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hiking trails from champagne castle hotel

Drakensberg Hiking Trails leaving from Champagne Castle Hotel

Apart from all the activities and things to do at the Hotel and in the Champagne Valley, there are some incredible Central Drakensberg Hiking trails that leave directly from the Hotel property.

We’ve added these hiking trails to Wikiloc, which is a free app that allows you to download the trails for free, and follow while you’re out on the Mountain.

For more information please chat to our team at Reception, or take a look at the Hiking Trails Board outside of Reception.

There are details underneath the maps below on how to use Wikiloc.

We have a live digital weather station at the Hotel. For a forecast of the weather, click the button below.


Distance: 1.4km – easy

Duikers Dam is a very short and simple trail. Get onto the forest road at the top of the Hotel property, walk up through the forest and you’ll find Duikers Dam at the end of the trail.

For variation you can take Mike’s Path on your way home, which ends below the Hotel at Dam 2.

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Distance: 1.34km – easy

Mike’s Path is a short and fairly simple trail. Get onto the forest road at the top of the Hotel property, walk up through the forest. Turn right at the Mike’s Path sign, and follow the trail down, along the stream and through the forest. The trails comes out at Dam No. 2.

You can do the trail the other way around, however it’s a fairly steep climb up along the stream, up towards the forest road.

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Distance: 2.86km – moderate

Don’t be fooled by the short distance of this trail. It’s a fairly heavy / steep walk to the entrance of Fern Forest.

Get onto the forest road at the top of the Hotel property, walk up through the forest, and follow the signs (split left before Duiker’s Dam) to Fern Forest / Crystal Falls / Sphinx.

Once you take the left split, you’ll walk up a steep-ish hill, where you’ll take the left split towards Fern Forest (the main path heads right towards Crystal Falls and the Sphinx).

Once you enter Fern Forest, go slowly and carefully as the ground can be wet, slippery and the rocks and trees covered in moss. There is a waterfall at the end of the trail.

Definitely one of the most beautiful trails.

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Distance: 4.65km – moderate

The path is the same as to Fern Forest, except you turn right (instead of going straight) up the ‘staircase’. Follow the path across various streams until your path is joined by the path from Monks Cowl Parks Board. Carry on for a further 150 metres and the path to Robin Hood Grove turns off to the left (look for the rock sign). Return to the Hotel the same way you came.

A short detour on the way to Crystal Falls and The Sphinx, takes you into the secret famed hide-away of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Thick covering of green trees and lush under-growth, with stunning rock overhangs. It’s a great spot to take a quick look and enjoy the beauty of this hidden treasure.

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Distance: 6.4km – moderate

Probably the most popular hiking trail that leaves from Champagne Castle Hotel.

Get onto the forest road at the top of the Hotel property, walk up through the forest, and follow the signs (split left before Duiker’s Dam) to Fern Forest / Crystal Falls / Sphynx.

Once you take the left split, you’ll walk up a steep-ish hill, where you’ll follow the main path towards Crystal Falls and the Sphynx (the left split heads towards Fern Forest).

It’s mostly uphill all the way to Crystal Falls, with streams along the way to refill your water bottle.

You’ll know you’re about to reach Crystal Falls when you round the corner before it, and hear the distinct waterfall sound. Stop for a water break, and even a little dip in the pool below the falls (if you can brave the cold water).

Next stop is the Sphynx, just 200m further along. Please don’t join be tempted to join those who have defaced the rock below the Sphynx in this incredible World Heritage Site.

The last 50m before the top of the Sphynx is fairly steep.

Once you’ve arrived, turn around and head back on the same trail back to the Hotel.


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Distance: 13.46km – difficult

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Distance: 9.66km – difficult

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Distance: 15.67km – difficult

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Distance: 11.21km – moderate

Carter Trail was added to the top of the Champagne Valley in 2021. It’s a ‘there-and-back’ trail that ends in Wonder Valley (the next valley), and promises incredible views up the valley towards Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak, giving you a perspective you don’t have from the Champagne Valley.

Leave from Reception and head up past the bird avery as if you’re doing Sunset Trail. Pass the water tanks and look for the split (to the left) in the path. It’s a fairly easy undulating trail, with multiple streams to replenish your water.

The trail is cared for by the Parks Board, and depending on their maintenance schedule, there can be Brambles from time to time.

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Distance: 14.31km – difficult

Leave from the Hotel and head up to Crystal Falls. From there turn back and take the path down to Monks Cowl. When you get down to Monks Cowl follow the signs to Nandi Falls. At Nandi Falls turn back and follow the signs to Sterkfontein Falls.

When you get to the falls, follow the signs to the Monks Cowl office and follow the tar road back to Champagne Castle Hotel (1.8km). If asked at Monks Cowl to sign out, let them know you started at Champagne Castle Hotel, which is why you didn’t sign in at Monks Cowl.

You can buy your World Heritage Site Permit at Reception when you sign out from the Hotel (please don’t forget to sign back in when you get back).

While it’s a longish walk, once you turn at Crystal Falls it’s largely downhill and flat (except for the 3km back to the Hotel from Sterkfontein Falls).

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(top trail)

Distance: 10.96km – moderate

Walk or drive from the Hotel to Monks Cowl (1.8km). Sign in at Monks Cowl, and follow the trail to Nandi Falls. It’s a pretty straightforward walk, with short ups and downs on the way. There are a few places to refill your water bottle.

You can buy a Parks Board Permit at the Hotel Reception or at Monks Cowl (you must have a permit to do this trail)

There is a loop trail to Nandi Falls once you’re in Monks Cowl. This trail is along the top path (there and back)

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Distance: 27.45km – difficult

Leave from the Hotel. Pass The Sphinx, and follow the trail up to Breakfast Stream. From Breakfast Stream walk to Blindmans Corner, and turn right. Stay on the contour path, following it around to the left when you get to Hlatikulu Neck. The path takes you down into the valley (near Keith Bush Camp) before you head up to the top of Ntunja / Gatberg. Return along the same trail.

Some of the van der Riet family completed the trail to Intunja / Gatberg and back to the Hotel over Christmas 2023. Jonathan van der Riet, Jeremy van der Riet and Anton Gous summited, while the balance of the squad waited for them, at the foot of Ntunja, before returning to the Hotel. A fantastic achievement, and an incredible walk #senseofplace

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Navigate our Trails using Wikiloc

As technology becomes more and more prevalent, our guests are increasingly requesting access to GPS files to assist them with navigation while walking and hiking from the Hotel. Navigating the trails in the Central Drakensberg using a GPS can be very useful when exploring new trails. Not only does it help you to find your way, but it gives you peace of mind knowing that you have a device on you with directions and a map.

At the beginning of 2019 we embarked on a quest to provide a GPS solution for all of our guests at Champagne Castle Hotel.

Firstly, we started recording the trails that leave from the Hotel. We now have 12 trails available to follow

  • Duiker Dam (1.4km)
  • Mike’s Path (1.34km)
  • Fern Forest (2.86km) 
  • The Sphinx and Crystal Falls – we’ve joined these two together (6.4km)
  • BlindMans Corner (13.46km)
  • Sunset Trail (9.66km)
  • BlindMans Corner / Kirtland’s Pass (15.67km)
  • Carter Trail (11.21km)
  • 3 Waterfalls Trail (14.31km)
  • Nandi Falls from the Hotel (10.96km)
  • Robin Hood Grove (4.65km)
  • Ntunja / Gatberg (27.45km)

We then set out to find an App for guests who don’t have a dedicated GPS device, or don’t use a GPS App on their phones.

Having tested many Apps, we eventually decided on Wikiloc, for the following reasons:

  • Wikiloc is a fee app (there is a Premium version with extra features)
  • You can follow all of our trails for free.
  • Wikiloc has over 4.5 million members and over 12 million trails
  • With over 12 million trails recorded all over the world, Wikiloc has the potential to be useful once your stay at Champagne Castle Hotel is over.

Download Wikiloc

We’ve set up a Hiking Board at the Hotel with all the details on how to download and use the app, along with helpful information about each of the available trails.

If you’d like to download Wikiloc, it’s available for free on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store


We have a live weather station at the Hotel. The information below describes the current weather conditions at the hotel.