Top Multi-day Hikes in South Africa
Winning the lottery can open all sorts of doors while changing your life for the better. With so many ways to spend your lottery winnings, where does one start?
Why not whisk your family off to picturesque South Africa and partake in some top class hikes that the country has to offer.
Length: 42.5km, 4.5 days
Difficulty: Strenuous (Longest day is 13km)
Opened in 1968, the Otter Trail is one of the oldest and most well-known trails in South Africa. It follows the coastline from Storms River Mouth to Nature’s Valley in the Tsitsikamma National Park and the hike is a breath-taking one to say the least. On the Otter Trail you’ll hike through the rugged, rocky shoreline of the Garden Route, crossing rivers at sea level and then hiking bacl up to follow cliff tops at around 150m above sea level. You’ll have to carry your own backpack so be sure not to over pack! The trail is perfect to hike all year round but February, March, and April are said to be favoured due to the preferable temperatures and lower rainfall. If you’d like to book, be sure to do so in advance to avoid disappointment – bookings are taken 11 months before!
The Leopard Trail
Length: 55km, 4 days 3 nights
Difficulty: Moderate (longest day is 17km)
The Leopard Trail is one of the newest hiking trails in South Africa, having only opened in 2016. It is a slack-packing route, meaning that your bags and food are transported for you from camp to camp allowing you to fully enjoy the hiking experience with just a light day pack. The trail is in the beautiful, protected Baviaanskloof in the Eastern Cape and boasts a remarkably diverse ecosystem with seven of the eight South African biomes present – fynbos, forest, grassland, succulent karoo, nama-karoo, sub-tropical thicket, and savanna. It’s an exquisite hike and if you find yourself wanting more, the Leopard Trail offers a bonus 5th day Cedar Falls hike. The extra day hike leaves from the Cedar Falls base camp. If you’re not so keen to hike another day, they also offer accommodation where you can put your feet up and bask in the wonderful hiking memories whilst enjoying some R&R. The best time to hike depends on your preferences – summer can hit highs between 26 and high 30’s Celsius whilst winters offer wonderful cool day hikes but nights can drop below zero.
The Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail
Length: 60km, 5 days 6 nights
Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous
Close to the Otter Trail, this hike starts at Nature’s Valley and ends at the Storms River Bridge or village – due to the Tsitsikamma trail starting where the Otter Trail ends, many people actually choose to combine these two breath-taking hikes. The trail leads you through the Tsitsikamma mountains, through fynbos and lush, indigenous forests whilst rivers and streams provide plenty of swimming spots. For those keen to have the luxury of just a day pack and more time to swim, bird watch and photograph the beauty around them, slack-packing is now an option. Thanks to the unique access routes to each overnight hut, shorter variations of this beautiful trail are available. Whichever you choose, know that you’ll definitely be spotting some wildlife and rare bird species. As this trail is linked to the Otter trail, the weather conditions and perfect hiking months are exactly the same.
The Green Mountain Trail
If you love nature but roughing it isn’t your ideal, then this trail may be just the one you are looking for. The Green Mountain Trail is a slack-packing hike that winds around the Green Mountain in the Overberg region. It’s done over four days with daily distances varying from 11 – 18km, but the best part is that you’ll be booked into four star country guesthouses and offered a range of delicious meals and wine each night. The trail traverses through private property (wine, olive, and fruit farms) along the Cape Winelands with stops at places such as Oak Valley Wine Estate, Paul Cluver Wine Estate, Wildekrans Country house and Porcupine Hills. Each hike is guided by THETA accredited guides who take you through the rich biodiversity and history of this stunning area. There are even rock pools and dams for cooling off on a hot day. The best time of year to hike this trail is September to May, before the rainy winter sets in. Take note that the trail does not operate over Christmas and Easter Holidays.
Drakensberg Grand Traverse
Length: 210km, 10 to 12 days
Difficulty: Extremely strenuous
If you’re a seasoned hiker with an itching to push yourself then this is the hike to go for. At 210km, it is amongst one of the longest hikes in South Africa but is so worth it as the beauty of hiking through the Drakensberg mountain range is unrivalled. The hike itself has no actual prescribed route or trail but instead a list of checkpoints one must complete along the way. Be warned that the most significant peaks are well over 3000m above sea level. The great thing about there being no prescribed trail is that you can take the hike as you like – choosing your own adventure if you will. Bags will obviously need to be carefully packed as you will have to carry all your own luggage. The Drakensberg Grand Traverse can be done guided or unguided.
Adventure seekers can be sure to find a multitude of exciting things to do in South Africa. And with it’s favourable exchange rate your lottery winnings will stretch even further.
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