This story was updated on 18 March 2019.
The complete list of the best hikes across South Africa.
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The Hennops 4×4 facility and hiking trail are in close proximity to Johannesburg and Pretoria. Three hiking trails are on offer, each with its own difficulty rating.
The route runs through the surrounding mountains, offering close up views of the local fauna and flora, as well as views of the river. The easier Zebra Trail takes around 2 hours, while the Krokodilberg Trail takes 5 hours.
How long: 2 to 5 hours, depending on the trail
How difficult: Not that difficult, but a walking stick is recommended.
What to bring: Besides a walking stick and enough water, not much. Perhaps a nice lunch?
If you live in Joburg, chances are you’ve been to the Melville Koppies, but there is some confusion surrounding the rules and what is and what isn’t allowed.
The central part of the reserve access controlled and only open to people on organised tours and hikes. The schedules for these hikes can be found on their website.
The east side of the reserve is always open for walks and dogs are welcome. The west side is also open, but it’s a public space, so you are advised to stick to groups and leave your valuables at home.
How difficult: The scheduled walks over weekends are fairly tough, and not recommended for kids or unfit people.
What to bring: Enough water for the strenuous hikes. If you’re only going to wander about, take some food and a dog to keep you company.
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This trail is visually stunning, without being intimidating. It starts off a leisurely walk up the Magaliesberg, where you stop for lunch.
After that, it’s a slow descent into the kloof, which offers stunning views of the rock face and the surrounding vegetation. If you work up a sweat during the hike, you can take a dip in the final pool. There are also facilities available for a braai afterwards, and a place to stay over if you’re not in the mood for the drive back.
How long: Full day
How difficult: Not difficult at all.
What to bring: Water and lunch. According to the website, you have to book at least 3 weeks in advance.
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Situated near Bela Bela, this hiking facility is a mere 2 hour drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria. The routes are set within the Bateleur Private Game Reserve.
There are a few hiking options available, ranging from a half day hike to a full 2-day trek. It can get hot out there, even in the winter, but there are multiple swimming spots along the way.
Accommodation is available and reasonably priced.
How long: half day to 2 days
How difficult: Moderate
What to bring: Depends on the hike. For the half day hike only water should suffice, but if you’re going for the full 2 days, you obviously need to bring everything required for an overnight hike.
The Louis Changuion Trail, Magoebaskloof
If you consider yourself a birder, this trail is for you. It’s basically a walk through the Heanetsburg grasslands, so it’s easy and quite relaxing.
There are also a few local shops where you can buy information booklets, and the proceeds from these products are used to keep the area clean.
Please note that this area is under constant threat of fire, so no open fires or smoking is allowed.
How long: About 4 hours.
How difficult: Not difficult.
What to bring: Enough drinking water and sunscreen. Also, binoculars if you’re keen on spotting some birds.
Kaapschehoop Hiking Trail
A hiking trail for proper enthusiasts. This trail consists of several overnight huts, which can be combined in different ways. You could either hike one for a 2-day hike, or combine a few for a proper 5-day expedition.
These trails allow you to explore the beauty of the region, but keep in mind that you’ll be facing uphills, downhills, streams and gorges. The views are definitely worth it, however.
How long: From 2 days to 5 days
How difficult: Not easy
What to bring: Enough drinking water and food, depending on the length of your stay.
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This little town was seemingly built for walking and hiking enthusiasts. The Clarens Village Conservancy offers seven trails finishing and starting in and around Clarens.
The routes vary from 1km to 4.5km and can all be done within a day. Don’t, however, think you can simply just drive there only for the hike. Clarens is just too special to only go for the hiking.
How long: From 1 hour to a full day
How difficult: Easy to moderate
What to bring: Enough drinking water.
Ballito North to Salt Rock
If you want a superb coastal walk start at Ballito North and head to Salt Rock (or vice versa). The 5km route takes a little more than an hour at a comfortable pace but the fascinating rock platforms, beautiful beaches and great tidal pools can easily detain you for a day.
How difficult: Easy
What to bring: Take water if you must, but there shops available.
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The Chokka Trail
The Eastern Cape’s Chokka Trail has been judged the ‘best beach experience’ in the 2017 Lilizela tourism awards, which recognise and reward local businesses.
How difficult: Moderate
What to bring: Everything you need is included in the price.
Whether you prefer a stroll near the waterfall, a short hike or something extreme, there is a route for you. The ebony trail is 2.8km while the Dassie Trail covers 5km. For the fitter hiker, the 36km Klipspringer Trail offers a three-day challenge.
These activities can easily keep the family busy for at least two or three days. The park also offers guided game drives and a restaurant for delectable meals.
How difficult: Easy to difficult
What to bring: Water for the easy hikes and all the necessities for the longer hikes.
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There is no shortage of walks in the Mother City, but a popular one is between Muizenberg and St James: the concrete boardwalk presents the beauty of False Bay at sea-level. Nearby, waves break, surfers surf and dolphins, whales and seals are a common sight. If you continue south you’ll reach Kalk Bay, with its many shops, like Kalk Bay Books as well as eateries and shops selling all manner of stuff, old and new.
Pozyn’s tip: wood-fired pizza at Octopus’s Garden in the old St James post office building has eclectic, quirky and bohemian décor, and a big play area for kids.
If you’re feeling a little more energetic, Cape Point Nature Reserve offers a variety of walks, including an easy amble to some of the many shipwrecks on this ruggedly beautiful coastline. Having channelled your inner beachcomber, you can restore blood-sugar levels at the newly refurbished Two Oceans Restaurant overlooking Cape Point, which has 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor. Guests have lauded its seafood, although vegan and vegetarian options are also available.
Spring is a good time to explore Cape Point’s many walking trails: it may not have the profusion of flowers that you’d see up the West Coast, but the area explodes with colour nevertheless, a reminder that the Cape floristic region contains around 9 600 species, most of which are found nowhere else in the world.