There’s nothing quite like a little adventure to capture some great astro photos.
For our #EveryNewMoon project #4 Cory, Brendon and I hiked the Drakensberg Mountains to capture some spectacular views. Cory and I photographed this area 2 year before, so we’ve been itching to get back here and improve on our efforts from back then.
With only 2 nights at the location, we planned to photograph from Witsieshoek (accommodation) which lies halfway up to the Amphitheatre for the 1st nigh, and camping at the top of the Amphitheatre for the 2nd night.
I was keeping a close eye on the weather forecast for about 3 weeks prior, this isn’t the kind of hike I want to do if there won’t be an opportunity to shoot. Even though we intended to overnight for one evening, getting tents and photography gear up there isn’t an easy feat. The hike up (and I do mean up) to the Amphitheatre from the Sentinel car park is 6,3km. The terrain is tricky and the paths are narrow. We all felt like pack mules, with me carrying a 16kg backpack, Brendon averaging 20kg (and carrying a tent in his hands) and Cory weighing in at 30kg. (I know – for 1 overnight! But it’s not an area you want to be caught off guard with enough supplies to see you through and even though it’s only Autumn, the temperatures get to freezing up there at night)
After the hike up, we set up camp at the mouth of the Tugela River which originates from the escarpment. And then, the fog set in. We were caught up in 1 big cloud which hang around well into the evening. This pretty much ruined the opportunity to go scouting to find new unexplored angles. Moving only a few meters away from camp could result in complete disorientation and it’s not the kind of place I want to get lost in.
The weather started clearing around 9pm. Pockets of clouds were lying over the city Phuthaditjhaba below and dangling between the mountains, making for dramatic views.
Will I return to this location? For sure. I’d love to explore the entire mountain range and possibly get a few panoramas photographed.
Safety warning: If you’re considering hiking this area please ensure that you keep your valuables inside your tents. There have been numerous reports of Basuto shepherds stealing stuff and/or assaulting hikers.
Read more here: This incident happened a few weeks after we were up there. (We also encountered 2 youths who bugged us for food and money. thankfully they left us alone after some negotiations with the help of Google translate)