I can’t say I used to be a huge hiking fan, the thought of having to hump heavy backpacks over rough hills under the blazing South Africa sun filled me with nothing but dread and loathing. It turns out though, having completed a couple of hikes over the last three or four years, that hiking is my jam!
But, where to hike? I’m based in Durban and to me hiking has always been about the Drakensberg / uKhahlamba Mountain. That’s a minimum 2 hour drive from Durban for me, which I guess is fine if you’re planning an overnight or longer trip, but it seems a bit much for just a day drive. What other options are out there then, and more importantly, how do i find out about the different trails and options near where I, or you live?
Introducing the SA Trail Maps Website
Well it turns out that someone else was thinking along the same lines. Willem Van Zyl, photographer and all around outdoorsman not only thought about it, but actively did something about the problem and created a website called “SA Trail Map“.
It’s such a great idea that you can’t help but wonder “why didn’t I think of this”? The premise is pretty simple on the surface; set up a website where enthusiastic hikers can log the data of their hikes and share their favorite routes…what could be simpler!? Of course having stumbled over the obstacle course of setting up a website myself, it’s not quite as easy as I make out I’m pretty damn sure, but you get the concept of what I’m putting out right?
Once uploaded, details such as elevation profiles of trails can be viewed, images of the trail (if there are any), there’s a rating system and so on. It’s all pretty comprehensive. Although it’s down to the individual users posting data, it would be great if people would take the time to post a little something about where to park, is it safe, does it cost anything and so on. But I’m sure that’ll come in time.
There’s more than just the map though. Willem is a snake handler as well so the website is also full of useful articles such as what to do if bitten by a snake (turns out running off while screaming loudly is not the thing to do – who knew?), snake safety while out hiking, also useful apps for hikers and so on. I can’t recommend this site enough!
But wait, there’s more! Under the resources tab in the menu is a drop down list of just loads of websites, clubs you can join – I can see the SA Trail Map Site quickly becoming the de-facto go-to source for anything hiking related in South Africa.
It goes without saying that because the site is so new, it most likely will change a bit over the coming months and of course it’ll get more and more populated as time goes by – so bookmark it.
I’ve extended an invitation for an interview with Willem to find out more about his creation and hopefully some time in the near future we’ll learn more, but in the meantime, if you’re an avid hiker, pay a visit to the Trail Map website, and of course share the love.