10 Spectacular Multi-Day Hikes in Africa | Explore the Preserved Wilderness

10 Spectacular Multi-Day Hikes in Africa: Explore the Preserved Wilderness

By Claire WhittersDestinations

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Explore Africa’s wild and rugged wilderness by foot on one of these formidable multi-day hikes. Africa is the world’s second-largest continent, but it is indisputably the best trekking destination in the world! Comprised of plateaus, mountains, ridges, and basins, Africa is abundant with an unrivaled diversity of flora and fauna that characterize the wild character of the land. Explore equatorial forests, savanna grasslands, highlands, tropical deserts, idyllic lakes, rapid waterways, and much, much more.

The topographic range and variety of wildlife provide unmatched hiking conditions. From the Great Escarpment in South Africa, the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Namibia’s Fish River Canyon, and Tanzania’s famed Mount Kilimanjaro, below you will find a variety of amazing adventures that will beckon you to set out exploring. In no particular order, we have compiled a list of the 10 greatest treks on the continent in the hopes that one of these routes will inspire you to book your next holiday!

Best treks in Africa map

1. Mount Kilimanjaro

This famed mountain trek is at the top of many bucket lists. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak on the continent, and the climb up into the clouds is not without its challenges. This incredible hike passes through 5 climate zones to the snow-capped volcanic summit, including forests, moorlands, and alpine deserts. Ironically, half the hassle of Mount Kilimanjaro is deciding which of the 7 routes to take up to the summit.

While the terrain is not especially technical, the consistent climb and elevation gain is laborious. That being said, considerable planning is required, including conditioning and altitude training. Check out our preparation guide for trekking Mount Kilimanjaro for an exhaustive training and planning checklist. Note that it is not possible to hike without a guide, so it is recommended to book a Kilimanjaro tour, which includes knowledgeable local guides, camping equipment, and more.

Location: Tanzania
Distance: Distances vary depending on the route you chose, check out our guide to trekking Mount Kilimanjaro for detailed trail info.
Days Recommended: 5-10 days
When to do: January-March

Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro

2. Mount Mulanje

Mulanje’s peak is the highest in Malawi, beckoning trekkers and intrepid rock climbers to explore its slopes. Frequently shrouded in fog, the isolated massif has 20 peaks, the highest of which being Sapitwa, which has earned the title as the “island in the sky”. While the mountain looks rocky and rugged from a distance, your trek up to the summit travels past tumbling waterfalls, through lush grasslands, green plateaus, wooded ravines, and boulder fields.

Although there are several day-hikes around the base of the mountain, the most immersive and life-changing experience is a multi-day hike into the clouds. The mist-cloaked mountain has 10 mountain huts and over 18 route options to choose from that are managed by the Mountain Club of Malawi. Though guides are not required, it is wise to book a tour as the vast network of trails can easily make you disoriented. Tour guides and accommodations, maps, and more can be booked on-site at a trailhead or reserved through the Mountain Club of Malawi website.

Location: Malawi
Distance: Distance vary depending on the chosen route
Days Recommended: 1-4 days
When to do: April-November

Mount Mulanje

Mulanje massif by Mickaël T., CC-BY 2.0

3. Mount Toubkal

Located in the heart of Morocco’s Atlas Mountain Range, Mount Toubkal stands tall at 4,167 m above sea level. A magnet for adventure enthusiasts, the Toubkal Trek is quite esteemed and requires only a 2–3-day commitment, making it great for adventurers on a tight schedule. While not overly technical, the climb demands some stamina and significant elevation gain (including sleeping at high elevations), so conditioning and altitude training are recommended.

Explore rocky valleys and mountain pastures, interact with Berbers in remote villages, and indulge in a traditional cup of mint tea as you climb into the Atlas Mountains. While this is a hot trekking destination, the hospitality and rugged wilderness remains unspoiled. Although this climb can be completed without a guide, booking a tour is wise to avoid getting lost and to ensure a bed in the mountain refuges. Over on the 10Adventures website, you will find an array of Atlas Mountains Tours that will surely quench your thirst for adventure, including the Mount Toubkal Trek.

Location: Morocco
Distance: Approx. 37.0 km
Days Recommended: 1-3 days
When to do: May-October

Mount Toubkal

Mount Toubkal

4. Fish River Canyon

Explore the second largest canyon in the world along the Fish River Canyon Hike. This 85km trek explores the rugged river canyon in Namibia, progressing through billions of years of geological history. Wander along the meandering river past pinnacles and sculptures, sulfur hot springs, and through rock fields. Surprisingly, the Fish River Canyon is abundant with wildlife, including antelope, snakes, scorpions, hyrax, mountain zebras, and more!

This arduous trek requires some athleticism and significant preparation. Hikers will have to carry all their equipment and food as there are no en-route facilities. Additionally, while water is plentiful along the trail, hikers require water tablets or a purifier. Although the trek itself is demanding, it is perhaps more of a challenge to secure a hiking permit and campsite reservations through the Namibia Wildlife Resorts. As there is no shade, this trek is only accessible from May-September due to extreme heat.

Location: Namibia
Distance: 85.0 km
Days Recommended: 4-6 days
When to do: May-September

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

5. Otter Trail

The Otter Trail is the most popular trekking route in South Africa. Located on the Garden Route, this one-way trail stretches 42.0 km from Tsitsikamma to Nature’s Valley over the rugged coastal headlands, through lush forests, along pristine beaches, and past tumbling waterfalls. Showcasing the natural beauty of the coastal region, hikers will also enjoy the opportunity to navigate tidal river crossings, which can only be attempted during low tide.

This spectacular route is well-loved; thus, the Garden Route National Park has implemented a reservation system to safeguard the environment from overuse. Because of this, hikers must obtain an Otter Trail reservation at least a year in advance. Accommodations along this amazing trail include comfortable huts at each overnight stop along the route. This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful hikes on the continent, so add it to the bucket list!

Location: South Africa
Distance: 42.0 km
Days Recommended: 3-5days
When to do: Year-round

Otter Trail

Ranná túra v Tsitsikamma. by Peter Chovanec, CC-BY 2.0

6. Amatola Trail

The Amatola Trail is another glorious trekking route in South Africa, though this hike is remarkably more challenging than the above-mentioned Otter Trail. Exhibiting the other-worldly beauty of the continent’s southern region, this trek travels 100.0 km from Maden Dam near King Williams Town to the village of Hogsback. Explore the fantastic Amatola Mountains, indigenous forests such as the Malan Forest, grassy plateaus, deep gorges, cascading falls and so much more.

Earning the title of one of the toughest hikes in South Africa, those hoping to explore the Amatola Trail are required to do some conditioning and training before heading out. This undulating trail will test you both physically and mentally, but the exceptional scenery and feeling of accomplishment at the trail’s end are unrivaled! While the terrain is primitive and technical, hikers will indulge in the luxury of sleeping in shelters along this hut-to-hut trek. Note: a hiking permit is required and can be secured online through the Amatola Trails website.

Location: South Africa
Distance: 100.0 km
Days Recommended: 4-6 days
When to do: Year-round

Amatola Trail

Amatola Hiking Trail by Alfred Payne, CC BY-SA 2.0

7. Outeniqua Trail

The Outeniqua Trail is another amazing hut-to-hut thru-hike in South Africa. This hidden gem on the Garden Route stretches over 100.0 km through the National Park’s Knysna section from Beervlei to Harkerville. This diverse adventure traverses a swathe of wilderness that is occupied by wild waterways, the Outeniqua Mountain foothills, indigenous forests, shrublands, and eucalyptus plantations.

Compared to other routes in South Africa, such as the Amatola Trail, this adventure is more accessible and even novice trekkers with a decent fitness level should be able to manage the route. Along the way, hikers lay their heads to rest in backcountry huts that line the trail. Accommodations are reserved via email at sanp.reservations@sanparks.org and the additional conservation fee required to hike can be paid in advance or upon arrival. No matter the season, you should come prepared to brave rainy conditions, the Outeniqua Mountains enjoy the maritime weather conditions.

Location: South Africa
Distance: 110.0 km
Days Recommended: 5-6 days
When to do: Year-round

Outeniqua Trail

George seen from Outeniqua Pass by Bernard DUPONT, CC BY-SA 2.0

8. Mount Meru Trek

Hike up to the summit of Tanzania’s second-highest peak and the fifth-highest mountain in Africa on the Mount Meru Trek. The Momella Route is the only official trail up to the peak, traveling 45.0 km through the Arusha National Park’s rugged and wild wilderness. This arduous ascent explores the lush montane forests, volcanic craters, and alpine deserts abundant with an array of wildlife that includes warthogs, giraffes, monkeys, buffaloes, leopards, elephants, and a diversity of bird species!

Due to the area’s surplus of fauna, a game ranger must accompany trekkers and their guides. Note: this route is a popular warmup for the famed Mount Kilimanjaro Trek, which sits 70.0 km east of Mount Meru, so expect some company. Additionally, the mountain huts that line this route book fast, so reserve your accommodations ASAP or book through a tour company. We here at 10Adventures have an epic Mount Meru trek that includes accommodations, a professional guide, park fees, food, and more—check it out.

Location: Tanzania
Distance: 45.0 km
Days Recommended: 3-4 days
When to do: January-March

Mount Meru Trek

Mount Meru Trek

9. Naukluft Hiking Trail

The Naukluft Hiking Trail is a dynamic and demanding trek that circles the perimeter of the Naukluft Nature reserve. Considered to be one of the toughest trails on the continent, this route undulates through the Naukluft Mountains, descends into steep gorges via chains anchored into the rock faces, and visits the occasional waterfall or swimming hole. Immerse yourself in an arid ecosystem abundant with zebras, klipspringers, leopards, gemsbok, baboons, snakes, and more.

Hikers will also have to be self-sufficient and will need to arrange for a resupply box to be delivered on day 4 of the trek. Considerable preparation and proper gear are required when attempting this feat, including a sturdy pair of footwear—refer to our guide to picking out the best hiking boots for some helpful tips and tricks. Those who wish to tackle this taxing trek must present a medical record attesting to their fitness competencies. While this journey is incredibly challenging, it is highly rewarding.

Location: Namibia
Distance: 120.0 km
Days Recommended: 6-8 days
When to do: March-October

Naukluft Hiking Trail

Naukluft Hiking Trail

10. The Drakensberg Grand Traverse

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse is the quintessential South African hiking experience. From the Sentinel Car Park to Bushmans Nek Border Post, this trek travels roughly 220.0 km from South Africa, into Lesotho, and back into South Africa. Showcasing the majesty of the landscape, this long-distance trail summits several peaks in the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, including Mont Aux Sources, Cleft Peak, Champagne Castle, Giant’s Castle, and the Thabana Ntlenyana.

This scenic route climbs above the clouds and travels along the crests of the mist-shrouded Drakensberg Mountains, passing through the shrubbery, rock fields, river crossings, and past magical waterfalls. While the terrain is not overly technical, the significant elevation gain is burdensome. Don’t forget your camping gear, the huts along this route are limited and camping is the most popular accommodation option. Note: the necessary permit for this trek can be purchased at the Sentinel Car Park.

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse

Location: South Africa
Distance: 220.0 km
Days Recommended: 8-12 days
When to do: Year-round

Travel Insurance

While travel insurance is not necessary, it is highly recommended, especially when exploring more remote areas of the world. If you are unsure of where to start—don’t worry, we’ve been there! Check out the World Nomads Travel Insurance and get a quote online- no hassle, easy as can be. Unlike most styles of travel insurance, World Nomads protects adventurers like us as we trek, cycle, climb, raft, and much, much more.

Other Best Treks Lists Around the World

Can’t get enough of the best treks in Africa? If you want to explore the most epic trekking adventures from around the globe, be sure to check out some of our other articles that provide an in-depth look at several other regions and the amazing long-distance trails that can be found within them:

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