Pristine coastlines and majestic safaris are probably the first things that come to mind when you think of Africa. The continent is widely known for its beautiful scenery and exotic wildlife—but did you know it also plays host to some of the world’s best-hiking destinations? The eastern coast of Africa has some particularly wonderful hiking trails. Here are a few you will want to check out next time you’re on the continent!
Hanang Mountain, Tanzania
While no Kilimanjaro, Hanang Mountain still provides plenty of sweeping views of the surrounding plains, making it the perfect alternative to those who can’t take a week to tackle the country’s most well-known behemoth. Hanang is Tanzania’s fourth largest mountain with a steep climb that takes roughly 10 hours to traverse. Along the way you’ll come across a variety of wildlife you won’t find anywhere else. Numerous native tribes live in the area, which is also home to a volcanic crater.
Mount Kenya, Kenya
Whether you’re in town for five days or five hours, Mount Kenya is a must for any hiker visiting the country. The Naro Moru Hike, beginning at the park gate and continuing to the Met Station at 10,000 feet, offers some of the most unique landscape in Africa. Along the way, you’ll pass elephants, colobus monkeys, and buffalo, as well as tussock grass and Senecio plants. If you’re willing to head another hour north to the alpine zone, you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views.
Mgahinga Gorilla Park, Uganda
The Mgahinga Gorilla Park is a somewhat compact region of the country that offers an abundance of exploration, including some of the country’s best hiking trails. Many of the hikes in the park can be completed in half a day but if you choose to tackle any of the three volcanic summits it can take between 6 and 10 hours apiece. The Batwa Forest Trail is a great opportunity to get a close-up of the native Batwa Pygmies. Of course, most of the hikes offer fantastic chances to see some of the country’s majestic gorillas and the nearly extinct golden monkeys.
Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
The Simien Mountains are a range with numerous summits above 4,000 meters. Hiking here can take days or weeks, depending on how much terrain you’re willing to tackle. One of the best hikes is to the summit of Ras Dashen, the highest peak in the range and the fourth highest in Africa. The hike to the top crosses several gorges and streams and is home to local wildlife like the Walia ibex and gelada baboon. At 14,901 feet you’ll probably need at least a full day to get to the top, so be prepared to rest on some pretty rough terrain.
Mount Mulanje (Mulanje Massiff), Malawi
Mount Mulanje is the crown jewel of Malawi and is easily one of the most breathtaking spectacles on the African continent. Sheer cliff walls rise dramatically out of the surrounding valley and climb to over 10,000 feet. Climbing to the top isn’t for the faint of heart, but those up to the challenge are rewarded with truly spectacular views of the region. Some of the endemic draws of the area include the Mulanje cedar, klipspringers, vervet monkeys, and black eagles. The mountain has earned the nickname “Island in the Sky” due to the fact that the cliffs seem to burst through a cottony haze on a misty day.