TIME: 8 hours.
DISTANCE: 14 km.
TERRAIN: Very steep at times. Go with a hotel guide because the paths are not well marked on the escarpment.
There are several ways to reach this rarely visited spot. The “easiest” is to take the Sungubala Pass route. Go through the gate at the top of the pass and take the left path. After about 400 m a spur will be seen leading down a gentle slope to the right (not into the valley). Take a path (there are several) for 1 km down towards the dam, but keeping on the upper slopes, and watching the drainage lines. The path reaches a small amphitheatre with two waterfalls, about 500 m apart, trickling over the edge into almost circular glades below. The surrounding cliff faces are shaped like gnomes’ faces; hence the name “Troglodytes”, meaning “cave-dwellers”. This was an African ceremonial centre, so proceed with care and respect. In particular do not damage the stone huts there. Return the same way.
A second route is via Rodney’s Pass. To find it, start at Top Gate, taking the path towards Sugar Loaf. Before reaching the first dam look for a path to the right leading across the “flats” towards the left of Echo Cave. This path leads gently down to the old quarry (reddish rock face at the first plateau). Take the rather steep pass up through these rocks. This leads onto the top of the first plateau above the rock face. Cross the fence there via a gate to the right. Follow the twisting path leading up and right, always keeping in the general direction of the Battleship. At the second plateau pick up the path that leads up and crosses to the right, always towards Battleship. This path leads into a small gully, at which point a faint track can be found leading left up to the main escarpment. This leads through a wooded area, clambering over and under rocks and bushes, to emerge above the rock face. Climb out of the long slope to the top of the plateau, and proceed round and behind Hlolela, keeping to the contour path. Eventually the top of Sungubala Pass will be seen. Locate the path leading from there to the spur and proceed as before.
A third route is via the top of Scilla Gully. Reach this spot on the standard route to Hlolela. At this point keep right along the contour path that winds around and behind Hlolela towards the Sungubala valley. Once Sungubala Pass is located, proceed as before.