The walking trials in Africa can be an adventurous and challenging experience. Whether you fancy trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, exploring the dramatic landscapes of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa, or hiking through the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. These expeditions offer physical challenges, breathtaking views, and a sense of accomplishment.
Africa is known for its diverse and stunning landscapes. From vast savannahs to lush rainforests, towering mountains to arid deserts, Africa offers a wide range of environments to explore on foot. Walking allows you to intimately connect with nature, observe wildlife up close, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Africa’s natural wonders.
And of course, walking trails in Africa bring you up close and personal to the coveted wildlife — so don’t stray too far off the beaten track. The wildlife in Africa has been featured in an abundance of iconic imagery, but there’s nothing quite like seeing elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, and countless other species in their natural environment.
Walking safaris or guided hikes in national parks and game reserves provide the opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitats. Experienced guides can lead you safely through the wilderness, offering insights into animal behaviour, tracking skills, and knowledge about the local ecosystem.
Walking allows you to interact with local communities and experience African cultures firsthand. Many walking tours and treks take you through rural villages, where you can engage with local people, learn about their traditions, and gain a deeper understanding of their way of life. This cultural immersion can be a transformative experience, fostering cross-cultural appreciation and connection.
Walking Trails in Tanzania
If there’s one walking trail in Africa that captures the imagination, it’s the continent’s highest peak, the mighty Kilimanjaro. Standing at a breathtaking (literally) 5,895m tall Mount Kilimanjaro is clearly a challenging endeavour, and proper preparation, acclimatisation, and guidance from experienced guides are crucial for a safe and successful trek.
Before embarking on any trail, it is recommended to consult with licensed tour operators or trekking agencies who can provide detailed information, itinerary options, and necessary support for your Mount Kilimanjaro adventure.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is also another of Tanzania’s treasure trove of walking trails. Home to the Ngorongoro Crater, a breathtaking natural wonder. Although walking trails are limited due to wildlife conservation efforts, you can take guided walks on the rim of the crater, offering spectacular views and the opportunity to spot wildlife.
Other gems in Tanzania include Udzungwa Mountains National Park, known as the “Galapagos of Africa, Lake Manyara National Park, with its diverse birdlife, tree-climbing lions, and scenic landscapes and Arusha National Park which has a fascinating ecosystem of walking trails that include montane forests, grasslands, and crater lakes. The famous Ngurdoto Crater and Mount Meru are among the highlights of the park.
Walking Trails in South Africa
The most popular destination for walking trails in Africa is the Drakensberg Mountains, but somewhat surprisingly, there are only 12 km / 4.5 miles of paths. Even still, it’s regarded as one of the best destinations on the planet for trekkers.
A scenic gem in the heart of South Africa, the Drakensberg Mountains offer a range of scenic walking trails that cater to different fitness levels and preferences.
Known for its dramatic cliffs, stunning valleys, and rich biodiversity, this enigmatic mountain range provides a beautiful backdrop for hiking and exploring.
The fairytale surroundings of Amatola Trail are probably one of the most engaging treks in the African continent and, although lesser known, the Outeniqua Trail is one of South Africa’s real hidden gems.
Walking Trails in Ethiopia
Ethiopia in East Africa, is rich in history, stunning landscapes, and diverse culture. While it is famous for its ancient sites and unique wildlife, there are also several walking trails and hiking opportunities for nature enthusiasts.
The highlight is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Simien Mountains National Park, located in the northern part of the country. Boasting breathtaking scenery, the park features numerous trails of varying difficulty levels, allowing hikers to explore high plateaus, deep valleys, and stunning viewpoints. The trail to Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia, is a popular choice for experienced hikers.
Over to the southeast is Bale Mountains National Park, known for its diverse wildlife and unique Afro-alpine landscapes. The park offers several walking trails, including the stunning Sanetti Plateau, where you can spot endemic Ethiopian wolves, mountain nyala, and other wildlife.
If you’re staying near the famous Great Rift Valley, you may want to head to Awash National Park which offers walking trails that take you through savannahs, along the Awash River, and to the stunning Awash Falls.
For something different, Sof Omar Cave located in the Bale Zone, the Sof Omar Cave is one of the largest and most spectacular cave systems in Africa. Exploring the cave involves walking along the underground river, passing through chambers adorned with impressive rock formations.
Walking Trails in Cape Verde
Cape Verde is an archipelago located off the west coast of Africa, known for its stunning landscapes, volcanic peaks, and beautiful beaches. While Cape Verde is more renowned for its water-based activities such as surfing, diving, and beach relaxation, there are a few walking trails available for those who want to explore the islands on foot.
Cidade Velha, the historic capital of Cape Verde located on Santiago Island, offers a pleasant walking experience. You can wander through the charming streets of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town, visit historical landmarks such as Fort Real de São Filipe and the Cathedral, and enjoy scenic views of the coast.
Santo Antão offers a completely different landscape. Known for its rugged and mountainous terrain, offering fantastic opportunities for hiking, the Paul Valley is one of the most scenic spots on the island, with lush greenery, terraced fields, and traditional villages. You can explore the valley on foot, passing through picturesque villages like Ponta do Sol and Ribeira Grande, and enjoying panoramic views of the mountains and valleys.
The charming island of Sal is famous for its beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters, but it also offers a unique hiking experience in Pedra de Lume. Pedra de Lume is a volcanic crater located near the town of Pedra de Lume. You can hike around the crater rim, enjoy views of the salt pans, and even take a dip in the saline lake for a floating experience.
The less-visited São Nicolau boasts some excellent walking trails for trekkers that prefer to avoid crowds. Monte Gordo is the highest peak on the island, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. You can hike to the summit of Monte Gordo, passing through scenic valleys, agricultural fields, and small villages along the way.
Walking Trails in Kenya
Located in East Africa, Kenya offers a variety of walking trails that allow you to explore its diverse landscapes, wildlife, and cultural heritage. The highlight is arguably Mount Olokwe, also known as Ol Olokwe, a prominent mountain near the town of Archers Post.
It offers a unique and rewarding hiking experience with stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. While Mount Olokwe is not as well-known as some other mountains in Kenya, it has gained popularity among adventurous hikers.
The Aberdare Range in central Kenya is a scenic area known for its lush forests, waterfalls, and wildlife. There are several walking trails within Aberdare National Park, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. The Chania Falls Trail and Karuru Falls Trail are popular options, offering beautiful views and the chance to spot wildlife such as elephants, buffalos, and various bird species.
Located near Lake Naivasha, Hell’s Gate National Park offers unique walking opportunities. You can explore the park on foot, passing through dramatic gorges, towering cliffs, and hot springs. The Ol Njorowa Gorge Trail and Fischer’s Tower Trail are popular routes that provide a chance to see wildlife like zebras, gazelles, and baboons. You can also hike to the top of Hell’s Gate Gorge for panoramic views of the park.
Walking Trails in Uganda
Uganda is known as the “Pearl of Africa”. Renowned for its diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and warm hospitality, the country is most famous for its gorilla trekking opportunities.
Located in western Uganda, the Rwenzori Mountains, also known as the “Mountains of the Moon,” offer exceptional hiking opportunities. The park features several trails that cater to different skill levels, including multi-day treks to the snow-capped Margherita Peak, the highest point in the Rwenzori Range.
Another popular destination is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, National Park. Famous for its population of endangered mountain gorillas, the UNESCO World Heritage Site offers various walking trails that allow you to explore the lush forest, spot unique bird species, and encounter other primates in their natural habitat.
If primate spotting is appealing to you, you will fall in love with the chimpanzee population in Kibale Forest National Park. Guided nature walks take you through the tropical rainforest, providing opportunities to spot chimpanzees, monkeys, birds, and other wildlife. The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary nearby offers additional walking trails for birdwatching and nature exploration.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is also primarily known for its wildlife safaris but offers walking trails through the idyllic Maramagambo Forest and Ishasha Sector.
Walking Trails in Madagascar
Madagascar is the fourth-largest island in the world and presents a unique destination for trekkers. Known for its extraordinary biodiversity and stunning landscapes, the island boasts endemic wildlife and lush rainforests that delight nature enthusiasts.
Located in the central part of the country, Andringitra National Park is a hiker’s paradise. It offers a range of trails that lead to dramatic granite peaks, including Pic Boby (2,658 meters), the highest accessible peak in Madagascar. The park features diverse ecosystems, waterfalls, and unique flora and fauna.
Towards the southern part of Madagascar, Isalo National Park is known for its sandstone formations, deep canyons, and natural pools. The park offers several walking trails that take you through striking landscapes, including the famous Canyon des Singes (Monkey Canyon) and Piscine Naturelle (Natural Pool).
Located in the southeastern part of the country, Ranomafana National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a haven for biodiversity. The park features rainforests, waterfalls, and hot springs. There are well-marked walking trails that allow visitors to explore the park’s rich flora and fauna, including lemurs, chameleons, and rare orchids.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Madagascar is Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, famed for its unique limestone formations known as tsingy.
While some parts of the park are inaccessible, there are walking trails that allow visitors to explore the stunning landscapes and encounter rare wildlife, including lemurs and endemic bird species.
Walking Trails in Malawi
Malawi is known as the “Warm Heart of Africa,” and offers a variety of walking trails that showcase its natural beauty and diverse landscapes.
Among the most popular destinations for hiking trails is Mount Mulanje, a stunning mountain range with various hiking trails suitable for different skill levels. The trails take you through dense forests, past waterfalls, and breathtaking viewpoints, offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside.
Situated near the city of Zomba, Zomba Plateau is another of Malawi’s popular hiking destinations with well-marked trails. The plateau features scenic viewpoints, streams, waterfalls, and a variety of bird species. Hiking routes like the Emperor’s View or the Queen’s View provide stunning vistas of the surrounding countryside.
Liwonde National Park provides walking safaris along the riverbanks and floodplains. Accompanied by experienced guides, you can explore the park’s diverse ecosystems, and spot hippos, crocodiles, and a wide array of birdlife.
But one of the best networks of walking trails in Malawi is the UNESCO World Heritage Site offers walking trails along the shores of Lake Malawi, one of Africa’s largest and most picturesque freshwater lakes. You can stroll along the sandy beaches, explore rocky outcrops, and enjoy the tranquillity of the lake’s crystal-clear waters.