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What is hiking?

The Johannesburg Hiking Club was requested to write an article for 20SomethingOnline a website for the youth.

There’s more to hiking than just putting one foot in front of the other.  This you can do at home, at the office, a walk around the block … BUT … once you have experienced hiking, you will never look back.

Obviously one has to put one foot in front of the other, but with more effort, force, enthusiasm and enjoyment.  Important is to have good hiking boots and wear two pairs of socks.  These make for a more enjoyable hike.  A certain degree of fitness is necessary.


Hiking alone in South Africa is usually a no no but there are several hiking clubs to choose from – pick one nearest to home.  Camaraderie is part of hiking with a club.  At night to sit around the camp fire and chatter about the day’s hiking events.


Hiking takes you into the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, where the air is clear, the environment interesting and the tranquility can be savoured.   It is an extremely good de-stress activity.  Its great to swim in a natural rock pool, or just relax those weary legs in the cool waters of a stream.   Hiking requires perseverance to complete the route but the satisfaction at the end of the trail, cannot be put into words – it must be experienced.  Although probably exhausted, the achievement is so gratifying that one bubbles inside with excitement.


Hiking can be enjoyed by all ages – only the length and difficulty of the hike would differ as well as the hiking speed.  The Johannesburg Hiking Club caters for all fitness levels and age groups.   Sunday hikes are divided into slow, medium minus, medium plus and fast groups, which means you pick a group according to your age and fitness level.  The club also has a very active youthful hiking section, which is becoming very popular and this group is growing in size and popularity.   Hiking is not a walk in the park, it means hiking over rough terrain, sometimes bundu bashing (not always paths or trails), it includes steep ascents which, once on the escarpment the way levels out and magnificent vistas can be enjoyed.   The route has to be concluded so perseverance and stamina come in.  The descent is often more difficult than the ascent as the strain is put on to the knees.  Difficulties and successes are enjoyed not only by the individual but the whole group.  Hiking is exhilarating and everyone, at some stage in their lives, should experience the highs, the lows, the enjoyment, the disappointment – whatever – but hiking is fantastic. 


Don't just go out for a hike, stop and use your senses.  We are privileged to be gifted with so many other aptitudes that we do not just have to use our legs when hiking.

We have the sense of smell, which enables us to enjoy the sweetness of the spring flowers but also the pong of dassies' droppings.

Touch is wonderful, feel the silky soft moss on a rock in comparison to the prickly thorns of

Sight is one of our most precious gifts, admire the fantastic views which we experience on our Sunday hikes in the Magaliesberg, look at the various plants, shrubs,

Listen to the gentle flowing of water, the songs of various species of beautiful birds or the bark of baboons.

Taste the sweetness of the crystal clear waters of the Magaliesberg or the bitterness of the stamvrug fruit.  Please do not try any wild plant fruit unless you are absolutely sure you can identify the plant.

At night, don't let your senses go to sleep, feel the warmth of the fire, hear the crackling of logs or the jackal's call, admire the stages of the moon and astonish at the galaxy of stars and enjoy the taste of water from a stream before slipping off to bed.

Remember the four seasons of the year and take note of the changing vistas, from the dull yellows and browns of winter to the lush green of summer.  Feel the difference in temperatures.

Don’t just hike there are so many wonderful enjoyments associated with hiking, so take the time to savour the gifts we were born with.  The main thing is get out there, hike and hike and do more hiking – you will never regret it.


Enthusiastic hiker