National Hiking Way System of South Africa 1973

Does anyone have any information regarding the NHWS that was planned in the '70? There are 15 trials, I think…
They started developing a series of trails, “ultimately planned to stretch from the southern Cape coast to the northern Transvaal”. “It was based on the US Appalachian Trail concept, the ideal is to develop a semi-continuous hiking system around the country, keeping largely to the Escarpment, other mountain ranges and the coastal belt.”
It was described in the Forest Act 1984 (Part V II National Hiking W ay Systems), which has been dissolved in 1998, but nowhere can I find a list of the 15 trials, just snippets of information.
For example, “the Department of Forestry established the Giants Cup Hiking trial as part of the National Hiking Way System in South Africa”.
Please share any information.
Thank you


I know the Drakensberg section was basically supposed to be the Contour Path and Giants Cup Trail. The Giants Cup Trail is full operational and in use, and about 80% of the contour path is in reasonable shape as well. There’s no continuous trail between Hlathimba Pass at Lotheni and Sani Pass, though. The trail between Cathedral Peak (where the contour path starts) and Royal Natal National Park is also a bit complicated - if you can get from Orange Peel Gap to the trail by Scramble Kop (about 3km without proper trails - although I think there are trails if you know where to look), then there’s a trail back to the Mnweni roads. With some road use, but mostly trails used by the people living in the area, you would probably be able to get from Mnweni Cultural Centre to RNNP if you plan the route well enough.

I know a lower berg DGT has been done before - but that sounds absolutely horrible and is not on my to-do list. An escarpment DGT will be easier, more pleasant and come with better views.

As for the contour path - I’ve done almost all of it, just missing a few sections (one of my lesser goals is to finish it). The really bad sections are from the Xeni River to Xeni Cave, Cowl Fork to Marble Baths, and it largely doesn’t exist for a big section between Lower Injisuthi Cave and Centenary Hut. I know the team that did the lower DGT actually dropped down Shada Ridge to Injisuthi Camp and went back up by Centenary Hut to avoid those sections.

There used to be a hutted trail network near Phuthaditjhaba called the Maluti Cave Trail, but the huts are all vandalised and it never got much support. That would have largely connected Witsieshoek to Golden Gate - although if the escarpment is being followed, it wouldn’t be heading in that direction anyway, but rather would go towards Harrismith from there.

I think the closest we have to a proper NHWS is the Rim of Africa route, but that’s a mission to get access for due to private land - Arno can provide more info on that, he has done sections of it, I haven’t. A traverse of the Great Southern African Escarpment starting somewhere in Limpopo and ending in the mountains just north of Piketberg would be amazing, but is unlikely to ever happen.

Something like this, about 2500km:


I have been involved with the NHWS in the 80’s, but I don’t know which were the 15 trails you are referring to. Try to trace Theuns van Rensburg. He worked for Forestry in the 70’s and 80’s and planned many of the trails. He should still be around. Must be in his 70’s now. He will have all the information. Regards, Derek


One section of the trail that was realised was the Fanie Botha Trail, which is still in existence in Mpumalanga, which goes from Graskop to Sabie over five days. It was a dream of the then forestry minister to have a similar AT trail here in SA.

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Thank you
I have found this document that lists several of the trials, but it seems that some closed now.

In this thesis he is referring to 15 trials and mention the following ones:

  1. Fanie Botha
  2. Hottentots-Holland section of the Boland Trail
  3. Limietberg section of the Boland Trail
  4. Swellendam Trail
  5. Blyderivierspoort Trail
  6. Brandwater Trail, OFS
  7. Eerste Liefde Trail, Transvaal
  8. CKologha
  9. Magoebaskloof sections of the Soutpansberg Trail
  10. Giants cup
  11. Otter

I just thought it would be cool to hike all these hikes…
I grew up in Sabie and did a lot of the trails in the surrounding area.
I would have loved to do the Prospectors again, but sadly I think it is closed. Also, there used to be a hike that went all the way from Graskop to Swadini, could be part of Eerste Liefde or Blyde, can’t remember the name.
Anyway, looking for new trials or some list of some sorts, thought that is would be cool to follow the intended NHWS…


Found this on this site:

Apparently, Peter and Theuns were closely involved with developing the NHWS.

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