HIKING TRAIL GEMS TO EXPLORE IN SA…
North–West: Kgaswane Summit Trail
Located in the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve this is a circular, 25km two-day hike, which is better suited for experienced hikers. Along the way there are a variety of landscapes to experience, from bushveld to indigenous forest with views of Rustenburg, Pilanesburg and Magaliesburg.
The terrain is fairly challenging in parts – be prepared to do some scrambling. Wildlife such as kudu, eland, zebra, hartebeest, snakes and baboons can be spotted.
Mpumalanga: Blyde Canyon Hiking Trail
With panoramic views of the Blyde River Canyon, there are various trails to explore which are interlinked. The Blyde Canyon Hiking Trail covers about 50% of the nature reserve, is approximately 60km and takes about three to five days to complete, depending on your fitness level. Traversing though forest you will witness amazing rock formations.
Limpopo: Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail
Located in the Magoebaskloof forest, hikers get the opportunity to experience indigenous forest, pine plantations, and streams and waterfalls. The hike can last anywhere between one and five days, depending on the route you take. If you choose to do the full route (five days) it is recommended that you be relatively fit.
Be on the lookout for the ‘tallest planted tree in the world’, as well as historical sites such as the old mule path and the O’ Connor memorial.
KwaZulu Natal: Cathedral Peak Trail
This hike can take one to three days, depending on where you choose to break it up. If you opt for the one-day option, you would need to get an early start as the hike is about 19km (approximately 10-12 hours).
Considering that there are some steep paths, which require a scramble, it’s advisable to be an experienced hiker. Cathedral Peak stands just over 3 000m above sea level and is surrounded by the Drakensberg escarpment. Of interest is that the area is well known for rock paintings.
Free State: Thaba ‘Nchu Trail
Covering about 9km, this is a relatively easy trail. Great views and gradual climbs allow hikers to explore with ease and break for lunch. Fairy shrimp can be found in rainwater pools in the rocks.
Gauteng: Shelter Rock Trail
Named after a boulder that was dislodged from the Magaliesberg cliff face many years ago, the Shelter Rock Trail is just under 8km and takes just under three hours. While there are some inclines, it is not a hectic hike for those in reasonable fitness and health.
Some highlights include majestic views of the Magaliesberg and ruins of an Iron Age village. Did you know: Local people took shelter at Shelter Rock from the enemy during the Great War of 1898-1903 and during Mozillikazi’s invasion of the area in 1820.
Eastern Cape: Alexandria Hiking Trail
Located in the Addo Elephant National Park, the Alexandria Hiking Trail is a 36km circular two-day (or three-day) adventure during which hikers experience forest, coast and dunes. A moderate level of fitness is required.
Keep a lookout for the “Waterboom”, a gigantic yellowwood named for the reservoir of water held at the base of its trunk. You can also see Bird Island in the distance and stand a chance to spot the endemic hairy-footed gerbil.
Western Cape: Swellendam Hiking Trail
This is a trail for seasoned hikers that covers 60-80km over four to six days (there are shorter trails). Hikers will traverse mountain terrain, kloofs and see waterfalls and rock pools. It does not require scrambling but there are some tricky parts. It is well-known for spotting proteas and a variety of birdlife.
Northern Cape: Klipspringer Hiking Trail
A 32km loop trail near Augrabies Falls National Park, this is a three-day hike during whichthere is a good chance you will spot klipspringer. The trail can be challenging, and hikers should be fit. The trail is generally open during April to October as the heat in summer can be brutal. Hikers will get the opportunity to see gorges, rivers, succulents, rodents, reptiles andgranite rock sculptures.
DID YOU KNOW?According to research hiking can help reduce depression and anxiety.