The 100km Magalies Biosphere Woman’s Walk was the brainchild of Alna Van Der Walt (RATA NPC Director) who has experience with the Spanish Camino de Santiago and Lighthouse to Lighthouse 100km walk between Hermanus and Struisbaai. Alna is a business woman from Rustenburg with a big passion for ecotourism and has a hugely charitable heart. From these experiences Alna, along with the other directors of RATA (NPC) decided to organise the inaugural event of the hike in 2017 and it was a huge success. This event also brings visitors to our area, giving us the opportunity to showcase our tourism products, as well as making a big impact on the charities that this event supports.
This ladies-only hike takes place in the magnificent UNESCO Magaliesberg Biosphere, once a year, in March over 4 days where the ladies average about 25km per day. After many km’s under foot, there is an ice bucket station, different massage therapists and a reflexologist on standby at the guesthouse waiting for many sets of tired feet and aching backs. The participants only carry a day pack with food and water and are treated to 4-star accommodation and restaurant style meals every night.
Day 1 – The Wet Day
The walk started off on a less than ideal day of soaking rain and very low clouds. We had an early morning blessing and lunch packing session at the Rustenburg Kloof Resort and off we went. The organisers planned the walk for a time of year when the rains should have “stopped” here in Rustenburg, but mother nature had her own ideas. I’m stealing a quote from one of our hikers, Ansie Swanepoel, because she hits the nail on the head: “The Magaliesberg is an altogether different girl when she’s taking a shower” and she sure showed us that on Day 1. With less than 20m visibility, our navigation skills, as well as our will power and ankles, were really put to the test.
None the less, we got our first 28.4km underfoot, albeit wet ones. Chocolates from one of our sponsors lifted the spirits at a surprise resting spot and gave us all the drive to push on through the rain. We did not get to see much of the beautiful scenery that the Kgaswane Nature Reserve has to offer, but the route and weather certainly made up for it on Day 2.
Day 2 – The Ray of Sunshine Day
After a massage session and dinner fit for a king (or shall I say queen) last night, we woke up to the 4am wake up call, some nursing blisters but all hopeful for a dry day, which we got, from the skies at least! The mountain streams were flowing as though it was one huge river, a glorious site which one does not often get to experience.
The routes had to be changed last minute as the heavy rains that preceded the walk made the trip down next to the waterfall in Kgaswane Reserve too dangerous. Luckily our team of organisers, knowledgeable of the mountain and its risks, were able to make informed decisions and take us on an equally satisfying but safe route to get us to our destination and enable us to reach our distance target for the day.
Day 3 – Almost there
According to the feedback we received, Day 3 was by far the hardest, but most rewarding day for most of our walkers. The previous two days km’s and blisters taking their toll on our good humour and will power. The local landowners made the km’s feel shorter when we stumbled upon a table of ice cold fresh watermelon and smiling faces waiting for our tired bodies. “Almost there” was the sentiment of the day. We had a wealth of knowledge shared with us by locals such as Susan Steyn from Rainhill Farm here in Rustenburg. She is our self-taught fauna expert and gave us lots of information about the plants in this mountain that she has lived near and walked in her whole life.
Day 4 – The final stretch
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than (s)he seeks” – John Muir
This day showed us that we have it in us to conquer more than we thought we could. The organisers had been very covert to contact our loved ones who submitted letters of encouragement that they cleverly handed out to the ladies when we all thought we could walk no further. Knowing that there are so many loved ones rooting for us every step of the way made the last km’s more than bearable. Reading their words high atop the mountain was a magical experience for all. The walk ended on such a high note with “Chariots of Fire” playing and our loved ones, friends, family and organising committee waiting for the ladies with the warmest of welcomes at our medal ceremony.
Indeed a bucket list event!
Technical rating: Short scrambles; Use hands for support in some places; Not always on a path; Steep inclines and declines; Multiple stream crossings.
We are now planning a 50km COUPLES walk in July this year. This will only stretch over a weekend and it should then be easier for the couples to take part without sacrificing leave days.
Anyone who is interested in taking part or in becoming a sponsor must please contact us on 081 817 9416, firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MagaliesbergBiosphereWomensWalk/