Africa is a wonderfully scenic hiking and trekking destination. The terrain ranges from soaring mountains to semi-desert jeep tracks to paths winding through lush rainforests. Africa is home to some of the planet’s last truly wild places where you can stretch your horizons and free your inner adventurer.
We’ve rounded up the best of the best: Africa’s top three hikes and treks.
Walking safaris are one of the best ways to explore Africa. It’s hard to get closer to the wilderness and feel like a harmonious part of the nature rather than an outside observer. Some of Africa’s top and most experienced safari guides specialize in this form of safari precisely because it offers such an exceptional experience, by turns thrilling and gentle, dramatic and surprising.
Zambia is the original home of African walking safaris, and the best places to hike into the wild are Zambia’s unspoiled South and North Luangwa National Parks. Explore the banks of the Luangwa River on morning hikes and evening game drives then head north to the confluence of the Mwaleshi and Luangwa rivers, where teeming plains and woodlands await. You are almost guaranteed not to see another soul on the twice-daily hikes. Combine the ultimate guided nature walks with warm hospitality and intimate camps, and you have the recipe for an unforgettable adventure.
Gorilla trekking is one of Africa’s most rewarding wildlife encounters, and a tourism activity that plays a direct and essential role in preserving both the endangered great apes and their precious jungle environment. Coming face-to-face with gorillas is a transformative experience for many people and being in the ancient African rainforest transports everyone back to the beloved childhood tales of Tarzan.
Odzala National Park in the Republic of Congo protects a large swathe of magnificent tropical rainforest. Set off on daily expeditions that feature jungle hikes, adventure walks and gorilla treks in the care of professional guides and expert trackers. The lodges are relaxed and comfortable, and the hospitality is warm and generous. Adventure walks take you through shallow waterways, between forests and open grasslands, and past large natural mineral licks - gathering points for the shy and elusive wildlife of the forest. You journey along tracks criss-crossing the forest floor in search of western lowland gorillas. When you find them, you share profound moments of mutual curiosity and awareness with these gentle goliaths.
Hike and Trek Kilimanjaro
Trekking and hiking Mount Kilimanjaro - the highest peak in Africa - is not for the faint-hearted but it is very achievable. You do not need technical climbing skills but you do need to be fit enough to hike for an average of six hours a day, often up very steep paths. To put the summit of Africa’s tallest mountain in context: Uhuru Peak rises to 5 895m (19 340ft), higher than Mount Everest’s South Base Camp by 531m (1 742ft), and a mere 2 953m (9 689ft) shy of Everest’s summit.
We recommend two routes up Kilimangaro: Lemosho, a lesser known route that heads up the western side, and Machame, the most popular route up. All routes travel through a wonderful variety of vegetation, from lush rainforest to moorland, grassland and eventually alpine desert and a chilly volcanic wilderness. Along the way you are treated to superb views of Mount Meru, Shira Ridge, and Kibo Peak and its glacier. Summiting Kilimanjaro is at the top of many traveller’s Africa bucket lists with good reason: it is one of the world’s highest peaks that can be reach without technical climbing skills and exploring the iconic snow-capped peak that rises up out of rolling savannah is simply an unforgettable experience.
Whatever your fitness level, there’s a walk, hike or trek waiting to thrill and delight you in Africa. So bring your hiking boots and come take a walk on the wild side.