What better way to explore South Africa’s diverse locations on foot?
I like walking – it’s good for the soul. I like travelling. I like discovering new places. And that’s exactly what you do on the Heuningland Karoo hike; you experience the Karoo in all its raw, natural, unpretentious glory.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare:
The hike is technically not difficult. But don’t be fooled – hiking the Karoo is no stroll in the park. The long distances, heat and wind will take its toll. If, however, you are hiking fit and have the right socks and shoes, you should be able to enjoy the ever-changing landscape, the smells, the sounds, the art of being.
Tip: If you’ve never hiked before, search the internet for hikes in your backyard. I trained most Saturdays with trail runners that allowed walkers to join in, to experience longer distances (21km and 25km).
Tip: Buy your trail runners at least a size bigger than your normal shoe size – your feet will swell as you walk. And make sure your shoes and socks are worn in.
Clothes need to be light and airy. For my next hike I am definitely getting some lightweight long-sleeved tops – most sports shops stock them. While they are cool and comfortable to wear, they also provide ample protection against sunburn. I will also take fewer clothes on my next hike.
Tip: Pack everyday clothes – shorts, T-shirt, socks, underwear – in a mesh zipper laundry bag. It will keep everything tidy.
I found a wide-brimmed sunhat, excellent hiking socks and a buff indispensable. My sunhat comes with UV protection for the head, which is important to avoid sunstroke.
Because I already had some sun damage to my forehead, I opted for a buff around by head in addition to the hat, which only left the bottom half of my face and neck to protect.
Sunblock or a sunscreen with high SPF is another non-negotiable. Don’t forget to use it on the exposed parts of your arms and legs – it’s not just for your face – or be prepared to get an uneven suntan on your legs, like I did.
Tip: Apply frequently during the day; one application in the morning is not enough. Rather be safe than sorry.
A small tin or bag with the necessary “stuff ” will suffice: some plasters, painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets, mercurochrome, friar’s balsam or surgical alcohol.
If you have any underlying medical condition, get clearance from your medical practitioner before embarking on a hike that will last several days.
Tip: Take along a tub of petroleum jelly or anti-chaffing cream to rub into your feet before you start hiking. Do this every day, and I mean every day. The day I neglected to do it was the day I ended up with blisters on my toes.
“Moody, mysterious Karoo … food for the soul.”
“Keeping the unspoilt nature and each of you in my heart…”
“Sad to be home … going to ‘shower’ tonight with my headlamp and ice cream container.”
“The land of honey and its people will remain in my heart forever.”
Put on your hiking shoes and strap on your backpack. The Karoo and its people will welcome you with open arms.
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