This year we headed back to Namibia, further North, to the mountains in the South West of Namibia. We spent a year planning, thinking, dreaming, preparing for 8 days of hiking, to what is considered by many seasoned hikers to be the 2nd hardest multi-day hike in Southern Africa.They weren't kidding!
It starts with a very simple sign, and a series of painted footprints, which you follow for 8 days.
There are times when you loose the footprints and then the entire group spreads out and searches for the trail, lucky for us (actually talent mostly on the part of Werner and Aldred) this didn't happen too often, and only once did it cost us about 30 minutes.
Let me start with introducing the group, we were 3 groups thrown together by the powers that be at Naukluft. We met for the first time the night before we started hiking. There was team America : Lucy, Jenny and Lori ; then there was team KZN, Werner, Corneels,Werner (also called Verrie, like in "Very Very Naughty") and Raymond and finally team Cape Town / Canada which was Keith, Aldred, Norm and me.
The first morning was a mad rush, when we made our booking we were told that we were to start hiking on the Wednesday morning - on arrival the park officials said that we had to start the next morning, being Tuesday -"the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray"!
We managed to get away by 9am, and started what is described in the brochures "as covering easy terrain" - I think not! It has 2 very steep assents, and what is called the Zebra path, could only be a path for those lucky enough to be Zebras! But we managed to get to the first shelter, mostly in one piece - but scared to death for the days they were described as difficult.
While I have made it sound like hell, the views were absolutely spectacular and our introduction to the immense vistas which we would face over the next 8 days were breathtaking. The concept of no pain, no gain would be repeated everyday.
The sight of the day's shelter was always welcome and never more than that first day.
In true South African style, we had meat (lots of it) for supper, it never takes much motivation for us to carry huge amounts of fresh meat, light a fire and cook it.
We "lost" two hikers on that first day - Raymond, who became severely dehydrated and just couldn't see making it through another 8 days and Verrie who decided to walk Raymond back to the start the next day