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Hiking is a favourite pastime for many people for a variety of reasons, and its popularity has been steadily growing over the years.
Here are a few reasons why hiking is such a popular pastime:
#1: Hiking is inexpensive and accessible
Hiking can be completely free at certain places, and those places that require an entry fee are usually really affordable.
Hiking also doesn’t require expensive or fancy equipment or clothing – although a decent pair of hiking boots is a plus.
#2: Hiking is easy to start
Hiking doesn’t require any special training, skills or lessons. You also don’t have to be super fit to start – you can start with a short easy hike and build your way up to the longer more gruelling routes if you want.
#3: Hiking has physical and mental health benefits
Like any exercise, hiking is great for improving and supporting your physical and mental health.
Hiking helps improve cardiovascular fitness, build muscle strength, and enhance overall physical endurance. And being out in nature has also got proven mental health benefits. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, walking in nature yields numerous mental health benefits and may reduce the risk of depression.
Stepping out into nature and breathing fresh air has many health benefits for your lungs too, and If you have trouble sleeping, hiking can help fix that as spending time in nature helps regulate your circadian rhythm, leading to increased sleep quality. Hiking also helps you get much-needed Vitamin D!
#4: Hiking is good for the whole family
Hiking is a great pastime for young and old. Families with younger children can pick shorter trails to start on. It gets children out into nature where they can learn and observe new things and get rid of some of their boundless energy. It also provides an opportunity to bond with your family and friends, share experiences, and create lasting memories.
Hiking is a low-impact activity so is great for older people who may not be able to take part in more rigorous activities but can still enjoy a gentle hike. Plus hiking can be done solo and still be hugely enjoyable, so it really is a one size fits all pastime!
#6: Hiking is calming as you disconnect from the fast-paced world
People who spend more time walking in nature have decreased anxiety and increased well-being – so hiking can help you stay calm.
It provides an immersive experience in nature, allowing you to disconnect from technology, and the fast-paced lifestyle of the city, and reconnect with the environment to experience the beauty and tranquillity of forests, mountains, oceans, and other scenic areas.
#7: Hiking is a great getaway break
Finally, a hiking hobby is just a great way to take a getaway break. You can take a short hike in less than an hour or plan weekend hiking trips that truly get you away from it all to beautiful scenic locations.
Convinced? Great! Here are 7 highly recommended hiking destinations in the Bergrivier region which are right on Cape Town’s doorstep and promise an unforgettable experience.
#1: Groot Winterhoek, Porterville
The Groot Winterhoek Wilderness, in the mountains above the picturesque town of Porterville, is known for its rugged, wild landscape with exceptional rock formations.
The greater Groot Winterhoek conservation area, which is a World Heritage Site, is particularly important for protecting mountain fynbos and wildlife and provides some exceptional hiking trails.
There are also multiple mountain-top retreats to stay at overnight, or longer, and other activities nearby include mountain biking, star-gazing, swimming in the crystal-clear rivers and pools, gin tasting at the nearby artisanal gin distillery or a short trip takes you into the town of Porterville which offers a myriad of eateries, art experiences and more.
#2: 22 Waterfalls, Porterville
22 Waterfalls is a private nature reserve situated at the foot of the Olifantsrivier Mountains just outside the town of Porterville.
The hiking trail here takes you on a route past 22 spring-fed waterfalls cascading down the side of the mountain, surrounded by indigenous fynbos and 47 indigenous trees. Wildlife like the Klipspringer, Cape Leopard and Ribbok can sometimes be spotted and there are many opportunities for bird watching on the way. This trail is open to the public (bookings required), and guests at Waterval do not need to pay to use the hiking trail. Freshwater bass fishing is also offered in the farm dams.
You can also stay at 22 Waterfalls, which offers camping sites and chalets, and a trip into the town of Porterville for a meal out, groceries, or some sightseeing will take you only a few minutes.
#3: Goedverwacht to Piketberg
This fairly challenging newly developed hiking trail makes its way from the hamlet of Goedverwacht to Piket-Bo-Berg through some stunning scenery and terrain.
Hikers are encouraged to stay overnight in Goedverwacht the night before setting out on the hike, then hike the following day to Piket-Bo-Berg and sleep over at Kruistementvlei – a hidden gem on the top of the Piketberg mountain that offers camping and self-catering chalets – before returning to their vehicle in Goedverwacht the next day.
#4: Retreat Guest Farm, Piketberg
The Retreat Guest Farm, which offers a range of lovely accommodation options – has a beautiful scenic 1.5km hiking trail on offer which ambles through a lush indigenous Yellowwood and Kliphout forest, as well as past some awe-inspiring rock formations with centuries old rock paintings to view.
Other things to do include mountain biking, trail running, bouldering and rock climbing, bird-watching, swimming, kayaking, star-gazing and relaxing. Next door is the Kruistermentvlei farm, the venue of the much-loved monthly Piket-Bo-Berg farmer’s market which has visitors travelling from far and wide to come buy the goodies on offer.
#5: Klein Tafelberg, Aurora
Klein Tafelberg Training and Adventure Centre (KTAC) is set on a picturesque private reserve near the rural town of Aurora. Hikers can enjoy a leisurely 10km trail up to the mountain which offers stunning bird-watching opportunities – keep an eye out for Verreaux’s Eagles, Starlings, Swallows and many more bird species – as well as a chance to spot local wildlife.
Other activities on offer here include rock climbing, a shooting range, a 4×4 trail, airsoft, or just relaxing by the pool. There is also a range of camping, glamping and self-catering accommodation on offer here.
#6 Daniels Hoogte, Aurora
DanielsHoogte is a working farm rich in Fynbos and situated at the top of the Aurora Mountain, boasting spectacular views!
This private reserve, which also offers camping and self-catering accommodation, hosts a myriad of fauna and flora to be appreciated, and hikers can look forward to exploring the natural surroundings, many rocky outcrops, and rock art paintings, whilst catching glimpses of a multitude of bird and animal species. You can then cool off in one of the dams on a hot summer day.
#7: Langrietvlei, Velddrif
Langrietvlei is situated on the Berg River, halfway between Hopefield and Velddrif on a beautiful farm – which offers fully-equipped, self-catering chalets set amongst the fynbos.
Langrietvlei boasts two spectacular circular hikes along the Berg River which set off from the main farmstead – a building which has been declared a National Monument. The Helderwater Trail is 10km, and the Langrietvlei Trail is 20km. Both offer brilliant bird-spotting opportunities on the tidal Berg River which has prolific birdlife! Other activities include fishing, swimming, and kayaking in the river.
For more information on these hiking options as well as other things to see or do in the Bergrivier region visit Bergrivier Tourism & Accommodation South Africa or email Bergrivier Tourism on firstname.lastname@example.org.