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*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
Resembling a compass needle, and extending far above the surrounding mountains, Kompasberg is a 2500m-high mountain in the Sneeuberg range in the Eastern Cape. Reaching Kompasberg is via the town of Nieu Bethesda in the Eastern Cape, approximately 15km from the base of the mountain. In winter, the Kompasberg is snow-capped, while in the summer months, the mountain appears stark in its pale grey colours.
Kompasberg translates to Compass Mountain and is renowned for its challenging hiking routes, depending on whichever side is attempted. Permission is required from the landowner to climb Kompasberg, ask your host to arrange.
The weather can change rapidly on the mountain and hikers and climbers must be prepared for any eventuality. Take along warm clothing, a space blanket andsufficient water and food in the event of being forced to take shelter from icy winds and thunderstorms.
The cliffs of the Kompasberg give the appearance of tightly-bound vertical columns, an exceedingly unique landscape. At the summit, the views are spectacular and extend for miles.
One particular butterfly, the Kompasberg Skolly, is endemic and only found on the slopes of the Sneeuberg range. There are also several plant species unique to this region, two of which are currently on the red list.
During the South African War between 1899 and 1902, there was some activity around the Sneeuberg Mountains and there’s a story told of British troops using a heliograph (a method of signalling using the sun’s reflection and mirrors) to send messages to others located on a mountain range in the Baviaanskloof Wilderness area but this is highly unlikely, the distance is around 250km!
For those seeking a destination that’s less than ordinary, a stay in Nieu Bethesda and a well-planned trip up Kompasberg is one for the books.