Information for hikers in Southern Africa
Where hikers can interact and help each other, as a community.
Trails are grouped into four main types generally based on certain characteristics such as length and difficulty, the type of equipment that may be carried, the educational value and the experience of the trailist.
1) NATURE TRAILS
These are self guided trails of an educational nature. The trailist may be supplied with educational material such as a brochure indicating ecological and historical features of the area. The trails may run through botanical gardens or even parts of the town itself.
This type of trail may often be completed in less than a day.
An example of this type of trail is the Elephant Walk in the Diepwalle State Forest of the Southern Cape.
2) WILDERNESS TRAILS
A "Wilderness Trail" is generally accepted locally as being a walk guided by a game ranger or rangers who are armed with rifles. The reason for the firearms is that this type of trail often passes through areas rich in big game animals, some of whom are potentially dangerous. The rangers fulfill the position of educators, explaining the ecology of the area.
These trails are not too physically demanding but have a great environmental educational value and can extend over several days although some may be shorter.
The Okavango Trail in Botswana is an example of this type of trail.
3) BACKPACKING/HIKING TRAILS
These trails are fairly well worn due to their popularity and are generally well marked either by the painting of a "footprint" or of an animal or bird associated with the area.
The trails may be two or more days long and the hiker must carry his food and clothing for the duration of the hike in a rucksack or backpack.
Usually overnight accomodation is provided in the form of rustic huts containing bunk beds and a foam rubber mattress.
This type of trail does not normally have a guide or game ranger accompanying the trailist who is usually supplied with detailed maps or brochures of the area.
The trails differ widely in their levels of difficulty, with steep climbs and descents, river crossings and long stretches of rugged terrain to be negotiated.
An example of this type of trail is the Soutpansberg Hiking Trail in the Northern Province.
The difference between mountaineering and hiking is that the mountaineer sets off into mountainous areas which do not have well defined paths.
Mountaineering varies from simple rock climbing to strenuous and difficult ascents and descents over rock or ice where the use of ropes, pitons and other safety equipment are absolutely essential.
A constant watch must be maintained on the weather which can often change rapidly in mountainous areas.
Besides being good climbers, mountaineers should be experienced in outdoor survival and first aid techniques and should also be able to read a map and use a compass.
The mountains of the Drakensberg (see photo below) are a good example of the type of area for this particular activity.
We intend providing TRAIL REPORTS that provide as much information as we can obtain about the various trails, including....
Since there are more than 1000 trails in South Africa alone (and trails are constantly opening up and closing down), we obviously can't provide comprehensive TRAIL REPORTS for all of them, completely & accurately, overnight.
So, initially, we will provide whatever information we can obtain - and expand it as more becomes available - in a DATABASE OF TRAIL INFO.
This database will be accessible sorted in various ways, to facilitate finding particular types of trails in particular areas.
As we get more extensive information about a particular trail, we will feature it in the more comprehensive TRAIL REPORTS section.
We have to begin with what info. we have to start with, and increase the coverage over time, correcting info. as we hear about changes.
So, we are dependant on YOUR HELP to
TRAIL OWNERS in particular can help us to keep info. about your trails accurate and up-to-date, by filling in missing info. & letting us know about changes, PLEASE. At least most of the above-mentioned information would be greatly appreciated - we can always add a few missing items later. A few photos, while not essential, would make a huge difference.
Obviously, we can accept no responsibility for any consequences if you discover changes from the info. we provide.
So, PLEASE CONFIRM the information that is of importance to you with the TRAIL OWNERS or their agents, when booking. Then let us know if you discover changes, so we can update the info. to help your fellow hikers.
Again, if you can think of other aspects of universal importance concerning trails, please CONTACT US.
The database will include links to these trail reports and to the photo galleries showcasing each featured trail, as they become available.