Imagine this – you’ve spent a week bonding with 37 total strangers, trekking over sand dunes and beaches, rainforest and veldt, hills and mountains. You’ve discovered Südafrika in all its glory – whales leaping like dolphins in a slate grey ocean at Walkers Bay, penguins who ought, surely, to be skating on thin ice somewhere other than Betty’s Bay, and an ostrich in De Hoop national park who inspected your group with contemptuous curiosity.
You all shivered as you stepped round the sleepily sensuous puff adder and marvelled at the real zebra crossings you’ve seen. You’ve trekked through scenery that’s heartbreakingly beautiful and, sometimes, incredibly challenging. Howeverm you’ve managed, along with your co-trekkers, to keep up despite your aching thighs and sore knees, fear of heights and occasional certainty that you just wouldn’t have the energy to put one foot in front of the other any more.
Some of the group have plunged into the ice cold waters of Oakes Falls on the Boesmankloof Trail that took you through the Riversonderend Mountains. All of the group has plunged into the trekking culture with gusto. It’s been good to walk, great to talk and even better to sleep like a baby at the end of each action-packed day.
To complete your dream, you’ve climbed Tafelberg, all 1,086 metres of it. Tourists can take the cable car to the summit – trekkers get trekking, and you’re proud and thrilled with your achievement. All of you have reached the top: there have been spider bites and twisted knees, swollen ankles, heat stroke and blisters, tears of joy and of exhaustion, but the whole group has dug deep and made it.
Between you, your group has raised more than £120,000 for Breast Cancer Care, and many of you have shared your breast cancer stories with the new friends you’ve made.
You’ve celebrated your achievement at a fabulous gala dinner, and spent a day seeing the sights in Kapstadt and now, sadly, it’s almost time to fly back to the UK. Your memory cup runneth over.
You’re on the bus heading for the airport, all a little subdued, when it’s suddenly brought to a standstill by Ashleigh, the driver who has been much more than a driver for the whole trek. He has ferried the group from one site to another and has shared some of the trekking challenges, helped make the picnics fun, and has occasionally serenaded you all when you’ve been tired at the end of a tough day.
“I just wanted to say this to you ladies,” he says, and in a soft light tenor, he sings “You raise me up”, a song you’ve heard sung by Westlife that you thought was a little bit corny. But at the point where Ashleigh sings:
“You raise me up so I can stand on mountains,
you raise me up to all those stormy seas,
I am strong when I am on your shoulders,
you raise me up to more than I can be”
you realise it’s not a corny song at all.
Everyone on the bus is in tears, and you store yet another brilliant memory in your W&H Trek Südafrika October 2008 file.
Inspired to take part? Find out more about Breast Cancer Care overseas treks to amazing places including Peru and Cuba.