Trail Development

Trail Types


All Hiking Trails in South Africa can be classified into one of the following categories. It is important to understand these categories, the criteria they require and the market segment that each is aimed at.

The Day Walk

Resting along a stream at Bergheim

These are trails that normally are within easy reach of the main centres of population and provide walkers who may only have a few hours to spare with the opportunity of venturing out into the countryside for some pleasant exercise. Trails range from less than an hour duration to those needing a full day to complete. Trails in this group include Elephant Walk and Kranshoek in the Eastern Cape, The Hennops Trail, Rustig and Penduka Trails in Gauteng and Dwarsberg in the northern part of the Free State. Included in this category is your "Bundu Bash" which follows unmarked paths (often made by game) like Bergheim.

 Requirements would be:-

    a/. An area of natural beauty with mountains and perennial water (if possible)

    b/. Safe parking

    c/. Toilet facilities

    d/. Emergency contact numbers displayed at starting point

    e/. GPS co-ordinates or details of nearest crossroads ( for emergency services should they be required)

    f/. Public liability insurance

    g/. Someone to check permits on arrival/ take booking etc. Also to be on hand to make sure that the hikers cars are safe and nothing goes wrong that could go wrong.

    h/. Detailed map of the area showing the trail and any farm roads that could be useful in an emergency

    i/. If no drinking water is available, this must be put in any communication with the hiker prior to his arrival so that he knows to supply his own.

Additionally, most hikers enjoy a braai after the hike, so a fir place with grid is welcome. Firewood could be sold by the attendant.

It is always advisable to use the services of a professional booking agent. This does cost you money but really does save you a lot of worry and agro.

Advantages of this type of trail

Relatively low cost of developing this type of trail. Ideal for the smaller land owner who has a few hundred hectare close to one of the main cities. Income would not be as large as for an overnight trail but then the costs are lower. Trails of this type in the Gauteng area are always in demand.

Disadvantages of this type of trail

This type of trail tends to attract inexperienced, ill equipped hikers who are more prone to getting themselves into trouble.

Weekend Day Route Trail (sometimes known as 'figure of eight trails')

This is a fairly new form of trail, introduced to cater for the young family and those that are unable or don't like to carry a backpack. Most 'seasoned' hikers tend to steer clear of these trails, but there is still a large market for this type of trail. The facilities at the overnight basecamp tend to be more luxurious and may include such things as a refrigerator, a stove and pots and pans, beds with comfortable mattresses, hot water showers and flushing toilets. (For more details, see our page on Hikers Accommodation). Examples of Weekend Day Route Trails are Rhenosterpoort (in Limpopo), Sediba ( in The Free State) and Eagle Cove (in North West Province)

Taken on Rhenosterpoort Trail

Requirements would be:-

    a/. An area of natural beauty with mountains and perennial water (if possible)

    b/. Safe parking

    c/. A useable access road for modern day saloon cars under any weather conditions

    d/. Emergency contact numbers displayed inside the hut

    e/. GPS co-ordinates or details of nearest crossroads ( for emergency services should they be required)

    f/. Public liability insurance

    g/. Accommodation with beds and mattresses, ablutions, potable water, sheltered braai area (see our accommodation page)

    h/. Detailed map of the area showing the trail and any farm roads that could be useful in an emergency.

    i/. Someone to clean the hut, check the permit, control the firewood, remark and maintain the trail.

    j/. Visitors book for hikers comments

Additionally, I would add a bird list and tree list.

It is always advisable to use the services of a professional booking agent. This does cost you money but really does save you a lot of worry and agro.

Weekend Backpack trail with overnight huts

This type of trail involves the hiker in walking from one hut (Base Camp) to another hut (overnight hut) and then back again the following day. The hiker carries everything he will need for his stay at the overnight hut in his backpack including his food, sleeping bag etc. Sometimes the overnight hut is in the form of a cave and the hiker then carries a foam mattress to sleep on. Examples of Weekend Back Trails are Rooi Ivoor (in Mpumalanga, Waterkloof (in the Free State) and Harkerville (in the Cape)

 

Taken on Vasbyt Trail

Requirements would be:-

    a/. An area of natural beauty with mountains and perennial water (if possible). The area should be of a size that would permit a route of between 7-9 hours walking on the first day and 5-6 hours hiking on the second day without coming into contact with the property's boundaries. Where this is not feasible on your land, it is always a possibility to share the trail with an adjoining farm.

     b/. Safe parking

    c/. A useable access road to basecamp for modern day saloon cars under any weather conditions

    d/. Emergency contact numbers displayed inside the huts with an indication of where the nearest cell phone reception is likely to be or alternatively a map detailing the shortest route to find help

    e/. GPS co-ordinates for the huts and details of the nearest crossroads to the basecamp.

    f/. Public liability insurance

    g/. Accommodation with beds and mattresses, ablutions, potable water, sheltered braai area (see our accommodation page)

    h/. Detailed map of the area showing the trail and any farm roads that could be useful in an emergency.

    i/. Someone to clean the hut, check the permit, control the firewood, remark and maintain the trail.

    j/. Visitors book at base camp for hikers comments

Additionally, I would add a bird list and tree list at both camps

It is always advisable to use the services of a professional booking agent. This does cost you money but really does save you a lot of worry and agro.

Long Distance Backpack trail with overnight huts

These consist of backpack trails of three days or more. The vast majority of these trails are on forestry, provincial nature conservation or Parks Board land due to the area of land required and maintenance dynamics. Examples of long distance trails are Amatola (in Eastern Cape), Naukluft (in Namibia) and Fanie Botha (in Mpumalanga)

Taken on the Swartberg Trail

 Requirements would be:-

    a/. An area of natural beauty with mountains and perennial water (if possible). The area should be of a size that would permit a route of between 7-9 hours walking on all but the last day when 5-6 hours hiking would be ideal. Where this is not feasible on your land, it is always a possibility to share the trail with an adjoining farm.

     b/. Safe parking at base camp

    c/. A useable access road to basecamp for modern day saloon cars under any weather conditions

    d/. Emergency contact numbers displayed inside the huts with an indication of where the nearest cell phone reception is likely to be or alternatively a map detailing the shortest route to find help

    e/. GPS co-ordinates for the huts and details of the nearest crossroads to the base camp.

    f/. Public liability insurance

    g/. Accommodation with beds and mattresses, ablutions, potable water, sheltered braai area (see our accommodation page)

    h/. Detailed map of the area showing the trail and any farm roads that could be useful in an emergency.

    i/. Someone to clean the hut, check the permit, control the firewood, re-mark and maintain the trail.

    j/. Visitors book at base camp for hikers comments

Additionally, I would add a bird list and tree list at both camps

It is always advisable to use the services of a professional booking agent. This does cost you money but really does save you a lot of worry and agro.

Wilderness Trail

These are generally specialist trails for experienced hikers who really want to get back to basics. Examples of Wilderness Trails include most of the Natal Drakensberg escarpment, Wolkberg (in Limpopo), Cederberg and Groot Winterhoek in Western Cape and Fish River Canyon (in Namibia).

 

Requirements would be:-

     a/. A large area of Pristine land with mountains and perennial steams with potable water.

     b/. A detailed large scale map of the area

     c/. Safe parking for cars at the beginning of the trail

     d/. A useable access road to the start of the trail for modern day saloon cars under any weather conditions

     e/. A register to be filled in by Hikers entering the wilderness area

It is always advisable to use the services of a professional booking agent. This does cost you money but really does save you a lot of worry and agro.

Where the trail is in a game reserve, an armed ranger is often provided to walk with the hikers. Bush Camps are normally provided with varying degrees of facilities.

There are several variants of the above trail types including trail networks, Historical Trails and combination trails which could include hiking and canoeing but the vast majority of trails fall into one of the above categories.


 

 

For comments and information please contact Tim Hartwright tim@footprint.co.za