Amatola Trail

Key information: Amatola Trail

  • A stunning multi-day traverse of these high, golden-grassed, huge-viewed plateaus and peaks, dipping into superb indigenous forest.
  • This is pedestrian royalty.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating82.5
  • Beauty31.5
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest3
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating82.5
  • Note: Negs: heavyish loads.

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 42.5 km
  • 4.5 days
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
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WALK SUMMARY

The Amatola Mountains in the Eastern Cape boast open, golden-grassed, huge-viewed plateaus and peaks, superb indigenous pristine forest, waterfalls, and gorges. The mountains boast fascinating wildlife (much of which you are, needless to say, unlikely to see): leopards; genets and caracal; buck; monkeys and baboons.

There are various walking options here.

The pedestrian royalty here is the 6 day Amatola Trail, which traverses the range, from Maden Dam (near King Williams Town) to the charming village of Hogsback. 

Day 1 – climbs 700m through Pirie forest to the lovely hilltop Gwiligwili Hut with its huge views. 11km.

Day 2 – up to 20km through fantastic, rich, varied, beautiful indigenous forest and across undulating slopes to the Dontsa Hut.

Day 3 – to Cata Hut. You emerge from the forest onto the high plateau grasslands today, with huge views, before dropping back into forest to the hut. 19km.

Day 4 – to Mnyameni Hut.  Climb a steep 600m to Geju, at 1,880m, the route's high point. Then drop steeply into the Malan Forest and the Mnyameni Gorge (plan to bathe in the enticing pools). 13.5km.

Day 5 – 18km to the Zingcuka Hut: and undulating day, with time out of the treeline, but some in the wolf River Forest. More swimming opportunities.

Day 6 – a final 15km, in the Schwarzwald Forest (enjoy the waterfalls), then climbing 800m to Hogsback Peak at 1,845m. Then a long descent to the Tyume River area. 3km on to Hogsback town.

You can also walk a 2 day Zingcuka Loop from Hogsback, which is also a remarkable route: a demanding day 1 to the Zingcuka Hut, then a return on Day 6 of the Amatola Trail.

These are demanding and remote trails where, while you will not be camping, you will need to be  experienced and self-sufficient. You have to carry all your kit. Bring your own food, cookers, sleeping bags, water bottles and purification tablets. All huts bar one have running water and showers. So, come prepared. Experienced backcountry walkers only.

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Other accounts: share your experiences

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PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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