Green Flag hiking trails
Did you know?
Walking trails meeting HOSA's minimum standards are also accredited through the Green Flag Trails programme.
Green Flag is essentially an accreditation programme that seeks to offer hikers the best value for money and to ensure trails meet their expectations. It was developed by the University of Pretoria and aims to provide accredited hiking trails that not only adhere to quality principles, but also minimum environmental standards, facilitating responsible hiking practices.
The Green Flag system is underwritten by the non-profit Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA). It centres around the concept of allowing hikers to make informed decisions of the trails they'd like to do, based on supplying the most accurate information on that product.
So trails are assessed according to their safety standards, service and trail facilities, accommodation, the type of environment the trail is set in and the difficulty rating of the trail. Perhaps most importantly, trails and their associated facilities also have to be managed in an environmentally responsible way.
The administration of the trail, including booking facilities and the honesty of the trail's marketing, is also taken in to account, along with the trail layout and its ecological impact.
HOSA assesses the trails every two years, ensuring these standards are continually being upheld. Trails not meeting minimum standards lose their accreditation. Similarly, new hiking trails in South Africa are accredited based on these principles.
There are currently 40 hiking trails in South Africa that have Green Flag Trail status, with at least another 40 pending accreditation.
Accredited trails include the Maluti Cave Route and Vredefort Meteorite trails in the Free State, Fanie Botha and Kaapschehoop trails in Mpumalanga, the Dolphin Trail and Wild Coast Meander in the Eastern Cape, Giant's Cup in the Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal, and the Whale Trail and Hoerrikwaggo at Table Mountain, both in the Western Cape.