The Otter Trail along the Tsitsikamma coast is probably the most popular hike in the country. Lush forests, rugged shorelines, mountain streams and waterfalls and fragrant fynbos make this a special one. It’s strenuous, with lots of ups and downs, but the distances aren’t too great.
If you want the scenery and walking with less slog and more luxury, try the Dolphin Trail. It traverses similar terrain to the Otter – joining up with it in places – but instead of hiking huts you stay in fully catered guest houses with great views and good food. Your pack is transported to your next overnight spot by vehicle, and you carry only a day pack with lunch, water, camera and swimsuit.
The Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape offers similar trails but dramatically different scenery: miles of deserted beaches, wave-lashed rocks and occasional tropical forest.
Lekker Links
SA National Parks – to book on the Otter Trail, Dolphin Trail and many more. Many of the National Parks include a hiking trail.
Cape Nature Conservation – to book on trails in nearly 20 nature reserves and wilderness areas in the Western Cape.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife – to book on trails in the Drakensberg and some scenic trails in Maputaland.
Johannesburg Hiking Club – offers youthful, midweek and Sunday hikes, a good place to start if you want to hike in Gauteng.
Footprint Hiking Club – organises trips and offers information on trail routes, news, advice and events.
Hike Cape Town – some great suggestions for walks near Cape Town.
Boksburg Hiking Club – another useful contact if you want to hike in Gauteng. They hike all over the country and a diary of events is available on their website.
Hiking South Africa – a volunteer organisation that lists telephone contact details for all the major trails across the country.
Mountain Club of South Africa – hiking is one of the their main activities. The club has 13 different Sections across the country organising hikes ranging from day hill walks to multi-day hikes across remote mountain areas. You can often join one of their hikes by paying a small fee. This site has links to the individual Sections.
Eastern Cape Hiking Trails
Free State Hiking Trails
Gauteng Hiking Trails
KwaZulu-Natal Hiking Trails
Limpopo Hiking Trails
Mpumalanga Hiking Trails
North West Hiking Trails
Northern Cape Hiking Trails
Western Cape Hiking Trails
Accommodation is in coastal hotels instead of huts. The usual is to carry your pack, but you can arrange to have it driven around, if you plan ahead.
Purists can tackle the Wild Coast rough as they like. There are miles and miles of unspoiled hiking trail traversing high mountains, deserts and forests, where the accommodation is the usual hiking hut, and the cuisine whatever you decided to carry.
For an even wilder experience, you can hike for days in the Cedarberg, near Cape Town, or the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal, without seeing a hut or a route marker. These are designated wilderness areas, and you simply take a map and a permit and set off, sleeping under the stars or in convenient caves.
There are many others, some of which are on private land. You can get a reasonable idea of what’s available from the Footprint Hiking Club.
Of course, the most important aspect of a hiking trail is that you don’t constantly bump into other people. And the only way to ensure that is to limit numbers, so that means you have to book for most trails.
Source: SouthAfrica.info
The all-in-one official guide and web portal to South Africa.
‘No person has the right to enjoy and use what nature has to offer unless he or she is prepared to accept the responsibility of protecting and conserving our natural heritage’

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