Mnweni Circuit

1 October, 2023

Mnweni Circuit

Backpack the Mnweni circuit over 3 days, up Mnweni Pass and down Rockeries Pass. Contrasting campsites, iconic caves, swimming holes, the source of the Orange river, and incredible vistas of the jagged Rockeries and Mnweni spires.


The first day is a 12km amble up the Mnweni valley from the drop off at the head of the trail, never far from the bubbling Mweni river (major tributary into Tugela). Camp in a beautifully secluded spot in the riverbed  2km from the base of Mnweni pass. 

Day two sees us ascending the incredible Mnweni pass. A wide, steep and winding donkey trail for much of the way, you’re unlikely to see another soul but you get the feeling you’re walking 200 years ago on an ancient trade route. Towards the top the route is less distinct and you pick your route between the numerous spires, over the boulders and grassy patches. Just the other side of the summit is the source of the Orange (Senqu) river, already flowing strong through an orangy riverbed. We then take a steady 2.5km climb around the hill to the notorious Mponjwane cave which sits adjacent to the incredible and slightly menacing Mponjwane (Rockeries) Tower. The sunrise from just above the cave, with views towards Cathedral and the Bell Traverse is the best I’ve experienced in the berg. 

On day 3 we head down the iconic Rockeries Pass. It provides first class photography opportunities of the numerous Rockeries peaks and the towering North Peak of the saddle. In the rainy season the whole pass is flanked with countless waterfalls on either side of you. After lunch at the base we take an easy 6.5km stroll down the valley to the pick up point, entering a whole new environment of flowers, trees and ferns, some swimming holes, and probably the best views of the bergs famous Saddle. 

Difficulty: 7/10
3 Days / 2 Nights
Elevation gain: 1978m
Distance: 31km
Trail Map
At a glance
  • Mnweni Cultural and Hiking Centre
  • Mnweni Cultural and Hiking Centre
  • 26-28 March 2024
  • 6
  • 1/6
  • R3500
  • Guide, permits, tents, all meals & snacks
Marc Echstein,

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