Baviaans Nature Reserve, Eastern Cape
The Leopard Trail is a 4-day and 3-night hike set in the magnificent Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site Wilderness Reserve. This is a slackpacking hike – each day we transport your bags and food from one overnight hut to the next, leaving you to walk with only a day pack.
The Leopard Trail is a moderately difficult hike with the longest day being 22km. The route is designed for people of good hiking fitness.
Please note that currently, the Eastern Cape is experiencing a drought, so do not expect to find water on route. There are plunge pools and fresh water tanks at each overnight site. Cedar Falls does have water.
SA’s Fastest Growing Multi Day Hike
This is true wilderness hiking. A single-track path meanders through the inaccessible mountains of SA’s third largest wilderness area.
With the Baviaanskloof hosting 7 of SA’s 8 biomes, the Leopard Trail offers an unparralled diversity of landscapes.
The Leopard Trail was designed for hikers by hikers. The trail and and overnight sites were purposely created to inspire WOW, and to connect hikers to the magic of true wilderness.
Add an extra bonus day
There is an optional bonus 5th day you can add to your Leopard Trail hike. The magnificent Cedar Falls Day Hike really should not be missed. Getaway Magazine described the Cedar Falls Day Hike as “One of those moments of extremely beautiful life!”
This hike leaves from the Cedar Falls Base Camp (where you start and finish The Leopard Trail).
Book yourself into one of the accommodation options at Cedar Falls either before or after your Leopard Trail hike, and enjoy the magic of Cedar Falls!
The Leopard Trail is a circular hike staring from, and returning to, Cedar Falls Base Camp. Vehicles are left at the base camp.
9.75km, 3 – 5 hours
The first day of the trail is 9.75km, so please ensure you start walking by 2pm at the latest. The trail begins with a nice stiff walk-up Kick-Start Hill to the plateau. At the day’s halfway point there is an optional detour to Gabriel’s Pools – a spectacular kloof with small pools for swimming and your only drinking water along the path for the day. The detour is 570 metres each way, and with time for swimming will add an extra hour to the day’s hike. From there the path moves down into a valley that winds its way to the first overnight spot.
Leopard Trail recommends: Give yourself enough time to do the detour. Gabriel’s Pools are in a really special little kloof.
18 km, 5 – 8 hours
Day 2 starts off nice and easy with a 5.5 km walk along Rhebok Valley. From the old Cedar View detour turn-off point you start the climb to the top of the saddle and spectacular views of the Kouga and Baviaans foothills. Down the other side to Reflection Pools, for a swim and drinking water. The remainder of the day’s hike takes you across the landscape before climbing two small saddles at the end and arriving at the overnight huts.
Leopard Trail recommends: In summer avoid walking during the middle of the day. Organise yourselves the night before for an early departure. Leave early in the morning (as close to daybreak as possible), enjoy the detour to Cedar Viewpoint, and keep moving to get to Reflection Pools and shade by mid morning. Spend a good few hours at the pools before heading off mid afternoon for the last few hours of the walk. Bags for Camp 2 are delivered last, so if you arrive at the camp site early be prepared to wait for your bags to arrive.
22 km, 6 – 9 hours
The longest day of the trail, day 3 starts with you walking across the flow of the landscape. This is the most taxing part of the hike as you tackle the three climbs of Honeybush Hill, Inconvenient Truth and Ain’t so Bad. This is true wilderness, with no sign of human impact, and views deep into the Baviaans and Kouga mountains. At the day’s halfway point, Draaipunt, there is a short 224 metre detour to drinking water. The second half of the day is spent walking down the incredibly beautiful Kasey Kloof, following its winding path for 9 km through to the third overnight huts.
Leopard Trail recommends: Leave as early as possible in summer and get over the three saddles in the first few hours of the day (prepare your camp the night before for a sunrise departure.) Spend some time at the stream at Draaipunt before continuing. The walk through Kasey Kloof in the second half of the day is a lot cooler, often passing through shaded areas and under trees. Depending on the localized rains, there are often places in Kasey Kloof to sit in the shade with your feet in running water.
13km, 3 – 5 hours
An easy start to the day has you following yet another beautiful kloof, Birdsong Valley. After 4km you get to Fond Farewell, a steep climb to the plateau. Once on the plateau you will need to get through The Cauldron, a series of two small valleys that get very hot in summer. From there it is a steep descent into the Cedar Falls valley, which brings you towards base camp for a traditional swim in the reservoir’s clean mountain water.
Leopard Trail recommends: Take time to enjoy the last morning of your walk, being conscious of the spectacular valley, listening to the birds and keeping your eyes open for kudu, rhebuck and klipspringers. This is your last day on the trail, and the world out there awaits. Try to make it wait just a little longer.