Overberg -- There are plenty of walks in the undulating hills and mountains of the Overberg region, but my favorite is the Whale Trail (tel. 021/659-3500; www.capenature.org.za) in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, a 5-day walk in fynbos (a beautiful and diverse floral kingdom) paradise, with the last 3 days hugging the coast, with whales (in season) constantly within view and earshot. The first day is the hardest (15km), but it gets much easier after that (day 3 is only 8km) -- and besides, luggage is portaged.

Garden Route -- This is a walker's paradise. One of the best ways to experience this is with the Garden Route Trail, an easy 5-day coastal walk (all luggage portaged) that takes you from the forests of the Wilderness National Park to Brenton-on-Sea outside Knysna (www.gardenroutetrail.co.za). For serious hikers, the following are worth noting: the 108km (67-mile), 7-day Outeniqua Trail (tel. 044/302-5606), which takes you through plantations and indigenous forests (shorter versions available); the 60km (37-mile), 6-day Tsitsikamma Trail (tel. 044/281-1712), an inland version of the more famous Otter Trail, which includes long stretches of fynbos, as well as forests and rivers; and the 27km (17-mile), 2-day Harkerville Trail (also called the Mini Otter Trail, and a good alternative), which features forest and coastal scenery (tel. 044/302-5606). Best of all is the 42km (26-mile), 5-day Otter Trail, South Africa's most popular trail. It's a tough coastal walk, taking you through the Tsitsikamma National Park, past rivers and through indigenous forests, with magnificent views of the coast; its popularity means it must be booked at least a year in advance (tel. 012/426-5111; www.sanparks.org). The 3-night Dolphin Trail is a luxury trail in the Tsitsikamma, with all luggage portaged; comfortable, fully catered accommodations; plenty of time for lolling in tidal pools; and trained field guides accompanying walkers (tel. 042/280-3588; www.dolphintrail.co.za). For those who don't have the time (or energy) for overnight trails, the 10km (6.25-mile) Pied Kingfisher Trail, in Wilderness National Park, follows the river through lush indigenous forest to a waterfall; the 9.5km (5.6-mile) Kranshoek Walk, in the Harkerville Forest, is another great forest environment; and the 9km (5.5-mile) Robberg Trail, in Plettenberg Bay, is definitely worth exploring for its wild coastline and whale-watching opportunities.

West Coast -- Avid hikers are advised to find out more about the Cederberg Wilderness Area, some 3 hours north of Cape Town. With its strange twisted rock formations and tea-colored streams, this is a hiker and climber's paradise, plus it's off the beaten track (tel. 021/659-3500).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.