Slackpacking is a term used to describe hiking, but without the effort of lugging a heavy pack around with all your gear, food supplies and general paraphernalia needed to survive the average 4 day trek through the wilderness / mountains / desert landscape or coastal reserves. Undertaking a slackpacking trail generally means that your pack will be transferred between your overnight stops, and often meals are prepared for you. Some accommodation options are basic and rustic, and others offer 4 star luxurious pampering. We have compiled a list of our favourite slackpacking trails, all with various degree of difficulty and luxury. Enjoy!
The Donkey Trail - Swarberg Mountains, Western Cape
This historic guided 4 day walking trail is based on the original ‘donkey trail’ over the Swartberg Mountain from Calitzdorp to Die Hel, an area first inhabited by farmers in 1830. Accompanied by donkeys to transport your luggage, visitors will experience a Klein Karoo cultural and scenic wonder with accommodation in guesthouses and a night in the veld (traditional style) in the Swartberg Nature Reserve. Members of the local previously disadvantaged community are being trained as guides and donkey handlers and will accompany all the groups utilizing the route which adds a bit of local flavour and history to the experience. The owners driving force behind the trail, Hans and Erika Calitz, work closely with a nearby animal rescue operation in De Rust, and all donkeys used in the trail are rescue animals. Read more about the Donkey Trail
Mehloding Hiking Trail - Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal
This route explores a remote part of the Southern Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal. The guided or self-guided trails meander through spectacular mountainous foothills and rural villages, include ancient rock-art sites, sparkling streams, indigenous trees, medicinal plants, craft projects and top of the world views. Accommodation is provided in rustic huts build and owned by the Mehloding Community Trust. The huts can be booked on a self-catering basis, or with traditional Xhosa meals included (recommended!). Read more about the Mehloding Hiking Trail - Drakensberg
The Green Mountain Trail - Elgin, Western Cape
This slackpacking trail is just an hour’s drive from Cape Town, and all about endless views, fynbos, food and wine. The guided 4 day trail traverses the Groendlandberg Conservancy, and includes farmstay accommodation at various guesthouses in the area. Your luggage will be transported to your next stop while you walk through fynbos and vineyards, and stop at wineries en route to sample a few of the local blends. Enjoy the views, fauna and flora and fresh mountain air while delicious country food is prepared with fresh local ingredients. Truly a mouth watering experience!
Read more about this trail in Paul’s article here
Pondoland Hiking Trail – Wild Coast, Eastern Cape
Discover a pristine section of the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape and explore deserted beaches, the warm Indian Ocean, unpolluted estuaries and rolling hills dotted with traditional Xhosa villages. The 6 day hiking (or cycling) trail meanders along the coast starting just north of Port Grovenor and ends in Port St Johns. Accommodation is provided in tented camps, part owned and managed by the local community. Although the trail is mostly done on a self- guided and self-catering basis, you can hire local guides and porters to assist with the load. A fully catered option is also available on request.
Namib Desert Trail – NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia
We really like the Toktokkie Trails “Hiking with Style” concept. They offer guided and portered walking trails through the private NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia. The beauty of this walking trail is the fact that you can closely observe so many different aspects and wonders of the desert landscape that can not be experienced while driving. The fantastic scenery ranges from mountainous terrain to sandy dunes, with plenty of opportunities to observe unfenced game in their natural habitat. At the end of each day guests arrive at their mobile desert “camp” which consists simply of a stretcher bed set up under the stars and open air bathroom. Relax around the campfire and discuss the days sightings with your experienced nature guide, and enjoy a three course dinner before falling asleep under the desert night sky…
The trails range from 3 – 6 days and can be tailored to suit your time frame and budget. Read more about the Namib Desert Trail – NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia