Are you familiar with Green Flag Trails? Next time you venture on a hike, choose one of these accredited trails and be sure of the best possible outdoor experience. By Arnold Ras
With Green Flag Trails, a third-party trail assessment system, you can make an informed decision before setting off on a hike. Is the trail safe? How difficult is it? Do you need a guide? Thanks to the organisation’s listing of 65 multi-day trails and 35 day trails, you can be sure your walk will be one exactly according to your aptitude.
The great news for Wild Card members? Many of the Green Flag Trails are situated within partner destinations. Created by Professor Leon Hugo at the University of Pretoria, and supported by the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa, Green Flag Trails are guaranteed quality hikes.
Professor Hugo explains that the demand for value-for-money hiking experiences prompted him to design the system. Conditions on trails are objectively monitored and summed up in a series of symbols, so hikers can tell at a glance what to expect. “The Green Flag system is based on the principle that you as prospective hiker can best decide for yourself if this particular trail is what you want – provided you are given an accurate description of all trail elements as provided by a credible assessor.”
That’s exactly what the Green Flag rating system does.
- Accommodation facilities: luxury, comfortable, basic or rustic; the impact of overnight establishments; the surroundings
- Trail facilities: bookings, parking, guiding, map, water, etc.
- An auditor walks the trail: What’s the impact of hikers? What are the danger elements?
- Difficulty rating: How much energy is used by the hiker? Is the hike easy (1 to <4), moderate (4 to <7), difficult (7 to 10) or extreme (10+)? And is the trail classified as a walk, a scramble (use of hands is required), or a climb (requires hiking experience, skills and proper equipment).
More than ever people are in need of downtime in nature. The Green Flag Trails promise experiences in pristine environments where you can truly get away from it all. “Sitting alongside a campfire under the stars, sweating it out to the top of a mountain, swimming in a clear mountain pool… With the growth of urbanisation, the only places left for city dwellers to be able to enjoy this necessity of life, is by venturing by foot on hiking trails.”
In an adventurous mood? We are definitely dusting off our hiking boots to explore a few Green Flag Trails this summer. Why not try out one of these top trails in Wild parks and reserves?
Garden Route National Park
GFT says: “Once you have entered the trail, you will notice the cool effect of the forest. As you continue, the light green colour of the forest tree fern, the pink-leaved Blechnum fern, and the brown river streams will make the walk memorable and enjoyable.”
Duration: 3-4 hours
Difficulty rating: 3 out of 10, classified as a walk
Kruger National Park
GFT says: “This wilderness trail allows the adventurous guest a close and personal encounter with nature, traversing large areas of unspoiled bush on foot.”
Distance: ± 20km per day
Duration: Three nights, two days
Difficulty rating: The length of the trail is adapted by the guide to suit the physical capabilities of the group.
Augrabies Falls National Park
GFT says: “This barren landscape has a charm of its own. Although scarcely vegetated, the majesty of the mighty Orange River with lots of boulders make it a challenge.”
Distance: Two nights, three days
Duration: ± 35km
Difficulty rating: 5 out of 10, classified as a walk
Limietberg Nature Reserve
GFT says: “The environment is an enclosed, deeply incised valley with majestic mountain cliffs on both sides. In the deep kloof, there are innumerable pools and small waterfalls.”
Duration: 6 hours
Difficulty rating: 3, classified as a climb (due to serious rock hopping)
Cobham Nature Reserve
GFT says: “The Drakensberg mountains, with their proximity to a generally unexplored Lesotho, provide a sense of wonder and appeal for individuals and adventure seekers.”
Distance: ± 46km
Duration: Five days
Difficulty rating: 5.5, classified as a walk