Did you know?
One Drakensberg weekend hike leads to cascades where a young Queen Elizabeth II once cooled her feet.
Weekend hikes give you the opportunity to get away from the rat race, stretch those travel-weary legs, breathe in some fresh air and experience South Africa's scenic diversity at close quarters.
Some of the most sought-after and thrilling weekend hikes are to be found in the bushveld.
Don’t expect supreme luxury on any one of the Kruger National Park's nine wilderness trails, but what you will get is exclusivity (you'll be one of only eight hikers), tranquillity and the opportunity to experience the African bush up close and personal.
Equally as popular (you need to book up to a year in advance) are the wilderness trails in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. Although it's much smaller than the Kruger National Park, this game-rich reserve has some excellent weekend hikes.
Some of the most scenically awesome weekend hikes take place in the Drakensberg. Clamber up to some of the world's finest rock art sites, hike up rugged mountains or through narrow gorges, navigate chain ladders or simply meander beside a crystal-clear mountain stream.
Cape Town's Table Mountain also has some fantastic hikes, but if you prefer more level ground then try a whale-spotting or dolphin-watching hike, such as the Garden Route's Dolphin Trail. If you enjoy beach hiking then opt for a Wild Coast weekend hike in in the Eastern Cape, where you'll walk along miles of deserted beaches, see uncommon seabirds like the African black oystercatcher, and picnic beside an old shipwreck.
If history interests you, then follow in the footsteps of the 1870s gold miners and pioneers of Mpumalanga's Pilgrim’s Rest on the Prospector's Hiking Trail, where you will hike along old wagon trails, discover early digging sites, cross over a historic railway line and wend your way along Robber's Pass.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
South African National Parks Central Reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife
Tel: +27 (0)33 845 1000
Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0000
Drakensberg Tourism Association
Tel: +27 (0)36 448 1557
Wild Coast Holiday Association
Tel: +27 (0)43 743 6181
Best time to visit
Summers are very hot and winters usually include snow on major mountain ranges, so planning outside of these two periods is best.
What will it cost
Wildlife reservation permits cost a nominal amount which goes towards conservation efforts.
What to pack
If you intend hiking in protected heritage areas, make sure that you have the necessary permit from SANParks or the local wildlife authority.
Where to stay
It's always exciting to team a hike with a spontaneous overnight camping experience.
What to eat
Always include water bottles in your back pack.
A good pair of hiking boots and a hiking stick crafted by locals.