12 May 2016

Drakensberg Amphitheatre: KZN Wildlife issues set of safety precautions!

Following the recent attacks on hikers/campers (end of April 2016) in the Drakensberg Amphitheatre region, KZN Wildlife has issued a set of safety precautions all visitors to the region should be aware of.

  • Do not camp anywhere on the main Amphitheatre "bowl" or major paths. Rather choose a valley well away from the main trails and set up camp uphill, so that you have the advantage of high ground.
  • Do not set up tents when you are being watched. Generally the culprits will hang around on the ridges above hiking parties in the late afternoons. If you are being watched, keep moving and don't set up camp anywhere near them.
  • Do not set up camp near huts or areas of obvious habitation.
  • Be friendly and polite to those you meet, but firm. Don't display cameras and other valuables openly if you can help it.
  • A party size of three or more is recommended.
  • A watch system at night can be exhausting but might be a good option for known trouble spots.
  • Going with a guide or experienced porters helps tremendously as they can often spot trouble and some speak the local language.
  • Keep all your belongings in the tent with you, and tie your boots to your pack or sleeping bag to avoid them being taken without your knowledge.
  • Consider putting survival items such as a space blanket, cell phones and boots into a smaller daypack or jacket that can be quickly retrieved if need be.
The current modus operandi of the suspected attackers at the Amphitheatre area is as follows:
  • Aggressive begging for food or money at the Chain ladders. Some hikers have had stones thrown at them when descending after refusing to give food or money.
  • Shepherds watching hiking parties late afternoon when they set up camp to see what can be stolen. Attacks then generally occur around 23:00 to 03:00.
  • Some tents are cut open and items stolen.
The Amphitheatre is located in the Northern Drakensberg and forms part of the Royal Natal National Park. It is over 5,000m in length and has precipitous cliffs rising approximately 1,220 metres along its entire length. The Amphitheatre is regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces on earth.

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