In EP13 of Adventure Photography On Location we’re hiking through the Royal Natal National Park right up to the worlds tallest, cascading waterfall: Tugela Falls – situated high up in the Drakensberg – or, as the locals call it: The Berg.
With a 100km pothole dodging drive our early 5AM start wasn’t quite enough to beat the sun. And this amazing hike very soon turned into a challenge of shooting in harsh daylight.
We did however beat the morning clouds and by the time we reached the beginning of the walk we had a nice layer of slowly dissolving clouds in the landscape below us. Feels a bit like arriving in a different world.
Up a zigzagging path we climbed to the face of Sentinel mountain overlooking ‘the Berg’ mountain line. The goal was to reach the top platform and take a look down the worlds tallest cascading waterfall: The Tugela Falls.
This 4 hour return hike quickly turned into an 7h adventure of constantly getting stopped by epic views, losing the path, racing the incoming storms and holding on to the sketchiest ladder I’v ever been on.
It is by far one of the most scenic hikes I’ve ever done and I can only recommend it. But be sure to pick a clear day and start early! Afternoon storms and low hanging clouds have caught out many hikers before.
Most people hike this path for the famous ladders. And I totally get it! 40m + another set of 20m of very old and scary looking ladders alone are enough to make me want to drive the 100km of potholes to get here.
But the whole hike is worth the early start and long drive really. It feels like reaching the top of the world and looking down into the Amphitheater is something you can’t experience anywhere else in the world.
By getting a little lost on the way up we actually missed out on the ladders and ended up walking a loop instead of a ‘there and back’ and we got to see some more of the area than we intended to. Nothing to complain about really, the views are absolutely breathtaking and you can’t stop yourself from walking as close as you dare to the edge.
Once we got to the top of the falls it suddenly was obvious, this huge half bowl shaped mountain cut out by storms and the constant flow of water deserved it’s name: The Amphitheater.
On the way down I wished we hadn’t gotten lost on the way up… climbing down the rusty ladders was much less fun than coming up would have been. But we took it slow and eventually managed.
The beginning of the Amphitheater hike is at Sentinal Car Park inside the Royal Natal National Park which forms part of the Drakensberg – or ‘the Berg’, as the locals call it. I highly recommend downloading the app Trails – which allows you to download hikes onto your smartphone that you can follow and avoid getting lost. It’s really good on battery life and can be the vital tool to bring you back home on a stormy day!
I packed as little as I possible and as much as I could carry. I reckon about 7-8kg all inside my F-Stop Gear AJNA backpack.
I filmed the episode in Cinema 4K (4096x2160px) and flat profile. I used a second Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II (thanks Olympus!) and the 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO for the filming of the episode.
This camera + lens combination is my absolute favourite video kit. The sensor + lens stabilisation is a miracle and seemingly by magic (and incredibly engineering), manages to smooth out ±90% of the shake I produce while handling the camera handheld. No need for a tripod or gimbal!
For the final render I downscaled the footage to 1920×1080 and cropped it to 16:9 aspect ratio for YouTube. By using a larger recording format you get more detailed looking downscaled image and I’m very pleased with the final result.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II – http://bit.ly/2jSptJP
M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO – http://bit.ly/2kgKjWo
M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO –http://bit.ly/2ldfShL
M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO – http://bit.ly/2kblOYA
LEE 105mm Circular Polariser – http://amzn.to/2F4Ucy8
LEE Foundation Kit – http://amzn.to/2F5Jrvo
LEE 105mm Filter Holder – http://amzn.to/2G74TS9
3D Printed 7-14mm Filter Adapter – http://bit.ly/7to14mmFilterAdapter
Peak Design wrist strap – http://amzn.to/2F2MMeP
Zeiss Lens Kit – http://amzn.to/2rvqj89
Lumbar Pack Camera Insert – http://amzn.to/2BmInRA
F-Stop Gear Ajna Backpack – http://bit.ly/FStopAjnaBackpack
Large Pro ICU – http://bit.ly/LargeProICU
Almost all of my Adventure Photography On Location episodes are self funded. I create them because I love sharing my passion for photography and the outdoors and I would love to keep creating more of these and hopefully create an ongoing thing. Many hours are spent coming up with and creating episodes for you and I don’t really make any money creating them. Which is why I decided to join Patreon.
Patreon is the perfect platform where you can support the work of creatives like myself. By subscribing you can contribute a small amount of money towards each future episode and help me produce more, better and higher quality content.
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Even more Africa!
The next episode will be down at the bottom of the Amphitheater. You didn’t think I wasn’t going to explore the canyons and waterfalls down in the gorge were you? 🙂
So stay tuned for new adventure from a different continent and subscribe to my Newsletter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram if you don’t want to miss out. And please consider supporting my work on Patreon.