A couple of months ago I was approached by my boss, Garth Jenman who gave me the opportunity to help organise and participate in the upcoming Eco Challenge. An opportunity not to be missed! I used to be a guide for Jenman African Safaris and then started working in the office in Feb – so needless to say I was excited about getting out and guiding again, even if it was only for 7 days…
This Challenge was organized for the Charity called “Breast Cancer Care” in the United Kingdom. 33 Woman and 3 men were coming to Südafrika on a week long treck in aid of this. All of them were affected by cancer in some way or the other. The tour was designed to be challenging with a sense of adventure… and at the same time allowing the participants to enjoy the spectacular scenery our country has to offer. For me it was an interesting challenge to organize.
The clients arrived at Kapstadt International Airport on Saturday (1st Nov) and from there we headed to Hermanus. En-route we stopped at Stony Point for lunch. This is where the clients got their first glimpse of African Wildlife – the Dassie and also the Jackass Penquin. After lunch we continued on our way to Hermanus. Our hotel was situated right on the beach front and everywhere you looked there were whales – beautiful! There were so many of them splashing around, waving at us, spy hopping and just plain fooling around – even for me this was something to experience. I have been to Hermanus quite a few times but never seen so many all at once. Definitely a good start to the tour… On this day we did not do any hikes, it was a day to relax before the week ahead.
The next morning we left early and headed for De Hoop, a Nature Reserve close to Bredasdorp. Our destination was Potberg. After meeting the rest of the crew, unpacking and having lunch the clients went on the Potberg hike. A short start for the hikes ahead. Upon their return the Cooks Henriette and Ferrai and the rest of the guides (Myself, Candice, Nico and Andre) presented a local South African “Braai” with Boerewors and all.. .this was definitely a winner! The clients seemed to enjoy our local cuisine 🙂
The next day was to be a very long day, we were up early for breakfast (once again prepared by the crew) and soon after left for De Hoop Nature Reserve. It was a beautiful day and the sun was out. Upon entering the reserve we already saw some Bontebok, Zebra, Eland and also quite a few bird species – a good start to the day. Soon after the start of the hike some of the clients saw their first snake which Nico pointed out. Africa does have quite a few dangerous snake species and seeing this Puff Adder was another tick on the list and another story to tell back home.
We hiked along the vlei for quite some time until we separated into 3 groups so that we could tackle the dunes, the first group left and soon after we all followed – up and down, up and down and up again… the only bad thing is that the wind started coming up and we were all sandblasted… We found a spot to eat our lunch, well – if you can call it lunch , Sandy Sandwhiches… After lunch we tackled another stretch of dunes and then finally we saw the big, blue…. What a nice sight… The trek wasn’t over however. We still had to hike another 8km’s along the beach to Koppie Alleen where the bus was waiting for us. After the long hike we still had some time to swim before heading back to camp! With sore feet, blisters and sore knees everyone was talking about the successful day and spectacular scenery… On arrival – dinner was prepared by our lovely cooks, Spaghetti Bolognaise – a good meal for hungry clients… and to top it off Ferrai surprised everyone with his famous Apple crumble. The medic was also busy attending to all the stiff muscles and feet.
The next morning we had to pack up camp and leave for Swellendam for the Marloth hike. Having done this hike before we knew it would be more of a challenge for some as this involved a lot more uphill. The sun was out and it was going to be a hot day. We split up into two groups; Brendan and Nico in the first group, and Candice and I with the second group. Once again the scenery was breathtaking. We completed most of the hike by lunch time and once again the cooks outdid themselves – the clients came down the mountain where Ferrai and Henriette were waiting with a lovely lunch. After lunch we packed up and the clients did another few km’s back to the bus. We then headed for Montagu where we had to go and set up for dinner. The clients arrived and had the opportunity to relax by the swimming pool and enjoy the facilities and Montagu springs (who would have known that a week later this property would be damaged severely by the floods). Once again we had a braai next to the pool, real South African style! Something I think was really appreciated by the clients. They were definitely raving about the food every day.
The next morning we had to be on the go at 6am to start the Boesmanskloof hike in Macgregor at 7am. Once again the sun was out and it was definitely going to be a hot day. This is a 14 km hike from the start to finish. Marius went with us on this hike, he has been working in this area for quite some time and knew a lot about the fauna and flora on this route. It was hot from the start but luckily we knew that we will get to some rock pools to cool down. Most welcomed the cool or should I say very cold water when we arrived at the pools, some were braver than others. We went for a quick dip to cool off and afterwards continued to our lunch spot, well needless to say that at 13:00 there is not much shade and everyone had to find a bush or a shrub for cover. After lunch it was the final stretch to Greyton, we could already see the town in the distance and we knew that from now on it was mostly downhill to the end. Once finished the bus was waiting with some cold drinks before heading towards Grabouw for the night. This night we were spoiled by a lovely dinner at the restaurant at Houw Hoek.
The next morning before dawn the crew headed for Hout Bay where we had to go and set up for lunch before the next hike. We were to overnight at Flora Bay – a beautiful setting on route to Chapman’s Peak and right next to the beach. We were welcomed by dolphins in the Bay right next to our “kitchen”. Soon after the clients arrived and settled into their rooms. Lunch was served and we were ready to start the next hike. We followed a route from the neck of the sentinel in Hout Bay, down to the beach and around some cliffs towards the harbour. We knew that rain was predicted for tonight and we were hoping to finish the hike before it started. However with the unpredictable weather in Kapstadt we soon realized that this will not be the case. We could see the clouds coming in from the ocean and we knew that we were not going to make it back in time. It started coming down, and then harder! We soon organized for Candice to come around with one of the vehicles and transport some back to the accommodation. A few brave ones still wanted to carry on and finish the hike along the beach back to the lodge, so they continued in the pouring rain. Back at the lodge dinner was prepared in one of our chalets with the fish on the braai – not much you can do when your kitchen is set up outside! In the end it was a huge success, everyone loved the meal even though they couldn’t enjoy it outside. We were now waiting in anticipation of what the next day will bring, Tafelberg was the final challenge and we were hoping for good weather on this one.
We were up bright and early again and it looked promising – a bit of cloud cover but this will do for the hike. We left early to start the hike from Camp’s Bay side, we hiked up Kasteelpoort side. We stopped quite a few times along the way as it was a lot of uphill and we needed to take some breathers in-between. It was nice and cool – definitely a good temperature for this hike. We had lunch just below the cable station and then had to hike to Maclears Beacon (the highest point on Tafelberg) – this was the highlight and final achievement of the tour. A big banner was put up on the beacon and everyone congratulated each other for completing this challenge. It was a special moment and one I will never forget. It is the small things in life that we take for granted.
After the hike everyone went to settle in at the hotel and freshen up before the Gala Dinner. The tour ended at a lovely restaurant in Hout Bay – we went to celebrate the end of a great challenge at Suikerbossie Restaurant. Above and beyond completing this challenge with aches, pains, knee injuries, spider bites and sore muscles, the group managed to raise more than £120,000 for Breast Cancer Care.
To end off I would like to thank all the guides, cooks, medic and also the bus driver… they did a FANTASTIC JOB!
See what one of the clients had to say by clicking here :