GETAWAY MAGAZINE - South Africa’s 10 best winter hikes
Posted by Adel Groenewald on 15 June 2012
It might feel like winter is synonymous with staying indoors and watching movies while longing for the days of sunshine and the great outdoors. But what you might not have known is that winter is the best time for hiking in many parts of South Africa.
Especially in summer rainfall regions, winter days are sunny and mild and the chances of afternoon rain showers and thunder are practically non-existent. Even though the mornings and evenings might get a bit chilly, you’ll never have to start hiking at a ridiculous hour to cross rivers at low tide and avoid the scorching mid-day sun.
Check out these 10 ideal winter hikes that will charge you with some much-needed Vitamin D.
1. WILD COAST WALK
Ideal for those who want to experience the beauty of the Transkei’s Wild Coast but without roughing it, this luxury slackpacking trail will supply you with accommodation in family hotels every night. Your luggage will be transported and you can look forward to included breakfast, dinner, and packed lunches to enjoy well taking in this breathtaking coastline.
This 6-day hike starts at Cobb Inn and ends at Chintsa. www.wildcoastwalk.co.za
2. NUM NUM HIKING TRAIL
This self-guided trail takes you across Mpumalanga’s Highveld and will bring you to indigenous forests, sandstone mazes, ancient grasslands and many beautiful waterfalls. Overnight camps are sturdy and equipped with kitchens and piping hot showers to heat you up in the evenings.
This hike is 3-5 days long and situated on the R541 between Machadorp and Badplaas. www.thenum-numtrail.co.za
3. KLIPSPRINGER TRAIL
Aimed at the more experienced hiker, this trail will take you through the beautiful Augrabies Falls National Park. It is particularly ideal for winter, as it’s only open between April and October, just because it’s much too hot in summer. Camps have no showers, but flush toilets, bunk beds and mattresses can be found at each overnight camp.
This 3 day hike cuts across the Augrabies Falls National Park. Find it on SANPark’s website.
4. ZULULAND WALKING SAFARI
Since winter is the best time for wildlife viewing, it is ideal for exploring the Zululand Rhino Reserve on guided day trails. An experienced guide will take you through the bush to see animals like cheetah, hippo, hyena and members of the Big 5. You can even hike from lodge to lodge, exploring a different section of the park every day.
Hikes range from 1 to 3 days and are situated in the Zululand Rhino Reserve in Mkuze. Visit their Facebook page here.
5. ELANDS RIVER TRAIL
Explore the magnificent Limietberg Nature Reserve on this one day trail as you walk along the Elands River. Winter is particularly great for this hike as there will be no rivers to cross and you’ll have the opportunity to try your hand at angling.
6. PONDO EXPLORER HIKING TRAIL
If you’re looking for the full Wild Coast experience, then this trail is ideal. Situated along the northern section of the coastline, you’ll hike along truly rugged terrains and encounter the pristine beauty of the Transkei. Overnight in East African-styled tented camps with fully equipped boma kitchens for self-catering.
7. STAMVRUG HIKING TRAIL
For breathtaking views of the Waterberg, this hike will have you climbing a few steep kopjes, but it will be worth it through and through. Pass vlei-areas, valleys, small indigenous forests and grasslands. Keep your eyes open for the Transvaal Protea and the abundant birdlife.
8. OLIFANTS GORGE
Choose between four trails, all of which are situated in the upper reaches of the Olifants River outside Witbank. The most challenging of the trails are only open in winter months as the river crossings are near impossible in summer. All four hikes promise beautiful views over the Wilger/Olifants River confluence, a large indigenous forest and many rock pools to swim in.
This 2 day hike offers accommodation in self-catering camps. Click here for more information from Anvie Ventures.
9. OYSTERCATCHER TRAIL
Hiking along the Garden Route might not be your first choice in winter, but it will definitely show you a different side to this magnificent section of the South African coast. This slackpacking trail can be either fully catered or you can cater for yourself and you’ll spend the evenings in luxury, yet rustic, Cape cottages, complete with fireplaces to curl up in front of.
This 5 day hike stretches from Mossel Bay to the Gourits River. www.oystercatchertrail.co.za
10. HENNOPS HIKING TRAIL
Offering the Gauteng folk a great weekend escape from the city, this trail will have you exploring some of the less traversed regions near the Hartebeespoortdam. Hiking along the Hennopsriver and crossing some of the nearby mountains, you won’t believe that you’re only 45 minutes away from both Johannesburg and Pretoria.
This 2 day trail is situated 16km from the Hartebeespoortdam and camps have fully-equipped self-catering kitchens, electricity and shared ablution blocks. Click here for more or visit www.trails.co.za.
Courtesy of GETAWAY MAGAZINE