12 Best Hikes In South Africa

South Africa is a hiker's paradise. The country includes some of the most varied hiking trails, from impressive mountain summits to remote coastal paths.
The best hikes in South Africa are incredibly diverse. Whether you‘re after a challenging multi-day route or a quick day hike in the city, you can experience it across this beautiful country.
So, to help plan your trip to the country, here are some of the best hikes in South Africa for hikers of all levels.
pixabay otter trail
The Otter Trail hike will have you viewing beautiful coasts like this.

1. The Otter Trail

  • Location: Tsitsikamma National Park, Eastern Cape

  • Distance: Approximately 42.5 kilometres (26.4 miles)

  • Duration: 5 days, 4 nights

  • Highlights: Coastal cliffs, indigenous forests, river crossings, and the stunning Otter Trail itself.

The Otter Trail is a renowned coastal hike that winds through the dramatic landscapes of Tsitsikamma National Park. Hikers explore rugged coastal cliffs, cross pristine rivers, and pass through ancient indigenous forests.
The trail spans 42.5 kilometres over 5 days, offering a challenging yet rewarding adventure. This is one of the best hiking trips in South Africa for anyone seeking a multi-day adventure.
Along this hike in the Garden Route, you’ll experience breathtaking ocean views, you’ll be able to appreciate the diverse flora and fauna and witness the unique Storms River Mouth.
Permits are required, and hikers should be prepared for fairly challenging terrain.

2. Cape St. Blaize Trail

  • Location: Mossel Bay, Western Cape

  • Distance: Around 13 kilometres (8 miles)

  • Duration: 5-6 hours

  • Highlights: Coastal views, historical sites, and the chance to spot dolphins and whales.

The Cape St. Blaize Trail is a coastal gem near Mossel Bay. It’s one of the best things to do on the Garden Route, offering a mix of history and natural beauty.
Stretching over 13 kilometres, this day hike provides some amazing coastal views, visits to historical sites like the Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse, and the opportunity to witness marine life.
Hikers can expect a relatively easy trail with well-maintained paths, showcasing the rugged beauty of the Garden Route coastline. The route provides glimpses into Mossel Bay's maritime history, and lucky trekkers might even spot dolphins or whales in the clear waters.
It’s one of the best hikes in South Africa for a quick coastal experience and one of the best Garden Route hidden gems.
Pixabay table mountain hike
Taking a breath on a beautiful Table Mountain hike.

3. Table Mountain National Park

  • Location: Table Mountain, Western Cape

  • Distance and Duration: Various routes are available, ranging from day hikes to multi-day trails

  • Highlights: Stunning views of Cape Town, diverse flora, and unique rock formations.

If you’re after the best hiking in South Africa, then you can’t overlook Table Mountain. Cape Town’s iconic mountain reserve is covered in amazing hiking trails, taking you to the tops of mountain peaks and through the indigenous fynbos.
Table Mountain’s range of hiking trails caters to different preferences and fitness levels. Most hikers choose to summit Table Mountain by walking up through Platteklip Gorge to the cable car station. You could also extend this to Maclears Beacon to reach the true highest point on the mountain.
Skeleton Gorge and Indian Venster are two other popular, and slightly more challenging, routes up to the top. However, there are loads of other trails that wind through these mountains.

4. Rhebok Trail

  • Location: Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Free State

  • Distance: Approximately 18 kilometers (11 miles)

  • Duration: 6-8 hours

  • Highlights: Spectacular views of the Golden Gate Highlands, wildlife, and unique rock formations.

The Rhebok Trail in Golden Gate Highlands National Park takes hikers through some of the most breathtaking landscapes, including rolling hills and unique sandstone formations. This is absolutely one of the best hikes in South Africa for those seeking impressive natural scenery.
The 18-kilometre trail also lets you encounter the park's wildlife along the way, including eland and other antelope species. The panoramic views of the famous golden-hued cliffs make this a truly unforgettable hiking experience, while grassy trails are very comfortable to walk on.
drakensberg pixabay
The classic and beautiful Drakensberg mountains.

5. Amphitheatre Heritage Hike

  • Location: Royal Natal National Park, Drakensberg

  • Distance: About 12 kilometres (7.5 miles)

  • Duration: 6-8 hours

  • Highlights: Views of the Amphitheatre, Tugela Falls, and the Tugela Gorge.

You can’t talk about the best hikes in South Africa without mentioning the Drakensberg. And when it comes to hikes in the Drakensberg, this trail is one of the absolute best.
The Amphitheatre Heritage Hike offers some of the most amazing views of the towering Amphitheatre, the world's second-highest waterfall - Tugela Falls, and the winding Tugela Gorge.
This challenging yet rewarding hike involves navigating rocky terrain and steep ascents, culminating in a breathtaking amphitheatre view. Hikers should be prepared for changing weather conditions.
The challenges of the trail are all worthwhile when you reach the various vantage points and are rewarded with spectacular Drakensberg views.

6. Amatola Trail

  • Location: Amatola Mountains, Eastern Cape

  • Distance: Approximately 100 kilometres (62 miles)

  • Duration: 6 days, 5 nights

  • Highlights: Lush forests, waterfalls, and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

The Amatola Trail is a multi-day trek through the scenic Amatola Mountains. As one of the best hikes in South Africa, this trail is renowned for its diverse landscapes, including lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic mountain views.
Hikers taking on this six-day journey will traverse dense indigenous forests, cross mountain streams, and summit some amazing peaks. The trail provides a unique opportunity to experience the Eastern Cape's natural beauty while challenging oneself with varying terrains.
Mac mac falls pixabay
You can view the Mac Mac Falls on the Fannie Botha trail!

7. Fanie Botha Hiking Trail

  • Location: Graskop, Mpumalanga

  • Distance: Approximately 17 kilometres (10.5 miles)

  • Duration: 2 days, 1 night

  • Highlights: Waterfalls, indigenous forests, and panoramic views.

The Fanie Botha Hiking Trail near Graskop immerses hikers in the enchanting landscapes of Mpumalanga. Spanning 17 kilometres over two days, the trail winds through lush indigenous forests. You’ll get to experience impressive waterfalls and some of the best panoramic views in the region.
The Fanie Botha Hiking Trail is well-marked, offering a relatively easy hiking experience. Overnight facilities are available, letting hikers really connect with the natural beauty of the region.

8. Coffee Bay to Hole in the Wall Hike

  • Location: Wild Coast, Eastern Cape

  • Distance: About 11 kilometres (6.8 miles)

  • Duration: 3-4 hours

  • Highlights: Coastal scenery, rural villages, and the iconic Hole in the Wall rock formation.

The Coffee Bay to Hole in the Wall Hike showcases the raw beauty of the Wild Coast. This coastal trek, spanning approximately 11 kilometres, winds along pristine beaches, and through rural villages, and culminates at the famous Hole in the Wall - a natural arch carved by the ocean.
Hikers will encounter the unique cultural richness of the Xhosa people as they explore the untouched coastline. The trail offers breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, with the chance to explore tidal pools and long stretches of remote beach.
Lions head pixabay
The Lion's Head hike is a Cape Town classic.

9. Lion's Head

  • Location: Cape Town, Western Cape

  • Distance: Around 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles)

  • Duration: 2-3 hours

  • Highlights: Panoramic views of Cape Town, Table Mountain, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Lion's Head, towering above Cape Town, provides an easily accessible yet rewarding hike in the city. It’s one of the most popular, and best hikes in South Africa for those who don’t have time to reach more remote areas in the country.
Ascending to the summit over a 5.5-kilometer climb, the trail offers incredible 360-degree views of Cape Town, Table Mountain, and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean.
The trail involves a combination of gentle ascents and a short, thrilling scramble to the summit. Sunset hikes are particularly popular, providing a stunning backdrop as the city lights come to life below.
Just be aware that this trail is incredibly popular, so expect some crowds along the way.

10. De Hoop Whale Trail

  • Location: De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape

  • Distance: Approximately 55 kilometres (34 miles)

  • Duration: 5 days, 4 nights

  • Highlights: Coastal fynbos, dunes, and excellent whale-watching opportunities.

The De Hoop Whale Trail is a unique multi-day coastal hike in the De Hoop Nature Reserve. Covering approximately 55 kilometres over five days, the trail showcases diverse landscapes, including coastal fynbos, dunes, and pristine beaches.
As its name suggests, this hike offers excellent whale-watching opportunities from the rugged cliffs, especially during the whale migration season. The overnight huts provide a comfortable base for exploring the reserve's rich biodiversity and scenic coastal wonders.
Amy's photo (permission for use granted) - cederberg cracks
The Cederberg Cracks is always a fun hiking location!

11. Cederberg Cracks

  • Location: Cederberg Wilderness Area, Western Cape

  • Distance: Variable, depending on the chosen route

  • Duration: Day hikes available

  • Highlights: Unique rock formations and the rugged beauty of the Cederberg Mountains.

The Cederberg is a truly unique and beautiful region in the Western Cape. It certainly offers some of the best hikes in South Africa, including the famous hike to the Cederberg Cracks and Wolfberg Arch.
The Cederberg Cracks is a fun day-hiking experience. The trail's distance varies depending on the route you choose, with options to explore various unique rock formations that characterize this dramatic landscape.
Hikers get to climb through narrow cracks and crevices in the sandstone, showcasing the geological wonders shaped by centuries of natural forces. The Cederberg Mountains' striking red hues and unusual rock formations make this trail something truly special.

12. Outeniqua Trail

  • Location: Outeniqua Mountains, Western Cape

  • Distance: About 108 kilometres (67 miles)

  • Duration: 7 days, 6 nights

  • Highlights: Forests, waterfalls, and panoramic views of the Garden Route.

The Outeniqua Trail meanders through the ancient indigenous forests of the Outeniqua Mountains, offering a seven-day hiking experience.
Covering approximately 108 kilometres, this trail lets you explore diverse landscapes, including dense forests, cascading waterfalls, and expansive vistas of the Garden Route. Of all the Garden Route adventure activities, this is one of the best for anyone who loves nature.
Hikers will explore varied terrain, with challenging ascents rewarded by sweeping views. The trail's length lets you connect with nature, providing opportunities for birdwatching, encounters with wildlife, and a deeper appreciation of the Garden Route's natural beauty.
Hiking on the Garden Route
It's always a great time to hike in South Africa!

Conclusion

No matter what fitness or experience level you have in hiking, you can enjoy the varied landscapes and trails that make up the best hikes in South Africa. It's a great way to get up close to the beautiful plant and wildlife that covers this country.
Be sure to add at least one of these hikes to your itinerary when you visit the country, as it will help you experience South Africa’s natural beauty in the best way possible. If you book a Garden Route Tour with Skyhook, you'll be sure to get a good dose of hiking in the beautiful Wilderness and Tsitsikamma National Parks.

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