Amatola Hiking Trail

Once upon a time the only thing tougher than hiking the Amatola Trail, was organising everything else you needed to hike the Amatola Trail!  No More!!!

The Amatola Trail is widely regarded as the toughest and best hiking trail in South Africa. It is a 6 day and 5 night hike starting at Maden Dam near King Williams Town, traversing the incredible Amatola Mountains and ending in the iconic village of Hogsback. 

The Amatola Trail is truly amazing and very strenuous so one needs to be prepared, however the views, remoteness, pristine indigenous forest and endless waterfalls make it a true bucket-lister.

You must be fit and capable of hiking at least 10 hours a day, never knowing what Mother Nature might throw at you. 

The beautiful village of HOGSBACK is the perfect place to safely base yourself before and after your epic Amatola adventure as it is the end point of the full 6 day Amatola Hiking Trail.

The Amatola Hiking Trail is owned and maintained by Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), so all hikers require a permit. 

Amatola Hiking Trail Package

The package includes a Hiking PermitPre- and Post- Hike Accommodation in Hogsback, Shuttle to Maden Dam (start of the Hiking Trail), Safe Parking and Hiker Assistance

Date- 23 to 30 October 2021

Price: Amatola- Dorm: R2 400 per person. MAximum 8 persons.

Book your package through Willie Hall Tours, and have your permits organised and waiting for you at the accommodation in Hogsback the day before you begin the trail. Accommodation in Hogsback is the night before you start and the night on your return. A shuttle to the start of the hiking trail departs from Hogsback and you can safely leave your vehicle at the accommodation for the duration of the hike. Hiker Assistance which entails giving a Map Briefing before you set off and then being on the end of a phone (or WhatsApp) in case of problems during the trail and assisting you in sorting any problems out.

Goodie Drop off at overnight accommodation, and Extraction Service.

Amatola Hiking Trail Details– 6 Day & 5 Night- 100km- 4 900m Ascent

Terrain. This classified as a difficult hike. Wet pathways and some steep inclines make it rough going underfoot in many areas but there are also easier sections along forest walkways.

Arrive in Hogsback on 23 October 2021. Overnight and brief of hike route.

Day 1: Maden Dam- Gwili Gwili Hut 12km, 763m Ascent. Shortest day of the whole trail, and the only day you don’t need to set off at Daybreak.  Shuttle takes you from Hogsback to Maden dam. Involves a climb over 600m of vertical ascent through the Pirie indigenous forest, leaving the world behind for 6 days of bliss. After heavy rain you may notice what looks like fresh dog poo everywhere, don’t panic, it’s digested soil from the world’s largest earthworms and they often grow to 1m in length and the largest ever was found nearby measuring 3.2m. Gwili Gwili Hut is perched on the side of a hill with views forever and an excellent separate braai area and lovely hot showers.

Day 2: Gwili Gwili Hut- Dontsa Hut 19km, 633m Ascent. Looks a relatively easy day as you traverse through indigenous forest the entire distance with the Keiskammahoek Valley below, but don’t be fooled. It’s a long day of undulations which can be exhausting for the less fit.  Dontsa Hut has Pine on one side and indigenous forest on the other. It is simpler than the other huts but cosy and inviting with a lovely fireplace/ braai and an impressive waterfall below it.

Day 3: Dontsa Hut- Cata Hut 20km, 1 024m Ascent. This is the longest day, and is very tough, but there are lots and lots of outstanding views to make up for it. For the first time you leave the indigenous forest behind as the trail ascends to the plateau, where macchia grassland and a myriad of wildflowers grow. Be careful of the waterfall at the 4km point if there has been rain. You go through the Hovald Forest and then descend past the Cata Forest Station before a leg destroying 550m vertical ascent climb in 5km through the absolutely stunning Waterfall Forest.

Day 4: Cata Hut- Mnyameni Hut 14km, 634m Ascent. The 2nd shortest day starts with a cheeky 600m steep ascent to the highest point reached on the trail, the Mighty Geju Peak (1 880m). There is an alternate route which bypasses the peak if it is misty, but if not, the awesome views are worth the extra sweat.  Cross over a meteorite crash site and then begin the steep descent through the enchanted Malan forest (1 000m of knee jarring pain) into the Mnyameni Gorge. Shorter than the other days, it’s a good opportunity to relax and swim in the many rock pools.  Mnyameni Hut is the most isolated which occasionally doesn’t have running water, but there is a stream 10m away where you can wash and drink (not in that order).

Day 5: Mnyameni Hut – Zingcuka 19km, 991m Ascent. My favourite day, but another toughie!  There are many swimming places so get a really early start to make the most of them. Most of the day is out in the open except the last few kilometres through the dense Schwarzwald Forest, so the pools are warmer and more inviting than usual. Zingcuka hut is truly special and like all the other huts has a braai and donkey boiler to ease those tired bones.

Day 6: Zingcuka Hut- Tyume River 16km, 855m Ascent. The last day begins with another series of fantastic waterfalls in the Schwarzwald Forest before a long ascent of 800m almost summiting the main Hogsback peak (1 845m), before descending into the Tyume river basin and the end of the trail. You can easily walk the 4km to Hogsback and or even better take the Amatola+ through the Auckland Nature Reserve past Madonna and Child Waterfall and The Big Tree and end up at Away with the Fairies viewpoint. This is another tough day, but the views from Hog 1 showing the previous 6 days hike and then forward to Hogsback are absolutely incredible.

Post/Trip expires at 12:05pm on Wednesday October 27th, 2021

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Amatola Hiking Trail