Champagne castle peak

 

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// Nikon D7200 |-28.99874 : 29.44653 | alt. 1187m

The park ranger office only opens from 8am to 4pm, a pretty short window to get any information, which makes me start the trail at 9am. They gave me the map, but even on this one, there is no trail going to Champagne castle ! They had to call a local guide to get the waypoints and where to climb…… feels a bit scary honestly 😀 This peak is a different challenge, with 25kms one way to make it to the top, and 2000m elevation gain. All the tips they gave me were non sense, and I pretty much had to plot the route myself….
So here we go, fairly tough hike to the top of the plateau (9hrs walk), where I pitched my tent for the night. Luckily, there was a river flowing on the plateau (this is winter, so lot of stream are frozen) !
Bad weather came during the night, and it started to rain….. oh no, please go away ! I didn’t walk up there to end up in the clouds 🙁
Next morning, I wanted to start before sunrise but it was so cold outside I couldn’t step away from my sleeping bag. In fact, the whole canvas of my tent was frozen !
Two hours later, I finally went out, and the sky was blue ! Still 1.5 hours to walk to the top of Champagne castle, with a stunning view waiting for me…. this peak is a massive wall, 1.2kms high, dominating South Africa. But the only thing I could see was a huge sea of clouds at my feet, far below, and Lesotho emerging from the fog, what a sight !!!! It couldn’t get better than this !

Next day, exhausted, I drove to the northern section.
Since I’m running out of time on my visa, I could spend just one extra day in the area, and I decided to leave Cathedral peak behind me, and to do the amphitheater instead.
What I didn’t know is that this particular section is not part of the national park ! This is private area, and everything cost a fortune, including the hike itself. It almost came to 50eur for 2 days on that famous trail….. Out of my budget, I was so upset about this……. Now, I am too far north, so instead of backtracking to Cathedral peak, I went straight to Swaziland.
Again, I will try to get a 90 days visa extension at the border, we never know 🙂

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