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.

Plowman's Kop in the Drakensberg
Plowman’s Kop

Location

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.

Trail Route

10 km | 3-4 hours | 475 m up | 475 m down | 1760 m high | 1410 m low

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.

Tips

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.

Cascades on the Mahai River
Cascades on the Mahai River

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.

Views from Lookout Rock
Views from Lookout Rock
Tree ferns and Plowman's Kop on the hiking loop.
Tree ferns, Plowman’s Kop behind

Lookout Rock is a fine destination in itself, but we continued on the loop and it was definitely worth it.

Continuing Onwards

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.

Drakensberg lower berg hill views on Plowman's Kop Loop trail

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.

Golden light in the Drakensberg
Golden hills
Tom hiking in golden light in the Drakensberg
And the air was full of light

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.

Drakesnberg views

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.

Click to find out more about Royal Natal National Park, or the rest of the Drakensberg.

Golden Light at the end of the Plowman's Kop Loop trail
Golden light at the end of the Plowman’s Kop Loop trail

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