Located on the southern outskirts of Gaborone on the A1 to Lobatse, Kgale Hill, loosely translated as “The Place That Dried Up” is a national treasure. It is an extremely popular hike especially during weekends. A year ago, I wrote about my concern for all the rubbish on Kgale and the need for us to clean up our act. I shared some of the harmful effects of littering but, more importantly, what we as a community can do to keep our Hill clean. One of the things I mentioned was plogging/ pliking, a strategy adopted in Stockholm in 2016 of picking up rubbish as you run, hike or cycle. So, when we set off today, it was with the special mission to pick up rubbish. We got up rather late but with the cloud cover, it was the perfect day for a hike.
The climb starts on a concrete staircase which eventually gives way to quite rocky terrain. Once you’ve navigated the rocky section, you eventually make your way to a flat narrow trail and eroded gulley. The flatter terrain offers a welcome respite after the intense climb. You get to enjoy nature at its best, the occasional rustle in the bush, the moretologa fruits in the trees and the gorgeous blossoms of the Kalahari Christmas Tree at this time of year.
After the recent rains, the hill was almost unrecognisable – everything was gorgeously green, accentuating the path even more. On the narrow trail, there’s an option to scramble up a rocky path which takes you directly to the summit. Thiwa and Ditiro chose this route today, but Kaia and I were content with the more popular alternative which is a concrete path that winds up to a flat area which eventually takes you to the summit. But even if you decide to remain on this flat area (and not summit), you still get some incredible views.
Our original plan was for us to reunite at this flat area and then start our pliking expedition. But on their ascent up the rockier path, Thiwa and Ditiro found an astounding amount of rubbish so when we met them at the flat area, they had already filled three bags! Most of it was plastic bottles and cans, masks, tissue, cigarette packs, crisp bags and sweet wrappers.
Kaia and I then started pliking with the remaining bag, but it filled up before we were even a quarter of the way down. With the exception of a lovely couple who said they were impressed by what we were doing, others looked at us rather oddly! Perhaps, we did make a rather odd sight! The kids were upset by all the rubbish, but it was an eye-opening experience for them. They did ask why there were no bins at the bottom of the hill to make it easier for us to get rid of rubbish. Instead, we had to drive to a nearby Skip to dispose of it.
Kgale Hill is a national treasure and needs to be protected so it remains a pristine and peaceful place for all of us to enjoy for a long time to come. As we look ahead to a brand-new year, let us all commit to making it our social responsibility to keep Kgale Hill clean so it does not pose any harm to wildlife, our environment and ourselves. Next time you go up – consider pliking!
Have you been pliking or plogging before? Would you like to try it out? Do we look that odd?