Three Cranes Challenge

Three Cranes. Three Days. One Adventure!

The WILDSERIES Three Cranes Challenge Trail base camp is at Bushwillow Caravan Park in the heart of the Karkloof in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands region. This 3-day ultra-trail stage event is a unique fundraising event which takes runners through indigenous forests and endless elevated views, Shawswood, the majestic Grey Mares Tail waterfall, Willies Magical Garden, Mbona Nature Reserve, Benvie Gardens, Karkloof Canopy Tour ziplines and Ancient Yellow Wood trees on UCL property. There is no better way to test your endurance while running for the conservation of the Cranes (Blue, Wattled and Crowned Cranes).

Event Costs
Dates and Venue


This is what participants can expect for the full Three Cranes Challenge over the event weekend.

  • Thursday, 23 March

    15:00 Registration starts
    18:00 Dinner - Full Package and pre booked meals. Meals available for sale
    18:45 Race Briefing Day 1 and welcome

  • Friday, 24 March

    05:00 Breakfast and late registration
    06:00 Day 1 Start
    16:00 Stretch with Julie Lee Physiotherapy
    18:00 Dinner
    18:45 Race briefing/Photo slide show/Conservation talk

  • Saturday, 25 March

    04:30 Breakfast
    05:30 Day 2 Start
    06:30 25km Start
    15:30 Stretch with Julie Lee Physiotherapy
    17:30 Sundowners performance by Rowan Stuart
    18:30 Dinner
    19:00 Race briefing/Photo slide show/Conservation talk

  • Sunday, 26 March

    04:00 Light breakfast
    04:30 Day 3 start
    07:00 5km Conservation Run
    08:30 Champagne breakfast will open – rolling breakfast until prize giving
    10:00 Prizegiving


R2,800 + R600 conservation donation



All funds raised through this event will be used to enable the Crane conservation work being done by the WILDTRUST, Karkloof Conservancy as well as the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Your Routes in Detail

Day 1 heads steeply up from Bushwillow Caravan Park through indigenous forest to the top of the mountain. It then meanders across and down the “Giants Steps”, through pockets of forest and grasslands to a refreshing stream near the top of the Karkloof Canopy Tours. Here the path leads you into pristine mist belt forest and then down into farmlands, on forestry roads and back up to the plateau where you are greeted by spectacular views of the Karkloof Valley below.

The trail then heads down through the bush to the Karkloof Canopy Tours Time Out Zone where you can enjoy refreshments and a few zip lines at your leisure.

From the Karkloof Canopy Tours the trail takes you down along the bottom of the mountain. Where you traverse farmlands along trails and dirt roads, back to the finish at Bushwillow Caravan Park.

Additional note: Part 1 of the race (to KKCT) includes a new route. This new route offers world class scenery. It is exposed in parts and tough but worth the effort.

From Bushwillow Park the trail leads you across Shawswood, through plantations, to Braco farm, with the majestic Grey Mares Tail Water fall as a backdrop. Here you will zig zag your way through Willies Magical Garden, run through farmlands, cross the main road and head into the plantations for a formidable climb upwards. Water Table 1 at the loading zone will be a welcome sight. From here you work your way up through bush. Near the top of the mountain look around for the ancient Yellowwood trees. They are really big and beautiful.

The path then takes you across the top of mountain and through Mbona Nature Reserve, where you will observe unbelievably stunning views and wildlife. The trail goes through more forest and grassland, along the edges of dams to the Mbona exit gate.

You will cross the New Hanover road and traverse more farmland, cross a swing bridge, run through a young Avocado pear farm and up through the infamous Avenue at Benvie. Here you will experience an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ type tea in the beautiful gardens. You can take time to enjoy this as it is a Time Out Zone.

From Benvie the trail leads you up, up, up, along farm roads and across to Twinfalls, where you begin to descend back down into the valley. You will cross the river and run parallel to it, pass a small village and Willies Magical Garden, head along the driveway to the plantations, through Shawswood, back to Base Camp.

Day 3 takes you through Shawswood to Twinfalls along farm roads and then up into the hills through grasslands. The trail then twists through plantations upwards, towards the top of Mt Gilboa, the highest point in the area. Where you can take a moment to appreciate the breathtaking views, at the last water point.

The track then leads you across grassland plateaus and back down through Shawswood and Bushwillow forest towards base camp – for a hearty breakfast!

The descent is steep.

This route follows the day 2 route plan but splits off at the top of Mbona Nature Reserve mountain. it is a big loop.

From here the path leads you through grasslands – along and down the mountain to Mbona’s main gate. From here the trail goes along the edge of a mountain, down plantation roads back towards Willies Garden, through Shawswood to Bushwillow. 

This run goes from Bushwillow Park through plantations, skirting the edge of the beautiful indigenous forest, to Shawswood and returns through the indigenous bush.

By no means an easy trail run!

Three Cranes Full Package Includes:
Runner Only Package Includes:

Three Cranes. Three Days. One Adventure!

Through your participation,
you enable us to do more for nature conservation

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