Smorgasbord of South African Beauty – Fanie Botha Hiking Trail

100_1062This is planned to be a pictorial perspective of a beautiful New Year hike I did in the NE of South Africa therefore I will try not to ramble on but let the pictures do the talking…

Background: needed a hike in some form of nature after having been the circus / zoo animal on display in Uganda and Rwanda for 6 months, also my favourite way to disconnect with the world and simplify everything down and let me thinking and creative juices flow…

The simple facts:

  • 115km of hiking
  • 3 days and 3 nights
  • Over 2500m of elevation gain (and I presume that means loss as well since I started and finished in the same place 😉
  • Mix of mountains, rain forest, waterfalls, pools, ridges, creeks, pine plantations, long grasses and more!
  • Starting/end point: the town of Sabie (few hundred kms from Jo’burg and Pretoria in NE South Africa)

To kick off this hike I caught the 8pm train from Pretoria arriving in Nelspruit at 4.30am for sunrise and then hitched / caught a taxi bus to Sabie. Waited half an hour for the shops to open and got a few food supplies then it was a 4km walk to get to the start of the trail. I was on the trail by 9.30am!

Day 1 – 26km Sabie to first hut and onto second hut (Section 1 and 2)

  • 8km – forest roads (hot and boring);
  • 10km – virgin rain forest with many river crossings and over 800m elevation gain (adventurous and spectacular);
  • 8km – open plateau walk with animals and hills as the backdrop (inspiring);
  • Stayed in the Stables Hut – full of facilities and cold at night, even pulled out the beanie

Day 2 – 35km Stables Hut to Mac Mac Hut to Graskop Hut and another hour beyond (Section 3, 4 and 5km of section 5)

  • 5km – up forest road to ridge (boring but nice views)
  • 11km – ridge walk, descent, virgin forest, accent to Mt Moodie, descent, virgin forest, Mac Mac hut (tough, interesting, beautiful)
  • 14km – forest roads and descent to outskirts of Graskop town (boring, easy and relaxing)
  • 5km – forest roads, pine forest, disused railway line, virgin forest, open marsh, pine forest (varied, great views and fun)
  • Wilderness camp in the pine forest on the edge of an open field

Day 3 – 42km wilderness camp to Mac Mac Pools and Falls to Presidents Hut to Mac Mac Hut to Stables Hut (Section 5, Link B, Section 3 in reverse)

  • 5km – Rain forest and descent (ate 000’s of spider webs and tough hiking – great!)
  • 4km – Rain forest accent (still 000’s more spider webs [and spiders], sweaty central, alive)
  • 5km – Mac Mac pools and Mac Mac falls (wow!)
  • 5km – forest roads, railway line and hut (eat and stretch)
  • 6km – accent to Mac Mac Hut through forest roads and pine forest (nice enough)
  • 16km – same as first 16km on day 2 but in opposite direction, still with two big accents and descents (knackered but enthused by variety and beauty)
  • Stayed in Stables Hut once again but not as cold this evening

Early Morning Day 4 – 14km hike out back to Sabie town (Link A)

  • 10km – all downhill, lost the trail so followed forest roads
  • 4km – road from start of trail back into town and back before 9am (technically 72 hours – 3 days)

The only other thing worth mentioning was I didn’t carry any cooking materials with me and just took a jar fish paste, little cream cheese squares and a loaf of bread with some big ginger bread/biscuit type things – proved to be the right kind of fuel for a lot of walking!

A wonderful hike – well maintained, easy to follow, varied, great facilities and they even gave me the best possible weather without a drop of rain in the middle of the rainy season but the most remarkable thing was I didn’t see ONE other person on the entire trail…?

Fanie Botha Hiking Trail map

Be sure to get on this trail and visit this region – a wonderful playground and smorgasbord of South African Beauty!

About Living Geo d'Arcy

Experiences are the richest thing in life. Love them and live them.
This entry was posted in 2014 Life, Travels and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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