Maluti Hiking Trail

Traversing the mountainous foothills of the southern Drakensberg on the cusp of the Eastern Cape, KZN and southern Lesotho, the Maluti Trail is a successful community-owned trail into this lesser known part of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg National Park.

This 4 day trail explores the diverse natural and cultural heritage of this World Heritage Site. Hiking in the foothills, you’ll pass through friendly rural villages, learn about medicinal plants and local culture, and explore ancient rock-art sites.

  • Trip Duration4 Hike Days / 4 Nights* Fewer days on request
  • Daily DistancesDay 1: 14km/ 6hrDay 2: 20km/ 8hrDay 3: 13km/ 7hrDay 4: 12km/ 6hr
  • Trail Grading3/ 5 - Fitness. Relatively long distances on some of the days requires a moderate-good level of fitness.2-3/ 5 - Technicality. A clear path (relatively well maintained), with no sheer vertical sections.
  • Trail TerrainFoothills of the Maluti Mountains (classified as 'Little berg'). A fair degree of ascent and descent each day, passing through rural mountain villages, grasslands and indigenous forest.
  • AccommodationWell maintained mountain huts with bedding providedCommunal bathrooms and central dining area
  • Logistic SupportA fully guided & catered trail* Vehicle luggage transfers can be arranged* Start & End point transfers arranged at extra cost
  • Group SizePreferred min of 4 persons - max 12 per single group
  • PricingFrom R4,000/pp/sharing
At a Glance

This 4 day/ 4 night hiking trail explores the diverse natural and cultural heritage of the Maloti-Drakensberg World Heritage Site. Hiking along the mountainous foothills, you’ll pass through friendly rural villages, take in ancient rock-art sites, and learn about local medicinal plants and culture.

Each night you'll be welcomed by your chalet host into a comfortable trail hut where hot showers, fresh linen and a delicious dinner awaits. The hike is guided by a qualified community guide, and luggage transfers from one chalet to the next, can easily be arranged for those who don't wish to carry more than a light daypack.

  1. Day 1Arrival Day

    Drive to Matatiele – get transfer to Malekhonyane, near Mariazell Mission (approx 40min)

    Overnight: Malekhonyane chalet (dinner)

  2. Day 2Hike Day 1: Malekhonyane - Mpharane Chalet (14km. Alt: 1591m)

    Crossing over the Jordan river visting rock art paintings nearby. Short steep climb up onto a grassland ridge followed by an easy descent to a river crossing near Masupha village. Then a moderate climb, with great views, followed by a final descent through Mpharane village to the chalet.

    Overnight: Makhulong Chalet above Mpharane village (breakfast,trail lunch, dinner)

  3. Day 3Hike Day 2: Mpharane Chalet – Makhulong Chalet (19.5km / Alt: 1560m)

    Descend through Mpharane village to cross the Seeta river. Thereafter a steady climb using footpaths and sled tracks to reach a long easy ridge with 360-degree views.

    Through a nek and contour path to the protea level where the path meanders through open grassland with streams and incised valleys. A final moderate climb takes you to the chalet at Maboloka located below the Twin Sisters and Makalane peaks.

    Overnight: Machekong Chalet (breakfast, trail lunch, dinner)

  4. Day 4Hike Day 3: Makhulong – Maboloka Chalet (12.5km / Alt: 1663m)

    Moderate climb along cattle paths with interesting sandstone features. Descend to the Kinira river and follow undulating terrain through Goxe and Pepela villages.

    The chalet at Madlangala is surrounded by mountain peaks and has a real sense of place.

    Overnight: Madlangala Chalet (breakfast, trail lunch, dinner)

  5. Day 5Hike Day 4: Maboloka - Madlangala Chalet (12km/ Alt: 1685m). Transfer back to Matatiele this day.

    The last day's hike is a pleasant contour walk with patches of indigenous forest, protea groves, fascinating sandstone features and mountain grasslands.

    The trail ends nears Qachas Nek (border post with Lesotho) where you will be collected by vehicle and taken back to Matatiele where your cars have been left. (breakfast, lunch)

Kids at play on the Maluti Trail

Mountain Trail Chalets - maintained and hosted by a friendly local community member.

Communal bathrooms and central dining area - where meals will be shared

Fresh linen & towels provided

Malekhonyane chalet - first night of the trail
  1. Do we carry our own backpacks?

    Yes if you chose the standard trail, but vehicle luggage transfers between the chalets can also be arranged for an extra fee.

  2. What type of footwear is appropriate?

    Worn-in hiking boots for ankle support if you wish, otherwise a hiking or trail-running shoe will also be suitable for this trail.

  3. What is the best time of year for this trail?

    In the Drakensberg, one can experience 4 seasons in a day. Autumn (Mar-May) and Spring (mid August - Oct) are some of the best months, but for the most stable weather, Winter months (June-July) are usually the best: chilly starts but generally warm and dry days. The hottest months (Nov-Feb) also tend to have the heaviest thunderstorms.

  4. Can this hike be lengtened or shortened?

    Yes, it is very customisable.

at a glance

Based on 2 or more persons, from R4,000/pp/sharing

Whats included in this tour
  • 4 Nights in Trail Chalets: Twin or small dormitory style rooms, with shared bathrooms.
  • All meals: from dinner on arrival night to packed lunch on the final hike day (4 Breakfasts, 4 Packed Lunches, and 4 Dinners).
  • Local Hiking Guide - for all 4 hike days
  • Hot showers, linen and towels
Whats not included in this tour
  • Return transfers to/from Matatiele to start/and from finish of trail @ R 1800 /per group (up to 7 persons/group). If group is larger – 2 transfer vehicles will be required
  • Slackpacking option: daily vehicle transfers of baggage for hike: R2000 (price shared amongst the group)