Did you know?
Ben McDhui in South Africa is more than twice the height of its namesake in Scotland.
Ben McDhui in the Eastern Cape Highlands is a majestic mountain that lies next to the small village of Rhodes.
The area offers a wealth of outdoor activities and splendid scenery. There are more than 200km of running water in the area, making it a fly-fisherman's paradise.
There are also several walking trails and passes offering day walking trips and hiking outings up The Dragon's Tail and Naudes Nek, the highest pass in the country.
For the nature enthusiast, there are rare birds to be seen including the bearded vulture, orange-breasted rockjumper and ground woodpeckers. There is also a profusion of alpine and sub-alpine flora and the midsummer months are a fine time to view these hardy plants on the Ben McDhui plateau.
During the summer months, its walking trails and fly fishing make for a sedate and healthy escape from city living, and the natural splendour of this mountainous region is a tonic for the soul, as much as the fresh air is for the body.
At 3 001m, Ben McDhui is the highest peak in the Eastern Cape. Known by the local community as ‘Makhollo’ (Great Mother), or, simply, ‘Ben Mac’.
This area is called the Switzerland of South Africa and the ridges along Ben Mcdhui were until recently full of skiers staying at the Tiffendell Resort which is currently closed.
The first people to ski down the slopes of Ben McDhui went up on donkeys sometime in the 1950s and came down on their skis – presumably with the donkeys following at a more leisurely pace.
In the winter, Rhodes village is the weekend hideaway of preference amongst hardy visitors, from South Africa and abroad. It has the snowy atmosphere of a European hamlet and the pubs and guest houses are particularly well-patronised. Rhodes has been declared a National Monument from one end of the village to the other.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Board
Tel: +27 (0) 43 701 9600
Wild Mountain Adventures
Tel: +27 (0) 87 943 5428
Mobile: +27 (0) 79 536 3996 (leave messages at both numbers)
How to get here
For the best 'McDhui Experience', your best would be to drive to Barkly East in the Eastern Cape and hook up with Wild Mountain Adventures, who will then take you into the area.
Tours to do
Wild Mountain Adventures are the best outfit to book with in the area.
Length of stay
Spend a long weekend in the area or more if you have the time.
What to pack
Very warm clothing is essential.
Where to stay
In the village of Rhodes, The Rhodes Hotel and Walkerbouts Inn are two options to consider. If you're in the care of Wild Mountain Adventures, you will be staying at their Wildside tented camp.
What to eat
Warm, stick-to-the-rib nosh either at Walkerbouts or the Rhodes Hotel.