Whether you’ve visited this great continent before, or are thinking of heading there for the first time, the vastness and variety of Africa has something for everyone. Its many mountain ranges, villages and national parks offer enough trekking experiences to last a lifetime. Here is a selection of the most unique.
Otter Trail, South Africa
This trail runs for over 40km along the wilderness coastline of South Africa’s Tsitsikamma National Park. The entire route is 4 to 5 days walking, sleeping in huts along the way. If you’re fully prepared, a guide isn’t necessary. It’s a wildlife lover’s haven with glimpses of marine life such as whales and dolphins from the cliffs. Keep your eyes peeled for the Cape clawless otter – the trail’s namesake.
Mount Toubkal in Winter, Morocco
Think of Africa and the image of snow-laden mountains don’t jump into your mind. But come to the Atlas Mountains in the winter months and you’ll find plenty of the white stuff. It’s a great time to visit: the air is clear and the slopes are deserted but for the local Berbers and a handful of other keen hikers. Mount Toubkal is North Africa’s highest peak – pack your crampons and ice axe.
Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Very few visit these magnificent mountains in Northern Ethiopia. There are plenty of different trails through the range, all offering phenomenal views. The temperature fluctuations and high altitude (over 3000m) make this a tricky place to trek. It’s also one of the few regions where it’s obligatory to hire an armed scout to accompany you.
Guinness Trail, Cameroon
Fancy a new challenge? West Africa’s highest peak –Mount Cameroon, is one of the last active volcanoes in Cameroon. You can climb it any time of year, but the annual Guinness Trail is a marathon sponsored by the beer manufacturers. It runs along the steepest and oldest trail on the side of the mountain. You will need a guide to lead you along the trails that pass through rainforest jungle, farmlands and open savannah.
Rongai Route, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
There are many approaches to climbing the great Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s tallest mountain. But the Rongai route is the least travelled and approaches the mountain from the Tanzania-Kenya border, offering a completely different experience. This trail is much wilder, and you’ll get vistas over the Masai lands. Keep your eyes peeled for buffalo, monkeys and elephants on the ascent.
Kruger walking safari
Forget jumping in the back of a 4×4, the walking safari is really taking off in Africa. It’s an approach that lets you appreciate the detail of the flora and fauna around you; a chance to soak up the smells and sounds without the roar of an engine and the waft of exhaust. Head out into the bush of the Kruger National Park, along a range of trails that track wildlife along their feeding routes and watering holes. All of the Big Five can be spotted on this kind of trek. Go prepared for the hot sun and camping out in the bush.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
For many keen travellers, this is the dream of a lifetime. While Uganda is also popular for getting on the trail of silverbacks, Rwanda’s Parcs de Volcans offers far more spectacular scenery along the route. Tight regulations of permits mean you’ll have to join a guided group and book well in advance. The final trek up the mountain to find the gorillas varies, depending on where the primates have settled that particular day. You may find them at lower elevations within an hour, or you may need to trek all day, up to 11,000 metres. However long it takes, it will be well worth it.
Alison Crabb is a Director at Exsus.
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