Family hiking trails in South Africa

Jacqueline Freer 01 August 2012
Part of the South Africa Safari Collection
Back to the Our Blog

Home to some of the world’s most famous mountains, South Africa is where we will find a fantastic combination of overnight camping treks, game lodge weekend walks, week long adventures as well as half day and full day hikes. Trails vary in distance, time and location, some are more challenging than others. Many of the half day and full day hiking trails on the map are practically perfect in every way for daytime outdoor family fun.

Table Mountain

Above: Table Mountain hiking trail in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Crschmidt)

One of the most popular tourist destinations in South Africa, Table Mountain is any adventuring family’s idea of a great day out providing the opportunity to explore this natural wonder on a selection of half day and full day hikes. Table Mountain hiking offers some of the best trails in South Africa with over 70 tracks at varying levels of difficulty, not all of which are suitable for novice and family hiking outings.

The most popular trail to the top is Kasteelspoort which offers hikers a stunning view overlooking Camps Bay. Keep in mind, though, that this is quite a work out. If you are looking for something a little less challenging and with a little more level ground the Pipe Track is a popular choice. Direct ascents from the city side are limited due to steep cliffs around the summit. The mountain attracts thousands of visitors year after year and the panoramic view from the top make it easy to see why.

Longer routes to the summit go via the Back Table from the Southern Suburbs side starting at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens up Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge to MaClear's Beacon. The trail from Skeleton Gorge to Maclear's Beacon is known as Smuts Track in memory of Jan Smuts, who was a keen hiker. Lower slopes of the mountain can be accessed from Constantia Nek, Newlands Forest, Kirstenbosch, Cecilia Park, and Rhodes Memorial. Table Mountain is a fantastic family hiking option.


Above: The Drakensberg. Photo by Wild About Travel

The historic Drakensberg range was named by early European settlers who drove ox wagons up and down the mountain passes, the name means "Dragon Mountains" in Dutch. A popular location on the map attracting local and international guests offering visitors to the Drakensberg Mountain range good winter skiing, log cabin fires, summer time game viewing weekends and shorter up and down daytime hiking pleasures. The Drakensberg is home to some of the top hiking trails in South Africa.

There are a few great over night and daytime hiking trails open on the mountain range. One in particular makes for great family hiking. Rainbow Gorge is an easy 11 kilometres from the Cathedral Peak Hotel or conservation office following the Ndumeni River into a narrow little gorge where running waters trickle down the side of the mountain creating rainbows like magic.

Located in the Royal Natal Park we find Ploughman's Kop trail which forms part of the larger Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park. The starting point is at Mahai camp at the foot of the natural Amphitheatre, an attraction in its own right. The hike is a short seven kilometers stopping by stunning swimming holes on your way to the top. The Drakensberg’s striking beauty, warm friendly people and unspoilt natural environment makes it a captivating mountain range to visit and explore.


Above: Cederberg hiking trail. Photo by SA-Venues

Focusing on sustainability, the Cederberg Conservancy was established in 1997 as a voluntary agreement entered in by local land owners in an effort to manage and conserve the ecosystems and natural environment. There are a total of 22 properties from the central Cederberg that make up the conservancy making up the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor that is famous for the bushman paintings found in the area. The Cederberg gives you a feeling of spirit deeply rooted amongst the wonders of wildlife and telling stories of the ancient Koi San tribes of South Africa.

The conservancy is home to the Clanwilliam Cedar Tree and offers refuge to the rare Cape Leopard while visitors can choose from a selection of overnight hiking trails that range between overnight adventure hikes and five nights on the trail, depending on your level of fitness and ability. The conservancy allows for shorter daytime hikes which are perfect for those fun family adventure hiking expeditions ranging between one and eight hours of easy walking.

Hiking in the Cederberg caters to various levels of fitness and is limited to a maximum of 12 people per group preserving the footprint on the mountain and keeping conservation top of mind. The Cederberg hiking trails in South Africa come highly recommended, steeped in history and without a doubt one of the most beautiful regions and mountain ranges in the country. The Cederberg Conservancy is the perfect place for quality time with the family in awe of nature’s flawless beauty.


Above: View on a Magaliesberg hike. Photo by Karmor

The Uitkyk hiking trail on the Magaliesberg Mountains overlooking Hartebeespoort Dam is one of South Africa’s most popular family hiking trails. Uitkyk has been in the Rissik family for several generations, with sustainability and conservation being the prime focus of the family who have a passion for preservation and understand the importance of taking time out with the people you love.

The trail is well laid out and marked, boasting some spectacular views of the mountain range and the dam below. The trail starts off from a fenced car parking area on Rissik estate and descends to cross under the main road and then starts the ascent to the mountain tops. The ascent is quite steep in places and can be quite tough especially when the weather is hot.

The trail can take up to five hours to finish making it a great Sunday hike for the family. Being close to Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rustenburg and in the back yard for those at Hartebeespoort Dam it’s an easy drive there and back giving you plenty of time to take in the scenic mountains during your hike, the view from the top is well worth the walk. One of the best family hiking trails in South Africa.

South Africa is an absolutely magnificent and utterly breathtaking country offering landscape loving locals and visitors from around the world the opportunity to get up close and personal with Mother Nature as a family. Go exploring and spend the morning, the afternoon or the entire day discovering some of the country’s best hiking trails on offer. After you're done tackling one of the great hiking trails listed above as a family, how about making sure your vacation is one of the best family holidays in South Africa by visiting the countries most family friendly attractions and destinations.

Some related info

Your South Africa whale-watching guide 2018

June to October may be the low season in Cape Town, but there’s never any want for things to do. One of the most exciting and celebratory events is the annual passing of whales along the coastline of South Africa. There is something so magical about seeing these enormous creatures breaching, tail-slapping and blowing as they make their journey through the wonderous ocean. Cape Town and…

The largest ‘twitch’ in Southern Africa

"Don’t even consider going down for this one" The birding world was turned upside down when on the 17 July 2016,  a group of specialist birders encountered a bird on the way to the Strandfontein Sewage Works. It was located at the Zeekoevlei picnic area, on the eastern banks of Zeekoevlei in Cape Town, South Africa.   The bird did not fit any of the descriptions in local reference books…

Five South African national parks to explore in 2018

South Africa is one of the most desirable travel destinations for those who are looking for something a little different in a safari. With world-class cities, a rich history spanning centuries and some of the most beautiful wildlife destinations on the planet, a safari in South Africa should inspire you to explore the differing landscape of our most valued assets; our national…

Six must-have mobile apps to download before your trip to South Africa

We live in a world where technology has simplified most things. Whether you are on Android or iPhone platform, it is now possible to access a whole world of possibilities. In this article, we explore some of the apps that you need to download especially if you are planning a South Africa safari:   1. NightSky     This application has been developed by a UK based company called…

Kleenex Flower Route is blooming awesome

Spring has sprung and the West Coast is a riot of pollen and colour. Two things are always around, when a spread of stunning flowers are in blossom: 1. Tourists with cameras and, 2. Hayfever. So who better to team up with West Coast Tourism, Northern Cape Tourism and Cape Town Tourism than Kleenex? The Kleenex Flower Route runs from the Western Cape to Springbok, with a display of…

Eight packing tips for your next Kruger National Park safari

The Kruger National Park is undeniably the largest game reserve in South Africa and one of the largest in Africa. Spanning for approximately 20 000 square kilometres, Kruger has various travel and accommodation options to suit various budgets. Here are eight tips to ensure you have the best African experience possible regardless of your budget.   Pack the right clothing Pack…

You Might Also Like

 | Kruger to the Mozambican coast

Kruger to the Mozambican coast

Combining the bush and the wildlife found in the famous Sabi Sand in the Kruger National Park with a tropical stay in one of the sublime lodges of Mozambique's Ponta Mamoli...

 | Luxury South Africa to Zimbabwe safari

Luxury South Africa to Zimbabwe safari

Spot the Big Five in Thornybush Private Game Reserve and enjoy the majesty of Zimbabwe's roaring Victoria Falls ...

 | Blissful 4-day Kruger Safari

Blissful 4-day Kruger Safari

Experience luxury in the Kruger Park ...

 | Luxury Cape Town and Kruger Safari

Luxury Cape Town and Kruger Safari

Explore two of South Africa's most desirable locations in this whirlwind safari tour...