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LOOK: South Africa’s top 10 hiking routes

Photo by from Pexels.

Photo by from Pexels.

Published Mar 8, 2022


Following a period of unfulfilled wanderlust and an increase in outdoor sports and activities, a new study reveals the greatest countries in the world for hiking vacations now that many travel restrictions have been abolished.

To highlight how a walking holiday can be the perfect way to explore a new destination and get off the beaten track, created a unique index to crown which countries offer the best holiday hikes - reviewing the number of hiking related Instagram hashtags and Google searches for popular walking destinations globally.

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These are the top 10 hiking trails in SA:

Rustig Hiking Trail, Gauteng

Enjoy the magnificent views from the Magaliesburg mountains while on the Rustig Hiking Trail. The 11.9-km hike is a popular loop trail with terrain that boasts wonderful wildflowers and lush greenery. It is rated as strenuous as some areas can be quite challenging and steep at certain points. However, you always have the option to choose to hike, walk, run, or simply enjoy the bird watching and scenery.

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Some of the most breathtaking hiking paths in the Western Cape can be found in the Limietberg Nature Reserve in the Du Toitskloof mountains near Paarl. The 6.9 km Krom River Trail is one of them. It follows the river up the valley, and as it careens up onto the hill, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Along the walk, there are a few swimming spots to cool off in.

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Phaladingwe Hiking Trail, North West

The track winds through high mountain trails, open grassland, a forested riverine with natural freshwater springs, and open grassland with spectacular views of the Magaliesburg Ranges. At 6.9 km, the loop trail is rated as moderate in difficulty but can be as challenging as you like depending on the effort you put in. On your way, you might also be able to spot impala, kudu, nyala, mountain reedbuck, eland, bushbuck and duiker among others.

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Fanie Botha Hiking Trail, KwaZulu-Natal

The Fanie Botha Hiking Trail is widely hailed for being one of South Africa's top hiking trails. It's in the Sabie region of the Drakensberg escarpment, and hikers can enjoy beautiful views of a variety of landscapes. At 45 km long, hikers will pass through pine plantations, native woodlands, and crystal clear waterfalls on their way to the trailhead. Mount Moodie and the Mac Mac Pools, as well as Lone Creek, a national monument, are the main attractions. The region is also rich in birdlife so keep your eyes peeled.

The Otter Track is a hiking trail situated along South Africa's Garden Route coast and is named for the Cape clawless otter that lives there. The 45-km route stretches between the Storms River mouth and Natures Valley and takes 5 days and 4 nights to complete. Hikers must bring their own food and equipment. The walk offers spectacular vistas, white sand beaches, stunning cliffs, and an infinite stretch of coastline. There are numerous tricky river crossings as well as some high climbs and descents.

Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail, Limpopo

On the path to Tzaneen in Limpopo, the Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail is located in the beautiful Magoebaskloof forest near the little village of Hanaertsburg. It's a wonderful treasure trove of native forest, pine plantations, and crystal clear streams and waterfalls. At just over 40 km long, it’s fortunate that there are numerous cabins to choose from along the way, allowing hikers to spend anywhere from one to five days exploring a variety of circuits. Although the route can only be hiked in one direction, it can be made circular.

Kloof Corner Ridge, Western Cape

This 3.1 km trail necessitates the use of chains and is not recommended for those who are afraid of heights. It is not clearly marked in some places, therefore it is highly recommended to travel with a guide or someone who is an experienced hiker and familiar with the area. The path begins on Table Mountain's extreme west side and ascends an exhilarating course to a classic crest with amazing views of Lion's Head, Cape Town City Bowl, Camps Bay, and the Twelve Apostles.

Tugela Falls Hike via Sentinel Peak is a 11.7 km trail that is lightly trafficked. It offers visitors breathtaking views of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre and the Tugela Falls, the world's second-highest waterfall. The chain ladders aid your climb as you look out over the impressive valley floor, almost 1 km below. At times you’ll find yourself high above the valley, while for others you’ll be hidden by jungle, with the river rippling along the way.

Leopard's Kloof, Western Cape

Leopard's Kloof Trail is a 2.7 km. that starts at the botanical gardens in Betty Bay and takes you through an indigenous forest to a beautiful waterfall. Every turn of the trail is spectacular, with intriguing rocks, vegetation, and numerous waterfalls and pools. Prepare to climb up ladders and traverse rocky terrain.

Outeniqua Trail, Western Cape

The 108 km Outeniqua Trail is a hike that runs between George and Knysna through the Outeniqua Forest, and it's one of the greatest ways to see the Garden Route. The majority of the 103 km route runs through indigenous forest, passing through a variety of tree types as well as the Knysna River. On hot days, the waters alongside the path offer the much-welcomed opportunity to cool off and picnic on the riverbanks.