Year in the Wild Blog

Days 9 & 10 – Year in the Wild 2013-14 – Injisuthi and a hard night’s sleep at Poacher’s Stream

From the relative luxury of Didima Camp, we made our way to the remote camp of Injisuthi in the central Drakensberg. This little camp is a favourite of ‘Berg locals, and tends to draw a mountain connoisseur crowd.

I love it, because although the cabins are simple and a bit run down, the emphasis is on the surrounding mountains, rather than the accommodation and services. Also, there is no electricity, and no cell phone reception, which in this day and age is a miracle and wonder, don’t you think?

The first night we slept in our cabin at Injisuthi itself in comfy beds, and did a bit of much-needed laundry. But the next night we found ourselves sleeping in the middle of nowhere on a slab of stone alongside a river called Poacher’s Stream, a tributary of the Injisuthi River.

I had heard from someone that the ranger outpost a few kilometres from camp on a high ridge had really good views, so I was keen to get some good photos in early morning light. I also wanted to test out my K-Way Nerolite tent and backpack before I venture next week up into the Mnweni area (I’m going to be spending four nights on the summits of this stunning part of the ‘Berg). So we packed everything we needed for a proper hike, and with heavy backpacks we set off just for one night’s camping.

Thinking it would take us about two hours maximum to get to the ranger outpost, we set off mid-afternoon, and for the first hour, we made good progress. But although our map said there was a path to take us up onto the ridge, we soon realized that the trail had become overgrown and non-existent. After an hour of trudging up the steep slopes of the Poacher’s Stream valley, in the general direction of where we thought we should go, we decided – against our better judgment – to try scale some seemingly surmountable cliffs above us, hoping to get onto the ridge.

Well, we’re not rock climbers, and after some cursing and one rather near-death experience, we conceded defeat. Dusk was approaching and the only thing to do was camp where we were, alongside the river on a slab of rock, on the only piece of flat ground for miles around.

The tent was set up, we ate our two-minute noodles and tuna (cooked on a small gas burner), and the icy air got us into “bed” soon after dusk. A duvet (borrowed from our cabin) was our mattress, and we shared my K-Way Thermashift sleeping bag, which did a really good job of keeping us warm, even though we had unzipped it so that it could cover both of us (Rachel had forgotten hers – that won’t happen again, trust me!).

We didn’t get much sleep. Rock tends to get very cold in the Drakensberg in winter, and it has a habit of being very hard indeed. I also kept imagining voices, and woke up a few times, thinking I could hear Basotho cattle rustlers coming to relieve us of our camera gear. (We’ve been told it can and does happen…). But despite waking up frequently, when I did sleep I had incredible, deep dreams. It always happens to me when I sleep on the ground, out in the middle of nowhere. I wonder why!?

So as soon as dawn approached, we were out of “bed”, had our hot Pronutro, packed up, and off we went back to Injisuhti, praising the sun for shining, and stopping for an icy swim on the way home.

Entrance to Injisuthi

Injisuthi Camp cabins...

Laundry day at Injisuthi - thanks Rach for making me smell nice again! Photo taken on my iPhone with Instagram

Our makeshift campsite alongside Poacher's Stream...

Poacher's Stream, near our improvised campsite

The neighourhood baboons kept watch over us, and their warning barks are always good to hear, especially when echoing off the cliffs like ricocheting bullets.

The morning...even though we're having great winter weather in the Berg, the air is icy at dawn.

Early morning mist between the Little Berg of grasslands and sandstone hils, and the High Berg of basalt cliffs.

Our morning view. On the way back to Injisuthi - worth a night out on a hard slab of stone, I think.

Good morning! Swimming on the way bak to Injisuthi. If you're not awake already, the cold water of the 'Berg's rivers will clear the cobwebs from your brain!

My K-Way Nerolite tent (shown here without it's waterproof cover) is very light to carry, but quite sturdy and roomy enough for two people.

One for the good folks at K-Way. Rachel shines her red torch inside the tent while I paint some words with my head torch. The stars are blistering when seen out in the Berg on a clear winter's night.

Haunting waters 1 - My love affair with water and reflections continues...a few photos taken at dusk, at Poacher's Stream.

Haunting waters 2

Haunting waters 3

Haunting waters 4

Haunting waters 5

Haunting waters 6

Haunting waters 7

For more, go to www.yearinthewild.com and www.facebook.com/yearinthewild. Check out my Flickr photos at www.flickr.com/scottnramsay and my Instagram photos at www.instagram.com/wildscotty. Twitter on www.twitter.com/yearinthewild.

Thanks to my partners Cape Union MartFord EverestGoodyear, and K-Way.

As well as EeziAwnFrontrunnerGlobecommHetznerNational LunaOutdoor PhotoSafari Centre Cape Town, Tracks 4 Africa, and Vodacom.

Conservation partners BirdLife South AfricaBotswana Department of Wildlife and National ParksCapeNatureEastern Cape Parks and TourismEzemvelo KZN WildlifeGorongosa National ParkiSimangaliso Wetland Park, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Parque Nacional do Limpopo, South African National Parks and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

8 comments

  • Hi Scott, your sleep would’ve been a lot more comfy & warm if you put the tent on grass, must’ve been a flat section around. And also never a great idea to sleep in a river, I know its winter and a storm is unlikely but anything happening upstream could’ve given you quite a wake up call.

    Enjoy Mnweni!

    • So true thanks Merv for the tips. Ja, that Poachers Stream valley is pretty steep, and all the grass seemed to be on a slope! Took our chances with the river and the rock, but won’t be doing that again next time! Would rather sleep upside down than do that again! :)

  • “I also kept imagining voices, and woke up a few times, thinking I could hear Basotho cattle rustlers coming to relieve us of our camera gear.”

    hahaha….know that feeling. I have also woken up many times at night hearing voices when camping near berg streams. It must be water nymphs or the souls of bushmen still wandering in the little berg. ;)

    • Thanks Pieter, ja, I also think there are some souls of Bushmen wandering through these mountains…very special feeling to this place. Haunted even, but in a good way!

  • Hi Scott!
    Iam with merv on that one, a rock in a river is not an option in the berg, cold wind comes down rivers and floods in summer. But I am still a bit jealous, fun experience!

    About the basotho part. You will definitely find a few herders up in the Mweni area, but basotho herders won’t come down into South Africa. Only the Dagga smugglers come down in my experience, and they have more important things on their minds than your gear. Smugglers and hikers share a relationship, we don’t call the army or take photo’s and they don’t disturb us.
    Basotho herders are usually young boys out in the wild for a long time, and your backpack is more wealth they will ever own, but it’s still no reason to mistrust them too much. Keep ALL your stuff in your tent and you will be fine.

    Enjoy Mweni! One of the most dramatic places in the country :)

    • Thanks Andre for the advice! Ja, totally agree with u. Won’t be sleeping on a rock again. Mnweni should be great. Going with Caiphus, a local guide. Can’t wait.

  • We were there last month for fathers day & had a really good time there. The paths have really overgrown alot as we could not find the path up on the ridge towards marble baths, but I see they are burning around the areas. It got really cold with ice all over our tents so I know how important that sleeping bag is not wanting to share it. You were literally sleeping between a cold place & a rock. Lucky this time of year the rivers are not so bad bud nonetheless never a good idea. The Injasuthi caves are also a good hike with some bushman paintings hidden is some parts. Highmoor is also a lovely place to check out.

    Enjoy Mweni

    Happy safe Travels

    • Thanks Douglas, would love to get to more places in the Berg, including Highmoor. The Berg is actually a really difficult place to get to know, because you have to do it all on foot…which is why it is still such a special wilderness. Hope that it stays that way.

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