South Africa and the Cape West Coast in particular, are well known for magnificent hikes and walks. Enjoying South Africa on foot is a treasured experience. In the past it has been the domain of the relatively fit. But that is changing… originally posted 1st April 2017 on the former Darling Dorpskoerant.
Brand South Africa suggests “there’s no better way to experience wild places than to put your boots on and your feet on the ground, one in front of the other. South Africa has a huge variety of awesome scenic hiking trails.“
From strenuous hikes to easy rambles that appeal to explorers, bird watchers, nature lovers, everyone who enjoys getting away from fossil fuel pollution to spend quality time on foot enjoying our beautiful country at a pace that encourages exploration.
West Coast tourism, in a ground breaking initiative, has encouraged a new style of Hiking activity to appeal to all our visitors. Hiking Style 2017.
Local Tour Operators have embraced the initiative with enthusiasm and plan to promote and encourage this form of tourism. West Coast media including a wide variety of websites and newspapers, has been asked to run a series of advertorials to help promote the project.
Those who own or have owned heavy duty hiking boots, huge backpacks, detailed maps and a compass will remember with affection their time spent on the Drakensberg hikes, the Otter Trail, the Wild Coast Hike, the Fish River canyon trek. Hikes that varied from the comfortable, to the ultra challenging. Well the Cape West Coast is expanding the options.
So what is the plan exactly ?
The plan is based on building on the popularity of BackPacking and more recently of SlackPacking to open a whole new vision, Hiking Style 2017.
What is SlackPacking. It is a wonderful concept readily adopted by walkers who felt that lugging huge backpacks around reduced the pleasure of the hike. Their solution was to carry a small daypack with only the necessities like water and lunch for 1 day while their luggage was transported from one overnight stop to the next by motor vehicle. A bracing shower, a change of clothes, a well prepared dinner in a comfortable hotel with a glass of chilled Cape wine, followed by a peaceful sleep in proper beds has much appeal.
The SlackPacking concept has been readily accepted but it does have a downside. It requires burning fossil fuel in large quantities to transport luggage and other necessities between overnight stops and the use of motor vehicles also dictates the location of overnight stays, at a roadside. Environmentally aware hikers and activists have long felt that there might be a better way. The challenge being to reduce the carbon footprint of SlackPacking while retaining the pleasure of enjoying our beautiful unspoiled environments on foot at a respectable pace.
This is about to change.
Those of you who are familiar with the Tibetan and Nepalese way of life through actual experience or through videos and books will be aware of the use of load bearing animals to carry loads between camps. There is real value in using suitable pack animals to reduce the carbon footprint and to create a more natural experience that does not involve motor vehicles. It is a very appealing idea that has immediately gathered interest and the support of local and international hikers alike.
Hiking – Style 2017 ?
West Coast tourism has adopted the United Nations International Yak Protection guidelines through the ‘Société Internationale pour Yaks sans Frontières’.
Tour operators, promoters, and Tourism service providers, who are interested in offering facilities and routes are encouraged to get in touch with the relevant government Tourism department for additional background.
To assist YakPackers who lead busy lives and cannot afford to be out of contact each Yak will carry a VSAT Satellite connection to allow YakPackers to keep in contact through Email, Facebook and Twitter by using the specially written cell phone app ‘YakPack’.
Kudos to West Coast tourism service providers for the adoption and promotion of a truly innovative tourist activity.
I originally posted this on April 1st 2017. I have done many Backpacking routes in South Africa but have never tried Slackpacking; the concept is a winner.
The Yakpakking idea doesn’t really fly as the Yaks would probably cause more CO2 emissions than a dozen cars through belching and flatulence – “A significant portion of these emissions come from methane, which, in terms of its contribution to global warming, is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. … The world’s 1.5 billion cows and billions of other grazing animals emit dozens of polluting gases, including lots of methane – https://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/methane-cow.htm.”