Walking in South Africa, even if you only do it for half a day, is just such a must-do that sometimes it seems as if hardly a month goes by before another jaw-droppingly spectacular hiking route is opened!
This one, the Blue Swallow Trail in Mpumalanga near Nelspruit, is no exception: actually a four-day hike (and quite a strenuous one at that), you can still do sections of it day by day.
Nelspruit has a large airport which is the gateway to the southern sections of the world-famous Kruger Park, so adding on this hike to a safari makes for a perfect antidote to all that sitting in game viewers!
The trail starts in Kaapsehoop, a village founded in the gold rush of the late 1800s: the wild horses found there now are remnants of that era and also the Anglo Boer war which followed. On this hike you'll weave through forestry plantations, crossing verdant valleys, kloofing up clear streams and descending into natural forest, with only baboons and wild horses as witnesses. The Blue Swallow, a rare bird species after which the trail is named, courses through the branches above you and as you descend into the sharp ravines on the forest floor.
Accommodation is most unusual: one of your nights is spent in an old railway carriage and another in a recently renovated forestry hut.
You exit the trail back at Kaapsehoop again (convenient!) and we'd recommend staying at the Silver Mist Country Inn.
The entire trail is an absolute bargain at R450 for slackpacking for two hikers (which includes accommodation but not food) and the Silver Mist Country Inn has rooms from R750 for two per night B&B.