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South Africa’s best coastal hikes

South Africans are spoilt for choice when it comes to coastal hiking. On much of its uninhabited coast are trails that expose remarkable scenery and connect you with the rugged and untamed in a way that few other experiences can. Here’s a list of our 3 favourite coastal hikes in South Africa.

Alexandria Trail, Eastern Cape

This is a 36-kilometre, two-day circular hiking trail in the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park that traverses unspoilt indigenous forests, sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and the largest coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere, rewarding hard work with pure magic. It starts at Woody Cape, winds its way through indigenous forest, across the fields of Perdekloof and on to the beach with its dramatic dune fields and gut wrenching scenery.

The Otter Trail, Garden Route

Arguably South Africa’s most famous hiking trail, one that necessitates booking way in advance, the Otter Trail explores the popular Garden Route between Storms River Mouth and Nature’s Valley, in the Tsitsikamma. The Otter Trail, has it all: rough terrain, spectacular scenery, exciting river crossings and idyllic, deserted beaches. Hikers need to be fit as this hiking trail is fairly taxing. The great adventure is crossing the Bloukrans River on the fourth day. Since major floods in 2009, it’s become more challenging and, even in optimal conditions, hikers must swim through surf or take an escape route. Until you’ve got this one under your belt, you’re not a real hiker.

Kosi Bay Trail, Maputaland

This four-day hike explores the northern section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park through diverse and beautiful landscape. The guided slack packing hiking trail at Kosi Bay offers terrain ranging from beach and mangrove forests, grasslands to mysterious waterways. It’s a flexible hike that can be done as a slackpacker and shortened, depending on your needs. Hiking in this spectacular wild paradise offers the chance of spotting humpback whales, dolphins, hippos, leatherback and loggerhead turtles, tiny Suni antelope; Pel’s fishing owls, palmnut vultures and numerous sub-tropical species of birds.

South Africa’s coastline stretches from its border with Namibia in the west, all the way around the tip of Africa until it reaches the border with Mozambique, so you know you’ll be spoilt with choices when it comes to amazing coastal hiking trails. Visit the three on our list to ensure you have the best hiking experience in South Africa.