The Amatola hiking trail is one of the finest trails in South Africa designed by Jaynee levy and Rob Speirs.
"Amatola" is Xhosa for "the place of many young calves" as it's protected forests and glades were ideal for
It is not reccommended for unfit hikers, and is considered tough even by regular hikers. The trail starts at Maden dam
near King Williams Town and traverses the Hogsback mountains with the Keiskammahoek (shining water) valley below,
finally finishing at Tyume forest station 3km from Hogsback.
You may want to use the charming hobbit like village of Hogsback as your base and arrange a tranfer to the start of the trail.
More than half the trail is through ancient indigenous rainforest with enormous outeniqua yellowwood and redwood trees
being the gaurdians of the forest. Sneezewood, wild olive and lemonwood with it's distinctive spiral bark are also abundant.
As are numerous coloured fungi, ground and tree orchids, harebells, watsonias, falling stars, and red hot pokers.
Orchestras of cicadas will obliterate all conciousness of the outside world as you immerse yourself in the dappled sunlight
and never ending waterfalls.
The weather is extremely variable at all times of year and you should be equiped for freezing cold driving rain (even snow!)
as well as intense heat as you may well experience both in the course of the trail.
Make sure that there is at least one experienced hiker in your party.
The Amatola trail often offers different routes which you can select based on weather and the fitness of your party.
Make sure everyone knows where to go and if in doubt always take the shortest route.
Birdlife is plentiful but are mostly heard and not seen, including knysna louries, cape parrots, crowned eagles, barbets,
woodpeckers, flycatchers, robins, and even black eagles around Geju peak. Animals you may encounter include giant golden moles,
giant earthworms, bushbuck, duiler, porcupines, bush pig, otters, baboons, samango and vervet monkeys.
Day 1: Maden Dam - Gwiligwili Hut (11 or 15.3km)Get an early start from Maden dam as you climb 700m on the first day.
If anyone in your party is unfit or the weather is bad take the short cut at the 5km point and save youself 4km of uneven
rocky paths. You climb through the Pirie indigenous forest and leave the world behind for 6 days of bliss. You will notice
what looks like fresh dog poo everywhere, dont panic, it's digested soil from giant earthworms and they can grow to 1m in length.
Gwiligwili Hut is perched on top of a hill with views forever and an excellent separate braai area.
Day 2: Gwiligwili Hut - Dontsa Hut (18 or 19.6km)This is a relatively easy day as you traverse through indigenous forest
the entire distance with the Keiskammahoek valley below. Dontsa hut is in one of the few patches of pine plantation that you will pass through.
It is simpler than the other huts but cosy and inviting with a wonderful fireplace and an impressive waterfall below it.
Day 3: Dontsa Hut - Cata Hut (16.8 or 19km)For the first time you leave the forest behind as the trail ascends to
the plateau, where macchia grassland and a myriad of wildflowers grow. Be careful of the waterfall at the 4km point if there has been any rain.
You can either summit Doornkop or go through the Hovald forest and then descend through the Waterfall forest or stay on the contour
before you reach Cata Hut. Cata hut is very modern with a gas fired hot water geyser and full lapa / braai area.
Day 4: Cata Hut - Mnyameni Hut (13.5km) The easiest and shortest day starts with a 600m steep ascent to Geju peak(1880m)
the highest point reached on the trail. Their is an alternate route which bypasses the peak if it is misty but if not the awesome
views are worth the extra sweat. After 8km in the open you begin the steep descent into Mnyameni gorge and the Malan forest.
A good day to relax and swim in the many rock pools in Mnyameni gorge as you have more time than the other longer days.
Mnyameni Hut, the most isolated hut, has only recently been upgraded to timber frame accommodation.
Day 5: Mnyameni Hut - Zingcuka Hut (18,2 km) Another tough day with the trail rising and falling 400m.
There are many swiiming places on this day so get a really early start to make the most of them. Most of the day is out in the open
except the last few kilometers through the dense wolf river forest, so the pools are warmer and more inviting than usual.
Zingguca hut is truly special and has a donkey boiler to ease those tired bones.
Day 6: Zingcuka - Tyume River (15 km)The last day begins with another series of fantastic waterfalls in the
Schwarzwald forest before a long ascent of 800m to the main Hogsback peak(1845m) and then descending into the Tyume river basin and the end of the
trail. You can easily walk the 3km to Hogsback if thats where you left a car. There is a short cut along the jeep track
to tyume river forest station if you cant face another tough day.
We are not liable for any loss, damage or injury on your side; your travel insurance should include accident,
health cover and emergency rescue.
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