Slackpacking

A Hassle-Free Hiking Holiday

Wild Coast Hike

You love the great outdoors but you've seen those documentaries where unwashed, malnourished hikers tackle gruelling trails while carrying their full body weight in gear and keep a Leatherman in their top pocket just in case a boulder falls on their arm! But what if we told you that hiking could be all about warm beds, hot running water and delicious food. Sound good? Well then congratulations, you may just be a Slackpacker!

Slackpackers bags are safely transferred from one overnight stop to the next where tasty food, cold beers and relaxed evenings await you. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the rugged paths of South Africa's mountains and coastlines. Here we outline South Africa’s top three Slackpacking trails:

The Roof of Africa

Slackpacking is the ‘no mess, no fuss’ version of a hiking holiday where you still get to experience all of nature’s beauty without the backpack!

Amphitheatre Heritage Hike, Northern Drakensburg

Getting to ‘the roof of Africa’ is a feat normally only undertaken by fit and experienced hikers but slackpackers now have the opportunity to also enjoy the top of the world and experience the same sense of accomplishment as a dedicated hiker.

You will spend three days and three nights on route, staying overnight at lodges nested up against the towering peaks of the Drakensberg mountain range. Qualified guides will accompany you and will even make decisions about your routes—so not even your brain is required.

The Amphitheatre is the most recognisable feature of the entire Drakensberg range. This World Heritage Site stands 3 000 metres above sea level, in near perfect symmetry. Hiking your way to the top offers some of the finest views in the world! You can also experience the thrill of Africa's highest waterfall, where the headwaters of the Tugela drops a sheer 614 metres into the gorge below. Pass through patches of cool mist-belt forest and criss-cross the river in the Mahai River valley. Enjoy a refreshing splash in several small pools and waterfalls along the way and relax in some the most perfect picnic spots nature has to offer.

The Hike at a Glance:

Duration:            

3 Days / 3 Nights. Extra days and customised trails offered on request.

Total Distance:

36 km over 3 days.

Grade: Fair

A fair amount of ascent, although the trail is not technical by berg standards.

The chain ladders can be intimidating, but there is a gully alternative to the

top of the escarpment.

Climate:

Summer (Nov-May): Days can be wet and warm. Average temperature: 25 to 30°C. Winter (June-Oct): Dry, sunny, clear and crisp days with an average temperature of 15 to 20°C, dropping below zero at night.

Best Time of Year:

All year round. Spring and summer are the best months for wild flowers.

Winter months are the most stable weather-wise.

Price:   

Vehicle supported hike with a guide:

4-5 Pax: R4 000/pp  

6-7 Pax: R3 800/pp 

8 Pax: R3 500/pp

(Price includes: Accommodation, all meals and luggage transfers)

Tropical Paradise

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Kosi Bay

Venture into one of the most inaccessible parts of South Africa, to the ecological sanctuary known as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Here, four interconnected lakes and an estuary open into the warm Indian Ocean, inviting you to experience untamed natural beauty that is teaming with wildlife.

The slackpack trail is led by local community guides who are happy to share their knowledge, heritage and muscles with you. It’s also a flexible trail that can be tailor-made to suit the fitness levels and interests of the group. Wind your way along sandy paths from isolated beaches to cool dune forest, through open savannah and wetlands. Watch the local fisherman spear a prize mullet in their traditional fish kraals and get a taste of the locally brewed Lala palm wine.

Snorkeling, fishing and swimming are very much part of the experience and sightings of whale sharks and dolphins are common.At certain times of the year, you can also see leatherback turtles waddling ashore to lay their eggs.

With all luggage transferred to comfortable bush and beach camps for your overnight stays, the focus is entirely on enjoying every single step of the way.

The Hike at a Glance:

Duration:            

3 Days / 4 Nights

Total Distance:

40 km over 3 hike days.

Grade: Fair

Generally short daily distances with little ascent (being a coastal trail). The   

soft sand can make it tougher in places.

Climate:

Kosi Bay boasts 300 days of sunshine. Average daily temp: 28oC in January to 22oC in July. Average minimum temp is 19oC in January and 10oC in July. 

Best Time of Year:

Humpback whales can be seen off the coast from June to December.

November to early March is turtle nesting season but can be too hot for

hiking. Winter months are mild and dry and perfect for hiking. 

Price:   

Based on a group of 4 Persons: R3 650/ pp.

(Price includes: 4x4 transfer, accommodation, all meals, luggage transfers,

beach access, permits and trail fees, a boat excursion with an opportunity to

snorkel)

Walk on the Wild Side

Pondoland, Wild Coast

Leave the crowds behind and get yourself to Pondoland’s best kept secret – the Pondo Explore Trail.  Stretching from the Mtamvuna River in the north (Port Edward) to the mighty Umzimvubu in the south (Port St John's), this is undoubtedly the least accessible, most dramatically rugged section of the Wild Coast.

The high-energy coastline takes you on a journey through traditional Xhosa villages, rolling green hills, rocky headlands and sandy bays. You’ll pass amazing waterfalls, freestanding rock stacks, pristine estuaries and the skeletal remains of numerous shipwrecks along the shore. Take canoes up the Msikaba Estuary, indulge in freshwater pools and enjoy sweeping vistas from the hilltops. Golden miles of beach also offer excellent swimming where schools of dolphin are a familiar sight.

For a welcome bit of pampering, you’ll stay overnight in East African style tented accommodation offering en-suite bathrooms and hot water showers. It’s a luxury adventure that only a fortunate few have experienced.

The Hike at a Glance:

Duration:

3 or 5 Day Options

Total Distance:

35 km over 2 hike days. 68 km over 5 hike days

Grade: difficult

Requires backpacking experience & a good level of fitness. Whilst porters can

be arranged this trail is aimed at the true backpacker with some scrambling,

rock-hopping and river crossings.            

Climate:

Mild sub-tropical climate. Summer (Nov - Feb): Daily temperatures range from 27 to 29oC. Winter (June - Aug): 21oC. Night temps seldom drop below 10oC in winter and

average around 15oC in summer.

Best Time of Year:

Summer is best for birdlife. Winter is mild with sunny days and a low

probability of rain. Spring and Autumn months generally combine the best of

all conditions.

Price:   

5 Night Pondo-Hopper:

2 persons: R5 995/pp

3 – 6 pax: R5 495/pp

7 - 12 pax: R 4 995/pp

3 Night Pondo-Hopper:

2 persons: R3 995/pp

3 – 6 pax: R3 745/pp

7 - 12 pax: R3 495/pp

(Price includes: Transfer, accommodation, all meals, luggage transfers,

vehicle support, Reserve permits and trail fees, Emergency support, canoes)                                     

For more information: www.active-escapes.co.za

To Book Contact Sarah Drew of Active Escapes on 084 240 7277 or sarah@active-escapes.co.za