4 hiking trails you probably haven’t heard of

Words: Jazz Kuschke
Images: supplied by SANParks

We’re blessed with some spectacular and iconic trails, but sometimes it’s worthwhile going the ‘less-trodden’ route. Here is a handful of ‘other’ hikes you should work into your calendar for 2017.

Golden Gate Highlands Ribbok hiking trail, North Eastern Free State
Difficulty: Moderate – Advanced
Length: 28 km

Hiking Golden Gate South Africa
Breath-taking views when hiking at Golden Gate. Photo by Eric Reisinger

The Golden Gate Highlands National Park’s two-day Ribbok trail takes you through spectacular sandstone-cliff scenery, up (and down) mountains past rock pools and through ravines.

It isn’t knowns as South Africa’s ‘alpine’ region for nothing and the weather can change without warning, so be sure to take foul weather gear.

Overnight is in the Ribbok Hut, which has running water, sleeping quarters and a fire place. Look out for Burchell’s Zebra, Black Wildebeest, and Red Hartebeest, Mountain Reedbuck and the Chacma Baboon.

To book: www.sanparks.org or 012 428 9111

SEE ALSO: 5 Big mountain hikes

Swart Tobie, Koekenaap, West Coast
Difficulty Moderate
Distance: 85km over five days

Swart Tobie Hike
Walk over soft sand, sea cliffs and farm at Swart Tobie hiking trail. Photo: Supplied by Jacana

The Swart Tobie (a Red Beak Oyster Catcher) Trail is classic West Coast – coastal fynbos, rocky gullies, misty seas and (besides for the odd diamond operation) trackless beaches. It’s all concession land, so the (very few) miners are the only people you’ll see as you walk about 20 kilometres a day over soft sand, sea cliffs and farm roads.

It’s a slackpacking trail – so you carry only a daypack and have all your camping kit (including cold beers if you wish) waiting for you at the next overnight stop. A little word of warning: don’t expect flush toilets and warm showers…

Besides the spectacular walking; the scenery and solitude; it’s the history and tangible diamond fever in the area that make for a soul-reviving week.

To book: www.jacanacollection.co.za or 012 734 2978

SEE ALSO: Hike the Cape Camino

Tswaing Crater Trail, Soshanguve
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 7,5km

Hike the Tswaing Crater Trail
Lush vegetation and peaceful tranquility at the Tswaing Crater Trail. Photo: Ditsong.org.za

Situated some 40Km north of Pretoria lies the Tswaing Crater, believed to have been created when an asteroid collided with Earth about 200,000 years ago.

The remnant of that solar collision is a crater hemmed in by hills of around 100m high (and a kilometre across). Tswaing is the Tswana word for Salt Lake and refers to the lake at the bottom of the crater.

The trail is not technical, suited to most fitness levels and should take no more than three hours to complete. Well worth the day trip out of Gauteng.

To book: www.ditsong.org.za or 076 9455 911

SEE ALSO: Take a 4-day self-guided slackpack through the foothills of the Drakensberg on the Giants Cup Trail

Alexandria Hiking Trail, Eastern Cape
Difficulty: Tough
Distance: 35,5km
Image credit: Image SANParks

The Alexandria Hiking Trail in the Woody Cape section of the Addo Elephant National Park is a two-day (19km + 16,5km) circular slog (oh you have to work for it) through dunes, ancient coastal forests and along beaches. But then the sights are worth the effort.

The wooden overnight hut set high above a beach in the forest with views over the Indian Ocean toward Bird Island is a highlight.

To book: www.sanparks.co.za or 041 4680916/8

READ MORE: Pet-friendly hikes

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