4 days / 3 nights

R5900 per person

Rustic hut on Thursday
Hiking tents on Friday and Saturday

Carl Smorenburg & Mark Dumbleton

9 - 12 March 2017

1 spot remaining


Dramatic landscape photography
Backpacking workshop
Learn new photographic skills
Guided adventure into the mountains
Porters and hiking gear rental available
Climb the world famous chain-ladders

Spend 4 days & 3 nights exploring the nuances of some of the most dramatic scenery in all of the Drakensberg. This Drakensberg Amphitheatre workshop is lead by Carl Smorenburg and Mark Dumbleton. Together with their photographic experience and mountain knowledge, this workshop will provide unparalleled opportunity to capture dramatic imagery of the most dynamic mountain landscape of South Africa. This workshop is designed for people with a passion for landscape photography and adventure.
During March in the Drakensberg the temperatures are hot, but can become cold during the night, especially after thunderstorms. The potential conditions we could encounter include these dramatic thunderstorms, beautiful cloudy sunrises and mist inversions. The Drakensberg is at its best during March with wonderful green grass displaying everywhere. It is a wonderful time of year to experience this magnificent mountainous wonderland.


Thursday 9 March 2017

(Distance hiked - 0km) : Meet at the Sentinel Car Park at 15:00 for the workshop brief. Once we have settled in and all introduced ourselves, we will shoot sunset close to the car park. During this session Carl and myself will get to know what you are looking for from the workshop photographically. You are also free to roam the many locations close by if you wish without us, in search of something different from the other workshop participants. Amazing views are just a short walk from the car park. On Thursday night we will sleep at the hiking hut at the car park (very rustic - no shower facilities and run down), but you are most welcome to book into Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge for the night (for your own account). After sunset we will make dinner, pack our hiking packs for the hike the next day and bed down for the night. Weather permitting, we can assist in some night photography after dinner.

Car Park and Witches sunrise location photos :

 Sunrise captured from just behind the car park hut
 View from the "Witches" sunrise location

Friday 10 March 2017

(Distance to hike - 7.6km) : depart from the car park at 04:00, hike up through the zig-zags and reach the Witches view-point before sunrise. A good headlamp is needed for this part of the hike. We will shoot sunrise from the Witches view point, make breakfast afterwards and take a short rest before heading off around the Sentinel peak towards the chain ladders. After ascending the chain-ladders, we will continue our journey towards Ribbon Falls campsite. Arrival at Ribbon Falls by lunch-time. There is a long edge of the Amphitheatre wall to explore from Ribbon Falls camp - compositional ideas include either the Eastern Buttress and Devils Tooth, or towards Tugela Falls, the Sentinel and Western Buttress. We will shoot sunset on Friday and sunrise on Saturday from this location.

Ribbon Falls location photos :

View Across The World
The Ethereal
The Falling Mist

Saturday 11 March 2017

(Distance to hike - 1.59km) - We will wake up early on Saturday morning and head out for sunrise. After sunrise, we will head back to camp for breakfast. As we only have a short walk to Tugela Falls from Ribbon Falls, we can relax around camp for an hour or so and slowly pack up for the short hike. We will shoot sunset on Saturday and sunrise on Sunday close to Tugela Falls.

Tugela Falls location photos :

The Devils Tooth
Dawn Light and Shadow

Sunday 12 March 2017

(Distance to hike - 5.91km) - An early wake up to photograph sunrise from the Tugela Falls area. After sunrise, we will head back to camp, make breakfast and pack up for the hike back to the car park. The 5.91km hike back down is much easier than going up, and will take us about 2.5 hours to get back down. Once down, we will say our farewells to the mountains and a wonderful weekend adventure.



  • Expert personal photographic instruction and guidance, advice on capture techniques, thoughts on composition and location scouting, informal post-processing chats and critique on captured photographs.
  • Hiking fees and accommodation at the Sentinel Car Park hut on Thursday night.
  • Free copy of Mark Dumbleton's Landscape Photograph Processing Video Tutorials.


  • Entrance fee through access gate to Witsieshoek.
  • Food (we will provide a list of what we take on a hike).
  • Porter fees (Porters will be arranged by your workshop leaders). Total cost for a porter is R1200. This is payable to Mark before the workshop. Please indicate if you wish to make use of a porter.
  • Transportation to and from the Sentinel Car Park.
  • Any accommodation booked at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge.


  • Non-photographic partners are allowed, but kept to a maximum of 1 per photographic client. The fee for the non-photographic partner is R1950. This covers the hiking fee, accommodation at the Sentinel car park hut and the "mountain guiding" by Carl and Mark. Porters are available for non-photographic partners.
  • At any time during the workshop you may choose to search for your own compositions away from other workshop participants. You do not need to stay with the group during sunrise / sunset sessions.
  • Carl and Mark will be taking photographs on the workshop, but only when each client has been attended to and is comfortable with their own shooting. The goal is to take you to these amazing locations and teach you how to photograph them.
  • We unfortunately cannot control the weather. Carl and Mark are not responsible for an unpleasant experience because of foul weather. The best will be done with the circumstances at hand to make the workshop as enjoyable for you as possible.
  • The camera gear Mark uses whilst on a hike in the Drakensberg includes : 1 x DSLR Camera (Nikon D810), 14-24 mm lens, 24-120mm lens with a 77mm circular polariser, tripod and ball head, spare camera batteries and memory cards, micro fibre cloth and camera cable release. I keep my camera gear in a soft pouch, inside a small dry bag to keep the gear dry if it rains.
  • There are no toilet facilities up on the mountain, so any toilet duties will be done purely "in the wild". Please remember to pack enough toilet paper.
  • You are free to wash in the rivers close to each camp. The water is very cold but adequate for a good "freshen Up". Please use biodegradeable soap.
  • For a detailed preview of the workshop and what to expect, please read this blog post about a previous hike I did to the Drakensberg Amphitheatre in April 2016.


To make a booking, please click the "Book for this workshop" button at the top of this page and enter in your details, alternatively email Mark at info@markdumbleton.com. A booking confirmation form will be emailed to you to confirm your booking. A 50% deposit is required to secure your booking. Final 50% payment required 60 days before departure.


If you are new to hiking and want to join us but don't have the necessary hiking gear, for R500 per person we can offer the following gear on a rental basis for the workshop,

  • 65 Litre Hiking Pack
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Cooking stove and pot


To get a better idea of the distances we walk each day, please study the below distance information and elevation graphs. This will give you a better idea of the difficulty of the hike. Remember, at an altitude of 3000m, the oxygen levels are much lower and therefore the physical exertion becomes increased to accommodate for these low levels of oxygen.

Friday - Sentinel Car Park to the "Witches" Sunrise location - 1.67km with an ascent of roughly 191 meters.
Friday - Witches Sunrise location to Ribbon Falls campsite via the Chain Ladders - 6.01 km with an ascent of roughly 322 meters.
Saturday - Ribbon Falls campsite to Tugela Falls campsite - 1.59km with an ascent of roughly 100 meters and then descending 100 meters back down to Tugela Falls.
Sunday - Tugela Falls campsite to Sentinel Car Park via the Chain Ladders - 5.91km descending roughly 513 meters.

 Overview of the hike.

Overview of the hike.

 Distance and Elevation graph for Friday's hike.

Distance and Elevation graph for Friday's hike.

 Distance and Elevation graph for Saturday's hike.

Distance and Elevation graph for Saturday's hike.

 Distance and Elevation graph for Sunday's hike.

Distance and Elevation graph for Sunday's hike.


A few important notes regarding the use of porters - The porters are only human and cannot carry everything and the kitchen sink, so please be careful with what and how you pack. They have to carry your stuff and as well as their stuff in the same bag. That includes their tent, food and clothes. Please bring a large day pack or camera bag so that you can carry your camera equipment. Limit your food to about a 1kg a day and remember the last day is only about a 2:30 hour walk back to the car park. Carl and Mark will be bringing an 85l bag for one of the porters to use which will make things easier. We will get together on Thursday evening to work out the luggage for the porters. The porters are such nice guys are always willing to help. Each porter will be able to carry 8-10kg of your gear. Carl and myself will bring the porters extra food as they are dirt poor and will most likely bring only Pap and Polony to eat. No provisions need to be made for the porters, they will have their own tent, food etc. If you want to spoil them a bit with extra food, you are more than welcome. Extra remuneration at the end of the hike is also welcomed, but not compulsory.


On my first hike I took far too much equipment into the Drakensberg. My pack was about 28kg for 2 nights. I was warned before hand to make sure to only take the absolute essentials. I followed this advice to a degree, but I did end up taking probably 5-7kg of unnecessary gear, food and clothing. It is very difficult to judge what you should take having never done a hike before, but I have learned from experience and can to the best of my ability assist with what gear to take. Keep things as simple as possible, find the lightest gear possible (without breaking the bank) and look for multiple uses in items. Remember, everything you pack will have to be carried, and as insignificant as a saving of 100g in some form of gear is, it all adds up! The lighter your pack, the more you will enjoy your time out in the Drakensberg wilderness and take full advantage of the experience with us.

For a comprehensive analysis of the gear I take on a hike, please have a look at this blog post.