Pass and an Amphitheatre view visit would both need clear days; when we went up Sani Pass in October a couple of years ago it clouded over at the top and was snowing horizontally for a while! Sorry I can't comment on accommodation as we always self-cater and normally frequent the Champagne Valley area but there are numerous places offering accommodation.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

Thank you for your contributions. The plan

6th Overnight Graaf-Reinet

7th Drive to Kokstad (700kms 9 1/2hrs)

8th Drive to Underberg (111kms 1 1/2hrs) Sani Pass Tour -leaves 0900 from Underberg Overnight Himeville

9th Drive to The Cavern via R74-Is this the Midlands Meander? (252kms 4 1/2hrs)

10th & 11th The Cavern

12th Drive to Dundee via Ladysmith (170kms 2 3/4hrs)

Questions

Where do we stop for lunch on the 7th?

Is 2hrs sufficient to get to Underberg by 0900hs or should we allow 2 1/2hrs?

On the 9th suggestions of a short easy hike in the southern Drakensberg?

On the 12th easy hiking or battlefields?

Pretoria, South...
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8. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

Midlands Meander is the R103 and some other back roads: midlandsmeander.co.za

I'd allow 2.5 hours (or even a little more) to get from Kokstad to Underberg, to allow for the winding road and possible slow-moving traffic. I am however a slow driver!

IMO the R74 is not a particularly scenic or interesting drive. In your shoes I would just use the N3 from either Howick or Mooi River. So from Underberg: R617-R103 (maybe) - N3 to Bergville - R74 from Bergville to the RNNP turnoff and from there to the Cavern.

Edited: 3:05 pm, May 01, 2014
Port Elizabeth
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9. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

I am not sure of the state of the roadworks around Mount Ayliff, as they must have progressed since I was last there, but they were adding quite a lot of extra time to the journey. Plan on the journey taking an extra hour. Leave Graaff Reinet early in the morning. Also, getting through Mthatha can be very slow later in the day, especially Friday or Saturday.

Port Elizabeth
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10. Re: Graaf-Reinet to Dundee

Just before Mthatha is a Shell Ultra City. Convenient for petrol, toilets and take-aways. I don't think you have time for much else.

This section of the N2 is the slowest piece of National Road in South Africa.

Edited: 3:51 pm, May 01, 2014