The Western Cape is hiking country, and multi-day trails offer an escape into the region’s stunning landscapes where shorts, hats and good hiking shoes await. I invite you to buy now in preparation and book to join one of these exceptional events Slackpacking trails that allow you to enjoy the thrill of a multi-day hike without having to carry your heavy packs or set up camp each night.
South Africa has many remarkable slackpacking trails, designed to suit all budgets and fitness levels, with experienced guides who add depth to experiences and ensure safety. The Western Cape is no different. These are the Cape trails that I have done and loved.
Despite being in good physical shape, I realized many years ago that I loved being in nature and hiking, but greatly appreciated not having to carry a heavy pack or set up camp each evening – combining time spent being active outdoors, with a welcome touch of luxury. Fortunately, slackpacking trails meet this requirement with options ranging from basic self-guided hikes with hut-to-hut baggage transfers to more comfortable trails with cabin or guesthouse accommodations, and even luxurious experiences.
This means I can venture deep into unexplored areas during the day and enjoy the comfort of a warm bed, fresh clothes and a delicious meal prepared for me in the evening. These slackpacking trails combine the scenic wonders of the region with exceptional value within a wide range of landscapes. They pass through forests, valleys and shores, even UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves, with exceptional birdlife, small game if you’re lucky and an introduction to the incredible floral kingdom gradually.
These slackpacking trails are guided by a private guide with extensive specialist knowledge. You will be transported to and from departure and arrival points, and your luggage will be transferred between overnight locations. At the Diversity Trail you stay in one place for four nights, which is a wonderful aspect. Best of all, a delicious meal and choice of drinks await you at the end of each day of hiking.
1. The diversity trail, Overberg
Trail duration: 4 nights / 5 days, fully supported and guided
For those looking for a multi-faceted adventure celebrating the rich cultural multiplicity of the Western Cape, the Diversity Trail is a remarkable choice. The trail’s name speaks to the emphasis on inclusiveness, and you’ll encounter a variety of landscapes, from lush forests to rolling vineyards. The Diversity Trail is not just about discovering the beauty of nature; it’s a journey that immerses you in the multi-faceted culture and history of the Western Cape. Throughout this five-day, 40km hiking journey through untouched fynbos, into secret forests and along the ancient coastlines of the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy. Groups set their own pace and distances can be adjusted based on interests and abilities.
The Diversity Trail is led by FGASA registered professional guide Christoff Longland, who has a wealth of knowledge about the region’s history, natural wonders, stunning landscapes and remarkable ecology. The all-inclusive package includes accommodation at the beautiful Bellavista Country Place and a guided tour of the Grootbos Florilegium botanical art exhibition at the Hannarie Wenhold Botanical Art Gallery in the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. A visit to the world-famous archaeological site of Klipgat Cave is included, as is the chance to see an incredible display of whales frolicking just off the coast in season.
2. The Fynbos Trail, Overberg
Trail duration: 3 days / 2 nights, fully supported and guided (flexible)
The Fynbos Trail is a unique natural experience in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom that can be undertaken as a fully guided and catered slackpacking trail, or as a self-guided and catered trail. This trail, near Hermanus in the Overberg, offers a two, three or four night option and takes hikers along a beautiful route through coastal and montane fynbos, as well as isolated forests. Highlights include visits to local archaeological sites, exploring the exceptional diversity, threats and ecological wonders of the fynbos and forests, farm hospitality, locally sourced meals and expert guides. The company supports local conservation and social improvement projects through partnerships with the Grootbos Foundation; Flower Valley Conservation Trust and Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy. By walking the trail, you directly contribute to the conservation of the region and the improvement of local communities. The fully guided Premium option is highly recommended, with the add-on option during whale season.
3. Green Mountain Trail, Elgin Valley
Trail Duration: Trail Duration: 4 nights / 5 days, fully supported and guided
The Green Mountain Trail is a four-day route with daily distances measuring between 11 and 18 kilometers to reach a total of 60 kilometers. Staying at Wildekrans Country House, you enjoy first-class hospitality and are led by professionally trained guides with in-depth knowledge of the area. Travel through the pristine fynbos-covered landscape, partly in the beautiful Greenlandberg section of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve and partly on private land. Enjoy stunning views of the vast Overberg region, including Theewaterskloof Dam, the rolling mountains of Houw Hoek and down to Hermanus and Walker Bay. This area is a hiker’s paradise with an abundance of fynbos, 1900 plant species, over 200 bird species and numerous antelopes. In warm weather, stopping to swim in the rock pools and farm dams is an obligatory delight. Rich in history, the area’s family farms date back to the 1700s and 1800s. All landowners are members of the Green Mountain Eco Route, the world’s first biodiverse wine route, and participate in the region’s efforts to preserve the environment and promote responsible tourism. All members are champions of the Biodiversity Wine Initiative.
As part of the trail’s social responsibility program, hikers are encouraged to Walk with an Alien, a project in which a personalized cane is carved from alien vegetation by local communities.
4. The Chokka Trail – St Francis Bay
Trail duration: 4 days/3 nights, fully supported and guided
The Chokka Trail is located in the Kouga region of the Eastern Province, just an hour’s drive west of Port Elizabeth, between Oyster Bay, St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis. Here, main attractions include three picturesque fishing villages, a rugged coastline, endless sand dunes, a tidal river, protected fynbos, wetlands and a visit to South Africa’s only private working port. South. The Chokka Trail covers a 62 km route, offering a completely different look at this part of the coastline. Since the Chokka Trail launched a decade ago, hundreds of hikers have headed out on this four-day trek that takes you through parts of the coastal cradle of humanity and offers the chance to spot whales in season , dolphins, otters and small game. like the duiker and bushbuck. It includes tours of the chokka processing factory and chokka tasting, as well as a visit to the Eastern Cape coastal bird rescue center SANCCOB.
5. Oystercatcher Trail, Mossel Bay
Trail duration: 4 days/3 nights, fully supported and guided
One of the first established slacking trails in South Africa, the Oystercatcher Trail is a stunning coastal walk, varying from cliff paths to spectacular beaches and sand dunes. The hike is generally easy and extends over moderate distances, although a good level of fitness is recommended. Hikers return to the same accommodation each evening after hiking a different part of the coast. There is an interesting variation in flora and landscape and evenings are spent chatting, enjoying the excellent evening meal and getting a good night’s sleep in well appointed accommodation. The route takes you from the mouth of the Gourits River via Kanon and Fransmanshoek Conservancy on the first day, and you will finish at the Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse in Mossel Bay on the fourth day. One of the trail’s distinctive features is its emphasis on birds, particularly the endangered African black oystercatcher. As you hike the Oystercatcher Trail, you’ll pass quaint fishing villages and learn about the area’s rich cultural history. Accommodation is in well-appointed and fully equipped coastal establishments.
Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking for an escape into nature, these Cape Town-based slackpacking trails and the luxury that surrounds them provide an experience that will stay with you long after the trip is over.
While recently enjoying the diversity trail in the Overberg.
**Top photo courtesy of Green Mountain Trails.
**This post is made possible by Superbalist – who understands the needs of travelers. Mine in particular.