New Year’s Resolutions: Take a hike! Five must-try day hiking trails to tackle in 2018

by CapeNature

We all want to be fitter and healthier in 2018. Sure you could take out a gym membership or start a new eating plan and if you’re able to stick to it, then more power to you. But why not start an activity that could become a lifetime hobby while bringing you closer to nature, allowing you to indulge your sense of adventure and travel, and offering spiritual and social fulfillment in nature’s great amphitheatre. We’re referring of course to hiking – good for body, mind and soul.  No matter what your experience or fitness level, there’s a trail out there just right for you.  In this blog, we recommend five hiking trails to tackle in 2018.

1) Palmiet Trail, Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

This is a gentle, circular trail that is perfect for beginners and families.   It’s also easy and safe for blind persons and persons with disability but not suitable for wheelchairs. The trail is self guided and there are signs in braille at regular intervals.

Wonder at the spectacular mountain views and cool off by gurgling streams as you amble along this relaxing trail. Please note that hikers will not be allowed to start hiking this route later than 2pm, to ensure a safe return by nightfall.

Difficulty level: easy
Distance: six kilometres (approximately two hours)

How to get there

Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve is about an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Take the N2 over Sir Lowry’s Pass, turn left on the R321, go through Grabouw and on towards Villiersdorp. Up in Viljoen’s Pass, watch out for Nuweberg and the reserve entrance signposted on your left.

GPS: 34 4 26.64 S 19 3 42.41 E

Office hours: 07:30–16:00

Tel: +27 (0)28 841 4301/02
Emergency tel: +27 (0)82 413 5258

2) Bushbuck Trail, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve

This beautiful route winds through mountain fynbos and indigenous forest, providing a shaded and relatively easy hike for all ages.The route loops in and around the indigenous forest and cool streams, affording hikers the opportunity to visit both bird hides in the forest, as well as taking them past most of the tree species in the reserve.

This is the most significant stretch of indigenous afromontane forest left in the south-western Cape, with nearly all of the 35 typical forest tree species, including red alder, ironwood, stinkwood and yellowwood, present, along with a patch of Californian Redwoods. The forest is also home to the rare forest emporer butterfly, as well as a subspecies of the ghost frog that is only found here.

Difficulty level: easy/moderate
Distance: ten kilometres (approximately three to four hours)

How to get there

Take the N2 from Cape Town towards George. Just past Swellendam and Buffelsjag River, take the left-hand turn-off for Suurbraak/Barrydale. Turn left and continue through the town of Suurbraak and past the turn-off for Barrydale via Tradouwpass. The tar road becomes a dirt road. Continue till a T-junction, turn left and keep left at the next fork in the road. The reserve is well signposted. The road ends at the entrance gates.

GPS: 33 59 08.4 S 20 49 24.7 E

Office hours: 07:30–16:00

Tel: +27 (0)28 492 0001

3) Witsand Circuit, Robberg Nature Reserve

The Robberg Nature Reserve comprises a peninsula renowned for beautiful mountain and ocean views and how better to take it all in than on the Witsand Circuit. The trail leads along the northern ridge of the peninsula and onto the wind-shadow of the climbing-falling dune, before heading down to the tombolo and boardwalk. Hikers will pass above the resident seal colony along the way and encounter a colony of kelp gulls at the end of the trail. Do not stand near cliffs, particularly if the wind is very strong.

Robberg Nature Reserve PAMP, Protected Area Management Plan, CapeNature

Hikers can expect inspiring landscapes, and a variety of wildlife, including dolphin and whale sightings in season, and a variety of bird species.

Difficulty level: moderate
Distance: five and a half kilometres (approximately two hours)

How to get there

From Cape Town: Take the N2 highway towards Plettenberg Bay. On approaching, take the Piesang Valley turn-off. Follow for 3km until you get to Robberg Road. Continue for 4kms towards the Plettenberg Airport. Turn left at the “Robberg” sign and continue until you reach the entrance gate.

GPS Co-ordinates: 34 06 15.30 S 23 23 31.56 E

General information

Office hours: 08:00–17:00

Tel: +27 (0)44 533 2125/85

4) Panorama Circuit, Jonkershoek Nature Reserve


This scenic trail has a steep climb to a contour path just below the Banhoek peaks. This path leads to Bergriviernek, which has amazing views of Assegaaiboskloof. Be sure to bring a swimming costume along.

The route winds across the picturesque Dwarsberg plateau, with streams surrounded by disas, to Kurktrekkernek. From here, you can take a short detour to the summit of Guardian Peak (1 227m), which has stunning panoramic views of the Cape Peninsula, from Table Mountain to Cape Point, Robben Island, False Bay, Cape Hangklip, and the peaks of the Hottentots Holland range. From Kurktrekker, the path descends past Tweede and Eerste Waterval, back to the starting point. Please note the path is slippery when wet.

Difficulty level: moderate
Distance: seventeen kilometres (approximately six hours)

How to get there

From Cape Town: Take the N2 highway out of Cape Town towards Stellenbosch. Take exit 33 for Baden Powell Drive towards the R310/Stellenbosch/Macassar. Turn right onto Polkadraai Road/R310 and follow the road. It becomes Adam Tas Street. Turn right onto Langstraat-Suid Road and continue onto Helshoogte Road. Turn right onto Simonsberg Road and at the roundabout take the first exit onto Martinson Road. Continue onto Jonkershoek Road and follow the signs until your reach the reserve entrance.

GPS: 33 57 48.70 S 18 55 31.98 E

Office hours: 07:30–16:00

Office number: +27 (0)21 866 1560
Emergency Number: +27 (0)82 467 0405

5) Maltese Cross, Cederberg Wilderness Area

This is an extremely popular hike that starts with a mild uphill walk that turns into quite a steep climb heading towards the iconic and imposing Maltese Cross. Hikers return along the same route, with fantastic mountain views along the way.

The Cederberg Mountains, burnt orange by iron oxide, dominate the landscape with jagged sandstone rock formations looming in every direction.

Difficulty level: moderate
Distance: seven kilometres (approximately four hours)

How to get there

From Cape Town: Take the N7 highway north from Cape Town. Stay on the N7 past Citrusdal, after 28km take the Cederberg/Algeria turn-off to the right. Follow this main gravel road for 17km you will see the office complex and accommodation and campsite access road on your left. This is a 250km drive, which should take about three hours.

Tel: +27 (0)27 482 2403

So those are our five must-try day hikes for 2018. In part two of this blog we’ll take a closer look at some of the best multi-day hikes out there.

If you do decide to go hiking, remember to stay safe. Before setting out on your hike, you should make sure you have educated yourself about the route, terrain, difficulty, and expected time required to complete the trail. Never hike alone, and always make sure someone else knows where you are going, your route, and when you are expected back.

The Hikers Network has started a great initiative, a free hiker tracking tool, for monitoring and tracking hiking groups. To check that out, click here.

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