Monks Cowl Nature Reserve

monks cowlMonks Cowl, taking its name from the peak sandwiched between the towering Champagne Castle and Cathkin mountains, is part of the 260 000 ha Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site and is the access point to the Mlambonja and Mdedelo Wilderness Area.

The Monk's Cowl Nature Reserve with its breathtaking vistas of sweeping grasslands on the lower reaches, to magnificent towering cliffs and waterfalls cascading for hundreds of metres makes this an area of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park worth visiting.

Location (Degrees)
29°02'49.2"S 29°24'12.3"E
Location (Decimal)
-29.047000, 29.403417
Type of Hike
Private Bag X2, Winterton, 3340, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
+27 (0)36 468 1103
+27 (0)36 468 1150
Accommodation (Ezemvelo)
Camping at Monks Cowl consists of 38 spacious Campsites ( 12 Electrical and 26 Non Electrical) with basic barbeque facilities. Firewood and charcoal are can be purchased from the shop.
The campsite is serviced by Ablution Blocks with hot showers, baths and flush toilets. Facilities include dishwashing and laundry basins and instant boiling water is available to campers for tea or coffee by means of a Hydroboil geyser near the dishwashing area.
Activities (Ezemvelo)
Tea Garden: The curio shop and tea garden is situated near to the campsite at the entrance to the reserve. The tea garden offers tea and coffee and a great menu of light meals served as take-aways or you can sit down and enjoy the view. The tea garden is open from 08:00 - 15:30 daily.
Overnight hiking routes extend deep into valleys and forests of the central Drakensberg and up onto the main escarpment, ensuring a pure wilderness experience with breathtaking views and scenery. Round trips of up to five days are possible.
For the more adventurous there is the scramble up Grey’s pass to Inkosazana Cave on top of Champagne Castle. For the casual hiker, the lower berg offers meandering routes to Stable Cave and Zulu Cave or simply camp anywhere within the 22 000 ha of wilderness area, bearing in mind that no open fires are allowed - only gas cookers may be used.
Day hikes and walks consist of routes that are graded from easy to difficult and take you through the foothills and river valleys to places like Sterkspruit Falls, the Gorge, iNandi Falls, or up the Sphinx onto the little berg. Our day hikes and walks range from a one hour round trip to six hours. Some of them have gloriously refreshing rock pools that beg to be swum in, the crisp berg water will leave you feeling completely rejuvenated. The weather can change suddenly and become very cold so hikers are advised to be well equipped. 
From the south: Follow the N3, until you pass Estcourt. Take the Estcourt North/Giant’s Castle turnoff to your left (just past the Midway Caltex Garage). Turn left towards Loskop. Stay on this road (approx 20 min), until you get to a 4 way crossing. Turn left onto the R600 (Thokozisa is on the corner on your left). Stay on this road (R600) for approximately 20 - 30 minutes. You will pass Champagne Sports Resort and Champagne Castle Hotel and Monks Cowl is at the end of the road.
From the north: Follow the N3 to Harrismith. At Harrismith, turn right onto the N5 towards Bethlehem/Bloemfontein. Proceed for approximately 5 km, turn left on the Bergville/Oliviershoek Pass road. Continue past Sterkfontein Dam, down Oliviershoek Pass, towards Bergville and Winterton. At Winterton, turn right onto the R600, CENTRAL BERG road. Continue for approx 13 km to the crossroad, go straight past Thokozisa which is on the left, continue along this road for approx 20-30 minutes - Monks Cowl is at the end of this road. 
Operating Hours
Summer ( October to March ) 06h00 to 19h00
Winter (April to September ) 06h00 to 18h00
Office Hours:
The office is open from 08h00 to 12h30 and from 14h00 to 16h30