Setting off on the Zulu Cave Hike amidst the northern Drakensberg’s Monk’s Cowl / Mdedelelo Wilderness Area is an exhilarating adventure, perfect for individuals seeking to embrace the blend of natural wonders and historical heritage. This expedition offers a deeply immersive encounter with South Africa’s rich cultural tapestry and its awe-inspiring natural vistas.


Commencing at Monk’s Cowl, the hike meanders through the Mdedelelo Wilderness Area, concluding its journey within the same wilderness. This adventure is graded as moderate to difficult in terms of fitness, ensuring an invigorating and challenging trek across the rugged terrains of the Drakensberg.


A notable highlight of this expedition is the esteemed Cat Cave, situated approximately 400 meters away, along a meandering stream. This cave is celebrated for its exceptionally preserved San paintings, adding to its allure as a popular attraction. However, due to the delicate nature of these artworks and the cave’s popularity, this cave may not be visited without a San Rock Art Monitor or KZN Wildlife Officer and climbing equipment will be required to access the entrance to the cave.

The caves within the Drakensberg, including Zulu Cave, owe their formation to thousands of years of erosion in the Clarens sandstone. In ancient times, these caves served as vital shelters for the San people before the arrival of European settlers. Although the San people are no longer present, the enduring rock art within these caves provides a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of these ancient inhabitants.


Zulu Cave graces the opposite side of the impressive dome known as Vaalribbokkop, towering at a height of 30 meters, serving as a prominent landmark in this region. Both Zulu Cave and Vaalribbokkop Cave perch proudly on the summit of the Little ‘berg, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surroundings.


Various routes lead to Zulu Cave. The most popular route begins at Hlatikulu Nek from Monk’s Cowl camp, providing a direct and well-trodden path. For a more scenic journey incorporating picturesque rock pools, one can opt for the southern ridge route from Hlatikulu Nek to Mhlwazini River camp sites, below Eagle Gorge, and then head back up the valley. Additionally, avid hikers may plan an extensive adventure, integrating Zulu Cave into a loop from Monk’s Cowl camp or a northern loop from Cathedral Peak.


What contributes to Zulu Cave’s popularity is its close proximity to the lower ‘Berg peak, Gatberg. Moreover, regardless of inclement weather, the cave remains a dry sanctuary, sheltered by the surrounding trees and bushes that effectively block the majority of the wind. Nestled alongside an indigenous forest, the cave boasts a captivating overhang, adorned with the exquisite beauty of nature.


A mesmerizing waterfall gracefully cascades over the cave’s lowest point, creating a tranquil pool below. This natural spectacle amplifies the allure of Zulu Cave, promising a mesmerizing experience for all those who embark on this unforgettable hike. As the day’s hike culminates and the sun sets behind the Drakensberg’s peaks, The Nest Hotel warmly awaits, providing a soothing ambiance for a perfect retreat. This hike assures not only physical adventure but also a profound spiritual and cultural journey, enabling you to forge a lasting bond with the splendid Drakensberg and its captivating narratives.