12 Incredible Caminos across the Cape

12 Incredible Caminos across the Cape

Time to take a long, meaningful journey on foot.

You’ve probably heard of the Camino de Santiago, the most famous pilgrimage route in the world. Once you start looking into this concept of “Walking Your Way”, you discover caminos all over the world (Australia has recently launched its own).

South Africa has a dozen or so, mostly in the Western Cape – which opens the door to some remarkable routes and experiences. From the Winelands, West Coast and Cederberg to the Overberg, Karoo and Garden Route, these caminos truly do take “the road less travelled”. On foot, you will gain access to remarkable landscapes, at a pace that allows you to soak up the details. This is not an adrenaline-pumping, scale-the-highest-peaks style of hiking. It’s a meditative meander designed to make you think about life.

Make no mistake, it will stretch you physically. A camino is a roller-coaster ride on foot that will take you, both mentally and physically, from the lowest valleys to the highest highs. You never know who you might meet on your journey, but it has a way of turning all those clichéd philosophical and spiritual sayings into something real.

No longer purely religious, caminos offer different things to different people – be it a lovely walking holiday, a journey of introspection or inspiration, a chance to reconnect and “unplug” with loved ones, or a deliberately spiritual path. For everyone, though, it will be a deep immersion in nature and an experience of community.

A few notes about walking a camino:

  • You need to be reasonably fit, able to walk around 16km a day for several days, but you can take it slowly at your own pace. Some caminos are tougher, with longer distances, and not for beginners.
  • A walking stick is not just an iconic camino prop, but often a necessity for negotiating rocky or slippery downhill paths. Some organisers sell wooden walking sticks made in local communities.
  • A camino is open to single walkers, couples, families and groups; ages range from teens to pensioners. Some caminos start on specific days or dates (you can join an existing group or book a slot exclusively for your own group); others are open-ended and start whenever you’re ready to go.
  • Pack a small first-aid kit to treat blisters, especially if you’re doing a self-guided camino. A magnesium supplement helps to alleviate sore muscles and minimise cramps. Don’t forget the sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Dress in layers. A rain jacket or poncho is invaluable. A camino continues whatever the weather.

Cape Camino

Caminos Cape

Duration 40 days, 700km
Group size 10 people max
The first camino in South Africa, launched in 2013 and focused on the peri-urban Cape Peninsula, has flourished and extended out into the surrounding countryside in the past decade. The full Cape Camino can now take you from the Perdeberg/Swartland via the West Coast to Table Mountain, but it is divided into more manageable sections which can be tackled at different times and in different combinations. You can join an existing group or start a group of your own on dates that suit you. You will receive all the info, maps and contact details you need, plus a Camino Passport that identifies you as a pilgrim (and which gets stamped – get 24 stamps and you receive a certificate). There is also a designated chaperone on all routes.
Sections

  • Winelands: 7 days, from Fynbos Estate in the Paardeberg to Tulbagh, via Hermon, Riebeek-Kasteel and Gouda, including three wine farm stays.
  • Farmlands & Community (the “Boerekos” section): 8 days, from Tulbagh to Aurora, via various farms, Koringberg and historic Kapteinskloof.
  • Sandveld & Strand: 8 days, from Aurora to Hopefield, via Redelinghuys, Elands Bay, Dwarskersbos and Velddrif (including a boat transfer on the Berg River).
  • West Coast: 7 days, from Velddrif to Langebaan, via St Helena Bay, Paternoster (with a labyrinth at Sea Shack), Jacobs Bay (look out for the mermaid and fairy village) and Saldanha.
  • Peninsula: 9 days, from Newlands around the Peninsula to the city, via Constantia, the False Bay seaboard, Scarborough and the Atlantic Seaboard. This route is rich in sacred sites.

Lodgings Depending on the section, it might be guesthouses, inns, guest farms, backpackers, glamping, farm stays or home stays; some are very inventive (such as old stable blocks, caravans or lofts above workshops). Often it’s a dorm-style set-up in the rural areas (arrangements can be made for private rooms at an extra fee). Breakfast and supper are included (breakfast only on Peninsula route), as well as luggage transfers. Pilgrims are encouraged to buy local for lunch and snacks.
Good to know You can also do a “Day Camino” on the Peninsula and West Coast routes, or the Hoerikwaggo Way, a five-day walk on the Peninsula with a Khoi guide. There is also a short, three-day Beginner’s Route in the Riebeek-Kasteel area, plus special Wildflower Season options in August and September.
A designated chaperone can accompany most routes if requested.
When All year round
March – May and August – November are best
Cost R53 800 per person sharing; R44 800 (carry own luggage)
Winelands: R11 300 per person sharing
Sandveld & Strand: R10 450 per person sharing
West Coast: R8 950 per person sharing
Peninsula: R12 800 per person sharing
Hoerikwaggo Way: R7 800 per person sharing
Any five days: R7 650 per person sharing
Beginner’s Route: R4 950 per person sharing
Day Camino: R720
Contact 083 997 7404, 084 844 7996, info@capecamino.co.za
Enquire Now

Plett Camino

Caminos Plett Camino

Duration 5 days, 80km
Group size 12 max
A deep immersion in nature, you’ll start in the lush Harkerville forests (at the aptly named Garden of Eden), before heading across the pastures, mountain fynbos and open plains of the Bitou River valley and the Uplands, then the winelands of The Crags and through the forests of the Keurbooms River valley, along an ancient riverbed, to reach the sea five days later. The shortest stretch is 13km and the longest 18km.
Lodgings Comfortable, ensuite accommodation with all meals, drinks and snacks included, plus G&Ts at the end of each day’s walk and other treats (like a pizza night), plus swimming pools and the option of massages at some lodgings. From the first night at T’Niqua Stable Inn, a horse ranch in the Robberg area, the overnight stops include Greenfern Lodge (in the forest), Protea Wilds Retreat, historic Bellamanga Country Escape and 20 Good Summers (a farm stay in the winelands).
Special features

  • game drive across the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve
  • 2 wine tastings with platters at Packwood and Kay & Monty
  • farewell lunch at Down to Earth

Good to know This is a guided walk with luggage transfers.
When Saturday – Thursday or Sunday – Friday
All year except over holiday periods.
Cost R11 500 per person sharing (until 31 July 2024)
R12 500 per person sharing (until December 2024)
30% single supplement for non-sharing room
Contact 083 445 1111, info@plettcamino.com
Enquire Now

Hermanus Camino

Caminos Hermanus

Duration 6 days, 5 nights, 73km
Group size 12 max
This Overberg camino starts in heaven – walking through the vineyards of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley – before heading up and down fynbos-clad mountain slopes, through the countryside of Stanford and beside the Klein River, along the pristine beach of Walker Bay Nature Reserve and ending on the famous Cliff Path of Hermanus. Along the way you’ll encounter historic sites, a cave with ancient rock art, rock pools and fantastic views. The shortest stretch is 12km and the longest is 18km.
Lodgings Comfortable cottages with all meals, drinks and snacks provided, including special coffee stops, braais and cheese & charcuterie platters. From the first night at bucolic High Season Farm, the overnight stops include Glen Oakes Farm (home to pasture-reared pigs and Dexter cows), Klein Watervalplaas (home to alpacas and many other farm animals), Phillipskop Mountain Reserve and an old stone house at Wortelgat, on the edge of the Klein River lagoon.
Special features

  • boat cruise on the Klein River
  • 2 wine tastings, at Ataraxia and Stanford Hills
  • farewell lunch at Burgundy Restaurant

Good to know This is a guided walk with luggage transfers. The fynbos and whale sightings are best in winter and spring.
Alternative route The new Walk the Bay option (4 days, 3 nights, 33km) is a flatter, shoreline and riverside adventure, starting from Kraal Rock on the Cliff Path, heading along the beaches and Klein River lagoon, with a visit to the ancient Klipgat Caves and ending in Stanford, with lodgings at The Blue House and Wortelgat.
When Hermanus Camino: Sunday – Friday; Monday – Saturday; Tuesday – Sunday
Walk The Bay: Thursday – Sunday
All year except July, December and Easter school holidays
Cost Hermanus Camino: From R11 500 per person sharing
Walk the Bay: From R6 900 per person sharing
30% single supplement for non-sharing room
Contact 083 326 2598, 083 677 2171, info@hermanuscamino.com
Enquire Now

De Hoop Camino

Caminos De Hoop

Duration 5 days, 4 nights, about 50km
Group size 4 – 8 people
On the southern edge of the continent, De Hoop Nature Reserve is a pristine swathe of coastline and fynbos that provides the perfect backdrop for meditative, soul-stirring walks. This camino winds its way between the various sections of the reserve, along part of the iconic Whale Trail, and takes in the natural highlights – from caves and rock formations to secret coves, tidal pools and wildlife. There’s a mix of guided and unguided exploration, with the longest walk being 15km, and plenty of opportunity for barefoot strolls on the beach.
Lodgings Divided between two nights at the exclusive, luxury Lekkerwater Beach Lodge and two nights at De Mond Villa (or Opstal Suites or De Melkkamer). All daily meals, local drinks and snacks are catered for, including brunch at De Melkkamer and a campfire potjiekos dinner, and all activities and luggage transfers are included in the rate.
Special features

  • Potberg vulture colony
  • boat trip on the De Hoop Vlei
  • guided marine walk
  • prime whale-watching (July – November)

When Monday, Wednesday or Friday all year
Cost From R18 500 per person
Conservation fee: R50 per person per night (paid at the entrance gate)
Contact 021 422 4522, res@dehoopcollection.co.za
Enquire Now

Klein Karoo Camino

Caminos Klein Karoo

Duration 9 days, 190km
Also known as the “Route of the Sandstone Churches”, this camino combines spirit, history and local hospitality. From Oudtshoorn, you head through farmlands in the foothills of the Swartberg, past the Redstone Hills and along the Olifants River for half the journey, passing through Oudtshoorn again en route to the appropriately named Volmoed (“hopeful”) and De Hoop (“the hope”), through a section of arid Karoo terrain, before ending back in Oudtshoorn. You will visit magnificent houses of worship, a biblical garden and historic hamlets lost in time, and walk a Via Dolorosa. The shortest leg is 10km and the longest is 24km.
Lodgings From rustic chalets (at Cango Mountain Resort) and farm stays (such as Schoemanshoek and Oudemuragie at De Rust) to guesthouses, B&Bs and a night at St Conrad’s in Dysselsdorp, you will be comfortably accommodated, with three meals a day, snacks, drinking water and all activities included.
Special features 

  • visit an ostrich farm
  • De Rustica olive estate visit and tasting
  • port or gin tasting at Grundheim Cellars

Good to know There is an option to ride this camino on mountain bikes, and it can be shortened and adapted to suit your needs. It is a self-guided walk with logistical back-up (including 24-hour emergency assistance), route maps/ info and luggage transport.
When Every Monday all year round
Contact 071 209 1977, operations@kleinkaroocamino.co.za
For cycling: 074 660 0421
Enquire Now

Namaqua Camino

Caminos Namaqua

Duration 7 days, 140km
Group size 25 – 30 people
This camino is an opportunity to worship the wonders of nature and springtime renewal. Many people make the journey to Namaqualand to witness the arid desert carpeted in colourful wildflowers. Instead of viewing this spectacle from inside a car or tour bus, you can walk through the landscape for a week and sleep under the stars. The route, which starts and ends in quirky Hondeklip Bay, takes in sections of the national park both inland and along the coast. The shortest stretch is 10km and the longest is 27km.
Lodgings You’ll be sleeping in SANParks campsites in a tent (BYO, or have one supplied and pitched for you, with bedding); camping chairs are provided. Bathroom facilities are basic, with bucket toilets and hot showers (water is rationed). Breakfasts, ingredients for DIY packed lunches, sweet and savoury afternoon snacks and two-course dinners are included. Your luggage is transported for you.
Good to know There is a slightly shorter “Camini” (100km) on the same route, taking five days.
Alternative routes The Wild West Coast route takes in sections of the park not previously open to hikers, including inland and coastline sections. Daily distances range from 16km to 24km, and the tent and pitching is included in the fully catered cost.
There is also a new 6-day, 106km Kamiesberg route that circles around Garies. It’s also fully catered, with tent and pitching included, and the daily distances range from 12km to 22km.
When 1 – 7 September; 15 – 21 September 2024
Camini: 11 – 15 August 2024
Cost R12 650 per person sharing
Tent hire: R2 450 sharing, R3 150 single
Camini: R9 500 per person sharing
Camini tent hire: R1 900 sharing, R2 500 single
Contact 083 674 5045
Enquire Now

Tankwa Camino

Caminos Tankwa

Duration 10 days, 257km
Group size 25 – 35 people
Both a test of physical endurance and inner strength, this camino is one of the toughest, passing through a Karoo desert landscape that is beautiful but harsh. Time and distance stretch out to infinity, sparking an inner journey. You’ll be walking along the longest gravel road in South Africa (an old trekpad), across the border between two provinces, and traverse a sliver of the Tankwa Karoo National Park, covering an average of 27km a day. It starts in Calvinia and ends at Op-die-Berg near Ceres, via the spectacular Katbakkies Pass through the Koue Bokkeveld mountains.
Lodgings A base camp set up each night, where you will have access to 5 litres of hot water for washing (no showers). You will be welcomed in the afternoon with a boere high tea, and enjoy a hearty dinner (braai or potjiekos); a light breakfast, hot drinks and drinking water are also supplied. Hikers are responsible for packing their own lunch and snacks.
Good to know Transfers to the start from Cape Town and from the end of the route can be arranged (extra fee).
Alternative routes There are four other Karoo routes run by Tankwa Camino.

  • Victoria West (7 days, 139km): a walk between farms deep in the Great Karoo.
  • Heiveld (9 days, 142km): a Cederberg route between Nieuwoudtville and Wupperthal, with walking distances ranging from 11km to 20km a day.
  • Hantam (7 days, 136km): a walk between farms in the region surrounding Calvinia, with an average of 20km per day.
  • Botterkloof (6 days, 120km): a route over three scenic Cederberg passes on the R364, in the Clanwilliam area.

When 17 – 26 May 2024
Cost R7 600 per person
Contact 078 159 6617 (weekdays 8am – 12pm), info@tankwacamino.com
082 619 4333 (weekdays, 4pm – 6pm), enduros@tankwacamino.com
Enquire Now

Nieu-Bethesda Camino

Caminos Nieu Bethesda

Duration 5 days, 6 nights, 100km
Group size 8 max
Thanks to outsider artist Helen Martins’ mystical Owl House and Camel Yard, Nieu-Bethesda is already a site of pilgrimage for many. This circular camino allows you to immerse yourself in the soulful Karoo landscapes surrounding the town and feel its transformative creative energy. Watched over by the iconic, pointy Compassberg (the highest peak outside the Drakensberg), you’ll walk your way from one farm to another, crossing nature reserves and stopping in town for one of the days, and get a deeper look into the history and culture of this off-the-beaten track area. Most of all, you can completely unplug. The shortest leg is 9km and the longest is 24km.
Lodgings Comfortable farm stays and a guesthouse in town. Note that all accommodation and bathrooms are shared. Enjoy delicious, hearty Karoo food for breakfast, lunch and dinner (think lamb shanks, chicken pie, malva pudding), and all the joys of farm life.
Special features

  • Stonefolk of Ongeluksloot outdoor sculptures
  • The Owl House
  • labyrinth and giant statues at Gregg Price Gallery

Good to know This is a self-guided, fully supported walk, including luggage transfers. You need to bring your own additional soft drinks, alcohol and snacks, if required.
When Fixed dates; March – November every year (excluding July)
Cost R10 222 per person sharing
Contact 082  367 2726, slackpackingthekaroo@gmail.com
Enquire Now

Baviaans Camino

Caminos Baviaans

Duration 4 days, 95km
Group size 8 – 14
Starting in Willowmore and ending in Kareedouw in the Eastern Cape, you journey through remote wilderness, traversing the peaks and valleys of the Baviaanskloof and Kouga Mountains along old passes. Expect a series of incredible highs, with views stretching into the adjacent Karoo, a diversity of flora, and time spent in the isolated farming community of Nooitgedacht. The shortest section is 16km and the longest is 31km. This camino is a proper hiking experience, with guides and logistical support; it can also be done on horseback (by beginner riders), a great option for people who are less walking fit or not seasoned hikers.
Lodgings Two nights of relative luxury at Willowmore Historical Guesthouse at the start and Nguniland Guest Farm at the end. Rustic, shared lodgings in old, basic farmhouses while on the journey, at Joachimskraal and Mooigedacht Farm (no cellphone reception and BYO sleeping bag). All meals, snacks and drinks are provided (think braai dinners under the stars).
Special features

  • honeybush tea tasting
  • waterfall swim
  • champion border collie demo

Good to know The hike is challenging and should not be attempted without dedicated training to complete the distance over rugged terrain. It’s difficult but definitely doable.
When Fixed dates once a month; March – November
Cost R11 850
Contact 073 825 0835, info@baviaans2bayadventures.co.za
Enquire Now

Pilgrimage of Hope to Agulhas

Caminos Agulhas

Duration 16 days, 307km (Stellenbosch route)
14 days, 262km (Robertson route)
7 days, 140km (Volmoed/Hemel-en-Aarde route)
Group size 2 – 8 people
A grand journey through the winelands, into the Overberg and down to the southernmost tip of Africa, this route tells the history of the people who have lived here – from the first Khoi peoples to the pioneer farmers, slaves and prisoners of war. Whether you leave from Stellenbosch (going through Franschhoek, Villiersdorp and Genadendal); Robertson (via McGregor, Greyton and Genadendal); or Hemel-en-Aarde, all routes converge on the final section through the south-western Cape, taking in Hermanus, Stanford, Gansbaai, Baardskeerdersbos, Elim and Agulhas National Park. The terrain is mostly a mix of valleys, mountains and farmlands, and the daily distances range from 15km to 28km. Conceived as a journey of hope and prayer for our continent, when pilgrims reach the end, they recite “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”.
Lodgings Pilgrims are hosted by communities along the way in a variety of basic accommodations (from cottages and retreat centres to old farm-school rooms); breakfasts and dinners are often included, and sometimes a lunchbox. Accommodation upgrades are possible in certain places (at an additional cost). Your luggage is transported for you, and you will receive credentials and a walking manual; 24/7 assistance is offered via WhatsApp.
Good to know This is a self-guided pilgrimage that can be started and finished anywhere, and taken on in small sections if you prefer; a guide can also be arranged for an additional fee. The Pilgrim Assist service can make all arrangements and bookings for you.
When Anytime, all through the year
Spring is good for fynbos in bloom and yellow canola fields.
Cost The pilgrim assist team will help you book suitable accommodation, luggage transfers and whatever else is needed.
Contact 083 304 8824, marina@pelgrimstogvanhoop.com
Enquire Now

Garden Route Pilgrimage of Hope

Caminos Garden Route

Duration 14 days, 270km
Group size 4 – 8 people
This self-guided pilgrimage takes you from Uniondale in the Klein Karoo to the coast at Mossel Bay (St Blaise lighthouse, to be precise). It goes through farmlands, across open plains, over the Outeniqua Mountains (via three historic passes) and down through the lush indigenous forests to George and along the beautiful beaches of Groot Brak and Hartenbos. Graded as a “moderate” route, the shortest leg is 14km and the longest is 24km.
Lodgings A variety of hospitable farm stays, guesthouses, a hotel and in an old church, with shared rooms and bathrooms. All offer delicious local dinners – and lots of roosterkoek. Every day on the route, at the halfway mark, there is also a catered brunch stop. Your luggage is transported for you if you want, and you have 24-hour assistance and back-up.
Good to know The route can be split into two sections, allowing for two 7-day walks.
When Anytime; 1 March – 30 November
2 or 3 groups start per week
Cost R15 900 per person sharing
Seven-day option: R8 900 per person sharing
Contact 083 304 8824, marina@pelgrimstogvanhoop.com
Enquire Now

Lighthouse Route Pilgrimage of Hope

Caminos Lighthouse

Duration 17 days, 337km
Group size 4 – 8 people
An alternative route to reaching the lighthouse at Cape Agulhas, this self-guided journey starts in Mossel Bay on the Garden Route and follows the remotest (but most breathtaking) reaches of the southern Cape coast for a week, before turning inland into the Duineveld along farm roads, headed to Vermaaklikheid and Malgas. From here, you head to the southern tip of Africa, through fields of wheat and canola, to the coast at Struisbaai. Graded as “challenging”, each day’s walk can be from 15 to 30km.
Lodgings A diverse mix of accommodation, from farmhouses and worker’s cottages to country lodges and guesthouses. Breakfast, lunch packs and dinner are included. On this route, you carry your own backpack as many of the overnight stops are in very remote places, only reached via detours. You will receive electronic maps and route info.
Good to know The route has shorter options: a seven-day 117km route from Mossel Bay to Jongensfontein, and a six-day 122km route from Malgas to Agulhas.
When Anytime; 1 March – 30 November
2 or 3 groups start per week
Cost R12 600 per person sharing
Seven-day option: R5 600 per person sharing
Six-day option: R5 000 per person sharing
Contact 076 980 5638, ligtoringpelgrims@gmail.com
Enquire Now

Which are your favourites? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Disclaimer:

The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 27 March 2024

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One Response to “12 Incredible Caminos across the Cape”

  1. Sharon

    I have done 3 caminos in Europe and 1 in Namibia.. will be interested to be on your newsletter list please.

    Reply