Page Type: Route
Lat/Lon: 6.80031°N / 69.46032°W
Route Type: Hiking
Time Required: A few days
Difficulty: Grade A


Mafadi 3451m via Judge Pass and Leslies’ Pass hike. Grade A

Here we describe a circular hike, which ascends Mafadi, the highest peak in South Africa. The hike also gives access to
Bannerman’s Rib, the Eastern and Middle Triplet, while access to the Western Triplet leads off the route on the first day of the hike. The circular route described would usually take 4 days and 3 nights.

Route Description

From the Injasuthi office, walk back along the tar road for 900m to the concrete road bridge over the Injasuthi river and turn right onto a well marked path. After 1km, cross to the south bank of the Injasuthi River and follow this all the way
to a crossing point over the eMbovaneni River (1.15hrs from the office). Immediately on the other side the path splits, go left here. (To the right takes you to Battle Cave, the Lower Injasuthi Cave and the NW Ridge of the Western Triplet.) Having turned left follow the path to Centenary Hut and then up to which leads to the contour path, (4 hrs from the office). Centenary Hut is disused and in a bad state of repair at the time of writing. There are plans to get it into an acceptable state. It is possible to bivvy on the verandah or use the hut for shelter.  Many parties stop here for the first night if doing a circular hike of Mafadi.  From Centenary Hut, hike up a few hundred metres to the contour path, and head in a southerly direction to the base of Judge Pass, (2hrs). Ascend Judge Pass by gaining a well worn, and often eroded
path, on the south side of the valley. This path ascends steeply up until turning left and through a narrow section before the summit is reached, (4.5hrs from hut). 

From the pass summit, head north again through typical Lesotho alpine heath country to the summit of Mafadi. The peak itself is a very insignificant, flat-topped summit, (6.5hrs from the hut). Then hike back east to the Upper Injasuthi Cave. This is a large, and well sheltered place that looks out over the Triplets and the Injasuthi River far below. This would normally be the second night stop. Some groups choose to spend the night in the cave and then ascend Mafadi the next morning. Water is available 500m away in the valley below the cave.

On the third day, hike north along the watershed and pass Hilton the top of Hilton Rock Pass (2hrs from cave) then down into a valley and up to Leslie’s Pass top (4hrs from cave). Hike down to Marble Baths Cave, (8hrs from cave). The top of
Leslie’s Pass can be fairly hard to find when walking from Lesotho, as there are no major distinguishing features to aim onto. Descend the pass first on the right side of the stream and then on the left and down a steep ridge. At the bottom
of the very steep section there is a small, good camp area just as the main riverbed is reached. From this point to Marble Baths Cave there are 4kms of river boulders. The key to getting down here is to find a narrow path located in the bush on the left of the river, which is marked in places by cairns. Marble Baths Caves take their name from the white, smooth sandstone features in the riverbed. There are two caves located at the same level and separated by a small ridge, both are good to sleep in. The hike from the Upper Injasuthi Cave to Marble Baths is a long day and it is worth considering camping at the bottom of the steep section of the pass, just as it reaches the riverbed. The final section of the route from Marble Baths Caves is on a good path all the way back to the Ezemvelo office, (3hrs). Note that if one bivvys at Centenary Hut, then Injasuthi Upper Cave and Marble Baths Cave, no tent is needed.     

External Links
Peak High Mountaineering