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The Amathole Hiking Trail, Eastern Cape

The 6 day 100km long Amathole Hiking Trail starts near Kings Williams Town and ends at Hogsback in the Amatola Mountains. This trail has been voted the best in South Africa by Getaway Magazine, and is undoubtedly one of the toughest trails as well as one of the most beautiful, descending and ascending through steep, lushly forested valleys and up to the flower strewn grasslands and peaks of the Amatola Range for each of the full 5 days of hiking.

The trail is rated as difficult, although there are various paths that can be taken within the overall hut to hut routes, some easier than others. You need to be very fit for this trail, with excellent boots, a strong back to carry all your provisions, and a healthy sense of the aesthetic to spur you on at times. When the going gets tough, the beauty of the forests, scenic mountain views and the many waterfalls and pools will keep you going.

This is a self-guide trail. Routes and maps are provided by DWAF – the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry – and yes, you have to take everything with you, all your bedding, cookware, plates, cups and utensils as well as cold weather gear (be prepared for snow – at certain times of the year you can experience blazing heat and freezing temperatures over the 6 day trail). This trail therefore requires careful planning to keep weight down to a minimum. There really will be no room for extras. Unless you have been weight training, don’t even think about luxuries, but don’t forget your swimming costume for the beautiful rock pools.

Overnight accommodation is provided in huts that range from basic to very basic with bunks and mattresses provided. There are hot water geysers but no guarantee they are working (and that’s out of the horse’s mouth from the person who answered the phone at DWAF).

For trail, pre and post hike accommodation information and bookings, call the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry on 043 642 2571 or email at

Getting there: The trail starts at Maden Dam near King Williams Town but ends 3km from Hogsback, so you will need to split up the transport within your group. DWAF will provide you with details of starting and finishing points and directions.

An in-depth account of the Amatola Hiking Trail.

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