One of the best things to do – if you’re sick of visiting coffee shops orshopping centers – is to step into nature and go on hikes in South Africa. Surrounded by the earthy smell of the forest, hearing only the crunching of leaves, and the twittering of birds, reconnects you to your inner self.
Jenman African Safaris has curated our Top Hikes of South Africa. We’ve included many day hikes that range from moderate to difficult that you can easily fit into your weekend schedule or into your itinerary. For the more serious hiker, we’ve also included an overnight hike or two. See how many hikes you can tick off!
Leopards Kloof Hiking Trail
Situated in the unspoiled botanical gardens of Harold Porter in the splendid coastal town of Betty’s Bay, roughly 90 minutes from Cape Town CBD, the Leopards Kloof Hike is the ideal choice for families and those still new to hiking. The hike rises through lush forests to a picturesque waterfall. It’s reasonably short and can be done in a morning or afternoon.
Photo Credit Derek Keats on Flickr
Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve
Described as one of Johannesburg’s best kept secrets, Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve is situated a mere 10 km from the city centre. The reserve is over 650 hectares large and boasts a number of large mammals including zebra, different species of buck, and smaller mammals such as mongoose. Visitors can choose from several hiking trails on offer, which range from strenuous to light walks that you can do with the whole family.
Length: 3km +
Difficulty: Easy – Advanced.
Sentinel Peak Hiking Trail
The hike to the top of the tallest free standing mountain in the Drakensberg is certainly not for the faint-hearted. This day hike takes place on the western side of the Drakensberg Amphitheater and sees trekkers braving sheer rock faces that include climbing ladders. Hikers who are courageous enough make the chilling journey to the top are rewarded with unparalleled views of the Drakensberg mountain range.
Photo Credit Rick McCharles on Flickr
It’s the Mother City’s most famous and scenic hiking trail. Skeleton Gorge allows climbers to journey through Table Mountain’s diverse floral zones, before topping Cape Town’s most-visited attraction. The views from the top of Table Mountain are world-celebrated. The hike takes roughly 6-8 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level.
Photo Credit Graeme Churchard on Flickr
Roseate Tern Hiking Trail
Described as a firm favourite of hikes in and around PE, the circular route of Roseate Tern is a must-do for all bird watchers. The 9 km circular route offers up stunning beaches, natural dune vegetation and rocky outcrops. There is also a lighthouse that is over 150 years old along the route as well as a bird hide.
Length: 9 km
Jock of the Bushveld Hiking Trail
Steeped in South African history, the Jock of the Bushveld Trail is a circular day walk that consists of several trails varying in length. Hikers will follow the very trail that Jock and his master, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, took in the 1880s as he delivered supplies to the gold mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest from Mozambique. Many of the sights mentioned in the book Jock of the Bushveld can be seen along this stunning hike.
Photo Credit Chris Eason on Flickr
Tugela Hiking Trail
Probably one of the South Africa’s best kept secrets is the stunning hike up to the world’s second highest waterfalls, Tugela Falls. The combined total height of its five drops is an astounding 948 m. The hike to the top of the waterfalls is relatively hard, but sees hikers passing through stunning protea veld and forests. The last part of the hike is particularly difficult as a certain amount of bolder hopping is needed, but it’s totally worth it to see this spectacle of nature.
Photo Credit Rick McCharles on Flickr
The Cederberg Mountains are known as having the best hikes in South Africa as well as fantastical rock formations, and quite possibly the best way to see them is on a hike through the infamous cracks towards the Wolfberg Arch. Once you have reached your destination, hikers are allowed to spend the night (just watch out for baboons!). We recommend you start this hike early, as the heat in the Cederberg during mid-afternoon can be treacherous. Also be prepared for some scrambling and squeezing as you make your way through the cracks.
Addo’s Alexandria Hiking Trail
This 2-day hike takes you through three distinctly different eco systems. Few hiking trails in South Africa boast this much natural diversity over such a short distance. This two day hiking trail takes place in the world famous Addo Elephant National Park and sees hikers exploring thick forests, barren sand dunes, and long white sandy beaches.
The Otter Trail
Possibly the most famous hiking trail in South Africa, The Otter Trail takes guests along one of the most pristine coastal areas of the Garden Route in the Western Cape. The trail begins at Storms River Mouth and meanders its way along spectacular beaches, along cliff tops and through think forests to Natures Valley. The hike takes about 5 days to complete.
Photo Credit Ben Haeringer on Flickr