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The South African hiking bucketlist

 

Most of us love hiking.

Here’s a complete list of all the South African hikes, as well as the ones we’re dreaming of doing soon. We figure it’s a pretty good indication of what every hiker should aim to do in South Africa. Got anything to add? Tell us in the comments!

 

Multi-day hikes

 

The Otter Trail

 

A friend checks out the stormy seas. Photo taken from the Oakhurst hut boma. Photo by Chris Davies

 

The Otter Trail needs no introduction: one of South Africa’s most famous hikes, it takes you through coastal forest, river crossings, and viewpoints like this. Bookings open a year in advance – and sell out quickly, especially on dates which are optimal for river crossings. Our Gear editor recently explored the beautiful hike for an upcoming issue: but in the meanwhile, enjoy these photos from former journo, Chris Davies.

 

The Leopard Trail

 

A favourite camping site was on night three, and specifically because of this incredible scene just 15 minutes walk down the road. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe

 

Taking you through the wide-open spaces of the Baviaanskloof, The Leopard Trail is one of the newer options on this list. We covered this 55km slackpacking route in our April issue this year – click below to see more breathtaking photos from the assignment.

Tsitsikamma Trail

 

The hike begins with a stroll on the beach; then it meanders through beautiful coastal forest. Photo by Morgan Trimble

 

If you can’t get a booking on the uber-popular Otter Trail, this coastal route is a beautiful alternative. In the words of journalist Morgan Trimble, “the trail crosses many of the same rivers as the Otter, climbs numerous ridges and covers 64 kilometres over six days before reaching Storms River Bridge, near where the Otter Trail starts. Despite its 35-year existence, the Tsitsikamma remains relatively unknown and, thankfully, bookings are easy to come by.”

 

Walking trails in Kruger

 

Left: our homes for three nights. Each A-frame sleeps two and there are four in total. If you don’t completely book out the walk with eight people, you could bunk with people you don’t know. Right: on all walks you are accompanied by two experienced rangers equipped with rifles.

 

Yes, there are more than one! From multi-day wilderness trails to day hikes, seeing Kruger at eye level is a completely different experience of the park, according to Melanie van Zyl.

 

Green Mountain Trail

The Green Mountain Trail is a new luxury slack-packing option in the Overberg, and combines two of our favourite things: rolling mountains and wine tasting. It was Welcome Lishivha’s first experience of a multi-day hike, and we figure that he’s spoiled for life. We’ll be featuring it in our upcoming November issue, which is on shelves 24 October.Limpopo / Mpumalanga hiking route

 

Hikers gaze out at the granite peak of Thabaphaswa from the Lookout. Photo by Shaen Adey

 

Unlike the other hikes on this list, this is a self-drive route, and it’ll take a week or more. But it links up five best hiking in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, and will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in South Africa.

 

Rim of Africa

 

The Rim of Africa is one of the longest hikes on the continent, but can be tackled in nine week-long sections. Photo from Rim of Africa

We haven’t been on the Rim of Africa hiking trail yet, but we had to mention it: it’s absolute bucketlist material. Linking up the Cederberg and Outeniqua mountains, the entire thru-hike is almost 650km long and takes about three months to complete. Most people tackle it in sections though, which range from 60 to 100 kms each.

 

Day hikes

 

 Table Mountain’s three peaks

 

Following the ledges up from the saddle to Maclear’s Beacon is not easy. The path disappears in the thick undergrowth and it’s easy to lose your way. The views, however, are fantastic. Photo by Chris Davies.

 

Think you’re tough enough? This nine-hour hike takes you from Devil’s Peak, along the saddle up to Maclear’s Beacon, then down the terrifying face of Kloof Corner to Lion’s Peak. As Chris Davies says, “it’s not a hike for the faint-hearted, but if you’re reasonably fit, aren’t scared of heights, and (importantly) can find someone who’s been through the tricky sections before, then it’s hard to imagine a more exciting and rewarding way to hike on Table Mountain.”

 

Hiking the Hennops Trail

 

The wobbly suspension bridge crosses over the Hennops River. Photo by Melanie van Zyl

 

Just 40 minutes from Joburg, you’ll find streams, hills, and beautiful views. There are two main hikes, plus a shorter trail suitable for kids. There’s plenty of scenery to soak up and a swimming pool to splash in post-hike. Get your playmates together, set a date and strap on your tekkies.

 

Hiking Lion’s Head

 

Overlooking Camps Bay for sunset. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

 

According to our Photo Editor, Teagan Cunniffe, there’s no better place to watch the sun-set in Cape Town than Lion’s Head. Looking at her photos, we’re inclined to agree.

 

Hiking in Clarens

 

You can easily see why the route coming past this rock is known as ‘Mushroom hike’. Photo by Melanie van Zyl

 

There are four trails on the grounds of St Fort Country House, in Clarens. The tracks, which clamber up the sandstone hills surrounding the picturesque country house, differ in physical difficulty and there is something for everyone. ‘Mushroom Hike’ is a beautiful short walk past mielie fields, along a willow-filled river, then up gravel pathways and a ladder to the shapely eponymous rock pictured above.

Of course, we still haven’t managed to do everything.

The South African hiking bucketlist

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ABOUT AMANDA SAMPAIO

Amanda Sampaio

A bit about me: I am Rhodesian born, grew up in Zululand, South Africa. Post matriculation, I studied a 3 year Travel & Tourism National Diploma; I then spent 7.5 years (during the mid-90’s) working in various operational roles for SAA at the old Durban Airport; My husband, son & I then moved to the UK and lived in south-west London (Worcester Park) for 10.5 years – I worked for 3.5 years in Local Government (at Epsom & Ewell Borough Council) and then for 7 years for QANTAS as part of the Cabin Crew Ground Management Team based at Heathrow and later with Qantas Corporate Sales based in their London Hammersmith office. My family and I have been back in South Africa for almost 3 years now (having missed too much of our family, SA sunshine and braai’s) and during our time back, we are also delighted to have welcomed our 17 month old baby girl into our family! Travel is definitely my passion and is in my ‘blood’ as I am firmly back in the travel seat with my current role within Sales and Marketing at iGo Travel and look after this for our newly launched brand ‘iGO Africa’.