Plowman’s Kop Loop is an absolutely gorgeous trail, with the late afternoon sun turning everything to gold. It’s an easy, beautiful half-day hike in the lower hills of the Drakensberg Mountains.
This hike starts at Mahai Campsite, or the car park just below, about 1 km further on than the reception of Royal Natal National Park. According to Google, it’s about 3 hours drive from Durban, and 4 from Johannesburg. However, the roads near the park itself are slow, and it could easily take 30 minutes longer.
The first kilometre of this trail is along a paved route. The path heads out of the campsite and right, or straight up along the stream from the car park.
- We used the Cicerone hiking guide: Walking in the Drakensberg*, to plan this hike. It also suggests other hikes here, and elsewhere in the Drakensberg.
- We hiked this trail in May, when the skies are clear are the grass has turned to gold.
- A walk just to the cascades (3km return), or Lookout Rock (5 km return), would be nice, shorter hikes by themselves.
- Why not try the nearby Tugela Gorge and Amphitheatre Hike
- Read more about Royal Natal National Park, or our 12 Day Drakensberg Trip.
After about 1 km, the concrete ends and a dirt path begins. A few hundred metres further, beautiful cascades appear in the river on your right-hand side.
To continue, follow the signpost for ‘Lookout Rock’. The path is now again paved as it heads uphill, to prevent erosion on this popular trail. This makes for fast walking, and we sped up the hill to Lookout Rock.
Lookout Rock is a fine destination in itself, but we continued on the loop and it was definitely worth it.
Soon after the rock, take the path down to cross the stream, passing some cool tree ferns. After crossing another stream, you head into a dark and damp little woodland. After passing a little waterfall, you pop out the other side of the wood to continue contouring around the rocky Plowman’s Kop on your left.
The path becomes less clear around this side. It’s obviously not well used, though goes through one of the most beautiful areas of Royal Natal National Park.
Before crossing above the Golide stream, take the path on your right to head down the right-hand side of this stream. The trail can be indistinct and boggy – don’t cross the stream, keep on your side, and keep heading downwards through the grass.
At the end of a forested section surrounding the stream, a path will join yours from across the stream. This path is much clearer. It’s not far now to the car park and campsite, and soon you’ll be back where you started.
We returned to the car park, and set off to the Cathedral Peak area, 1½ hours drive away.