by Marita van Rooyen
“There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast.”
Paul Scott Mowrer
Apart from giving you a real feel of the landscape, walking is the best kind of meditation. And what better way to relax your mind than to go hiking? Not the hardcore, pass-out-from-exhaustion kind, but more the kind of hiking that Tok Tokkie Trails offers.
This is hiking that allows you to experience a very special area of Namibia, learn about the desert fauna and flora, and regain peace within your soul. To top it all, you’ll find yourself in NamibRand, the largest private nature reserve in Southern Africa.
Elaine Hill, a Tok Tokkie hiker from Australia, agrees: “Who wants to see such a beautiful landscape by car? You’d have to stop every five minutes to take a photo. Hiking is the best way to travel, with your feet firmly on the ground, experiencing every amazing aspect personally and having it within hand’s reach.” It’s a magical feeling to watch the landscape change colour, see the vegetation transform from acacia trees to spiny ostrich grass, follow the trails of a tok-tokkie beetle, and watch a Cape cobra steal eggs from a bird’s nest.
On the Tok Tokkie hike you will experience many different aspects of the desert – from mountainous terrain, sand and gravel plains, to stretches of savannah and vegetated dune belts. Walking is conducted at a leisurely pace and doesn’t normally exceed 10 km per day.
It’s ‘luxury hiking’, where you are woken with a cup of coffee or tea just as the sun comes up and where you can relax with a sundowner before enjoying a three-course dinner prepared by the camp chef. All you have to carry is your camera, binoculars and water – the Tok Tokkie crew supplies the rest. A maximum of eight people is allowed per group to ensure personal attention by the guide. Larger groups can be catered for on request.
Guide Domingo Tjambiru will guide you through the wilderness and explain how the white lady spider does her dance, why it’s so difficult to spot Grant’s golden mole, and why some gemsbok have only one horn.
As you walk through fields of fairy circles, it’s fun to devise your own theory as to why they exist. Domingo carries a mobile refreshment pack on his back, so sit back against a rock on the saddle of Horseshoe Mountain as he takes out fresh muffins and fills your cup with hot tea. After a long day of walking, clearing your mind and cleansing your soul, you arrive back at camp just as the sun sets, where you are welcomed with a cold drink, or beer if you prefer.
Your ‘room’ consists of a stretcher with bedroll, bedside mat, bench and washbasin. The ‘desert air-con’ (as Domingo calls the wind) is there to cool you down as you wait your turn for the bucket shower to wash off the dust of the day. Kick off your shoes and sink them into the soft dune sand; it’ll give an entirely new meaning to being at one with nature. When falling asleep under a thick blanket of stars you’ll have no other option but to consider yourself lucky, as this is one of the last true wildernesses on earth, a place where you will learn to appreciate the unexploited beauty of Mother Earth. Welcome to the thousand-star desert hotel!
Wake up to the sounds of barking geckos and be one of the fortunate people to be up early enough to see the sun set the sky on fire, before you head off out into the open space again. Friedrich Nietzsche was right when he said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Remember to drink lots of water to encourage a healthy team effort between body and mind.
Tok Tokkie Trails is about 450 km from Windhoek. One route option is to take the C19 that passes through Maltahöhe, where you can enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Zaris Pass and be entertained by donkey carts along the way. Turn off onto the D827 and continue straight until you reach the C27. Keep an eye out for the signboard on your left. Otherwise, should you be coming from Sesriem, the turn-off is about 110 kilometres along the C27.
Tok Tokkie Trails is a part of Unlimited Travel & Car Hire cc. Sister company, Safaris Unlimited, organises a variety of hikes and trails in Namibia, such as the Real Canyon Hike, Naukluft Mountain Trek, Desert Experience Trail, Mule Trails and the Brandberg/Köningstein Summit Ascent.
This article appeared in the Aug/Sep ‘10 edition of Travel News Namibia.