Africa is home to some of the most beautiful hiking destinations in the world.
Whether you’re looking for a strenuous climb up a high altitude peak or a leisurely hike along a coastline, the continent has something to offer. So pack your bags, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to explore the natural wonders of Africa on foot.
Here are the 10 best hikes in Africa.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak, and one of the most famous mountains in the world. At 19,341 feet (5,895 meters) tall, the climb is challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable. There are seven main routes to the summit, all non-technical, which will take you through five different climate zones, from the lush rainforest to arctic tundra. Along the way, you’ll encounter epic views of sweeping plains, volcanic ridges, and its disappearing glaciers.
Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
The Simien Mountains in Ethiopia are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for their rugged beauty and unique wildlife. Designated as the first national park in the country in 1969, the Simien Mountains’ protected status has kept this special landscape wonderfully free of human development. The trek to Ras Dashen, Ethiopia’s highest peak, takes you to deep gorges, dramatic cliffs, and waterfalls over four days. On this hike, you’ll have the chance to spot a variety of animals, including the Ethiopian wolf, the menacing Gelada Baboon, and the Walia Ibex.
Fish River Canyon, Namibia
The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is the largest canyon in Africa and the second largest canyon in the world, behind the Grand Canyon in the USA. Fish River Canyon is over 500 million years old, with part of the strata formed as far back as 650 million years ago. You can hike almost the entire length of the canyon in four days during the dry winter months. The rugged area is home to large mammals including leopard, mountain zebra, antelope, kudu, and rhinoceros.
Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of Congo
Mount Nyiragongo is the most active volcano in the Virunga Mountains, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is one of the most unique hikes in Africa. The hike to the 11,385 feet (3,469 meters) high summit is highlighted by a crater filled with bubbling lava! It is the world’s largest lava lake, measured at 1.3 miles (2 km) wide and 820 feet (250 meters) deep. The trail to the top is just 4 miles (6.5 km) long and takes the typical person 4-6 hours to complete.
Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa
The Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa is the highest mountain range in the region, estimated at 11,420 feet (3,482 meters) tall. The name translates to “Mountain of Dragons” in reference to its sharp peaks and formidable size. There are many hiking trails here, suitable for all experience levels. But serious hikers should look into the Giant’s Cup Trail. The region is also home to Tugela Falls, the second tallest waterfall in the world, and a number of San rock art sites.
Mount Toubkal, Morocco
Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in Morocco and North Africa, standing tall at 13,451 feet (4,100 meters) above sea level. The most popular hike is the 2-day journey from Imlil to the summit. The trail takes you through the rugged High Atlas Mountains, past traditional Berber villages and lush valleys. Mount Toubkal can be scaled in the summer or in the winter with crampons and an ice axe.
Mount Meru, Tanzania
Mount Meru, located in Tanzania, is the fifth highest peak in Africa and an alternative to climbing its older brother, Mount Kilimanjaro. Standing 14,980 feet (4,565 meters) tall, some visitors hike up Meru to kick start their acclimatization before going to the Roof of Africa. Meru lies within Arusha National Park, known for its diverse wildlife, including leopards, monkeys, and over 400 species of birds. The typical itinerary is 3-4 days.
Mount Mulanje, Malawi
Mount Mulanje is the highest mountain in Malawi, known for its unique rock formations and diverse ecosystem. At 9,914 feet (3,002 meters) tall, Mulanje is known locally as the “Island in the Sky” because it rises quickly from the plains below. Mulanje has many individual peaks which are accessible to hikers. The trail to the summit, Sapitwa Peak, takes 3 days.
Mount Kenya, Kenya
Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa, at 17,057 feet (5,199 meters) tall. The mountain has three summits, two of which are technical peaks (Batian, and Nelion) and one of which is a trekking peak (Point Lenana). The trails offer spectacular, ever-changing scenery including brooding lava towers and glaciers. Naro Moru is the fastest route, and therefore the most popular one, it can be completed over three days.
The Otter Trail, South Africa
The Otter Trail is a coastal hike located in South Africa’s Garden Route National Park. The trail, named after the Cape clawless otter, follows along the rugged coastline, past sandy beaches and rocky cliff faces. The five day hike offers great views of the Indian Ocean throughout its 26 mile (42 km) distance. The trail is strictly managed by the South African National Parks, who only allow 12 people to start the trail each day.