South Africa has much to offer in terms of natural scenery and wildlife. It is a country of immense beauty that spans over 9 biomes and contains almost 10% of the world’s total known bird, fish, and plant species, and over 6% of the world’s mammal and reptile species. Plan a hike to one (or all, if you are feeling brave) of the 10 best hiking trails in South Africa and experience this stunning country for yourself.

The Otter Trail

Starting off strong we have one of South Africa’s most well-known trails, and for good reason. The Otter Trail follows the beautiful Garden Route coastline, starting from the Storms River Mouth and ending in Nature’s Valley in the Tsitsikamma National Park. This trail is an incredibly popular hike, so you have to book well in advance, a year ahead at least.

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Distance: 45km

Time to Complete: 4 – 5 Days

Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced

The Whale Trail

The Whale Trail is a beautiful hike in the Western Cape stretching from Potberg to Koppie Alleen, located in the De Hoop Nature Reserve. This hike is world-famous for…guess what…that’s right, whale spotting. That’s some wildlife you don’t often see on the trail. The trail is a popular one so book well in advance. You have the option to hike in groups of 6, 8, or 12 people.

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Distance: 55km

Time to Complete: 5 Days

Difficulty: Easy

The Blyderivierspoort Trail

Starting at God’s window, you then wind your way through Blyde River Canyon, which fun fact, is actually the third biggest canyon in the world. The trail traverses a beautiful mountain range with a variety of bush, open veld, riverine and flat spaces. In addition, hikers will enjoy a variety of landscapes, hiking through grassland, past quartzite rocks, fast-flowing rivers and valleys that lead on to patches of indigenous forest, and the beautiful clear streams with two striking waterfalls. A true South African wonder. This is an experience not to be slept on.

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Distance: 60km

Time to Complete: 5 Days (last two Days optional)

Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced

The Sentinel Peak Trail

Located in the Drakensburg on the border of Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Free State, Sentinel Peak is definitely not a hike for people who have a fear of heights. This hike is dubbed the “chain ladders hike” because you have to scale numerous, vertical, rock walls on chain ladders while being suspended very high up from the ground. Sounds fun right? If you can brave the ladders you are blessed with magnificent 360-degree views that stretch for miles.

From here you can take a half-hour walk to the top of Tugela Falls, the highest waterfall in Africa and the second highest in the World (some sources, however, say that it is in fact, the biggest in the world, topping Angel Falls, which currently holds that title, but don’t quote me on that).

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Distance: 6km

Time to Complete: 7 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced

Intermission

If you are thinking of Starting the Oh so Wonderful Hobby of Hiking but have never Hiked before give Hiking For First Timers: A Beginner’s Guide a read. This will help you to get up to speed on what you need to know, what to pack, and other important things regarding hiking.

The Hole in the Wall Trail

The Hole in the Wall trail is an easy 3-day hike that takes you through a collection of estuaries, mangroves, swamps, and along seaside cliffs. The adventure starts at the pretty seaside village of Presley’s Bay. You then make your way along the Wild Coast and from there you cross pristine estuaries and a mangrove swamp at Mdumbi. You then hike towards Coffee Bay, where you are greeted with the sight of the big ol’ Hole in the Wall, as well as magnificent panoramas. Guides take you to a series of caves in the dolerite cliffs. If you’re feeling brave you can climb down to the cave where ANC cadres stashed arms during the liberation struggle. Accommodation is offered at the end of each day.

During the annual Sardine Run, the entire route presents dazzling views of frantic activity in the ocean. Sharks, whales, dolphins, game fish, and thousands of Cape Gannet jostle to feast on the sardine shoal, This is described as one of the greatest migrations on earth. A truly bucket list sight.

For more info click here

Distance: 31km

Time to Complete: 3 Days

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

The Leopard’s Kloof Trail

Situated in the Botanical Gardens of Harold Porter in Betty’s Bay, roughly 90 minutes from the Cape Town CBD, the Leopard’s Kloof hike is the ideal choice for families and novice hikers. The hike rises through forests to a waterfall. It’s reasonably short and can be done in the morning or afternoon.

Distance: 3km

Time to Complete: 2-4 hrs

Difficulty: Easy

The Skeleton Gorge Trail

One of the most scenic hikes in Cape Town, this hike ranges from forested ravines and then spaces out to beautiful views of Cape Town and its surrounds. This hike allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, while still being close enough to see the beautiful city from above.

Distance: 6.2km

Time to Complete: A Morning or Afternoon

Difficulty: Moderate

The Golden Gate Highlands Rhebok Trail

The Rhebok Trail situated in Golden Gate Highlands National Park offers sweeping views of the rolling hills of Lesotho and the Free State. Be on the lookout for grey rhebok, mountain reedbuck, oribi, and black eagles. Indigenous wildlife such as eland, black wildebeest, blesbok, springbok, and zebra, was once abundant in this highveld region of the Free State and has since been reintroduced to the park.

For more info click here

Distance: 31km

Time to Complete: 2 Days

Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced

The Addo’s Alexandria Trail

Hiking the two-day Alexandria Hiking Trail in Addo Elephant National Park is an unforgettable experience that leads the hiker through three distinctly different environments ranging from forest to coastal dunes, to seashore. Birders and nature-lovers can expect to be endlessly fascinated by the birdlife, changing scenery and pristine environment.

For more info click here

Distance: 36km

Time to Complete: 2 Days

Difficulty: Moderate

Swellendam Trail

In addition to being the third oldest town in South Africa, Swellendam is also home to one of the most scenic hikes in the country. It hosts a wide array of flowers for your viewing pleasure as well as beautiful mountainous views. This hike is quite strenuous, so you must be moderately fit to complete this challenge.

For more info click here

Distance: 60km

Time to Complete: 5 Days

Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced

10 Best Hiking Trails in South Africa

So there you have it. The 10 Best Hiking Trails in South Africa. So I want to know, have you hiked any of these trails, and if so what was your experience like? Tell us in the comments. Maybe you can help out someone who is thinking of doing that hike and in need of some advice.

Also, feel free to let me know what hiking trails, you feel, deserve to be on this list but weren’t, and tell me why.Feedback is always appreciated.

With that being said, go out, Chase the Adventure, and don’t forget to ‘Live Different’

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