Rim of Africa: 15 awe-inspiring facts about SA's longest mountain hiking trail

2015-09-16 17:33 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - If you're a seasoned hiker and you're looking for a new challenge then you'll be delighted to hear that Africa’s longest mountain traverse and trail initiative - linking trails and ridgelines between Clanwilliam and George - is open for business. 

The initiative of two mountain visionaries Galeo Saintz and Ivan Groenhof, together with a dedicated team of guides and advisors is known as The Rim of Africa and it aims to put SA on the radar of hiking adventurers across the world. 

Here are 15 things you did not know about the Rim of Africa experience - the mega-distance trail routed in South Africa:

1. It's super long!

Mega-distance means 650km of trails and ridgelines between Clanwilliam and George, the trail is the longest mountain traverse of its kind in SA as well as Africa.

2. It takes about two-months to complete the full thru-hike.

The hike takes 56 days to complete and links existing trails right across the Cape Mountains, through multiple CapeNature reserves and across 180 private properties stretching from the Cederberg to the Outeniqua mountains.

3. Or you can chop it up by doing a portion at a time. 

Alternatively the trail can be completed in nine week-long sections.

4. Where to begin?

It starts at the Pakhuis Pass outside Clanwilliam and over the mountains of the Cederberg, Kouebokkeveld and Hex River...

5. Middle trials to check out.

... then heads on through Grootvaderbos, Gouritz River and the Outeniqua region

6. Approaching the finish!

The epic trail ends outside George. 

7. Average distances?

An average week’s traverse covers anywhere between 60km to 100km, depending on the difficulty of the terrain. And the terrain is a challenge. 

8. Good beginner trails?

Start with the Cederberg Traverse, which takes 7 days, or the 5-day Botanical Hike.

9. Intermediate trails to try?

Those with a bit more stamina should include the Kouebokkeveld Traverse 2 and the Agterwitzenberg Traverse 3.

10. For the ambitious adventurer

This would of course mean the Full Monty. The conservation project has been six years in the making according to mountain visionaries a Galeo Saintz and Ivan Groenhof and only a handful of people have in fact completed the full thru-trail. 

11. Not ambitious enough for you Nightjar Adventurer?

The original ridgeline route, aptly called the Skyline, is reserved for seasoned and experienced hikers who are looking to complete one of the world’s toughest and more technical hiking routes.

12. The best time to go?

Now! Spring time between September and November means you avoid the wet and cold of winter and the searing heat of summer in the mountains.

13. Tap into the Cape Floral Kingdom unlike anywhere else

The World Heritage Cape Floral Kingdom is at the heart Cape range from the North to the East, making this experience a botanist’s dream.

14. It is South Africa’s first internationally recognised Friendship Trail.

The Rim of Africa founders were invited to participate in the second annual World Trails Conference in South Korea, where the World Trails Network was formed. This network of the world’s leading trails and trail destinations elected Rim of Africa co-founder Galeo Saintz as its inaugural chairperson.

15. World-class icon hiking trails challenger

The Rim of Africa is set to put South Africa on the hiking trail map similar to walking the Camino in Spain, the iconic Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail in America or the Te Araoa in New Zealand.

READ: 6 Spectacular slackpacking trails to try in SA

“Trails when correctly developed deliver tangible benefits to landowners and communities living close to the trail infrastructure. Ecotourism is a product South Africa needs to continually invest in. Trails are a global contributor to the world’s adventure tourism market and form the backbone to many activities that take place on them from day hikes to interpretive guiding, to trail running events, etc. They can be an important contributor to the rural economy in the Cape,” said Saintz and Groenhof 

'Putting Africa on the map as far as mega-distance trails go'

"The Rim of Africa is also playing a major role in the burgeoning development of the world’s global trails industry, and it will put Africa on the map as far as mega-distance trails go. This initiative is as much about the future as the present - Linking trails to conservation and involving communities, helps us to build a new generation of nature champions as the trail experience is all about reconnecting with nature, our mountains and each other."   

“We like to think of the Rim of Africa as a necklace of trails extending along the Cape Mountains, with the beads or gems being the biodiversity, the vistas, the communities, the rivers and waterfalls that hikers experience along the way.” 

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