The Best Day Hikes Around South Africa

by | Jun 6, 2023 | Travel

South Africa is a land of incredible natural beauty, offering a diverse range of landscapes and breathtaking trails for hiking enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner seeking adventure, there is something for everyone. After gathering input from the WH Community, we’ve compiled a list of the top-voted day hikes in South Africa.

Benefits Of Hiking

Physical Fitness

Hiking is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that regular hiking can improve aerobic fitness and lower body strength.

Mental Health

Spending time in nature and engaging in physical activity through hiking has been linked to numerous mental health benefits. A study found that individuals who walked in nature experienced reduced activity in the brain associated with depression compared to those who walked in urban environments.

12 Best Day Hiking Spots In SA

From the Western Cape to Kwa-Zulu Natal and beyond, let’s explore the best trails that will immerse you in the beauty of this remarkable country.

Western Cape

Jonkershoek Panorama Circuit

Distance: Approximately 17km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Moderate to Difficult. The trail involves steep ascents and descents, requiring a reasonable level of fitness.

Located in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve near Stellenbosch, the Panorama Circuit is a captivating hike that winds through majestic mountains and lush valleys. This trail offers awe-inspiring vistas and an opportunity to witness the region’s unique flora and fauna.

Wolfkop Nature Reserve Trail

Distance: Approximately 10km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Moderate. The trail has some moderate ascents and descents.

Situated in the Citrusdal Mountains, the Wolfkop Nature Reserve Trail offers a scenic and tranquil hiking experience. As you explore this route, you’ll encounter sparkling waterfalls, towering cliffs and an abundance of fynbos, the indigenous vegetation that paints the landscape with vibrant colours. #WishYouWereHere

Diepwalle Elephant Trails

Distance: Varies from short walks to longer hikes, ranging from 7km to 9km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Easy to Moderate, depending on the chosen trail.

Located in the indigenous forests of Knysna, Diepwalle Elephant Trails presents an enchanting hike that combines natural beauty with historical significance. These scenic pathways meander through the Knysna Forest, revealing captivating streams and lush greenery. Follow in the footsteps of woodcutters past, surrounded by the grandeur of ancient Outeniqua Yellowwoods.

Lion’s Head

Distance: Approximately 5km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Moderate. While the hike does involve some steep sections, it is generally accessible to hikers with a moderate fitness level.

For a thrilling and accessible adventure, Lion’s Head in Cape Town is a must-visit. With its panoramic views of the city, Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, this trail rewards hikers with unforgettable views. Climbing Lion’s Head is a popular activity, especially at sunrise or sunset, when the views are simply breathtaking.

READ MORE: 3 Things To Look For When Buying A Hiking Backpack


Cradle Moon Lakeside

Distance: 8-12km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Easy. The trail is relatively flat and suitable for hikers of all fitness levels.

Nestled in the heart of Gauteng, the Cradle Moon Lakeside trail offers a serene and picturesque hiking experience. As you meander through the trail, you’ll encounter tranquil lakes, rolling hills and an abundance of wildlife. This hike provides a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The recommended trail by AllTrails is the green trail (8.2km and 221 m Elevation Gain).

Hennops Hiking Trail

Distances: 2km, 5km and 10km.

Fitness Level/Intensity: Moderate. The trail has river crossings and some rocky terrain.

Located in the Hennops River Valley near Pretoria, the Hennops Hiking Trail is a scenic and diverse trail that caters to hikers of all levels. The Krokodilberg Trail takes you through river crossings, historic sites and rocky terrain, offering a blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.


Suikerboschfontein Hiking Trail

Distance: 2.5-8km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Moderate. The trail has some ascents and descents, suitable for hikers with a moderate fitness level.

The Suikerboschfontein Hiking Trail presents an exceptional outdoor adventure that beckons hikers to share in its splendour and return time and time again. Along the trails, you can immerse yourself in a wealth of diverse experiences, from exploring ancient ruins to marvelling at captivating rock art.

“In the words of TLC: Don’t go chasing waterfalls… Believe me, with this hike, you want to! This was one of the BEST hikes I’ve ever been on. Every corner was filled with adventure and rich history.”

Chamain van Zyl, Digital Editor

Queen Rose Hiking Trail

Distance: Approximately 14km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Difficult. The trail includes challenging sections and steep ascents, requiring a good level of fitness and hiking experience.

This renowned trail, located just 30km from Baberton, invites nature enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the mystic beauty of the Nelshoogte Forest Reserve. Starting from the Queen’s River Adventure Camp, the trail offers a range of scenic routes that meander through river crossings, pools and enchanting wooden bridges, while traversing the charm of both pine and natural forests.

READ MORE: Top 5 Must-Haves For A Hike, Or Any Outdoorsy Activity Really

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Tugela Falls Hike via Sentinel Peak

Distance: Approximately 12km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Difficult. The trail involves steep ascents and rocky terrain.

For those seeking an adrenaline-pumping adventure, the Tugela Falls Hike via Sentinel Peak in the Drakensberg Mountains is a dream come true. This hike takes you to the world’s second-highest waterfall (it descends an astonishing 948m from the Mont-Aux-Sources plateau to the valley below), offering awe-inspiring views and an unforgettable experience in the rugged mountains.

Tugela Gorge Trails

Distance: Approximately 15km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Difficult. The trail involves steep ascents, rocky terrain and some scrambling.

Situated in the Royal Natal National Park, the Tugela Gorge Trails provide a spectacular journey through one of South Africa’s most scenic landscapes. Hikers can explore deep gorges, sparkling rivers and towering cliffs, with the highlight being the cascading Tugela Falls, the highest waterfall in Africa.

Eastern Cape

Storms River Mouth Trail

Distance: Approximately 3.8km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Easy. The trail is relatively short and mostly flat, suited for hikers of all fitness levels.

Located in the Garden Route National Park, the Storms River Mouth Trail is a coastal gem that offers a unique hiking experience. This trail leads you along dramatic cliffs, through indigenous forests and across suspension bridges, culminating in breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and the Indian Ocean.

Blue Duiker Trail in the Tsitsikamma National Park

Distance: Approximately 7.5km

Fitness Level/Intensity: Suitable for hikers with a moderate fitness level.

Another captivating trail within the Tsitsikamma National Park is the Blue Duiker Trail. As you venture through this forested route, you’ll encounter ancient trees, diverse birdlife and the tranquillity of nature. The trail provides an immersive experience in one of South Africa’s most cherished natural wonders.

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