South Africans are spoilt for choice when it comes to breathtaking scenery. Having said this, some of the best views are only accessible by foot. Here are 8 epic views in South Africa you have to hike to get to.
The famous whale-watching town near Cape Town is even more beautiful when seen from above. Take a short hike up Fernkloof Nature Reserve, situated in the Kleinrivier Mountains. During the walk keep an eye out for tiny chameleons, hummingbirds and, of course, curious dassies (rock hyrax). You’ll walk among indigenous flora, including proteas, the South African national flower. From the top of the reserve, the bay is spread out as far as the eye can see.
The Tsitsikamma National Park, which forms part of the Garden Route National Park, offers magical views from just about any angle. The park includes a marine reserve, deep gorges and local vegetation and is ideal for hiking. The Mouth Trail leads to the working suspension bridge over Storms River Mouth, from where you’ll have panoramic views of the surrounds.
Table Mountain National Park has become an iconic Cape Town site and the new seventh Natural Wonder of the World. The massive park boasts tons of hiking trails suitable for all levels of fitness. Whichever you choose, the view from the top promises to be nothing short of mesmerising.
The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is known for its rolling hills, Khoisan rock paintings and views of the Drakensberg Mountains. The park can be explored by car but it’s only when you step out of your vehicle and into the wilderness that you complete the experience. The Brandwag Buttress is a short route at only 2.4 km (1.49 mi) both ways – there’s one small climb to reach the top and then follow the breathtaking views.
Although there are many viewpoints in this area, a hiking trail leads the more adventurous to lesser-known spots unreachable by car. The hike should be booked at least three weeks in advance, and attractions include Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the God’s Window escarpment, amazing vegetation and rich bird life.
The Otter Trail is one of the most popular in South Africa, and those who have had the pleasure of hiking it will attest to the amazing views. The five-day trail starts at the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp and continues through the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park.
Most hiking routes in the Drakensberg Mountains are found in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, and all visitors need permits to trek them. Depending on your level of fitness, you can take on the Thabana Ntlenyana trail, which leads to the highest point in Africa south of Kilimanjaro. Needless to say, the views are out of this world.
The Blyde River Canyon is known as the world’s largest ‘green canyon’. The famous route, home to many waterfalls, is a birders paradise and one of the best ways to experience it is to walk the Hippo Trail. It’s an 18 km trail that leads through some of the most scenic parts of the canyon, and if you’re lucky you’ll even spot a hippo.