Best Hikes in Africa
Hiking is one of those fantastic outdoor activities that anyone can do. It’s all about getting into nature and enjoying the view at a nice leisurely pace. Some people like a more vigorous experience and this involves trekking through some incredibly rugged terrain and reaching some pretty amazing altitudes. The world is full of hiking trails and one continent that has a lot to offer the hiking enthusiast is Africa. Here you can experience mountains, forests, jungles and deserts. And the variety of wildlife you may encounter only serves to make hiking all that more amazing.
Africa is a continent with a lot to offer hikers, so choosing the perfect place to hike is never going to be easy. Some are ideal for hiking novices, while others require a little more experience. To help you narrow down your choices for the best hikes in Africa, we’ll look at 10 of the most impressive locations to get you out in the wild.
1. Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Not for the faint-hearted, Mt Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak. Getting to the top requires a great degree of physical fitness and experience in hiking at high altitudes. For those who are medically and physically fit enough to hike this iconic mountain, the views alone are worth the effort. On your way up to the peak, you’ll pass through seven different climatic zones so pack extra hiking socks. The beauty of Kilimanjaro is that you can hike any time of the year. Just keep in mind that some months are more comfortable than others and if you choose a season that is not so touristy, you won’t encounter too much human traffic. Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones. Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, but Kibo, the highest of the three, is dormant which means it can still erupt. However, the last minor eruption was around 200 years ago, so you should be pretty safe, and the view from the top is something you won’t need a camera to remember.
2. Rwenzori Mountains, Democratic Republic of Congo / Uganda
The Rwenzori Mountains are a mountain range separating the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. There is so much you can explore here. Not only do you get to experience jungles and mountains but glaciers as well. Locals at Ruboni and Turaco will show you around the different trails and there are many different trails to choose from, so you can trek for a couple of hours, or spend the entire day exploring. You can also make a whole vacation out of hiking as some of the trails take several days to complete. The local communities really get involved here and are more than happy to show tourists and hikers the secret trails only they know about. You can take a rather long hike through the Bwamba Pass which will take you over the Rwenzori ranges. This is one of the steeper hikes you can take. The scenery is amazing and the people incredibly friendly.
3. Siemen Mountains, Ethiopia
If you’re looking for an adventure with a little something extra, then Siemens Mountains in Ethiopia is sure to please. Apart from offering some of the most stunning scenery you could possibly imagine, you are sure to meet some of the local wildlife. The area is famous for Gelada Baboons. You can choose from a five-day hike from Sankaber to Geech or head to the lowlands for a few days. Fitness buffs also have the option of the more challenging routes to the higher peaks of Ras Dashen. The scenery is absolutely stunning with cliffs, lush forest, waterfalls and so much more. As an added bonus, some of the guided hiking tours even include cooks so you can enjoy freshly cooked, local cuisine at the end of a hard day’s hiking.
4. Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Morocco combines the majestic coolness of the mountains, with the arid dryness of the desert. Atlas Mountains are truly spectacular and you’ll be surprised by the scenery. As you hike up the mountains you’ll encounter steppes, winding paths and ancient homes that seem to have formed out of the rocks themselves. The trails will take you to the peaks of the Atlas Mountains, or to the desert lowlands. If you really can’t decide, some of the hiking tours include both. You’ll be amazed at the transition of land and vegetation as you gradually make your way to the summit. Some of the hiking trips can last for several days, so the locals arrange mules to carry all the supplies, so you can focus on walking and enjoying the diverse and stunning scenery. You may also be lucky enough to have a cook hiking with your group so you can all enjoy an authentic meal with your fellow hikers. Experience life the way traditional Bedouins once lived in this exotic part of Africa.
5. Mount Ololokwe, Kenya
Standing alone in the middle of Kenya is Mount Ololokwe. In the heart of this African wonderland you’ll have a truly amazing hiking experience. Trek across the Savannah before making your ascent up the mountain. Enjoy the remarkable scenery of lakes and forests, then move on to some areas that are harsh, yet still remain beautiful. There are many trails to choose from and some of them will take you to lakes or rock pools that seem to have materialized right out of the rocks. You’ll come across curious locals, a menagerie of animals and some fascinating rock formations that you can climb, if that’s your thing. You can choose a day hike, which will last about 8 hours, or you can join the extensive hikes that last a few days. These involve some camping so you can enjoy sleeping under the stars. As a point of interest, most of the trails on Mount Ololokwe were originally formed by herds of elephants. This is a moderate hike that will be appealing to most, but there are more challenging trails for those with more experience. Put on your hiking shoes and start exploring.
6. Sentinel Peak, South Africa
Sentinel Peak is home to Tugela Falls, which is the second highest waterfall in the world. The terrain here is quite challenging to hikes, so beginners should probably stick to the less difficult trails near the base of the peaks. A feature that is unique to Sentinel Peaks are their infamous chain ladders which allow you to climb vertically up the face of the cliffs. You’ll need a lot of stamina and a considerable amount of physical strength, but once you conquer this summit, you’ll be absolutely in awe of the visage before you. Sit at the edge of the cliff and it seems that the world is in front of you and that life does not exist beyond the mountains and lowlands before you. There are literally hundreds of species of plants here… and several animals too. Day trips are available, however, you’ll probably want to stay a few more days, so you can enjoy an amazing sunset at the end of the day.
7. Livingstonia, Malawi
A hidden gem for hikers wanting to explore Africa is Livingstonia in Malawi. It’s hard to believe Malawi is a landlocked country because a huge part of the country runs along Lake Malawi giving much of the area the appearance a seaside resort. Livingstonia offers a fantastic day hike with beautiful views of Lake Malawi and Nyka National Park. The trail is about 16 kilometers long and can be done in 8 hours, a little longer if you take your time. This hike is best done with a local guide who will take you to historic Livingstonia Mission which sits high above Lake Malawi with views into Tanzania. The views are spectacular and much of the hike takes you through lush forests and the trails are not difficult to trek through. If you choose this little known, but gorgeous hiking location, you can’t miss Manchewe Falls. This is the ideal place to take a break during your hike and cool down as you listen to exotic birds singing overhead. You’ll also get an amazing view of the caves. Much of the hike through the Livingstonia trails is quite gentle, and with the heat of the day, you may be more comfortable trekking along in hiking sandals. When you’re hiking day is over it’s only a short drive to Lake Malawi where you can relax and enjoy a cold drink and a magical sunset.
8. Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Fish River Canyon is Africa’s answer to America’s Grand Canyon so it comes as no surprise that it is the world’s second largest canyon. The main hiking trail here is quite an extensive one and can take several days. It’s also quite harsh. The desert conditions can be incredibly challenging so you’ll need a hydration pack to see you through the heat of the day. The hike through Fish River Canyon is considered to be one of the most strenuous in Africa, so you need to be fit and healthy. In fact, the guides won’t take you into the Canyon without a medical certificate giving you the OK. The trek itself is almost 90 km long, but there are shortcuts along the river. Fortunately, water is readily available during the hike but it is recommended that you add water purifying tablets to your water bottles. Although a difficult hike, the views are stunning and as you will be hiking through the hottest and sunniest part of the day, don’t forget your hiking sunglasses.
9. Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of Congo
Situated high above Virunga National Park is Mount Nyiragongo. This is a hiking trip with a difference because Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano. No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be able to hike through some stunning jungle terrain. When you get to the summit of this amazing stratovolcano you’ll be looking into an enormous lava lake which in a crate that is about 2 kilometers wide. You’ll encounter cheeky monkeys who will try to steal your food and the views along the way are breathtaking. The most popular hiking trail offers you a 3 day package and offers cooks who prepare delicious food and snacks during the hike, and porters to help you carry your luggage. Pack lots of hiking socks and thermal clothing as it can get quite cold near the top of the summit.
10. Blyde River Canyon, South Africa
You’ll fall in love with this picturesque part of South Africa. Blyde River Canyon offers some of the most majestic views you could possibly imagine. The hiking trails last for two to five days and take you through the most beautiful parts of the Mpumalanga province. There are 3 fantastic hiking trails The Escarpment Trail follows the canyon to the base of the Uitkomste waterfall and much of the hike is along the pools and rapids of the Skurwerand. You could also go for the Blyderivierspoort Hiking Trail. This hike offers some of the best views in the canyon amazing vegetation, river lined forests and mind bowing rock formations. If you want to hiking experience with a twist, go on the Kruger Walking Safari. You’ll hike through Great Kruger National Park where you can see hundreds of different animals and birds. This can be a little freaky as some of the jungle’s biggest predators circle. However, there is always a guide with a gun to scare them off.
You will definitely see more of Africa than you ever thought possible on any one of these hikes but the views and experiences are well worth the trip. Whether you’re after the adventure of a lifetime or you just want to see some of the world’s best hiking views, Africa will not disappoint. The leisurely pace of hiking gives you more opportunities to see the landscape, people and local wildlife in an up close and personal way. Pack your walking shoes, choose one of these amazing hikes and set off into the sunset.