The Karkloof Falls2Falls 3-day slackpacking trail offers the chance to immerse oneself in the natural splendor of the KZN Midlands. If magnificent waterfalls, spectacular escarpment views and gliding on a zipline through the forest canopy gets your pulse racing, then this hike has just the right combination to test your stamina and sense of adventure. Heading off on ancient logging paths through the second largest indigenous forest in Southern Africa, this guided hike provides contrasting scenery with new surprises each day. From highly vulnerable mist-belt forest, towering escarpments, serene pastoral allotments and indigenous bushveld tree trails overlooking the mighty Umgeni valley gorge, you will be amazed at what the KZN Midlands has to offer.  The bird life is plentiful and diverse, with the chance to spot a variety of raptures and perhaps the elusive Narina Trogan. An early optional morning visit to the world-class Karkloof conservancy bird hide is the perfect place to relax, enjoy the natural surroundings and possibly tick off all three of South Africa’s cranes including the very rare Wattled Crane. Other mammals like Reedbuck, porcupine, giraffe, zebra and endangered Samango monkeys all share their hide-outs in the beautiful Karkloof valley. On the third day, we trace the Umgeni Valley escarpment across pristine grasslands showered with wild flowers and shady trees to finish our journey at the legendary 95 meter Howick Falls, known to the Zulu people as KwaNogqaza, meaning “Place of the Tall One”.

This slackpack allows people of average fitness to explore the beauty of the valley at a leisurely pace with comfortable accommodation and gourmet meals to look forward to at the end of the day.  The slackpack’s daily treks can be tailored according to the groups fitness and individuals interest levels.
 
As a three-day trail, it is a good option for a long weekend getaway, and being centred in the heart of the Midlands, adds a different dimension to the well-known Midlands Meander route. For those walkers/runners who enjoy fine cuisine and luxury living, the trail can be easily upgraded.

Day 1
Mt Goboa circular walk (Approx 12km 850meter ascent Approx time: 6 hours)

The hike begins with a 2 km climb following ancient logging paths through the second largest indigenous forest in South Africa. This special place is home to duiker, Samango monkeys and the rare Karkloof Blue butterfly. From here we trace our way up the escarpment to the summit, Mt Gilboa (the highest point of the Karkloof range at 1768m) We then snake our way through indigenous forest and pristine grasslands to Grey Mare’s Falls for a picnic lunch with tremendous views overlooking the 900 HA Karkloof Nature reserve. After a picnic lunch we make our way back to the Bushwillow from where we will return by vehicle to our first night’s accommodation under the eaves of the towering cliffs. The trail begins and ends at Bushwillow Park, 7km away from our accommodation. Depending on the group size, in addition to the guides vehicle we may need to lift share with other slackers. For those of us who don’t like climbing steep ascents there are other gentler ‘lakes and forest’ trail options to choose from.

Day 2
Karkloof Falls hike (10-15 km 265M Ascent, Approx time: 4 hours)
There is an optional early morning visit to the world-class Karkloof bird hides followed by a hearty breakfast at our Guesthouse. After breakfast guests will then make their way up the road to the Karkloof canopy tours to glide through the Karkloof forest canopy along a series of well secured ziplines. With entertaining, well-trained guides, there is plenty of time to rest and admire the unique fauna and flora from a series of elevated platforms offering an extraordinary perspective of the forest.

After the canopy tours, depending on the energy levels of the group we self-drive to the country club to begin a circular trail through the plantations to the Karkloof Falls. 

Day 3
(12km 280 M Ascent, Approx time: 5 hours)

After breakfast we self-drive to uMngeni Valley to walk an indigenous tree trail with spectacular views overlooking the mighty uMngeni gorge below. Home to giraffes, zebra, antelope, and 270 species of birds, this trail offers plenty of look-out points to admire this unspoilt tranquillity. Keep your eyes and ear open and your camera primed for some special encounters. It is with heavy legs but dancing hearts, our journey comes to an end with a harvest lunch in view of the cascading waters of the iconic Howick Falls.

**NOT dog friendly**