Eden to Addo: A 400km hike that is a journey for the soul

Imagine escaping from it all. Leaving behind a frenetic urban life and forgetting about cellphones, traffic, noise and pollution.

FIND YOUR TRUE NATURE: The Eden to Addo hike
FIND YOUR TRUE NATURE: The Eden to Addo hike

It doesn’t have to be a fantasy. Eden to Addo, a 20-day, 400km walk that moves from the West to the Eastern Cape follows the footsteps of the once-migrating Knysna elephant.

Taking place again in September, the Eden to Addo walk starts at the Garden Route National Park and, moving east through the Baviaanskloof, the hike ends in the Eastern Cape’s Addo Elephant National Park. Traversing some of South Africa’s most mystical and magical landscapes, the hike moves through seven mountain ranges, 10 biomes and over two rivers.

It requires physical and mental stamina.

“It’s not just about the physical challenges of walking through seven mountain ranges,” said Brenda Gilbert, a Johannesburg resident who has done the walk three times.

“It’s also mentally challenging and an incredibly profound experience.

“It’s important to get out of the harsh environment of our realities; to just be free of man-made structures, and be in the mountains.”

Started four years ago by Joan Berning, Eden to Addo aims to raise funds and awareness about biodiversity.

“It’s a fact that fragmentation of the landscape is the biggest cause of biodiversity loss,” said the former scientist. “We need biodiversity, we need to save and promote natural ecosystems, they are intertwined and essential to our survival.

The walk is fully ”glamped” – tents are ready as hikers come into camp at the end of a long day, and all meals are cooked. There are also expert guides on hand to explain the natural fauna and flora. But it is a very small group – 20 hikers in total. That’s 20 people you’ll see for 20 days. This, along with the long days, can make it psychologically challenging.

“I found Eden to Addo to be an uplifting, life-changing experience. It provides extraordinary personal growth,” added Gilbert.

“Eden to Addo is as much about opening up natural corridors as it is about opening up corridors of the mind,” said Berning. “We need to change the way we think as eco-apartheid is not going to bode well. The idea that you can put a fence around an area of land, put a few giraffe in there and think that is doing anyone any good needs to change.”

Times Live

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