About Southern Secrets

The Drakensberg Mountains are one of the few remaining easily accessible areas in the world where hiking, mountain wilderness hiking, cross-cultural hikes, day hikes and nature trips can be enjoyed at any time of the year. In addition, the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho offers almost infinite possibilities for trekking – using pack animals as porters – or pony trekking, visiting isolated mountain villages, at the same time helping to support local communities.

Southern Secrets Hiking and Backpacking was founded in 2005 and is run by co-owners Philip and Christeen Grant.  Both are fully qualified and registered with the relevant South African authorities.

Philip is a National Mountain Guide (KZN 0904) and Christeen is a Drakensberg Mountain, Nature and Culture Guide (KZN 1025). They both guide day and multi-day Drakensberg Wilderness hiking, cross-cultural hikes, Drakensberg day hikes including visiting San or Bushman rock-art sites, and trekking and pony trekking in Lesotho. Christeen specialises in wildflower and nature trips.

Wilderness hiking is a major focus of Southern Secrets hikes, as well as cross-cultural trips into the adjacent Kingdom of Lesotho. 

Itineraries are ‘tailor-made’ to suit the requirements of any group. Groups or individuals will not normally be mixed with any other groups or individuals unless by special request. In certain circumstances we may recommend some of the standard Lesotho pony trekking trips, and standard day trips run by an associate tour operator. They are an exception in this regard.

Our policy at Southern Secrets Hiking and Backpacking is to fit routes and itineraries to our clients – not fit our clients to existing routes and itineraries.

Hikes can include climbing major peaks in the area, such as the highest point in Southern Africa Thabana Ntlenyana (3482m), the Rhino Horn (3052m), or the highest point in South Africa Mafadi (3450m), as well as ‘cross-cultural’ experiences with the peoples inhabiting the mountains, particularly the Basotho people in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, the Zulu people in the Mnweni area of the Northern Drakensberg as well as the combined cultures of Xhosa and Sotho in the Eastern Cape Drakensberg.

Southern Secrets can provide a day or multi-day trip, with nights spent in rock shelters or tents, at any altitude in the Drakensberg or Maloti Mountains. Hikers seeking more comfortable options can choose to be accommodated each evening in a suitable B&B, Backpackers Lodge or Hotel, and do a series of day hikes and tours with Southern Secrets, gaining a varied overview of the Drakensberg and Lesotho.

The Southern KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg is the least visited area of the Maloti Drakensberg World Heritage Site because it is the furthest from Gauteng, Johannesburg and Pretoria. It also has the largest un-spoilt wilderness area available for hiking. Underberg is about 3hrs driving from Durban and about 6hrs driving from Johannesburg.

Wilderness is defined as any natural area that has not been changed or influenced in any way by man. When in a wilderness area you should be able to look in any direction and not see or hear any evidence of humanity. In its purest form there would be no human paths, and hiking would be on paths made by animals normally found in the area. You are unlikely to see any other people in a wilderness area.

For most hikes, clients participating in Southern Secrets hikes are encouraged to be
self-sufficient and to carry all they need for the trip themselves. They should be reasonably fit, and if participating in multi-day hikes, used to carrying a backpack weighing between 16kg and 25kg. The use of porters is not encouraged in wilderness areas within the Maloti Drakensberg World Heritage Site because of the increased impact on these sensitive environments, and because of the detrimental effect the extra numbers would have on enjoying a wilderness experience.

For hikers who do not want to carry heavy packs, options are available using mountain lodges or community trails outside the Maloti Drakensberg World heritage Site. Portered trips can be arranged by Southern Secrets in the Mnweni area of the Northern Drakensberg. Trekking options – using pack animals to carry food and equipment – can be arranged in the adjoining independent country of Lesotho. Trekking or pony trekking is one of the best ways to experience and discover Lesotho’s stunning scenery and its warm and friendly culture.

All Southern Secrets trips should be approached with a degree of flexibility and an adventurous spirit. At the same time Southern Secrets Hiking and Backpacking is committed to adding value, and will tailor make the trip to suit the interests of the group and their fitness levels so ensuring that all clients have an interesting and rewarding experience that is comfortably within their limits.

Kit lists and food ideas for self-catering will be supplied to all hikers, after booking a trip with Southern Secrets Hiking and Backpacking. Alternatively, food and some kit can be provided if required. All participants on Southern Secrets trips are expected to supply their own suitable rucksack, sleeping bag and clothing. We can supply 2 person alpine tents, groundsheets, camping gas stoves, spare gas cylinders and cooking and eating utensils. On trekking or pony trekking in Lesotho, traditional meals will normally be provided by the villagers at overnight stops. On hiking trips, clients will be expected to pitch their tents as well as cook and wash up for themselves. Transport to and from hiking venues can be organised if necessary.

Southern Secrets’ Hiking Philosophy is:

  1. Come back safely

  2. Come back friends (have fun)

  3. Reach your objective

  4. (In that order!)