Welcome to the Giants Cup Trail (Self-Guided)
The Giant’s Cup Trail is part of the National Hiking Way, leading you through the foothills of the southern sections of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. This trail begins at the spectacular Sani Pass and meanders along remote paths, streams and valleys in the rugged Drakensberg foothills. Your overnight accommodation is in five delightful, but minimally equipped huts or converted houses. The trail finishes at Bushman’s Nek in the extreme south of the Park. The Maloti-Drakensberg Park was given World Heritage Site status for a combination of two factors – its outstanding natural landscapes, and its wealth of Sanrock art - a priceless cultural and natural heritage. It is one of 23 other protected areas globally to be inscribed for this fascinating combination.
Although the hiking is not particularly strenuous, the Drakensberg range should never be taken lightly. Snow has fallen in these mountains in every month of the year in the past, and the weather can change for the worse extremely quickly.
In the summer months an afternoon thunderstorm is a common occurrence, so you are strongly advised to be at your next overnight stop soon after lunch each day. There is a double benefit in this, you have the shelter of the overnight hut should a thunderstorm break over your party, and you have time to enjoy the area around it ─ swim in the clear ‘berg streams, take photos or simply relax. The distances between the overnight points are not great, and this allows plenty of time to enjoy the mountains. You need to remain aware of time, however, so that you arrive at your overnight point with plenty of daylight to spare.
Before you start the trail or at the end of the first day, you are required to visit the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Office at Cobham where you must complete the Mountain Rescue Register, which is kept in a small information centre near at the reception office and is open 24 hours a day.
Your entry in the Register provides Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff with vital information about your party, its route, equipment, food supplies and numbers of people. This information is critical in organising a search and rescue operation in the event of an emergency. Please fill in ALL the required information clearly and accurately. Please note that there is a tear-off section listing emergency telephone numbers. Please take this with you and keep it in a safe, dry place. It may save your life. Although mobile telephone reception can be erratic it remains a rapid means of reporting an emergency. As a safety measure retain one phone in the party for emergency use only. If the phone option fails, one or two members of your party should make their way as quickly as possible to the nearest Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife outpost to report the emergency, leaving the remainder of the group to attend to the casualty. Do not try to contact an outside agency for assistance. This can hamper a local operation.
It is also important to sign out at the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife office nearest your point of exit (i.e. Bushman’s Nek) at the end of the hike so that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff know that you have safely and successfully completed your hike and are out of the mountains. Failure to sign out could result in an unnecessary and costly search and rescue operation being mounted, and you could be held responsible for the costs involved. Please bear in mind that one hour of high altitude helicopter time costs about R50 000, and the average rescue takes three hours or more. The Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Emergency Rescue Fund covers the costs in the case of a genuine emergency.
The Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife office at Cobham also sells detailed hiking maps, which include the Giant’s Cup Trail. These maps are also available at other resorts within the Park, as well as the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Reservations Office in Pietermaritzburg. It is recommended that each group carries copies of maps 5 and 6. These two maps cover the entire Giant’s Cup Trail. The reverse side of each map contains a wealth of information about the Drakensberg, as well as relevant information in case of an emergency. You may also book places on the trail at the last minute if there are vacancies. If the huts are already booked, you can reserve caves or camping accommodation as an alternative way of enjoying time in the Park.
Some sections of this booklet carry detailed descriptions of parts of the route to assist hikers and to provide interesting information about certain features.
Part of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, Cobham is a popular hikers starting point for hikes deep into the mountains. The campsite offers open camping with ablutions. The Giant’s Cup Trail offers many variations: one option is to complete the Sani Pass to Cobham section as a day walk and then spend time exploring the many trails in that section. You could also start a four-day trip along the remainder of the Giant’s
Day Walks from Cobham
More information on day walks is available at the reception office. These include Ngenwa Pools to Baboon Rock and Emerald Stream; Pinnacle Rock; Lakes Cave; Cobham to Siphongweni Shelter; Chameleon Cave; Lakes Cave; Whale Back; Titty Peak; The Policeman Peak; Camel Rock; Venice Cave and the Mzimkhulwana River.