Popular South African Hikes

Multi-day Adventures

©Shem Compion
Drakensberg hikes consist of rocky terrain and stunning views of the landscape.
©Shem Compion
Kruger National Park walking trails take you right into the heart of the African bushveld.

Multi-day hikes in South Africa are immensely popular among both locals and tourists, and its appeal lies mostly in the number of days you’ll get to escape city life. You can swap the rat race for the great outdoors in any province, as there are many routes to choose from. Note that multi-day hikes are tailored to the more fit hiker that likes a challenge, so be prepared!

The mighty Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal offers nature-enthusiasts the chance to immerse themselves in the stunning natural landscapes of the mountain range. Experienced hikers will know that this area is on the bucket list of any avid adventurer, and there are multiple trails to choose from, depending on where you are situated.

Icidi Gorge is a 3-day challenge on the Amphitheatre route that will take you to the gorgeous Tugela Falls; the Bell Traverse is a magical 3-day experience in the Berg, en route to the Cathedral Peak; and Rockeries Pass is a moderate trail that explores the most remote part of the Drakensberg along the Mnweni River.

Backpacking trails in the Western Cape are not short of wondrous, allowing hikers to experience the indigenous fauna and flora of the province. The Cederberge can be explored for weeks on end, but a nice weekend hike will suffice. The Otter Trail in the Knysna area is extremely popular and offers hikers a beautiful coastal forest walk from Storms River to Nature’s Valley in the Tsitsikamma National Park. Moving inland, the Swellendam Trail takes 6 days to complete and follows a route alongside wild flowers and the Cape Mountain fynbos biome.

The Northern Cape has tremendous multi-day hikes that take you through the arid desert. The Tankwa Camino treks from Calvinia to Ceres, through the heart of the Karoo for a staggering 257 km. The Augrabies Falls National Park has great trails along the Orange River with a rocky terrain and stunning views. 

Limpopo and Mpumalanga both offer scenic hikes in lush natural environments with breathtaking scenery. The Kruger National Park is another favourite, with various multi-day wilderness trails.

Slackpacking Day Routes

©Jacques Marais
Hiking in the Northern Cape.
©Jacques Marais
Both the Overberg and Garden Route have scenic coastal hikes.

Those who are looking for a more leisurely stroll through South Africa’s beautiful scenery have ample opportunity (and trails) to do so. Same rules apply for multi-day hikes though, so be sure to wear comfy clothes and bring lots of drinking water.

Table Mountain stands as a natural display of grandeur, waiting to be explored. There are multiple routes that hikers of all fitness levels can complete, and the views over the city bowl and Table Bay are definitely worthwhile.

To the South, the Overberg is home to a range of nature reserves with splendid walking routes to entice any nature enthusiast. Moving North, the Hennops Trail just outside of Johannesburg is a refreshing break from city life, with hills, streams and peaceful surroundings. 

St Lucia Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal is the ideal nature retreat, with day-long guided walks along pristine natural ecosystems including swamps, lake systems, beaches, coral reefs, wetlands, woodlands and coastal forests. Up the West Coast, walks through the springtime cascade of wildflowers is a must-do. The Golden Gate National Park near Clarens offers picturesque hikes through maize fields, riverines and gravel terrain. 

By Carla Lottering