Plan your trip
From Underberg, take the signposted gravel roads to Bushman’s Nek border post and park at the KZN wildlife office, where you fill in the mountain-rescue register. Hike through or around the border post (you could take passports, but are technically always in SA). Cross over the Ngwangwane River on your left and then follow the trail in a south-westerly direction. You’ll reach Tarn Cave and its surrounding tarns along this trail up Bushman’s Pass, or by continuing along the Ngwangwane River Valley. Both are very scenic, but the first route is much less steep.
WHEN TO GO
Summer guarantees water in the tarns, but also afternoon thunderstorms. In autumn, there may be less water but the weather is stable and the grasses are changing colour. In spring, snow is still likely.
Camp wild (in a tent, cave or under the stars) in order to capture the tarns at dawn and dusk. Overnight caves must be booked in advance. A permit for wild camping is R70 pp; day visitors pay R40 conservation fee. kznwildlife.com
NEED TO KNOW
Overnighters must be completely self-sufficient. No fires are allowed so bring a camp cooker. There is cellphone reception, but it can be erratic in places. Detailed hiking maps are sold at most of the KZN Wildlife offices in the park.