The Tankwa Camino
Pics by Marlize Stander
The first Tankwa Camino was held in August 2013, and the second in September last year. For 2015, three events are planned, and one is already fully booked. 3 - 12 April, and 24 September - 3 October still have availability. So, how has this 250 km / 10 day hike through this desolate part of the country come about, and why is it becoming so popular?
Danie Pieterse has always cherished a dream of walking from his grandfather Jan Pieterse’ s grave in the Tankwa-Karoo to his other grandfather's grave in Rawsonville. He once shared this idea with one of his friends, Charl van der Merwe, and soon the planning for the first Tankwa Camino started. The main idea behind the Camino would be to introduce people to this beautiful part of the country.
Charl and his wife (Mariete) started training for the hike straight away, with Danie and his wife (Rhina) delegated to coordinate the hike and the support team. All this planning and preparation bore fruit when a motley crew of 45 hikers and 10 support staff gathered in front of the big red postbox in Calvinia on Friday 9 August 2013 for the start of the 'great trek'.
Hunter Thompson's 1971 odyssey Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas opens with the words: "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take effect". The Tankwa desert will became your drug for ten days, as you walk through one of the most extraordinary landscapes in Africa, a landscape that beggars belief, that makes you realise God is indeed in the details. This is a place where time and distance is stretched, where horizons dance and disappear, and where every corner brings a new startling vista.
The Tankwa Camino costs R3 500 per person. Dinner, and coffee and fruit at other times of the day, is included in this fare, as is portage of your tent, sleeping bag and other surplus belongings. You also get 5 litres of hot water to wash in the evenings! Breakfast and lunch is your responsibility.