Old Shongweni

Copyright: MCSA - KZN 2001 ©


The landowner, Mr Craig Dixson has agreed to grant conditional access to climbers provided that they phone him on 031 7691095 / 082 7292770 / 082 4412580 and obtain the necessary permission prior to their arrival. Access to these excellent crags is far from assured - it is essential that all climbers make arrangements prior to arrival, close gates, leave no litter, park considerately and generally behave in a fashion conducive to fostering good relations with the landowner. Trespassers will be prosecuted.

Route Descriptions

Go the the Route Descriptions page.


Many thanks to Roger Nattrass for permission to use information from his excellent book, "A Climber's Guide to Natal Rock".  Roger in turn derived much of his information from Gerald Camp's earlier guide, "Natal Rock". Gerald was the principal developer and route opener at this crag in its early days.


There are a few old pegs and bolts scattered about the crag. It would be best to check these thoroughly on top-rope before risking your life on them. There are also plenty of blocks scattered around the crag.  Many of these are securely wedged but others look quite dodgy – use your brain!


The Shongweni Crags are situated about 6 km west of the N3 toll road between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. To get there, take Exit 32 (the 'Shongweni / Assagay' off-ramp) from the N3. Head west, passing the turn-off to Shongweni Dam on the left and then the turn-off to Summerveld Stables on the right. After about 5 km the road begins to wind downhill and 6 km from the N3 off-ramp, there are about five driveways close together on the left-hand side of the road. About 50 m further there is a large, galvanised metal gate that gives access to the crags.

If you have made prior arrangements the gate will be unlocked. Drive through, and after closing the gate, continue along the dirt track for about 200 m until you approach the owner's home. Stop before reaching the house and park on the right next to an elevated petrol tank. 

The crags start about 50 m, directly ahead of you as you approach the house. To get your bearings on your first visit, it is probably best to walk along the top of the crags until you reach the point where the overhead power lines descend steeply across the crags to the valley below. About 5m beyond this point there is a steep scramble that leads down to the bottom of the superb 'Painted Desert' face.


One of the great attractions of this venue is the total personal security that it offers - you, your gear and your car will be totally safe from the unwanted attentions of criminal elements. We have never seen any 'passers-by' wandering about the crags, so the involuntary redistribution of your possessions is most unlikely. There are good cell phone comms along the top of the crags and at most places along the base.

A General Description of the Crag

The rock at Shongweni is Natal Series Sandstone of excellent quality that is typical of many climbing venues in Natal. The faces tend to be fairly smooth with relatively few rails and are often undercut by a series of roofs. Because the crag has not had a great deal of traffic there is quite a lot of loose rock – test all holds carefully.  The crag also seems to have more than its fair share of loose and wedged blocks.  Some of these are immovable but others are potentially dangerous – exercise the usual precautions. The crag varies in height from about 8 m to about 20 m and the routes are mainly single pitch trad lines. There are currently about 70 routes that range in grade from 8 to 26. There is tremendous potential for new lines. No climbing is allowed on the Shongweni Dam side of the crag because of the black eagles that are nesting there. Because the crag is not climbed regularly, some of the routes may become a little vegetated or sandy. Do not let this put you off, however, because a minimal amount of 'gardening' and brushing is all that is required to restore most of the routes to their original pristine splendour! The crag gets early morning shade but is in the sun from about 11h00. The general layout of the crag is shown below: