Did you know?
The Blyde River Canyon is regarded as the world's 'greenest' canyon because of its lush vegetation.
If you plan to go hiking in Mpumalanga, figure out your level of fitness, the time available, then choose between hundreds of trails – attractive to awesome, leisurely to strenuous, half a day or a week.
Some of South Africa’s best hiking is in the Blyde River Canyon. It’s South Africa’s second most-visited natural attraction and you’ll soon see why. Red cliffs rear up from the canyon base, waterfalls cascade into deep pools in thick forest (one of the last remaining true afromontane forests in South Africa) birds sing and small animals skitter in the undergrowth. There’s an abundance of biodiversity.
There are also great hikes in the Graskop and Sabie areas. If you hike the two-and-a-half day Blyderivierspoort hiking trail you’ll start at God's Window and finish at Bourke's Luck Potholes with two overnight stops.
The 72km Fanie Botha hiking trail, situated in the Sabie area, can be broken up into two-, three-, four-, or five-night options , all with varying degrees of difficulty, from easy and moderate, to difficult. This trail takes you through some of Mpumalanga’s most beautiful scenery including waterfalls, mountains, forests and God’s Window. If you’re a birder, you’ll be in a feathery heaven with the chance of spotting blue cranes, chorister robins, Verreaux's (black) eagles, the Knysna lourie and scores more, plus lots of small game such as antelopes, baboons and monkeys.
The Uitsuik Hiking Trail, 80km from Mbombela (Nelspruit), near the Sudwala Caves, has two-day or one-day trails, or you could hike the Kaapschehoop Trail which also has several trail options. There are two major highlights on this trail: the famous wild horses of the area, or the internationally endangered blue swallow.
Five Assegais Country Estate, between Machadodorp (eNTokozweni) and Badplaas (eManzana), has a spectacular 50km network of one- and two-day hiking trails, and if it’s history you’re after then relive the heyday of the 1870s gold rush and follow a Prospector’s Hiking Trail in Pilgrim’s Rest.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
Fly direct from any of South Africa’s major cities to Nelspruit (Mbombela) or drive from Johannesburg. Then choose your route
Best time to visit
Any time of year is good, although summer is rainfall time, and winters can be very cold
Around the area
Adventure activities in Mpumalanga include a bridge swing at Sabie, big swing and zip slide at Graskop, an aerial forest cable way at Hazyview, white water rafting down the Sabie River, and abseiling at Graskop. There are dozens of private game reserves in the area, and the Kruger National Park is nearby.
What will it cost
The trails are very affordable, usually in the region of approximately R100 pp
What to pack
All your usual hiking gear, includng water, sunscreen and hat
Where to stay
Choose between campsites, self-catering, backpackers, to B&Bs, lodges, hotels