They’re the latest trend across the globe, and finally arrived in South Africa over the Easter Weekend this year (2016). The HI-TEC Garden Route Walking Fest – more than 75 walks to choose from along that magnificent 200km stretch of coastline between Mossel Bay and Storms River Mouth – is a taste of what’s to come. But what’s so special about these adventures?
Here are 7 reasons why South Africa needs more walking festivals…
1. Conservation, caring and sharing
The Garden Route walking festival followed a route through the heart of one of the country’s most beautiful and treasured natural areas, and placed a strong focus on supporting local conservation and environmental charities in all the protected areas – Tsitsikamma National Park, Wilderness National Park, Knysna National Lake Area, Soetkraal Wilderness and Conservation Area, Robberg and Goukamma Nature Reserves – that all make up the Garden Route National Park. Walkers were able to experience the beauty firsthand, and see and experience for themselves the good work that nature conservation officials are doing. Festival walkers really chipped in with their help in cleaning up trash along the coast on a number of walks.
2. Connect and make new friends
People from all walks of life connect when walking together. In a group, no walker is ever left behind. When someone needs help and support, they find it. People discuss their dreams and plans, and make new ones, along with many friends. It’s what makes a walking festival the perfect platform for building stronger communities.
3. “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl
There’s something about being among the beauty of beaches, forests, mountains and coves – or even just wide-open spaces – that opens up your mind to really appreciating nature and letting your imagination take over.
4. You live, you love, you learn
All walks at the Garden Route Walking Fest were led either by a volunteer leader or a professional guide, all experts in their surroundings, and able to make the surroundings come alive. For walkers it was an extraordinary opportunity to learn, experience hands-on, and become inspired.
5. “Variety is the spice of Love.” – Helen Rowland
At the Easter walking festival there was everything from strenuous hikes to easy beach walks. For families with youngsters there were outings a pirates hunt for buried treasure, where children learned to share their finds, and the adults learned that no sweet is ever really hidden. Kids will always find them.
6. Change is as good as a holiday
We all need to escape from time to time, but a walking festival really is something different. Every walk is carefully planned and executed to keep walkers amazed and tuned in to their next step, physically and mentally.
7. All you have to do is keep on walking
The walking doesn’t end with the Hi-Tec Garden Route Walking Fest, which is a celebration of walking and all its benefits for our health and for the environment around us. So, keep on walking and join the festival next year.