Beauty: 4.5 (of 5)
Difficulty (fitness): 7/10
Technical rating of trail: Contains short sections of very steep inclines and declines.
Duration: 4 – 5 Days
Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail lies in the incredible Magoebaskloof forest near the small town of Hanaertsburg on the way to Tzaneen in Limpopo. It is a magical gem full of indigenous forest, pine plantation, crystal clear streams and waterfalls. There are a number of huts available and thus one can hike anywhere from 1-5 days with a variety of routes. Although the trail can only be hiked in one direction, it can be made to be circular, so it would be convenient to organise the same starting & end point.
I have done this trail many times and find that the route described below is the best, taking into account the different huts and their locations.
Day 1: Arrive & park/stay at Woodbush Hut to Waterfall Hut (±15km)
This is a great day to get into the trail. You are immediately transported from the hustle & bustle of everyday life into the magical wonder of the indigenous forests.
Within the first few kilometres, you come across the ‘Tallest planted tree in the world” and by then you are already engulfed in the thick and untouched beauty of Magoebaskloof. The day takes you through many crystal clear streams and some pine plantation, before arriving at a picturesque Dam which you then walk around to get to Waterfall Hut – aptly named because of the beautiful waterfall right by the hut - a perfect place for a well-earned cup of coffee at the end of a great first day!
All the huts are simple, with a lapa/braai area, flush toilets, cold-water showers and no electricity. Waterfall Hut not only has the waterfall right by it, but also overlooks the dam you just walked around and is a wonderful viewpoint to overlook throughout the evening.
Day 2: Waterfall Hut to Dokolewa Hut (±18km)
The day starts off by backtracking a little bit past the waterfall and then takes you through a small patch of forest before arriving at a tranquil clearing along a stream. From here the path begins to ascend, taking you through a bit of pine plantation and continously rising before emerging at the top of a glorious viewpoint where the entire area can be seen.
You then begin to descend through thick indigenous forest while hearing the sounds of streams and forest insects throughout. It is a glorious meander covering the next 5km before arriving at a magnificent double-tiered waterfall which is perfect for a well-deserved break before the last few kilometres.
The path continues along the stream, bypassing exquisite scenery as one is amongst the water and lush forest. There are a few rock pools along the way where you can swim to cool off. However, not far thereafter you arrive at a wooden bridge taking you directly to Dokolewa Hut which once again is positioned amongst the beauty of this incredible trail – right in front of a cascading waterfall and a beautiful pool of water where one can swim and bath. It is a magnificent sight at the end of the longest day of the trail. The lapa area is also next to the stream and once again it is the perfect spot at the end of a long but exquisite day.
Day 3: Dokolewa Hut to Seepsteen Mules Hut (±10km)
You begin the day by going back over the bridge and backtracking for roughly 2km along the stream. Once you reach the clearing, there is a clear sign and path to the left where the trail gradually begins to ascend through the forest with the gushing stream constantly on your left.
It is incredibly beautiful with numerous spots to rest and enjoy nature especially as the whole day is uphill and can become quite tiring! The whole day ascends through the forest until eventually you emerge in the middle of a pine plantation. This signals the near-end of the day, with the last couple of kilometres taking you through the pine plantation until you reach Seepsteen Mules Hut – a hut in the middle of the pine plantation with nothing else around. It is a beautiful and serene location and once again is the ideal spot to relax and rest after the day’s hike.
Day 4: Seepsteen Mules Hut to De Hoek Hut (+-15km)
The last day begins descending straight from the pine plantation back into thick indigenous forest. It continues for a few kilometres, once again passing streams and waterfalls. Eventually you are hiking parallel to the stream and there are many spots where one can have a snack and a break watching the stream as well as the mossy vines strewn across the forest.
Ultimately, you will emerge at a dirt road where, after you cross over, you begin to descend again into the forest. At this point, you will reach a sign which points to the hut going to the left, but points right to go to Debengeni Falls. It is an absolute must to go and see the falls – not only are they spectacular but the resultant streams form many rock pools and gorgeous views of many mini-falls. This is a public area where there are usually quite a few tourists and picnic spots with ablution blocks and is a great spot for lunch and re-filling waters etc.
From here, you will backtrack uphill to where the sign was, and continue ascending. You will be climbing next to the waterfall and there will be many spots to take pictures and view the waterfall as you rise. After a few kilometres you will be near Dokolewa Hut again, and from here it is about 2km straight up to De Hoek Hut.
De Hoek hut is positioned at the top of the hill and has hot showers as a nice surprise and reward for completing this incredible trail!
The Magoebaskloof hiking trail is an absolute-must do for any hiking enthusiast. It has some of the most beautiful indigenous forest in the country and is a perfect hike in summer with all its magnificent crystal clear streams and waterfalls. However, due to its usually dry winter, it is also a great option all year round. It does not have as many ascents/descents as hiking trails such as Otter or Tsitsikamma but one needs to be relatively fit due to the long distances.
Check out this video of the trail for even more inspiration!
Bookings can be made through SAFCOL:
Tel: 013 754 2724
Check the Magoebaskloof page on the SAFCOL website for more info: http://www.safcol.co.za/what-we-offer/ecotourism/magoebaskloof/