Walks in the Wild

Driving is a visual experience while walking is a sensual one

Most of this coastline can only be seen by those who are prepared to hike it

From overnight horse trails and glorious mountain views to untouched coastal trails and exploring the African bush on foot. Here are some awesome not-to-be-missed hiking experiences.

A Horseback Adventure of a Lifetime

The Anysberg Overnight Horse Trail

From overnight horse trails and glorious mountain views to untouched coastal trails and exploring the African bush on foot. Here are some awesome not-to-be-missed hiking experiences.

For some of the most striking scenery in the Karoo, this Reserve offers visitors a sun-soaked landscape that alternates between gentle undulating plains and rugged mountains. There’s no better way to explore this truly unspoilt wilderness than on horseback.

Accompanied by a guide, the Anysberg two-day horse trail takes riders on a 21-kilometre circular route. Day one comprises of 13 kilometres (approximately five hours) and eight kilometres on day two (approximately four hours). Your guide will teach you the basics of getting comfortably saddled-up before beginning your journey. And, as you slowly adjust to the quiet of Nature’s rhythm, your guide will point out all the fascinating animal and birdlife along the way. Plus it’s an area also known as The Garden of Eden for succulents. You will also get to see the many archaeological sites that Anysberg Nature Reserve is well known for, with ruins dating back to the 18th century and 20 000-year-old San rock art!

Because Anysberg is one of the darkest places on Earth, far away from the lights of civilisation, the trail offers an enormous crystal clear night sky with more stars than you could ever imagine! And, as you travel, you will be treated to a full astronomical experience with planet markers placed proportionately to reflect the distances between the planets. For a better understanding of the vast night sky, your guide is also trained in the use of telescopes and will help you get a closer look. 

A rustic overnight stay in a kloof on the reserve, in a cabin called Tapfontein, offers the perfect place to relax in the boma around a traditional campfire and gaze up at seemingly endless star-studded skies. Don’t forget to make a wish!

All you need to Know

Where exactly is it?

Situated in the Klein Karoo, approximately four hours’ drive from Cape Town.

How long is the trail?

Two days and one night, taking a minimum of four and a maximum of eight people.

Difficulty Rating:

Easy – the horse does most of the work!

What to Bring:

Food, drink, and bedding. Wood, cutlery, and mattresses are provided.

How to Prepare:

Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food and water for the overnight trip. Summer months can be uncomfortably hot, while in winter a raincoat or poncho and warm clothing are strongly advised.

Price: R875 p/p (off peak) and R1 060 p/p (peak). Permits are purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations. 

www.capenature.co.za

Experience the African Bush on Foot

Sweni Walking Trail

Driving around in an open game drive vehicle and staying in a luxury lodge is not necessarily the real deal. So, far from the normal ‘spot the big five’ hub of tourist activity, The Kruger National Park offers more adventurous tourists an experience that very few people ever get to have! Those lucky enough to have done both say that driving is a visual experience while walking is a sensual one. Of the seven wilderness trails currently on offer, the least challenging is the Sweni Trail, taking you on a two-day walk along the open, flat savannas of central Kruger.

The area is unique, the river attracts a high density of both predator and prey, and a trail experience offers the opportunity to observe these relationships intimately. The Sweni River also accounts for frequent sightings of amazing birdlife, and the flat remoteness of the area offers excellent star gazing opportunities too! The walk itself is relaxed and led by an experienced, armed game ranger who shares intimate knowledge of the bushveld and wildlife.

Simple well-cooked meals are prepared by a cook on-site. A covered lapa at the camp provides game-viewing pleasure throughout the day as well as a great spot to enjoy traditional sundowners in the evening. Don’t let the deep vibrating roars of the area’s famous Sweni Lion Pride keep you up at night, as you’ll need to rest up for day two. You’ll soon find that being on foot envelops you in your surrounding environment, as opposed to feeling removed from it at the back of a vehicle. For lovers of nature and wildlife – this one’s a musAll you need to Know

Where exactly is it?

Situated on the Sweni River within the Kruger National Park.

How long is the trail?

A three-night, two-day trail that takes a maximum of eight people.

Difficulty Rating:

Easy to moderate.

What to Bring:

Comfortable clothing (neutral colours are preferable), a hat and all-weather jacket. Footwear should be worn in prior to the trail, have thick soles and provide good ankle support. Cameras, binoculars, insect repellent, and sunscreen. A good quality torch is essential. Trailists must bring their own liquor and soft drinks. Water, coffee, tea, and fruit juice are provided as part of the Bush Breakfast.

All cellphone addicts and music lovers be warned: no phones or any music playing devices are permitted.

How to Prepare:

A reasonable level of fitness is required as up to 20 kilometres may be walked per day, although the distance is covered at a leisurely pace. Malaria prophylactics are essential.

Price: *R4 000 p/p

www.sanparks.co.za

Explore Untouched Coastal Beauty

Wild Coast

Long stretches of sandy beach, rocky cliffs, beautiful lagoons, and pristine coastal forests characterise this section of the Wild Coast. From Mazeppa Bay in the Transkei to Haga Haga in the Eastern Cape, most of this unspoilt coastline can only be seen by those who are prepared to hike it!

At the start, you will feel as though you have stepped back in time, as there is little or no development along this rural coastline. Accompanied by a local guide, who is a member of the community and well acquainted with the route, the 64-kilometre trail can be walked by anyone who is reasonably fit. There are no serious challenges other than the odd river, which must be waded. Although, when river levels are too high after heavy rains, a ferry crossing is arranged.

The trail package covers overnight stays at conveniently located hotels along the way. Rest up in comfortable en-suite bungalows and enjoy well-deserved dinners, often consisting of fresh seafood. A delicious cooked breakfast to start your day and a packed lunch to take with you is all part of the deal. Highlights of this incredible five-day journey include incredible ocean views that go on for miles, lagoon swims, excellent bird and marine life, and beauty only offered by Nature that truly makes you feel alive. Who could say no? 

All you need to Know

Where exactly is it?

Mazeppa Bay, East London Coast.

How long is the trail?

Five days. Groups of six to eight hikers preferred, 12 maximum.

Difficulty Rating:

Easy to moderate.

What to Bring:

Light, durable clothing, hats, sunscreen, and swimming costumes. Comfortable footwear is essential.

How to Prepare:

A reasonable level of fitness is required and the ability to swim.

Price: Upon request

www.trails.co.za

Hidden Hikes You Should Know About

Angel’s Wing Hiking Trail (Clarens)

Deep in the mountains surrounding the quaint village of Clarens was, until now, an area only known to locals. Hikers now have the opportunity to go where no hiker has gone before, as this two-day base camp trail is officially open to the public! Enjoy a total hiking distance of 16 kilometres, stay overnight at Ouma’s Kraal and lap up 360˚ views of the surrounding mountains.

Postberg Wild Flower Trail (Langebaan)

This seemingly harsh and forsaken landscape is, in fact, filled with natural wonders, made accessible by this trail. With the tranquil Langebaan Lagoon as the focal point, you wind your way through a colourful carpet of spring flowers, over two days, against a backdrop of silver-white beaches and ancient black boulders. The 25-kilometre trail within The West Coast National Park is only open during the months of August and September. 

Join a Hiking Club!

Visit www.sahikes.co.za for a list of all the hiking clubs in South Africa. 

*Prices may vary