Avid hikers Kobus Bresler and Dania Petrik share with us their Top 10 hiking routes across South Africa. From Cape Town to Mpumalanga, hutted to mountain camping, it's time to start planning your next hiking adventure.
Outeniqua Trail (SANPARKS)
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.
Boesmanskloof (Cape Nature)
Amongst the folds of the spectacular Riviersonderend Mountains, the Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail connects the towns of Greyton and McGregor. It is 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.
Whale Trail (Cape Nature)
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.
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.
Hennops Hiking Trails
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
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.
Fanie Botha Hiking Trail
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.
Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail
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.
Giant’s Cup Hiking Trail
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.