Fanie Botha Trail, South Africa

Lunny:

A wonderful hike – well maintained, easy to follow, varied, great facilities and they even gave me the best possible weather without a drop of rain in the middle of the rainy season but the most remarkable thing was I didn’t see ONE other person on the entire trail…?

Luny

115km of hiking

3 days and 3 nights

Over 2500m of elevation gain …

Mix of mountains, rain forest, waterfalls, pools, ridges, creeks, pine plantations, long grasses and more!

Starting/end point: the town of Sabie (few hundred kms from Jo’burg and Pretoria in NE South Africa) …

Smorgasbord of South African Beauty – Fanie Botha Hiking Trail

Luny posted a good map.

click to see large version

click to see large version

Starting points are either at the Ceylon Hut (on Ceylon Plantation), or the President Burger Hut (at Mac Mac Forest Retreat), or the Graskop Hut (near the town of Graskop) and parking is available at these points only.

It’s easy to section hike the Fanie Botha, especially with those big loops.

South African Hikes:

Maritzbos two day trail, total distance 17.1 km

Maritzbos circular three night trail, total distance 30.1 km

Bonnet/Mac Mac Pools two day trail, total distance 39 km

Hartbeesvlakte two night trail, total distance 30.1 km

Mount Moodie/y four night trail, total distance 58.8 or 49.5 km

Fanie Botha five night trail, total distance 71.8 or 62.5 km

Go magazine has a terrific trip article by Anim van Wyk and photographer Lawrette McFarlane:

Opened in 1973, the Fanie Botha Hiking Trail between Sabie and Graskop is the first formally designated trail in the country. …

Be careful on the bridge over the Mac-Mac River in the rain – it’s very slippery.

bridge

You hike past the spectacular Mac-Mac Falls – a national monument – on Day 5.

mac-mac

Who was Fanie Botha?

In the 1960s, one Paul van Zyl did a master’s degree on the Appalachian Trail in the United States of America – a trail that stretches over 3500 km in the east of the country. On his return to South Africa he convinced Fanie Botha, then minister of forestry, that hiking trails were a way to make better use of plantations.

Botha’s plan was to develop one long trail from the Soutpansberg all along the escarpment to the Cederberg in the Western Cape. This dream was never realised.

On 11 and 12 May 1973, about 30 hikers hiked the 45 km from the Lone Creek Falls over Mount Anderson to the Mac-Mac Falls, where Botha then officially opened the trail.

Botha promulgated legislation for the national hiking trail system and enabled the establishment of the National Hiking Trail Council in 1975. He could be called “the father of hiking” in South Africa.

There are four huts on the trail:

Ceylon Hut. This was the name of one of the first plantations in the former Transvaal.

Maritzbos Hut. It’s named after the Maritz family to which this piece of land once belonged. They felled trees to make supports for mine shafts.

Stables Hut. It used to be a mule stable. Mules are still used to drag out felled trees.

President Burgers Hut. It’s named after the president of the ZAR between 1872 and 1877.

The grand old man of Mpumalanga

If you want to sleep in the huts, contact Komatiland ECOTourism, Komatiland Booking office, Nelspruit:

Telephone: (013) 754 2724
Fax: (012) 481 3622
Email: ecotour@klf.co.za

related – Philip Jacobson VIDEO highlights

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