Five of the best hiking trails in Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga is best known for being home to the Kruger National Park. It’s where most tourists flock to for their great South African safari, and where locals run away to for a serene bush holiday. But few may know that there is a lot more to this province than safaris.

The areas surrounding the Kruger National Park feature magnificent mountains and forests, and they offer many adventure activities — from white-water rafting and canyoning to mountain biking, ziplining and quad biking. There are also great hiking trails scattered throughout the province, which range from short, day hikes to longer, several day hikes.

There are also many lesser-known hiking trails near Graskop and along the Panorama route that avid hikers will love. It’s best to base yourself near Sabie, Hazyview or Graskop, depending on which trails interest you. These areas also have a good range of accommodation, going from the budget friendly to more high-end options.

Did you know that some of the oldest rocks on earth can be found in Mpumalanga? These ancient greenstones and metamorphosed granites form the Crocodile River Mountains in the southeast of the province.

Below is a list of popular hiking trails in the region.


1. Belvedere Day Walk

The Belvedere Day Walk is a 10km circular hiking trail to the Belvedere hydroelectric power station. It is fairly strenuous but the views of the Blyde River Canyon during the 400-meter descent to the power station are well worth the effort. The power station, which was built in 1911, is no longer in use but was once the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

You will need to register beforehand to get a permit, which is available between 8am and noon at the Bourke’s Luck Potholes trailhead (R55 per person). There is also an entrance fee of R55.

2. Loerie Trail

The Loerie Trail, one of the most popular day trails in the area, is situated just outside Sabie. You can start the 10km circular route from either the Castle Rock municipal caravan park or the Ceylon forest station. It’s an easy, level trail along the Sabie River, and passes through pine and eucalyptus plantations. You will also pass through some sections of natural forest and grassland.

You will need a permit, obtainable for a nominal fee from Merry Pebbles (next to the caravan park) or from the Lowveld tourism centre in the Main Street, Sabie, where you can also collect a trail map.

3. Fanie Botha

Fanie Botha is one of the longer, several day hiking trails in Mpumalanga. As you trek along the Drakensberg escarpment, you will encounter several waterfalls, such as the Lone Creek and Mac Mac falls.

Some sections can be strenuous, especially in midsummer, so this hike is best done in the autumn or spring months, when it is cooler. There are two-, three- or five-day versions of the hike; the shortest is 17km and the longest is 59km.

4. Graskop Day Trail / Forest Falls Trail

This day trail isn’t as strenuous as many of the others but it still covers a decent distance (13.3km). Starting off at the Graskop hut, it goes through pine and indigenous forests and ends at the Forest Falls. It also takes you across the Mac Mac concrete bridge.

The Forest Falls are relatively wide, with a large pool beneath it, which is a great swimming spot to cool off in after the hike. Tip: remember to pack your swimming clothes!

Before starting the hike, you need to get a permit (it costs R20 a person) at the Graskop information bureau and you will have to sign an indemnity form.

5. Num-Num Trail

This is another multi-day hike. The self-guided route takes three to five days and goes through the vastly diverse terrain — from indigenous forests to sandstone mazes, ancient grasslands and magnificent waterfalls — of the Highland Escarpment. There’s also plenty of wildlife and birds to see along the way. For the less energetic, there is the option of slackpacking (someone else will carry your baggage between the camps).

The trail requires moderate fitness and agility, with a few steep up and down sections when navigating the gorges. The five-day Num Num Hiking trail covers a distance of 36.5km, although there are three- and four-day options. You can get more of the details on its website.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Bridget Langer
Bridget Langer
Freelance travel writer, blogger and business owner (Sparrow Digital).

Related stories

Eskom’s emissions are not compatible with the South African constitution

The government must not cave to Eskom’s demand that it be exempt from air pollution rules. Furthermore, the power utility needs to stay true to the principles of its own just transition strategy

Covid-19 causes Acsa to dust off its begging bowl

The SOE has asked the government for R3.5-billion in extra support over the next three years to offset losses incurred because of the pandemic

Top cop’s state-funded luxury cars

Mpumalanga police commissioner Mondli Zuma has allegedly flouted regulations to purchase a flashy fleet.

Female cops sent for rape counselling

Brigadier Sifiso Cele denies the rape allegations, saying that they are part of a smear campaign and that criminal charges should have been opened if the accusations were true

Load-shedding’s silver lining: Lower levels of sulphur dioxide air pollution

Analysis of Nasa data shows that although SO₂ emissions around the world have fallen by about 6%, the levels are high enough to harm the health of billions of people.

Domestic travel is key to saving the tourism sector

Staying ahead of the digital curve, including local communities in tourism offerings and promoting domestic tourism can help the ailing tourism sector survive and thrive
Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Sudan’s government gambles over fuel-subsidy cuts — and people pay...

Economists question the manner in which the transitional government partially cut fuel subsidies

Traditional healers need new spaces

Proper facilities supported by well-researched cultural principles will go a long way to improving the image and perception of the practice of traditional medicine

Limpopo big-game farmer accused of constant harassment

A family’s struggle against alleged intimidation and failure to act by the authorities mirrors the daily challenges farm dwellers face

Did Botswana execute ‘poachers’ ?

The Botswana Defence Force’s anti-poaching unit has long been accused of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Over 20 years the unit has killed 30 Namibians and 22 Zimbabweans
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…