Where To Hike When - Discover Best Hikes and Trails Around the World.

Best Hiking Trails in South Africa

Overview

While many come for the wildlife viewing, South Africa has fantastic mountain landscapes to hike, particularly in the Drakensberg.  There are plenty of hiking opportunities in this country, one of the best on the continent for hiking and trekking. Some of the best hikes come in the form of multi-day treks such as the Otter Trail, likely the most famous of all treks in South Africa, the Drakensberg Traverse, and the Rim of Africa trail. Other beautiful areas to hike in include Blyde River Canyon, Golden Gate Highlands National Park and along the Eastern and Western Cape. Cape Town and its Table Mountain National Park offers up spectacular trails. The best months to hike in South Africa vary according to the region; read on for more information on where and when to go hiking in South Africa. 

Capital: Pretoria

When To Hike in South Africa?

Year Round: The optimal months depend on the region.  Generally, rainy during summer (Oct – Apr) but around Cape Town and Western Cape, it’s opposite. Filter by region in the map to see the best months for the region. 
Varies

Climate: Range of climates throughout the whole country, and also in the mountainous areas, mainly arid and temperate. . Can be windy around Capetown.   

 

South Africa Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Medium: While there are marked hiking trails, many of the ones in the mountains are good to go with a guide.

Transportation required: Car; public transit (ie. For those around Capetown)

Where to stay in South Africa for hiking:

  • Capetown
  • Paarl
  • Stellenbosch
  • Clarens
  • Knysna

Top Places to Hike in South Africa

The mountainous areas in South Africa stem from the two main mountain ranges: Drakensberg Escarpment and the Cape Fold Belt. The main areas to hike are in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwazulu Natal and Free State provinces. The Drakensberg runs through the latter three of these provinces. Because wildlife watching in South Africa’s parks is such a big deal, there aren’t always opportunities to hike in national parks. Highest Mountain: Mafadi (3446 m), shared with Lesotho, in the Drakensberg.

Filter out hiking places of South Africa by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Wolkberg Wilderness Area

Magaliesberg

  • Apr – Sept
  • Lots of hikes in this area in guidebooks

Blyde River Canyon

  • Apr – May; Sept – Oct
  • Great hikes here, popular area in this province

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

  • Apr – Sept

uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park

  • Mar – May; Sept – Nov
  • Same as Maloti-Drakensberg Park, considered one of the best hiking destinations in South Africa 
  • Park is specifically set up for hiking (not wildlife viewing)
  • Multiple entrances to the park

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

  • Year round
  • Small, mountainous park; hiking very popular, there’s trails throughout guided by KZN Wildlife

Royal Natal National Park

Bankberg

  • Mar – May; Aug – Nov
  • Mountain area
  • Mountain Zebra National Park

Amathole Mountains

  • December – February may be slightly better time than rest of year; www.amatolatrails.co.za
  • 120 km Amathole Trail 

Garden Route National Park

Langeberg Mountain Range

Matroosberg Mountain Catchment Area

Riviersonderend Mountain Catchment Area

  • Sept – Apr
  • Boesmanskloof Trail

Kogelberg Mountain Range

  • Sept – Apr
  • Kogelberg Nature Reserve

Hottentots Holland Mountains

  • Sept – Apr
  • Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

Table Mountain National Park

  • Sept – Apr
  • Right in Cape Town, popular area for hiking

South Africa's Long Distance Trails

There are many multi-day treks in South Africa, just a handful listed here:

  • Otter Trail – considered one of the best trails in the world, this is an iconic South African trek
  • Oystercatcher Trail – 5 day hike 
  • Whale Trail – 5 day hike
  • Greyton-McGregor Boesmanskloof Trail
  • Drakensberg Traverse – 220 km crossing many of the biggest peaks in Drakensberg mountains
  • Rim of Africa – 650 km traverse of the Cape Mountains

South Africa's Walking & Hiking Resources

South Africa Hiking Books: 

  • Hiking Beyond Cape Town: 40 inspiring hikes outside the city, by Nina du Plessis and Willie Olivier, 2023, Struik Travel & Heritage
  • Hiking Trails of South Africa, by Willie Oliver, 2017, Penguin Random House South Africa 
  • Walking in the Drakensberg: 75 Day Walks in the Maloti-Drakensberg Park, by Jeff Williams, 2017, Cicerone Press 
  • Best Walks of the Drakensberg, by David Bristow, 2010, Struik Travel & Heritage
  • Hiking Cape Town: 35 Spectacular Hikes In and Around Cape Town, by Evelyn John Holtzhausen, Penguin Random House South Africa
  • Hiking in Johannesburg: Hiking Trails in and Around Johannesburg and the Magaliesberg, by Janet Katz, Gregory Maassen, Martin Smit, 2018, CreateSpace Independent Publishing
  • Lonely Planet South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, by James Bainbridge and Jean-Bernard Carillet, 2018, Lonely Planet Publications 

 

South Africa Hiking Associations/Clubs:

 

Best Hiking Trails in South Africa:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from guidebooks, trail maps/apps, websites, and tourist offices:

  • Otter Trail – Eastern Cape
  • Drakensberg Traverse
  • Sentinel Peak – Royal Natal National Park
  • Amathole Trail – Amathole Mountains
  • Rhebok Trail – Golden Gate Highlands National Park
  • Blyderivierspoort hiking trail – Blyde River Canyon
  • Tsitsikamma Trail – Eastern Cape
  • Kasteelspoort – Table Mountain, Capetown
  • Tugela Gorge Trail – uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park
  • Uitkyk Trail – Western Cape

Easy Hiking Trails in South Africa:

  • Dolphin Trail – Eastern Cape
  • Leopard’s Kloof Hiking Trail – Western Cape

 

South Africa Hiking Websites:

 

South Africa Weather websites:

 

South Africa Official Tourism Site:  

 

South Africa Hiking Apps: 

 

South Africa Hiking Maps:

What Else To Do

  • Wildlife viewing 
  • Vineyards 
  • Kalahari
  • Water sports (ie. Surfing)
  • Sardine run on Wild Coast
  • World’s oldest visible meteor crater
  • Isimangaliso Wetland Park is unique and must see

Other Important Points

  • Slackpacking is big here