DRAKENSBERG AMPHITHEATRE WORKSHOP - NOVEMBER 2017

The Devils Tooth

MAX PHOTOGRAPHERS
6

WORKSHOP DURATION
4 days / 3 nights

WORKSHOP COST
R6,900 per person

ACCOMMODATION
Witsieshoek on Thursday
Hiking tents on Friday and Saturday

PHOTOGRAPHIC GUIDES
Carl Smorenburg & Mark Dumbleton

DATE OF WORKSHOP
2 - 5 November 2017

AVAILABILITY
4 spots remaining

PHYSICAL DIFFICULTY
Moderate

HIGHLIGHTS
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 November in the Drakensberg the temperatures are hot, but can become cold during the day and night, especially after thunderstorms. The potential conditions we could encounter include these dramatic thunderstorms, beautiful cloudy sunrises and mist inversions. November is a wonderful time of year to experience this magnificent mountainous wonderland.


Itinerary

Thursday 2 NOVEMBER 2017

(Distance hiked - 0km) : Meet at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge at 16:00 for the workshop brief. Once we have booked in and all introduced ourselves, we will shoot sunset close to Witsieshoek. We will gather for dinner at Witsieshoek, during which time Carl and Mark will get to know what you are looking for from the workshop photographically.

Sentinel Car Park and Witches sunrise location photos :

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

Friday 3 NOVEMBER 2017

(Distance to hike - 7.6km) : Depart from Witsieshoek at 03:00, drive to the Sentinel car park for a 03:30 departure. 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 4 NOVEMBER 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 5 NOVEMBER 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 to 2.5 hours to get back down. Once down, we will say our farewells to the mountains and a wonderful weekend adventure.


INFORMATION

INCLUDED IN THE COST

  • 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.
  • Accommodation and dinner at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge on Thursday night (each client will have their own room), all hiking fees for Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Free copy of Mark Dumbleton's Landscape Photograph Processing Video Tutorials.

NOT INCLUDED IN THE COST

  • Entrance fee through access gate to Witsieshoek.
  • Food for the hiking part of the workshop (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 and Witsieshoek.

NOTES

  • Non-photographic partners are allowed, but kept to a maximum of 1 per photographic client. The fee for the non-photographic partner is R3900. This covers the hiking fees, accommodation and dinner at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge on Thursday night. 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.

BOOKINGS

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.

HIKING GEAR RENTAL

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

DISTANCES HIKED EACH DAY

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.

PORTER INFORMATION

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.

TIPS ON HIKING GEAR AND FOOD

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.