If you are a nature lover, you probably already know that the Lowveld offers some of the best outdoor adventure activities and scenic landscapes in South Africa. There is of course no better way to experience its spectacular forests and mountains, natural waterfalls and diverse plant and animal life, than by exploring it by foot.
With more and more day- and overnight hiking trails opening every year, it is clear that hiking is becoming one of Mpumalanga’s most popular tourist attractions – and for good reason.
While there are hundreds of hiking trails on offer in the Lowveld, lasting anything from several hours to several days, here is but a few ones we like to recommend to our guests.
Blyderivierspoort Hiking Trail
The Blyderivierspoort hiking trail is arguably one of the most beautiful trails in the Lowveld as it runs through the third largest canyon in the world – The Blyde River Canyon. This trail is marked by spectacular views, diverse fauna and flora and a variety of animal life.
The trail is 60km long and starts at God’s Window and ends at Bourke’s Luck. Conquering this trail will take you three to five days as it can be adapted depending on your preference.
Queen Rose Hiking Trail
Tucked away in the Nelshoogte Forest Reserve between Barberton and eManzana (Badplaas), the Queen Rose trail is naturally designed to provide one of the best up-and-down hiking experiences with breathtaking views and interaction with fauna and flora.
The two-day, 26km hike takes you amongst the mountains of the eastern escarpment where the Queens and Montrose rivers meet, through indigenous forests, over mountain passes, through the Montrose timber plantation and along the Queens River.
While wildlife and the 350+ species of bird found in the area is enough attraction for animal lovers, the 20 river crossings, a suspension bridge, a foefie slide and a number of natural pools ensure this trail in packed with enough adventure for the wild at heart, too.
Fanie Botha Hiking Trail
The Fanie Botha Hiking Trail is situated in the Sabie area in Mpumalanga, and is considered by many to be one of the best trails in South Africa and should be high on every hiker’s bucket list.
While this trail is especially favoured by bird lovers, the unique forest vegetation and natural water features will leave all kinds of adventurers in awe of its beauty. It does contain its fair share of strenuous sections, so proper training beforehand is necessary to ensure you fully enjoy the hike.
A highlight of this trail is the spectacular 70 metre high Mac-Mac and Lone Creek Falls, that is often considered as a once-in-a-lifetime experience by new and experienced hikers alike.
The Fanie Botha Hiking Trail has various trail options ranging from two – to five-night trails. The shortest route on this trail is 17,1km and the longest route is 58,8km.
Various Day Hikes
If you have limited time on your hands and are only interested in day hikes, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) hiking trails, such as the Belvedere Day Hike from Bourke’s Luck is a great option. This full-day hike include steep downhills that lead to the beautiful Dientjie Falls at the foot of the Blyde River Canyon, where wildlife is abundant. The Bourke’s Luck area also offers a number of day trails.
Another option for day hikers is the newly-reinvented Jock of the Bushveld Day Hike, running along the edge of the escarpment, taking in Paradise Camp from the famous book “Jock of the Bushveld” and offering great bird sightings along the banks of the many beautiful streams.
Sabie offers the popular Bridal Veil hike, a gentle wander along the Sabi River to this popular waterfall, with some challenging detours for the more adventurous, and the walk to the Forest Falls, known for being the only falls in Mpumalanga to be wider than they are high.
The Kruger National Park offers numerous trails with possibly the most exciting being the opportunity to backpack the length of the park in a rigorous hike, broken up into 100-kilometre sections. The SANParks Honorary Rangers are offering this as a chance to ‘Follow in the Footsteps of the Giants’.
Source: Kruger Lowveld Tourism