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Best hiking trails in South Africa

South Africa has plenty of beautiful, tempting trails which pulls in avid hikers from all over the world, it was considered as one of the globe’s premier hiking destinations. It has over thousands of registered routes which backpackers can decide on. The SANParks or South African National Parks board is in charge of managing a great number of the best hiking trails in South Africa’s many national parks. Its game reserves and forestry areas offer lots of trails for beginners and experienced hikers alike.

These trails can be finished around 1-2 hours or accomplished in a matter of weeks. The registered routes are noticeable since they are signposted and majority of people who manage hikes often provide maps and all of the data one needs in order to achieve their feats. However, you can also enjoy wilderness treks, unmarked routes and guided bush walks if you want to try something different.

Since South Africa is on the southern hemisphere and our (north American) winter is their summer, South Africa is a very popular destination for avid hikers all around the world. Below are just some of the most prominent and appreciated trails that you can experience in all of the country.

  • Platteklip Gorge

Platteklip Gorge hiking trail South AfricaThe Platteklip trail is the most popular and most direct route to the top of Table Mountain. Table Mountain National Park has several trails but just be aware that on Table Mountain more people die than on Mount Everest. It’s not a hill but a mountain and the weather can change quickly.

The Platteklip trail starts on the Tafelberg Road and the path is in certain parts well constructed with stone steps. The path is steep and goes through the gorge that divides the front face of Table Mountain. The view during the trail up of Cape Town and Table Bay are magnificent, as well as the views of Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak. From the Upper Cableway Station you can climb to the highest point on Table Mountain that is at 1088m above sea level. From here you have a 360 degrees panorama of Cape Town, Cape Peninsula, the beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton and the majestic Twelve Apostles.

Depending on the condition of the hikers, you should allow between 3 and 5 hours for this trail.

  • Skeleton Gorge Trail

The track is located in the Western Cape and is tagged as one of Table Mountain’s most picturesque hikes. The first half of the trek will take you to woody ravines but as the second half of the route finally comes into view, you will bear witness to the majestic flora of the area and the awe-inspiring views of Cape Town.

This is a moderate hike which one can accomplish in a matter of 6-8 hours.

  • Amathole Trail

Amathole Table Mountain hiking trail Cape Town South AfricaThis is a 6-day, tough trail which requires your complete focus; it meanders throughout the precipitous, woodland countryside within the Eastern Cape. You will walk amongst woody areas complete with ponds, waterfalls and swimming holes. Plenty of flora and fauna can be spotted in this route.

Majestic views can be seen around the trail, from beautiful valleys, clear rivers to gently sloping hills. It finishes at the Tyume River which is neat Hogsback, an eco-village where you can relax after days spend in the wild.

  • Otter Trail

It is considered as the country’s premier multi-day route, which finishes at the Garden Route’s western end. It is also a hard hike but the route promises sceneries which will take your breath away. Marvel at seaside spots, spectacular view points, caves, waterfalls and swimming holes just waiting for you to get discovered.

If you hike between the months of July and November, you might spot a whale or two swimming by, plus the nosy otters which has provided the route its distinctive name. In the course of the hike, there are huts which provide beds, barbecue areas and firewood.

  • Golden Gate Highlands Rhebok Trail

It is a reasonably tough hike and it is also recommended that you get yourself accompanied with a guide in order to finish the entire route. It lasts for 2 days and it meanders throughout the country’s amazing mountains, gorges and rock formations.

The trek can get foggy and chilly though, so you must pack essentials needed for such climates to make hiking more of a breeze.

  • Fanie Botha Trail

Fanie Botha Trail Hiking South AfricaSituated in Mpumalanga, the Fanie Botha trail meanders through the Komatiland Forest, unearthing the area’s bird life and national monuments (the Mac Mac and the Lone Creek falls) to hikers who choose the route. It can be finished in 5 days but hikers are also given the option to do 2 or 3-day hikes.

  • Hoerikwaggo Trail

Hikers will first climb the Table Mountain in the beginning of the trek and soon, they will walk paths through rugged Cape Peninsula on top of vineyards and sleepy seaside towns up to Cape Point.

It is a 5-day hike which will take travelers to places such as the Platteklip Gorge and Chapman’s Peak. During the duration of the trek, expect to spot various animals like otters and even dolphins and whales. The route will also take you to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.

  • Kruger Wilderness Trail

Buffalo in Kruger Nation ParkKruger National Park is world famous; it is the home of bush and the mighty baobab tree plus it is also the home of the world’s fiercest animal species namely the buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and the rhinoceros. It is located between Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Part of the area is considered as complete wilderness and there are available 3-night wilderness routes that will take bold, exploratory hikers throughout the place. You will be accompanied by armed park rangers and there are also options like guided drives and walks aside from hikes.

The route covers majority of the park’s territory and through the course of the trek you will stumble upon tree-lined plains, riverine forests, bushvelds, grasslands and more. Spot crocodiles sunning around the Olifants trail while the Sweni Trail is known to be a place frequented by lions.

  • Drakensberg Grand Traverse Trail

The duration of this hike can last for up to 15 days and it starts from the Sentinel and ends at the Bushman’s Nek. Along with the Amathole trail, it is considered as one of the hardest trails in the country so beginners take heed; get a guide or go together with hikers you can trust.

The elevation spans up to 9000 meters and it crosses over to the border among Lesotho and South Africa. The route will take you beyond 34 ridges and valleys. Stumble upon the Basotho shepherds as they tend their flocks of sheep, goats and cows.

Other than the challenge of the elements, be prepared to take in the amazing views this trail will provide; it truly makes for one majestic hiking experience. You are free to decide on your own track since the route is not a pre-determined track. Plan your track ahead plus diversion routes because it is required.

In addition, tour operators are always on hand to organize your hike for you.

  • Giant’s Cup Trail

Once more from the Drakensberg mountains; this trail is one of the country’s best. Said mountains are a World Heritage Site after all, and this particular route will let you cross Cobham and the Garden Castle Nature Reserve. The trek begins at the foot of the country’s highest mountain pass, the Sani Pass.

You will hike through foothills until you chance upon the Bathplug Cave, quiet streams, swimming holes and awesome mountain views. The Giant’s Cup looks out over the Cobham Nature Reserve’s grasslands, lakes and rivers. The Drakensberg’s southern point features the Garden Castle Nature Reserve which highlights caves and the Rhino Cave.

  • Leopard’s Kloof Trail

Betty’s Bay is the home of the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, and by choosing this track, you will be taken to such a spot.

This route is an easy, enjoyable park trek which is also family-friendly. The hike meanders throughout lush coastal woodlands and in the course of the hike, you will stumble upon limestone shrublands until you reach the pristine waterfalls at Leopard’s Kloof.

  • Magoebaskloof Trail

Magoebaskloof Trail South Africa hikingIt is situated in Tzaneen and it lets hikers experience trekking through rugged ravines and fertile woodlands. The track is graced by the constant appearance of blue gum and eucalyptus trees. The area is known for its rainfall so in order to get ready for this hike, better pack some rain gear with you.

The trail lasts for 5 nights but there are also shorter options you can choose from. Recommended place to stay is at the Magoebaskloof Getaway.

  • Dolphin Hiking Trail

The track calls the Eastern Cape home, and this track is easier as compared with routes like the Otter Trail. This is a 3-night hike which lets backpackers spot the famous Storms River Bridge. Along the way, you will also witness plenty of the locality’s wildlife and plant life.

  • Hole in the Wall Trail

Hole in the Wall Trail South Africa hikingThis track is filled to the brim with seaside overhangs, inlets and mangrove swamps which makes the route a truly outstanding one. This easy hike can be accomplished in a matter of 3 days. If you are into coastal scenes, then this route is for you.

This is considered as a luxury track since the available accommodations can be provided by the area’s hotels. Luckily you can choose the Hole in the Wall camping ground as well.

  • Blyderivierspoort Trail

The track begins at God’s Window then ambles throughout a looming canyon; the Blyde River Canyon. You can accomplish the hike in 5 days maximum but there are shorter options available as well. Marvel at the wildlife which awaits you on this route; hiding from plain view are curious animals like the klipspringer and baboons.

If you are into plants, the area has plenty of orchids, ferns, wild figs and cycads for you to discover.

  • Swellendam Trail

Swellendam is the 3rd oldest township in the country and is also the location of a picturesque track. Those who love their flora will be glad to know that the area has a thriving plant and flower life. It even has species found only in this particular area.

This moderate-to-advanced hike can be accomplished 6 days max and is not recommended for beginners. However, there are shorter tracks available for beginners to enjoy.

  • Olifantsbos Trail

The route can be found in the Western Cape and it offers a great hiking experience because of the place’s natural beauty and resonant history. It is an easy track which lets hikers traverse throughout the Cape Point Nature Reserve.

South Africa offers a diverse selection of hiking trails for all skill level. There’s definitely one for everyone – and hiking enthusiasts must have South Africa in their bucket lists.

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