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!

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About lunny06

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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