Pedestrian Paradise: Five Amazing South African Trails

by Sandy Salle on September 12, 2017

One doesn’t automatically think of Africa as the perfect place to walk. And other than trekking to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, there really aren’t any world famous hiking routes. That’s because most of the planet has yet to discover the fact that South Africa is a hiking haven like no other.

South Africa’s trails may not be as challenging as those found in the Himalayas and none of them are nearly as long as the Appalachian Trail. But for sheer variety of flora and fauna, topography, scenery and human history, few other places comes close to the paths one can trek at the southern end of the African continent.

From Cape Town to Kruger, along the coast and across the Karoo, there are scores of trails to choose from. But these are five of our favorites:

Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail

This five-day backpacking route through the rich, indigenous Afro-montane forest behind the Cape coast runs between the pristine beach at Nature’s Valley to the roaring, white water of the aptly named Storms River Gorge. Overnight huts along the 40-mile trail include bunk beds, bathrooms and cooking facilities. You can easily combine this route with another multi-day trek called the 26-mile Otter Trail along the shore.

Mont-aux-Sources Trail

This vertiginous route in Royal Natal National Park zigzags up the Drakensberg Range to a lofty, wind-swept plateau that’s a source of both the Orange and Tugela rivers. The last leg to the summit involves scaling a vertical wall via chain ladder (with backpack still affixed to your torso). The view from the top is literally breathtaking (elevation: 10,768 feet) including bird’s-eye views of the world’s second highest waterfall (Tugela Falls). The 24-mile round trip requires at least one overnight on the mountain.

Hoerikwaggo Trail

“Mountain in the Sea” is the translation of the Khoekhoen name for Table Mountain, the dramatic ridge that runs between Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope. The trail is actually a network of paths that can be done as day hikes or five-day trek with overnights in wooden huts along the way. Bays and beaches far below, the views are stunning. While the blend of native flora and fauna — especially the fragrant fynbos vegetation and cute little penguins — is unforgettable.

Fannie Botha Trail

One of South Africa’s first organized hiking routes, this five-day hike on the western edge of Kruger National Park meanders through forest, field and farms between the towns of  Sabie and Graskop. Like so many of the nation’s top trails, Fannie’s well-equipped overnight huts preclude the need for your own tent or stove. Sprinkled along the way are several astounding cascades — Mac Mac, Bridal Veil and Lone Creek Falls.

Amatola Trail

Possibly the place that inspired South African writer J.R.R. Tolkien to conjure a place called Middle-earth, this hike through the mountains of the Eastern Cape is nothing short of spectacular. This 62-mile path between Hogsback and King Williams Town takes six days to complete, with overnight huts along the way. You may not meet Hobbits along the way, but the landscapes are straight out of Lord of the Rings — thick forests and waterfalls, flower-filled fynbos and mountain perches where you can easily imagine Frodo and Gandalf shooting the breeze.

Are you looking to experience life?  Get up and go…. let’s help you have the experience of a lifetime.  Call us a 1-800-940-9344 or email us at hoainfo@hillsofafrica.com.

 

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