South Africa is a country blessed with great natural beauty, so it’s not surprising that hiking is a popular outdoor activity amongst South African locals and even the international community, who regularly visit South Africa to enjoy its famous long-distance hiking trails. If trekking trails and climbing mountains are your passions, then give hiking trails a try.
Hiking trails in South Africa (Long-distance)
The Otter trail
This famous long-distance hiking trail is the oldest official hiking trail in South Africa and was inaugurated in 1968. If you are a serious hiker, it’s a trail you have to do – because you will be retelling your adventures for years to come. The trail starts at the Storms River Mouth rest camp in the Tsitsikamma part of the Garden Route and then follows the cliff tops. You will hike through forests and along beaches all the way to the Groot Rivier Estuary at Nature’s Valley. Be prepared for rustic accommodation, no hot water or electricity but the incredible scenery you view will make up for any discomfort!
The Whale Trail
If roughing it is not your thing, then the Whale Trail is a hike that might be more up your street (or mountain). This hike winds its way along the coastal part of the De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Overberg and has incredible ocean views that guarantee you plenty of opportunities to spot whales playing with their calves in the ocean. This is a slackpacking trail, which means that most of your luggage and all your meals will be transported to the accommodation that you are hiking to every day. In addition, instead of staying in rough hiking huts, you will be enjoying the comfort of cottages with fully equipped kitchens and warm water.
The Fanie Botha Trail
Moving away from the coast, the Fanie Botha Trail in Mpumalanga is one of the most magnificent trails in the whole of South Africa with a medium level of fitness required to experience it fully. But the difficulty is worth it, as you will view famous spots like the Mac Mac Falls along the route.
Drakensberg, Grand Traverse
Distance: 210 km
This hike is not for the faint-hearted as it involves backpacking along the length of the Drakensberg Mountains. There are no established paths and you will have to undertake plenty of arduous climbs and descents. The classic route involves the Drakensberg’s six highest peaks – Mont aux Sources, Cleft Peak, Champagne Castle, Mafadi, Giant’s Castle and Thabana Ntlenyana.
Rim of Africa, Western Cape
If you are up for a real challenge then this hike is famous for being one of the world’s greatest long-distance hiking trails and covers more than 600km of rugged mountain terrain. The hike begins in the Cederberg and ends in the Outeniqua Mountains and involves plenty of off-path hiking. This hike should only be undertaken by experienced hikers and usually consists of nine sections that cover up to 8 days of hiking. The ultimate hiking experience involves linking all of these together and hiking from start to finish.
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