Taking the road less travelled

2010-02-26 14:04

IT’S a hot and clear Saturday morning. The Indian ocean is dazzling in varying shades of blue, ranging from indigo to turquoise.

A seal colony is congregating as I heave myself up a hill in the name of hiking at Robberg Nature and ­Marine Reserve.

Set on a cliff eight kilometres from Plettenberg Bay, the reserve is not just amazingly beautiful.

Robberg is also very friendly on the pocket. Twenty-five bucks and four hours later, I am sold on hiking as a marvellous way of experiencing natural beauty.

The hike does not come with a guide. It’s straight forward with signs and warnings at every turn.
Robberg views include an insanely gorgeous Plettenberg bay and the Tsitsikamma mountain range it is enveloped in.

Hiking here feels like a round trip to paradise. There is a choice of three circular routes.

The easiest is The Gap Circuit. It’s a 30-minute stroll over 2.1 km over the bay. This is where you take a show-and-tell picture of yourself with a fabulous backdrop.

The walk around this section of the park is so easy I see why there are people who extol the health benefits of hiking.

I continue through the Witsand circuit. A two hour 5.5km walk, ­Witsand is a not-too-gentle introduction to the physical work that makes hiking more than just a walk.

I follow this up-and-down route that leads to the seal colony heaving and with wobbly legs. Robberg starts feeling like Kilimanjaro; the most physical thing I have done in months being lifting a wine glass to my mouth.

The route ends at a beach where there’s a sign warning us about the falling dune. Go over the edge and you risk being one with sharks and whales, which you spot should you be here in season.

My timing being off-season, I take what I can get?– beauty that words will never fully capture.

The waves of the Indian Ocean crashing into rocks are a beautiful sight and welcome soundtrack.

The third and final route is called The Point.

“You have to do it,” is the ­instruction from Ben of Amakaya Backpackers.

A hiker with the “wonderful Drakensberg” on his soles, he says The Point is not for sissies. It’s a 9.2km walk. I believe him.

It takes four hours of going up and down rocks. You will sweat. Your lungs will moan. Your legs with threaten self-amputation.

Most importantly, your eyes will see wonders that made me think John Keats must have been talking about Robberg when he wrote: “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases.”

I realise that our country is not just beautiful; its magnificence awaits our willingness to explore. And talking about it costing an arm and a leg will be in reference to the thorough body workout you will get in the process.

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