Explore South Africa’s stunning landscapes and rich heritage on these hiking trails

Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Picture: Teddie/INSTAGRAM

Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Picture: Teddie/INSTAGRAM

Published Sep 15, 2023


As winter’s chill starts to melt away, well, hopefully, and the colourful beauty of spring blooms, South Africa invites adventurers to step outside and enjoy its stunning landscapes.

These hiking trails don’t just show off South Africa’s amazing scenery; they also allow hikers to learn about its rich history.

When you combine hiking with exploring historical places, you get to discover South Africa’s past while taking in its varied landscapes.

Here are some trails that offer both the beauty of nature and a taste of history.


Skeleton Gorge Trail

The Skeleton Gorge Trail offers an intriguing path through lush indigenous forests, wooden ladders, and meandering streams. It’s a bit challenging but immensely rewarding as you reach the top of Table Mountain.

Hoerikwaggo Trail

For those with a true sense of adventure, consider the multi-day Hoerikwaggo Trail. This trail winds through diverse landscapes, from the Cape Peninsula’s coastline to the summit of Table Mountain.

It’s a fascinating journey that provides insight into the area’s rich cultural and natural heritage.

Cape Peninsula's coastline. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Cederberg Wilderness

Here, you can explore the Wolfberg Cracks Trail, a remarkable route that takes you through narrow sandstone ravines and leads to a hidden rock arch. It’s like stepping into another world and offers a sense of adventure like no other.

Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve

For those who appreciate solitude and remote beauty, the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve in the Northern Cape (bordering the Western Cape) is a hidden gem.

The Maltese Cross Trail, starting in the reserve, leads you to an incredible rock formation resembling a Maltese cross.

The isolation and stark beauty of this area make it a truly special hiking destination.

Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve. Picture: INSTAGRAM


iSimangaliso Wetland Park

This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. While hiking in the park, you can explore the St. Lucia Estuary, where you may encounter hippos and crocodiles.

The area also has historical sites associated with early Portuguese explorers and trade routes.

Kamberg Nature Reserve Rock Art Trail

Take a journey back in time by exploring the Kamberg Nature Reserve’s Rock Art Trail. This trail leads to ancient San rock art sites, offering a glimpse into the cultural history of the Drakensberg region. It’s a fascinating blend of hiking and cultural exploration.

A fascinating blend of hiking and cultural exploration. Picture: deejaysanks/INSTAGRAM

Krantzkloof Nature Reserve

Located just outside Durban, Krantzkloof Nature Reserve offers a range of hiking trails, but one that stands out is the Kloof Gorge Hike.

This challenging trail takes you along the edge of a breathtaking gorge with dramatic views of the forested valley below. The trail offers a thrilling combination of steep ascents and descents, river crossings, and lush indigenous vegetation.

Inanda Dam Trails

The Inanda Dam, situated to the north of Durban, offers a variety of hiking trails with a unique twist. You can explore the mesmerising Valley of a Thousand Hills while hiking around the dam.

The trails take you through diverse landscapes, including grasslands, forests, and hills, providing picturesque views of the dam and the surrounding countryside.


Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve Picture: kylahjasmine/INSTAGRAM

Just a short drive from Johannesburg, the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve offers a surprising escape from the urban hustle and bustle.

The Dassie Trail, in particular, stands out for its unique lunar-like landscape, which resembles the surface of the moon. Hiking here feels like exploring an alien world, making it a fascinating choice for adventurous souls.

Magaliesberg Mountains

The Magaliesberg Mountains are a prominent natural feature in Gauteng, and they offer several exceptional hiking opportunities.

The Magaliesberg Canopy Tour provides a thrilling hiking experience, taking you along a series of suspension bridges and platforms through the treetops. It’s an exhilarating way to experience the beauty of this ancient mountain range.


Golden Gate Highlands National Park

This park is famous for its golden-hued sandstone cliffs and unique rock formations. While hiking in the park, you can discover various heritage sites, including ancient Bushman paintings and archaeological sites that provide insights into the early inhabitants of the region.

While hiking in the park, you can discover various heritage sites Picture: Teddie/INSTAGRAM

Battlefields Hiking Trail

For those interested in military history, the Battlefields Hiking Trail in the Free State presents an opportunity to explore sites related to the Anglo-Boer War.

This trail takes you through the hills and valleys where significant battles were fought. Interpretive boards provide historical context, allowing you to reflect on the events that shaped the nation.

These heritage hiking trails in the Free State province of South Africa offer a rich tapestry of history and nature.


Wild Coast

The Wild Coast, located in the Eastern Cape, is a paradise for coastal hiking enthusiasts. The Wild Coast Trail, winds through rural villages, lush coastal forests, and pristine beaches.

The trail provides a unique opportunity to connect with local Xhosa culture and witness the beauty of the Eastern Cape’s coastline.

Picture: Encounter the Eastern Cape/INSTAGRAM

Amatola Hiking Trail

The Amatola Hiking Trail, situated in the Amatola Mountains near Hogsback, offers a challenging and rewarding hiking experience. This multi-day trek leads you through indigenous forests, past waterfalls, and up to the highest peak in the region, Ben Macdhui.

The Cannibal Hiking Trail

This trail is located near Kei Mouth and is associated with the tragic history of the Shipwreck Cannibals, a group of shipwreck survivors who resorted to cannibalism to survive in the early 1800s.

The trail takes hikers through the landscape where these events occurred and provides insight into this dark chapter of South African history.