Here is a guide to the South African coastal hikes I have had the privilege of experiencing. Hopefully it is useful to those who are planning to walk our beautiful and diverse coastline. The list starts at the north-eastern-most trail – the Pondo Trail from Mkambati to Manteku – and proceeds around the Cape to the Namaqualand coastal hike through the Namaqualand National Park.

The Pondo Trail, Pondoland, Wild Coast

A magnificent 4-day, 65 km slackpack hike from Mkambati to Manteku, through a unique, relatively unspoilt section of the Wild Coast. Read about the Pondo Trail.
Duration: 4 days and 4 nights
Distance: 65 km
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
To book: Wild Child Africa
Cathedral Rock

Wild Coast hike

A hike like no other down the Pondoland coast. Be humbled by homestays with the local people and the spectacular coastline.
Read about the Wild Coast hike
Duration: 5 days
Distance: 61 km
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
To book: Jimmy Selani, Wild Tours and Hikes

Alexandria Trail, Addo Elephant National Park

A unique, circular hike with a beautifully situated hut on Woody Cape and a crossing of the largest, least degraded, dune field in the southern hemisphere.
Read about the Alexandria Trail.
Duration: 2 days
Distance: 35 km
Difficulty: Quite tough, even in good weather
To book: Camp Matyholweni, Tel: +27 (0)41 4680916/8, SA National Parks

The Otter Trail, Tsitsikamma National Park

Considered by many to be South Africa’s premier hiking trail, it explores a diverse, wild shoreline in a marine protected area, features exciting river crossings and the most spectacularly located huts –  and latrines.
Read about The Otter Trail.
Duration: 5 days
Distance: 44 km
Difficulty: Moderate to tough, largely determined by the weather and tide
To book: SA National Parks, Telephone: +27 (0) 12 426 5111

Robberg Trail, Plettenberg Bay

A circular trail on the Robberg Peninsula in the Robberg Nature Reserve. The hut in the photo below was washed away in a storm.
Read about the Robberg hike.
Duration: 4 hours
Distance: 9.2 km
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate, with some mild exposure as I recall
To book: Cape Nature

Harkerville Trail

Harkerville Coastal Hiking Trail is variously described as “more spectacular than the Otter Trail” and “the best two-day trail in the country”. It will give you a full body workout with its chains, ladders and rock scrambling.
Read about the Harkerville Trail and this very amusing review.
Duration: 2 days
Distance: 26 km
Difficulty: Tough, especially if you’re not conditioned to use your upper body with a full pack.
To Book: SA National Parks, Knysna, Tel: (044) 302 5606

The Whale Trail, De Hoop Nature Reserve

A magnificent, atmospheric trail and in whale season southern rights calve below the cliffs. If the wind’s right you can smell their breaths. The density of whales is phenomenal. The best “huts”.
Read about my three Whale Trail hikes here, here and here.
Duration: 5 days
Distance: 55 km
Difficulty: Easy, especially if you take the slackpacking option
To book: Cape Nature

Kogelberg trails, Kogelberg Nature Reserve

Strictly speaking there are no coastal trails in Kogelberg, but the reserve is the gem of the fynbos biome and the shoreline is seldom out of sight, so I include them here.
Read about various Kogelberg trails here, here and here.
Duration: Full and half-day trails
Distance: From 6 to 25 km
Difficulty: You choose
To book: Cape Nature

Cape Point, Cape Peninsula trails, Table Mountain National Park

Almost every walk on the Cape Peninsula can be classified as a coastal hike. The fairest cape in the whole circumference of the earth …
Read about the Cape of Good Hope Trail (herehere and here), Swartkop-to-Smitswinkel, and overlooking Chapmans Peak and Hout Bay
Duration: A few hours to 5 days
Distance: A few km to 60 km
Difficulty: You choose
To book: SA National Parks

The Postberg Trail, West Coast National Park

The Postberg Trail is pretty exclusive, only opening for the spring months of August and September and accommodating just 12 hikers per day. Breathtaking vistas and flowers. One of my favourite places on the planet.
Read about the Postberg Trail here and here.
Duration: 2 days
Distance: 26 km
Difficulty: Easy
To book: SA National Parks

Namaqualand coast hike, Namaqualand National Park

The Namaqualand coast hike is not an official trail. We obtained special permission to walk between the Spoeg and the Groen Rivers within the national park. But there is now a slackpack option through Nomadic NAMAS.
Duration: 3 days
Distance: 44 km
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
To book: Nomadic NAMAS

Part of the Heaviside Trail?