Mehloding Adventure Trail in the southern Drakensberg mountains offers a chance to go slackpacking through stunning sandstone scenery without a backpack weighing you down. You’ll be guided, fed and comfortably accommodated too, and you'll have hot showers. Your nearest town is quiet Matatiele in the northern reaches of the Eastern Cape.

Did you know?

The southernmost section of the Drakensberg mountains is sometimes called the Tail of the Dragon. ('Drakensberg' means 'Dragons' Mountain).

Where the high Drakensberg Mountains tail down into high sandstone foothills in the northern part of the Eastern Cape, you’ll find the slackpacking Mehloding Adventure Trail.

Not far from the rural town of Matatiele in the northern part of the scenic Eastern Cape, the Mehloding trail is a relatively demanding four-day hike. Interestingly, it is designed and owned by the surrounding community, and you’ll walk through small villages as well as some breathtaking mountain scenery.

As you walk, you will be guided by community members and hosted in specially built chalets. There’s no need to pack noodles and dehydrated food, because the community will also cook for you.

In fact, the daily hikes, varying between 13km and 20km over hills and valleys, are the only things you’ll really have to work at.

For a small extra charge, the community will transport your luggage from chalet to chalet, leaving you free to stroll with only a daypack and a camera.For the rest, you’ll have hot showers, comfortable bedding and local food for dinner and breakfast, some of it grown locally.

Each chalet has flush toilets, and although there is no electricity, there is gas for cooking and paraffin lamps, which adds real atmosphere when everyone gathers in the lounge.

Depending on the season (late spring and high summer are the best) you’ll see plenty of wildflowers and your guide will point out the rock art if you’re interested.

The chalets and trail are run and owned by the Mehloding Community Trust.

If you have only enough time for a small taste of the trail, you could stay at their Masakala Guesthouse just outside Matatiele. Here you can take short hikes, go horseback riding on a Basotho pony, visit a traditional healer and partake of African cuisine.

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