As per usual, I’m getting that wanderlust feeling and wondering where we’ll jet off too next. Come on an Indonesia daydream with me for a minute…
I went on my first hike this past weekend, up into the misty Drakensberg Mountains. Here’s how I got a little piece of my soul back…
Since coming back from my Grand Indian Adventure, I lost touch with my wanderlust and need for nature. While I have loved trying out the young-professional-rents-own-apartment life, I began feeling off-kilter without some sort of hippie happiness to keep me grounded. I’ve been on a few missions around the country to some beautiful and raw places since, but this hike into the wilderness really reminded me how much I need these sort of getaways and man, I feel better for it.
I was lucky enough to go with a group of really great, seasoned hikers who helped me learn the ropes and remained patient when I got complete stage fright crossing the rivers. We signed in at Didima Camp in Cathedral Peak (for a grand total of R55 each) and headed out despite the rainy, misty weather.
The hiking experience was incredible and rather unreal to be honest. The weather may have been cold on the hike up, but it was so very beautiful seeing the mountains and vast expanses of greenery all draped in thick mist and juicy rain drops.
It’s surprising how quickly you get used to carrying a huge backpack over rocks and up hillsides although we did stop a few times to swim in natural pools, drink fresh berg water and feast on snacks. On the very last stretch before the cave, we spotted a little puff adder hissing bravely at us next to the trail, but the rest of the berg creatures remained tucked away from the rain.
What fascinated me the most was the unofficial Hiker’s Credo. For example – out of respect for other hikers, you must dispose of fruit peels etc, out of sight so as to not leave any sort of trail behind you. There are also these sporadic man-made pebble pyramids called cairns, that signal to other hikers that they are headed in the right direction. I got a kick out of adding rocks to them as we went past, as an unofficial signature in an unofficial guestbook.
After 5 hours of trekking, we finally made it to Xeni cave and set up camp by decorating our abode with candles and getting hot water for coffee on the boil. Surprisingly, I slept like a baby that night – snug in my sleeping bag, only waking occasionally to see more and more of the candles burn out until just one soldier was left glowing in the darkness.
We woke up the next morning to a misty view, shared some breakfast and washed up in the waterfall that runs over the front of the cave. Mama Nature presented us with a beautiful day of sunshine and breezes, perfect for river swimming and picnic pit-stops on the hike home. Luke and Richard (both talented videographers) set up their drone to fly overhead and got some insane shots of us hiking through the valley – I seriously can’t wait to see the footage!
The berg was pretty much flawless and I had precious time to take pics and get some journaling done. Yes, I may be absolutely buggered and stiff in the most bizarre joints, but it was completely worth it to just disappear into nature, silence and stillness.
Here’s to the year of the Cave Dwellers!
Lounging in the rice padis (Taken with Instagram)
Shopping in India (Taken with Instagram)
Festival of colours (Taken with Instagram)
Spice market (Taken with Instagram)