9 Best Hikes in South Africa You Won’t Want to Miss
South Africa has been a country on my bucket list since I visited Africa (Ghana) for the first time in 2010. Since I haven’t had a chance to go yet, I decided to have Bianca from the blog, My Wild Earth, and from the country of South Africa tell us the best hikes in South Africa!
Welcome to the Traveling Spud, Bianca!
I’m Bianca, from Cape Town, South Africa and MyWildEarth. From a young age, my grandmother filled my head with stories of adventure, and crossing the great oceans in massive ships. I recognized that traveling was not just a dream for me, but my purpose. The obsession in my mind had to become a reality, and from the age of 18, I worked to travel as often as I could.
The world inspires me. Different cultures, exotic food, new adventures and ever-changing landscapes, are what make my soul explode.
I love to share my stories so others know that the life they seek is not beyond their reach. The world is a playground that belongs to all of us, and we should live every precious day with a happy and free spirit.
Here are the 9 best hikes in South Africa!
“We hike not to escape life, but for life to not escape us.”
Hiking through forests and fields with your feet treading the dirt is the only way for you to truly see the wonders of South Africa. A place scattered with hidden gems, South Africa will make you breathe a breath of fresh air!
At its southernmost point, South Africa boasts the incredible Table Mountain and Lions Head Hikes which are a must if you are visiting Cape Town. If you’re looking for a new adventure that only a privileged few ever get to see, pick one or more of the trails below and brace yourself for an experience you will never forget!
1. Golden Gate Highlands Rhebok Hiking Trail
Length: 31 km (1- 2 days)
Location: Free State
Close to Clarens in the Free State, this trail should not be attempted without a guide to help you along the way or a Smart GPS on your wrist. While on this trial, you will see some of South Africa’s most beautiful rock pools, mountain ranges and ravines. As you will be camping for one or two days while on the trial, it is a good idea to pack a sleeping bag and warm gear as the mist and cool weather can be extreme.
2. Blyder River Hiking Trail
Length: 60 km (5 days)
This rather long walk, the Blyderivierspoort hiking trail is a walk that will be sure to change the way you look at the world. This trail will lead you from God’s Window around one of the largest canyons in the world. Taking about five days to complete the hike, ensure your hiking shoes are walked in before you take in nature at its best. Apart from duikers, baboons and other animal species, you will also find amazing ferns, wild figs and cycads that grow majestically along the Blyde River Canyon.
3. Leopard’s Kloof Hiking Trail
Length: 3 km
Location: Western Cape
If you’re a family of outdoor fanatic’s and looking for a trail to enjoy together, the Leopard’s Kloof hiking trail is an excellent choice. Here you will experience views of densely growing forest that will leave you breathless. To top off the trail experience, you will pass by the Leopard’s Kloof waterfall; cascading water accentuating the curve of the mountains.
4. The Hole in the Wall Hiking Trail
Length: 31 km
Location: Eastern Cape
Here you will experience nature on an entirely new level. Being part of the Wild Coast, the Hole in the Wall Trail has a fantastic scene of cliffs near the sea as well as mangrove swamps and estuaries with treasures hidden within them. As this trail is seen as a luxury trail, you can choose to sleep under the stars, or book into one of the hotels scattered along the trail.
5. Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve Hiking Trail
Length: 3 km
Another amazing hiking trail for the entire family is the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve hiking trail in Johannesburg. This nature reserve is situated about 10 km from the city and the perfect place to de-stress after a long week in the hustle and bustle of the city. On this trail, you will see a number of animal species such as mongoose, zebras and buck.
6. Roseate Tern Hiking Trail
Length: 9 km
Location: Port Elizabeth
This hiking trail is a very popular destination if you love the calm and untouched parts of the country. Apart from the fantastic sight of a 150 year old lighthouse in the distance, you can spot a number of birds while walking along this trail. You will also see amazing beach sceneries, rock formations and natural dunes and its accompanying vegetation.
7. Tugela Falls Hiking Trail
Length: 11 km
Location: Kwazulu Natal
Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to hike to the second largest waterfall in the world? Tugela Falls is a beautiful waterfall that drops 948 km down into the watery depths below. To get to this waterfall, you will need to climb over quite a few large rocks, walk among fields of Protea flora and enjoy the fresh smells of the forest near Tugela.
8. Sentinel Peak Hiking Trail
Length: 6 km
Location: Kwazulu Natal
The Drakensberg mountain range is one of the features that make South Africa special. As part of the Drakensberg experience, the Sentinel Peak hiking trail should not be attempted if you’re faint of heart. While on this trail, you will be required to climb ladders against rock faces and trek across boulders that leave nothing to the imagination. Once you make it to the top, you will be rewarded with views of the Drakensberg range in all its beauty, guaranteed to leave you awestruck.
9. The Whale Hiking Trail
Length: 55 km (5 days)
Location: Western Cape
Living up to its name, the Whale hiking trail is a staggering 55 km trail. It will take its toll if you’re not an experienced hiker. This trail takes about 5 days to complete and is great if it is done in groups rather than alone. Help and moral along the way may come in handy. This trail will enable you to experience the De Hoop coast and nature reserve. The trail is quite expensive but is worth every cent. When visiting in the winter months, you will be able to spot whales in the water! Apart from the magnificent sea creatures, you will also be surprised by rolling dunes, fresh salty air and fynbos unique to the region.
South Africa is a one-of-a-kind country and its beauty is truly world class. Thousands of tourist hikers walk these seemingly untouched trails every year. Slip on your hiking shoes, dust the sand from your backpack and roll up your sleeping bag, we’re going hiking!
These hikes really look astonishing, Katie! What I loved the most from your ideas is the Hole in the Wall Trail! How long does it take to finish this hike?
I’ve been around the world and South Africa is such a wonderful place to visit! I would love to go there and explore the great things you have written on this blog. Continue to inspire others with your adventures, Katie!
you might want to edit the height of the Tugela Falls.
Wow, I think each of these hikes would be the #1 hike in almost any other location around the world! It’s so amazing to see the ways nature wears down certain features of the landscape, trying to imagine what conditions made it like it is and the insane time scale it all happens on. Then on top of that you get to see all of those exotic animals…Well maybe not exotic to you but the rest of the world doesn’t get that many wild zebras!
Simply Amazing. I would love to go there and explore the great things you have shared with us on this blog. I cannot pick which is the best as they all look awesome. Can’t wait to go to S.A.
Thanks for sharing.
The Sentinel Peak hike is not for the faint of heart, you got that right! We hiked it a couple of months ago and I’m still getting sweaty feet and palms just thinking about it. 😅 The views were amazing though! Too bad it was too foggy when we reached Tugela Falls.. Quite the adventure though!
OH yes, not for the faint of heart! I’m glad you got to experience the hike! 🙂
I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful country, I hike at least one weekend a month and these are just the tip of the iceberg. I love the jungle…breathing in that fresh air, picking wild fruit , watching tiny insects and earthworms, how every tiny living thing contributes to the bigger picture💕💕💕