5 Unforgettable Mountain Trekking Adventures in Africa

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The Sahara Desert in Africa covers 9.4 million square kilometers (3.63 million square miles) of land, bigger than the entire USA! With all that sand, you’d think there’s nothing else to do in Africa but make glass, but you’d be wrong.

Africa hosts an incredibly diverse range of ecosystems and landscapes. There are deserts, salt flats, savannahs, marshlands, dense jungles, mountain ranges, beautiful coastlines, and more!

This variety of biomes, coupled with cheap exchange rates, means that Africa has some of the world’s best spots for mountain trekking. Check out our top five picks for great African hiking trips.

1. South Africa’s Drakensberg

The Drakensberg mountain range gets the first mention on our list because of its stunning beauty and its historical significance. This was the site of the Great Trek, an important part of the local Afrikaans people’s history and where we get the word “trekking” from today. Located in the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) province of South Africa, the scenery includes wonderful greens and vast valleys.

The weather is particularly pleasant (not too cold) owing to the Drakensberg’s relatively low altitude when compared to other hiking destinations on this list. The highest peak is at 3,482 meters in elevation, which means you don’t require any special training or gear to soak up the scenery.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t exciting and challenging routes for experienced hikers to try. The Mnewi Marathon and the Doreen Falls routes take you through challenging terrain into the heart of the mountain range. Here you can see incredible waterfalls and even find caves with cave paintings.

You can even hit multiple mountain ranges in the country if you want to take a “hiking tour” through SA. Fly into Cape Town and scale Table Mountain as a start, hit the Otter Trail on your way to KZN, finish on the Drakensberg trail, and finally exit the country from Johannesburg or Durban.

2. Mount Cameroon

For extra adrenaline on your trekking vacation, why not walk around on an active volcano? It’s safe (enough) for a tourist destination as the last eruption was in 2000. What makes this trekking vacation special, however, isn’t limited to the volcano beneath your feet.

Mount Cameroon has many different trails that you can take on your journey, from a few short day-hike adventures to the Guinness Trail (literally named after the beer). It can take anything from two to four days to hike the Guinness Trail and it will have you traversing farmland, forests, savannahs, and marvelous hills.

The hikes themselves are also very rustic and adventurous. Taking a guide with them is compulsory and hikers sleep in nothing more than huts at the resting points.

3. Malawi’s Mulanje Mountain

The Mulanje Mountain range in southern Malawi is a gorgeous place to visit. The mountains and hills are comprised of beautiful grey granites with lushes green African grass intertwining the hills.

This is another trip that lends itself to larger families and less experienced hikers. It’s the mountain range with the lowest elevation (3,002 meters) on our list and the incline to the peak, Sapitwa, is very gradual.

The great accessibility makes it one of the more popular destinations on our list as well. There are many hiking routes that tourists can take to explore the mountains. Children love climbing down into valleys and exploring the many streams and rivers that run through the region.

The Mountain Club of Mulanje has all the information a tourist could need to find all the hidden spots in the mountain.

4. Morocco’s Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountain range is another one of the more accessible hiking destinations on our list. Situated in Morocco, it’s quite close to the European airport of your choice, making getting there quicker and more affordable.

The mountain range itself is also not that high up, nor is it an actual volcano. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about getting any special training or eruptions on your trip. This makes the Atlas Mountains suitable for family vacations.

The Atlas Mountains are the tallest mountains in North Africa, which means there are still challenging routes for hardcore mountaineers. There’s a route from the town of Imlil to the highest peak which can take between one and three days to complete.

5. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Last but certainly not least is Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. This trekking experience will take you up the tallest mountain in Africa and it’s breathtaking in more than one way.

This is by far the most extreme of the hiking trips on our list, as it will take you to an altitude where it is incredibly hard to breathe normally. As you approach the summit, you will need to start walking far slower than you’re used to, even if you’re an experienced hiker, as your body has to budget the available oxygen to keep you awake and alive.

The Tanzania-based tour guides are thankfully very experienced in preparing you for this feat. Many companies first train you on hiking trips at slightly lower altitudes so that your body can adjust. They’ll only let you climb Kilimanjaro if they’re satisfied that you’re ready.

If you’re excited to get started with training but a trip to Africa isn’t on the cards yet, there are similar mountain ranges all over the world. The Andes in South America come the closest to providing a similar experience for training purposes.

Plan the Best Mountain Trekking Holiday

Africa is the best continent to visit for your next mountain trekking holiday. Enjoy the rich history of South Africa in the Drakensberg, an unforgettable holiday in the Atlas mountains, or challenge yourself with a long hike up Kilimanjaro. The weather in all of these countries also makes it a great trip all year round, as Africa is known for being nice and warm even in its winters.

Have you ever gone on holiday, however, and been more tired afterward than before? This often happens when people’s approach to holiday planning, from packing to choosing activities, lacks a certain flair.

Find more great holiday and travel tips by checking out our travel and lifestyle blogs today.