South African routes, trails, and meanders
Did you know?
Find South Africa's largest Cape vulture breeding colony on the Waterberg-Nylsvley Birding Route
South African trails, routes and meanders are ideal for outdoor adventure. Although many of South Africa’s trails, routes, and meanders can be explored year round, some are better suited to certain seasons because of weather conditions.
One really lovely route is the Cape Country Meander, a 100km stretch starting in the Elgin Valley in the Western Cape. It takes you through lush farmland and quaint towns such as Bot River, Caledon, Genadendal, Greyton, Riviersonderend, Tesselaarsdal and Villierdorp – following the route taken by the Boer pioneers who wound their way in ox-drawn wagons. Here, adventure activities abound. You can enjoy fishing, river barging, hiking, abseiling, rock climbing, quad biking, jet skiing, canoeing, waterskiing and more. Summer is the best time to do the route when there are more daylight hours and little rain.
For the truly adventurous, the Freedom Trail is a scenic mountain bike route between Cape Town and Durban that takes you through mountainous areas, valleys, untouched wildernesses, national parks, nature reserves, and a trans-frontier park. A good time to do the route is in September/October or March/April when it’s not too hot or too cold. The route can be tailored to include areas you’d most like to visit.
For those who love off-roading, wild flowers, cranes, fly-fishing, hiking, star gazing and cliff climbing, the Highlands Meander in Mpumalanga is a wonderful outdoor adventure that starts in Belfast and moves through the Kwena Basin to Emgwenya (Waterfall Boven) – a rock climbers’ paradise. This is fly-fishing territory at its best, and you’ll also find 3 crane species and the only breeding community of black leopards in South Africa. Summer is the best time for wild flowers and birding. Winter is also good but can be cold.
Parts of Limpopo province are must-visit destinations for birders, whether beginners or veterans. The Greater Limpopo Birding Route, which is divided into the Waterberg-Nylsvley Birding Route, the Capricorn-Letaba Birding Route, the Kruger to Canyons Birding Route and the original Soutpansberg-Limpopo Birding Route, offers around 600 bird species. The best time to see birds is from November to February.
Along the Garden Route, there’s a 5-day 63km guided Slackpacker Trail that traverses the coastline from Wilderness to Brenton on Sea. Here you can experience spectacular scenery from ancient forests to memorable seascapes. The trail is best done after the spring tides.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Garden Route Trail
Tel: +27 (0)82 213 5931
Waterberg Biosphere Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)14 755 4002
The Freedom Trail
Tel: +27 (0)84 567 4152
Greater Limpopo Birding Routes
Tel:+ 27 (0)15 276 1131