Written By Guest Blogger Ticha Pfupajena
The past two years have been very tough for most people – pandemics, lockdowns and basically worlds turned upside down. However, it hasn’t been all bad as one of the good things to come out of this craziness is that our family has used it as an opportunity to explore South Africa. With international travel on hold, once restrictions eased, we got into the car and made our way to some very beautiful parts of the country for some short breaks. When we are out of the big bad city, we do try and take the opportunity to walk in nature and that has meant quite a few walks and hikes. As Shathiso and her family can attest, some hikes can be somewhat more eventful than others…
Southbroom, Kwa-Zulu Natal – Sunrise Beach Walk
We drove for 7 hours down to the picturesque seaside town of Southbroom and arrived in the late afternoon. This gave us ample time to dump our bags and to wander down to the beach in time for sunset. I believe there is something magical about sunrises and sunsets – I find the time of day to be very calming and relaxing and everything tends to be slower and peaceful. With that in mind I suggested a sunrise walk the following morning to my wife, Tafadzwa. She gracefully declined as did our youngest son Tinashe, but I did find a willing participant in our eldest son Tadiwa.
My alarm woke me up in the dark and I surprisingly had little difficulty waking Tadiwa up. We packed a light breakfast and some water and made the short walk to the beach. It was deserted and we walked along the sand until we came to some rocks where some fishermen were trying their luck. We sat on the rocks as the light broke and enjoyed our breakfast as we watched the sun slowly rising over the water.
After a while, we picked ourselves up and walked along the beach for about 1.5 kilometres – we passed one or two walkers but pretty much had the beach to ourselves. We reached some more people fishing at the other end of the beach, and then turned around and made our way back to where we had started. I can highly recommend the early morning beach walk – a truly glorious way to start the day.
Dullstroom, Mpumalanga – Getting Lost
Lost – Part 1
Our next short hop was a lot closer and took us to the scenic province of Mpumalanga where we stayed in Dullstroom, which is known for its trout fishing and rolling green hills. This time we stayed on a sprawling golf estate and upon arrival my brother Takunda and I decided to get some air and go on a “short” hike. It was quite chilly and we wrapped up warmly and took some water for our exploratory walk. We found a walking trail and wandered at a relaxed pace through some forests, across some small streams and up and down a few hills – it was not at all strenuous and we chatted as we walked. Soon, we exited the trail and found ourselves on the golf course itself.
After a brief consultation, we decided that we would head back to the house and confidently chose our route – unfortunately for us, we chose incorrectly and after walking for a good 45 minutes we realised we were not where we should be! I took out my phone and used Google Maps to see where we were and realised we were on the opposite end of the golf course! With my phone battery on its last legs, we decided to trace back our steps and as we walked we came across two of the estate employees in a golf cart. We politely explained our predicament and asked if they could kindly take us back to our house. The gents were very understanding and we squeezed into their golf cart and had a much less strenuous journey back to the house!
Lost – Part 2
The following day, I unfortunately had some work to attend to and the rest of the family (3 adults and 3 children) decided to go for a short walk. After our adventure the day before Takunda was supremely confident about his navigation experience and the team duly set off.
Based on the story relayed to me later, the walk started off well as the team used the same trail from the day before and everyone enjoyed navigating the stream crossing and the beautiful views.
The real drama started (again) when they reached the golf course and walked and walked and then walked some more. With the team now hungry and tired and on the brink of mutiny, I got a call from Takunda to come and pick up everybody in our car. This time it was a lot easier as he dropped a pin and I quickly drove over to collect the family. The great thing about getting lost is that it makes for a good anecdote about “that time we got lost in Dullstroom!”
Pilgrim’s Rest, Mpumalanga – Majestic Mountains
A slightly longer drive this time and 4 and a bit hours later, after navigating some winding roads we arrived in Pilgrim’s Rest at a vast resort nestled in the Mpumalanga mountains. Our accommodation was a self-catering chalet located right at the entry to a game reserve and the start of a 5km trail – a sign, perhaps? After lunch on a foggy and overcast day, I decided this would be a good time to explore the 5km trail. I found a willing volunteer in Tadiwa, and keeping one eye on the weather we dressed warmly and took raincoats as it looked like it would rain.
The trail was well marked, and the hike was not challenging – the path meandered up and down the slopes and ran along some deep valleys. The views from the top were breath-taking, and our fears of the weather turning were unfounded as the sun started to peak through the clouds and we ended up shedding our layers.
This hike was not as adventurous as our Dullstroom experiences and we made it safely back to our chalet after an invigorating walk.
Whenever we are out hiking, I am reminded of a piece of wisdom I read somewhere and that has stayed with me:
“The closer you are to nature, the further you are from idiots”
When he is not hiking, Ticha can be found blogging here on all things sport!
Linking up with: Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running.