OBONJANENI & BUSINGATHA:

NOZIDWABA TO THE TORTOISE (NHLOKWANE) TRAIL

Busingatha lies parallel to Obonjaneni which borders Royal Natal National Park (the latter now incorporated into the Maloti-Drakensberg World Heritage Site). Busingatha and Obanjaneni are part of the AmaZizi Traditional Authority Area.

The trail spans areas of Obonjaneni (the Thukelana Valley) and Busingatha. Its upper reaches access the "Sleeping Beauty", "Crocodile", "Tortoise" and "Frog", landmarks on the distinctive ridge which overlooks both Obonjaneni and Busingatha. The lower reaches of the trail provide opportunities to visit the lovely Nozidwaba Tarn and experience local culture and hospitality.

Some of the upper reaches of Obonjaneni and Busingatha are part of a route leading through the proposed Community Conservation Area from Royal Natal National Park to Cathedral Peak.

thandanani

Arrangements for a cultural visit can be made through BAWINILE MTOLO (074 724 7826). Bawinile is the facilitator for the AmaZizi Wilderness Group and the Mdlankomo Cultural and Rock art Group.

Arrangements for a guided trip that will enable hikers to familiarise themselves with the general area and routes can be made through AmaZizi local guide ELIJAH MBONANE (073 1374 690).

For overnight hiking trips the mountain register should be filled in at Thandanani Craft Centre, just past the turnoff to Busingatha, on the road to RNNP. Thandanani is a co-operative of 55 local women who produce outstanding crafts and who also supply overseas markets.


A few of the options the trail offers:

1. Morning trip: Homestead visit and/or visit the Nozidwaba Tarn in Obonjaneni.
2. Day trip: Nozidwaba Tarn & exploration Mnxholini and/or visit Hlathin'amabili ("Two Forests").
3. Overnight or long day trip: Tortoise Ridge and exploration. Options for exploration of the upper reaches of the Thukelana Valley (Obonjaneni) include climbing, abseiling, tenting, or overnighting Tortoise Shelter and others.

OVERVIEW OF THE TRAIL:

- Approach
- To go to Nozidwaba Tarn
- To go to the Tortoise
- To return via the Frog and Klibhi Forest
- To return via Hlathin'amabili 2
All waypoints listed are according to the WGS84 datum, accuracy: average 4m.


Approach

The trail can be approached either from parking at the Busingatha Clinic or by homestead parking (as per arrangement with either Bawinile Mtolo or Elijah Mbonane). The turnoff, to drive to the start of the trail, is opposite Thandanani on the Busingatha Road. Vehicles can be parked close to Busingatha Clinic for a day trip or at arranged homestead parking for overnight trips.

A path just to the right of the Clinic leads onto the slopes of the "Sleeping Beauty" (uMnxholi) before bearing left onto a narrow path (Nozidwaba Path, start of the Trail) which winds up through a copse of indigenous trees, with a non-perennial stream, to a series of large cairns.


To go to Nozidwaba Tarn

Follow cairns to the right and continue a short distance to the Tarn. S28 42 40.2 E028°59'40.2", elevation 1591m. If on a morning trip the preferred route is to follow the same route back.

Note: A path to the left of the Tarn soon leads down past a series of stone drainage lines and a donga under rehab then back down to the Clinic. People are asked to avoid this shortcut back to the Clinic parking, if at all possible, so as to allow re-vegetation of the slopes to take place.

Nozidwaba Tarn
NOZIDWABA TARN with a AmaZizi Wilderness Group member on an environmental monitoring trip.
The flat-topped mountain in the background is Mdlankomo.

Mdlankomo Mountain traditionally has a deep spiritual meaning for the AmaZizi. Hikers are therefore requested not to traverse the slopes of this mountain. If the saddle is used to walk from Busingatha into Okhombe (or vice versa) please keep to the slopes opposite the mountain when passing through.

The option to continue to the Tortoise (Nhlokwane) is for hikers wanting a trip of an exploratory nature, with options to climb, tent or overnight in Tortoise Shelter. Alternatively, day-hikers can continue to the slopes of Mnxholini ("Sleeping Beauty" area) or any of the indigenous forests for exploration before returning to their vehicle (refer to the Tortoise route below).


To go to the Tortoise

Follow from the first cairn encountered up to the last cairn where the path to the Tortoise starts.

The trail follows a rising elevation up through cliffs to S28°42'46.5" E028°59'07.7" before passing through the Mnxholini area, a lovely area for exploration.

Mnxholini
MNXHOLINI AREA


Ingwenya
SLOPES BELOW "CROCODILE" (INGWENYA)

The trail becomes steeper and intermittent then leads towards Hlathin'amabili ("Two Forests") parallel to each other at an elevation of 1761m (S28°43'22.2" E028°58'52.8"). A perennial stream flows through the first forest (but is reduced to a trickle in winter).

HLATHIN'AMABILI
APPROACHING HLATHIN'AMABILI ("TWO FORESTS")

Go through the first forest. Before entering the second forest leave the path to zig-zag up the hill to an elevation of 1819m and a small, shallow overhang then continue up to a steep grassy slope which leads up to the ridge on which the Tortoise (Nhlokwane) is situated, as well as Tortoise Shelter (S28°43'51.7" E028°58'30.5", elevation 1946m).

At this point, if on a day trip, and depending on weather and time, one can decide whether to return (via the same route), return via the second forest (Hlathin'amabili 2) or go on and up to the ridge. The return via Hlathin'amabili 2 is provided at the end of this overview but is not shown on the Trail map.

HLATHIN'AMABILIHLATHIN'AMABILI

The tent-shaped Tortoise Shelter is larger than it looks and has views from both ends. During summer water can be collected from drips close to the shelter. In winter good drips can be found under cliffs a few hundred meters from the saddle and to the right of the shelter and the Frog.

Tortoise Shelter The Frog

The ridge affords many opportunities for exploration. Exploration on both sides of the ridge is rewarding.

Busingatha from Frog
THE BUSINGATHA SIDE OF THE RIDGE


Obanjaneni from Frog
THE OBONJANENI SIDE OF THE RIDGE


To return via the Frog and Klibhi Forest

From the ridge there are various options for the return route which include returning via the same route.

If the alternative route back (below) is preferred remember that, on completing the trail, one has to walk some 4+ kilometres back up the Busingatha Road to the Clinic unless a second vehicle has been parked at a homestead near the point where one leaves the trail.

Follow a path down a gentle slope below the Frog then bear right down a steep bank until Klibhi Forest (iHlathini Klibhi) in a small gorge below comes into view - S28° 44'1.50" E028 58'44.8", elevation 1705m.

Klibhi ForestKlibhi Forest

The path skirts above the forest then becomes intermittent. Zigzag down a long steep section to locate a path at S28° 44'1.10" E028° 59'10.6", elevation 1637m. Continue on an indistinct and sometimes intermittent path which gradually drops into the Kwachobeni area: S28° 43'58.5" E028° 59'24.9", elevation 1596m. The path gradually becomes more distinct and leads to a hill overlooking the Busingatha road towards which a wide track leads down from the hill.


To return via Hlathin'amabili 2

There is an intermittent path that winds steeply down through the forest. On leaving Hlathin'amabili (2), cut down the slopes, (remaining close to the forest's perimeter) to a path which can be found at: S28°43'34.7" E028°58'46.5", elevation 1689m.

The following co-ordinates are provided as a guide back to Nozidwaba Tarn and to negotiate a number of paths that run in the direction of the Tarn (although not all the paths lead to the Tarn):

1) Remaining at an elevation of about 1689m follow an intermittent path to S28°43'19.8" E028°59'13.9", elevation 1652m.

2) From here go down to a path visible below and continue on the faint intermittent path, below the main section of Nozidwaba Forest, to a stream crossing at S28°42'53.2" E028°59'05.9", elevation 1574m.

3) Continue on the path to Nozidwaba Tarn. Follow cairns down the hill, onto the Nozidwaba Path and back to the Clinic.


Click to enlarge the map of the trail below, alternatively download a full-scale version of the map.

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Trail development supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme, implemented by UNDP.

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