Mapulaneng Hiking Trails

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Bushbuck Ridge, Mpumalanga

Situated at the Welgevenden Forest Station, close to the Lowveld town of Bushbuck Ridge is the setting for one of the most beautiful hiking trails in South Africa. Deep within indigenous rain forest can be found three fully equipped log cabins and two, day long hiking trails. For those that require less strenuous, shorter routes, there are short cuts to cater for every need. This hiking venue will be remembered by many of the older hikers who will recall it as part of the group of trails established by the former Lebowa Government. I have walked these trails about 15 times in the last 10 years and always look forward to returning to this wonderful place.

Cabin 1 (6 Bed) Cabin 2 (4 Bed)
Cabin 3 (6 Bed)

The Accommodation

The accommodation at Mapulaneng is very special as far as hiking goes. There are three log cabins situated deep in the heart of the rain forest. They are positioned far enough apart to give total privacy to each one while groups can book all three without being far apart.


The cabins can accommodate a total of 16 people, number 1 takes 6 people, number 2 takes 4 people and number 3 takes 6 people. There is a hot shower in number 1 while the other two have baths.

Braai Area (Cabin 1) Platform (Cabin 2)
View from window (Cabin 1) Braai Area (Cabin 2)

Inside, the cabins are full of luxuries that are not found on the normal hiking trail. Bedding, towels and crockery are provided. LP gas provides lighting, power to the stove and fridge and to the water heater.


The Trails

The trails are moderately difficult, especially the Duiker trail which climbs to the top of the Drakensberg escarpment.



Part of the escarpment
A local inhabitant, a stick insect

When you walk these trails, you feel totally remote from everything. The trails are often overgrown and this adds to the feeling of jungle.


The vegetation along the trail is lush with many flowers. The rainfall in the area ranges between 1600 and 2000mm a year and can occur at any time of the year. Mist is also common.


There are plenty of streams of crystal clear water along the route, especially the Narina Trogan trail.


Swimming is also possible at a large pool at the 11km mark along the Narina Trogan trail however be careful of the slippery rocks!


Crossing the streams after rains can be a bit of a problem but usually it just involves a bit of rock hopping.

The trail can also be a little difficult to follow due to the high growth rate of the vegetation.


For the Botanist the trail is a paradise


There is a lovely waterfall on the Duiker trail.



Thorny Rope Dalbergia armata S.A Tree number 231

During our visit to Mapulaneng, a number of fine examples of the Thorny Rope were seen. This plant is common in wooded ravines and evergreen forests along the eastern edge of South Africa, Swaziland, and the Mpumalanga escarpment. This climber is distinctive by its thorns that grow from the stem. The flowers are small, white to cream, pea shaped and sweetly scented and produced from October to November. The fruit is a rather thin papery pod.


Nabana Farm Stall and restaurant

Situated just outside Hazyview on the White River road lies Nabana Farm Stall and restaurant. On your way home from the Lowveld it is well worth visiting this place and sample a savoury pancake or grab a pint of beer. Homegrown bananas are also available, along with curios.



Nearly home. It is time to say goodnight to a lovely weekend. Many of our club members have taken to calling this hike "Luxury in the Jungle". Actually the word Mapulaneng means "Place of much rain" and is a term used for the whole area around this part of the Drakensberg.

Mapulaneng Hiking Trail is bookable through

Department of Water affairs and Forestry

Mariepskop Forest Station

Telephone +27 15 793 2581

Footprint Hiking Club

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