Avid hikers Dania Petrik, Kobus Bresler and Henko Roukema share with us their must-do list of hiking trails across South Africa. Which ones will you be adding to your adventure list for 2019?
2 day | 28 km | Beginner
Amongst the folds of the spectacular Riviersonderend Mountains, the Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail connects the towns of Greyton and McGregor. It is a 14km route that mixes jeep track with winding single track, and is typically done as a 2-day return hike (totalling 28km). The incredible scenery and pristine indigenous flora is a welcome distraction from the tough uphills, and the beautiful Oakes Falls is the perfect mid-way rest point with several mountain pools to have a refreshing dip in.
5 days | 55km | Beginner to Intermediate
The Whale Trail is one of the most remarkable hikes in South Africa and one of the easier overnight trails in the Western Cape, and can even be done as a slack-packing route over the five days. This trail traverses pristine fynbos mountain areas to striking orange cliffs that offer unparalleled views across the Indian ocean, and ends with long stretches along blinding-white beaches with incredible calcrete formations and rockpools full of marine life. It is a very exposed hike, and hikers should carry sufficient water and ensure that they are protected from the sun.
The Panorama Hiking trail, Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch.
1 day | 17km | Intermediate
The Panorama Circuit in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, heads towards Bergrivernek and over to the majestic Tweede Waterval. The stunning views along the way of Table Mountain, Cape Point, Robben Island, False Bay, Cape Hangklip and the peaks of the Hottentots Holland range, make it one of the top day hikes in the Western Cape.
The hike covers a distance of almost 17 kilometres and should take about seven hours for a moderately fit individual. Cape Town’s weather has a reputation for being rather unpredictable, so bring along a waterproof jacket, sunblock and anything else you might need to brave the elements, and make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for the journey. The route is well marked, and after paying your censervation fees at the gate one can also get a route description from the personnel.
+- 7 days | 15km per day | Intermediate
This spectacular trail through the ancient forests of Outeniqua, between George and Knysna on the Garden Route can be done as a series of day walks or over a period of seven days. Marked by long ascents and steep descents, this trail will take you through fairy glens of thick, boreal forest, twisted age-old indigenous trees dripping with lichen and ‘old-man’s beard’, and across tannin-rich streams. The average distance covered per day is approximately 15kms, and will be a challenge to those who are underprepared.
4.5 days | 43km | Intermediate
It would be remiss not to include the Otter Trail on any list of the top hikes in South Africa. This five-day overnight trail offers a splendid variety of terrain, from the rocky shoreline full of tidal pools to dense thickets of indigenous forest and stunning traverses across the coastal plateau. While the distances covered every day are relatively short, it is recommended that one should spend time relishing incredible vistas, rockpools, and beaches along the way. The undulating trail and the self-sufficient nature of the hike means that it offers a challenge even to the relatively fit and should not be underestimated, but the beauty of this hike is what will really leave one breathless.
1 day | 6km | Beginner to Intermediate
A challenging day hike (approximately 4 hours) along the coastline, with a lot of climbing, jumping and balancing across beach boulders, but all worth the beautiful views. From the mountains to the sea, this hike offers 360-degree views, with a majestic waterfall to finish it all off.
Giant’s Cup Hiking Trail
5 days | 60km | Intermediate
If you love the mountains and incredible scenery, then this one is for you. Starting near Sani Pass in the north it stretches over five days ending at Bushman’s Nek in the beautiful southern Drakensberg. All nights are spent in huts, mostly located in the valleys. Although the climbs can be steep on most days the distances are not too long.
Hennops Hiking Trails
1 day | 2.5/5/10km | Beginner to Advanced
A collection of trails with basic overnight facilities. These are some of the most popular trails mainly due to its close proximity to Johannesburg and Pretoria. It offers beautiful picnic facilities and security personnel can be spotted along the hikes. These trails are popular amongst those training for something bigger like Kilimanjaro, trail running enthusiasts and day hikers alike.
Rustig Hiking Trails (Karee Hike)
1 day | 13km | Intermediate
Due to its close proximity to Gauteng the Rustig trails have grown in popularity. It offers numerous hiking options from short days’ hikes to an overnight trek up the spectacular Magaliesberg Mountains.
Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail
2-5 days | 60km | Intermediate to Advanced
Few destinations offer more spectacular scenery. The Magoebaskloof Trails are some of the best known in the northern parts of South Africa and offers options of two to five days of hiking with excellent overnight facilities. These trails should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Fanie Botha Hiking Trail
5 days | 77km | Intermediate to Advanced
One of the best known classic hiking trails in South Africa, the Fanie Botha takes in much of Mpumalanga’s natural beauty over five days. It has well developed facilities and huts at every stop.