Can everyone walk the Tankwa Caminos?
A certain level of fitness is necessary to walk the Tankwa Caminos. It is strenuous and definitely not suitable for beginners.
Am I fit enough to walk the Tankwa Caminos?
Many hikers are unaware of the requirements for foot fitness, which is essential for anyone planning to walk the Tankwa Caminos. A well-prepared hiker for this journey is someone who has shifted their focus from general fitness to foot fitness. Whether in hilly or flat areas, practice walks for the Tankwa Caminos should be done on a hard, firm surface.
Before attempting the Tankwa Caminos, it is advisable to walk shorter routes, such as five-day routes. Your initial route should not exceed a comfortable 12 km per day. Avoid walking too slowly; take breaks at scenic spots, remove your backpack, and enjoy the surroundings. Allow yourself an hour of rest along the route. Lie on your back and raise your feet higher than your hips. Training in this way helps prevent stiffness, fatigue and keeps your feet healthy for the remaining kilometers.
Experienced hikers who have trekked in other parts of the world, including those who have walked the Camino de Santiago, consider the Tankwa Caminos to be a challenging and spiritually enriching experience. The walker must not only be physically fit but also possess endurance and maintain focus on their ultimate goal and motivation for the hike.
Here's an example that can help you stay focused on your hike:
What changes would I make if I could start my life over, and what advice would I give others?
Would I plan my life differently, choose a different life partner, or am I content with my life experiences?
Where do I experience pain? Where do I feel discomfort?
What advice would I give to my 21-year-old self if I could go back in time?
These thought processes help shorten the journey, clear the mind, and create a platform for discussion with fellow hikers.
To determine if you are fit enough to walk the Tankwa Caminos, it is assumed that if you can comfortably walk four kilometers in one hour, you should be able to walk the Tankwa Caminos and enjoy the experience. We encourage each hiker to walk at their own pace and savour every moment along the way. Please take the time to read books about walking longer routes and view pictures on our website. There, you can see how previous hikers have experienced the Tankwa Caminos.
*No music is allowed on the road or in the camp.
Useful articles and links about Tankwa Camino/Enduros:
What do I carry with me every day on the hike?
Backpack, with splash cover, just big enough to carry:
Flask for warm water along the way. Or bring your own gas stove along.
Breakfast and lunch
Medical items and items to treat blisters (mercurochrome, alcohol swabs, needle & thread, plasters)
Vaseline (for the soles of your feet)
It is advisable to have suitable inserts for your walking shoes.
Extra pair of socks and stockings
Warm water bottle
Any clothing needed
Water bottle with a tube over the shoulder. This seems to work better than ordinary bottles do.
Stationery & journal (if you use one)
Bottles to spray water onto your body are essential as this keeps the skin hydrated and cool.
Which clothes should I wear for walking?
The choice of clothing will depend on the weather conditions on the day.
Make sure to prepare for cold nights and warm days.
For protection against the sun, it is recommended to wear loose kaftan-type clothing that covers the legs, especially when wearing shorts. This garment can also be worn on the shoulders for added protection. It is essential to have a good, wide-brimmed hat that provides neck protection. Thin, lightweight shirts and long pants are necessary for both men and women to shield themselves from the sun.
Which boots or shoes should I wear for walking?
Each person has their own preferences when it comes to walking shoes, but we have noticed the importance of carrying a pair of sturdy sandals to walk in. This allows you to continue walking while giving any chafed areas on your feet caused by boots or walking shoes a chance to recover before they turn into blisters.
To protect your feet, it is important to have lightweight, soft, and flexible boots or walking shoes. Ankle-high boots provide ankle support for mountain trails, but for the Tankwa Caminos, good hiking or walking shoes may be the better choice.
Make sure to "break in" your boots, shoes, and sandals before starting the hike. New or barely used footwear is not recommended for this trail. The boots or shoes should be at least one size larger than your normal size, as feet tend to swell when walking long distances daily. This is especially true for older hikers, who may even require shoes or boots two sizes bigger.
Before attempting the Caminos, familiarize yourself with how your body reacts to walking longer trails. Ensure that your boots or shoes are securely tied to prevent unnecessary foot movement. This also helps prevent your toenails from rubbing against the front of your footwear, reducing the risk of toenail loss. Keep your toenails short and in good condition at all times.
Bring along some old newspapers and stuff them into your boots or shoes at night. This helps draw moisture out of them.
Which walking socks should I choose?
Walking socks are just as important as boots or shoes. It is crucial to purchase proper "blister" socks. Take your socks with you when buying shoes or boots to ensure the right size for your feet (some hikers prefer buying a size bigger). These socks are available at most sportswear stores. Buy enough pairs to change socks more than once a day, as walking with wet socks can cause blisters.
Before using new socks, rinse them and make sure you are not allergic to them by wearing them before starting the Tankwa Caminos. Also, bring along more than one pair of silk stockings, either full-length or calf-length. Before setting off on your daily walk, apply Vaseline generously to your feet. Wear silk stockings underneath your walking socks to reduce friction between your footwear and feet.
What should I buy for blister prevention and treatment?
The following items are essential for every hiker. Keep in mind that there are no towns along the trail, and the local pharmacies in Calvinia and Ceres may not always have the necessary supplies of proper plasters. Therefore, it is important to buy enough before leaving home. Please note that this is crucial.
Needle and thread.
Alcohol preps for sterilizing needles, thread, and areas to be treated.
Syringe and needle for drainage of accumulated moisture. Please ensure that the needle is thick enough. A green or black coloured needle can be purchased from your pharmacist. Bring enough of these with you.
Zinc oxide plasters. We cannot emphasize enough how vital these plasters are on the Tankwa Caminos. You can never have too many of these. Please ensure that you purchase only good-quality plasters.
Buy plasters of several sizes to cater to up to ten pressure points or areas easily chafed by shoes or boots on each foot. These plasters can be left on your feet for up to three days, but unfortunately, the cheaper brands become useless after a few hours. Provide for an average of five plasters per day. If you start training early, as we recommend, you too can be one of the many hikers to complete the walk without any blisters on your feet. Unfortunately, though, some people are more prone to blisters than others.
Three rolls of broad white Elastoplast. It is advisable to protect your toes and feet against the formation of blisters or abrasions from day one.
Gel pads are available at Dischem and are very important for protecting blister areas that may become raw and hotspots. These patches are expensive, so it's crucial that you acquire them yourself and not have to borrow from other hikers.
How can I prevent and treat blisters?
The key is prevention!
As soon as hikers feel any graze or skin irritation, they should immediately apply a Zinc oxide plaster to the area. It's important not to wait until a blister forms.
Avoid using the broad white Elastoplast on a blister, as removing it later can pull the skin off around the blister, causing a raw area.
Under no circumstances should blisters be cut open. Instead, use a syringe and needle to draw out the moisture from the blister and fill it with mercurochrome, mentholated spirits, or Friars Balsam. Sterilize cotton thread with an alcohol prep and thread it through the blister.
Leave a bit of cotton thread sticking out on each side of the blister to aid in drainage. For best results, combine this method with a Genocide plaster. The blister will dry up quickly, allowing you to continue walking comfortably.
Foot care facilities are not available at the camp, but fellow hikers will provide advice and assistance. It's advisable to learn about foot care beforehand. If you need more information than what we provide, consult experienced hikers for further details.
Bring coarse salt to make saline water and a salt solution to soak your feet in the evening. This helps disinfect and strengthen the skin, as well as remove deposits.
Is there an age limit for the hike?
We allow older hikers to participate in the Tankwa Caminos as long as they are in good general health, preferably not over 75 years old, and practice good walking habits. Elderly walkers must provide a medical certificate from a doctor or specialist upon registration. The certificate should be on the letterhead of the issuing doctor or specialist. This requirement also applies to people with chronic illnesses.
Providing proof of completing previous walking routes within the last two years, including distances and evidence of completion, will help in approving such applications.
The Tankwa Caminos team does not accept liability for any incidents or accidents involving hikers with chronic diseases that may pose a risk.
People with diabetes are advised not to participate in the Tankwa Caminos due to the challenges of refrigerating necessary insulin. Blisters on their feet can lead to inflammation and slow-healing or non-healing ulcers.
Can I walk without signing an indemnity?
You are required to register and sign an indemnity form upon registration.
What temperatures can I expect on the trail?
Day temperatures range from 12°C to 36°C.
Night temperatures range from 01°C to 19°C.
In case of an emergency, what should I do?
During registration, we will provide you with telephone numbers to give to your family for emergency use.
If an emergency occurs during the hike, report it to the Tankwa Camino Management team. Danie Pieterse will make all the necessary arrangements.
If an emergency or other transport becomes necessary, you will be responsible for the related costs. Rates will be calculated according to AA rates. Emergency services, such as ambulances, will be at the expense of the hiker and charged at private service or provincial rates as appropriate. Vehicles will not drive to towns for luxuries like ice or alcoholic beverages under any circumstances.
Do I need to buy my own food?
You are responsible for providing your own breakfast and lunch along the way.
Upon arrival at the overnight camp, sweet snacks with coffee or tea will be served.
Dinner at each overnight camp consists of Potjiekos and side dishes.
How much water do I need?
According to experts, every hiker needs two litres of drinking water daily.
We move along the route each day in support of the hikers. This vehicle transports additional water should it be needed. The drinking water we supply to you daily is safe for human consumption. It is, therefore, unnecessary to purchase extra water for the hike. It also impedes the loading and offloading your luggage at our lorries, as the load gets much heavier if excessive water is carried.
How should I pack my clothes and supplies for transport?
Please remember that we aim to break away from the daily routine of our hectic lives. We ask that each walker plans carefully according to the provided list. Please use two plastic boxes that do not exceed 50 liters in size for supplies, and make sure they are appropriately marked.
The Tankwa Camino team accepts no responsibility for any lost belongings. To protect your items, it is recommended that you pack them into an extra plastic bag before placing them into the larger bin, as we may encounter rain showers during our walk.
How should I dispose of my waste?
Protection and conservation of nature are paramount to the Tankwa Camino team. Therefore, we kindly request our walkers to place any waste in a plastic bag in their backpack, carry it, and deposit it in the designated box at the overnight camp.
Please utilize the provided toilets along the way. If the veld (open field) is used for this purpose, carry a small spade in your backpack to bury faeces.
Do I need to set up my own tent?
Upon arrival at the overnight camp, the walkers' tents will be offloaded. It is the hiker's responsibility to erect their own tent. No money should be offered to Tankwa Camino team personnel for carrying or setting up tents. If assistance is needed, please speak with a management team member, and they will provide help at no extra cost.
Hikers must bring their own (strong) tent pegs and hammers to secure their tents. The organizer sells tent pegs in pairs of four, available for purchase on the night of the welcoming dinner. Please clearly state on the registration form if you wish to order tent pegs. There will be no extra pegs for those who did not place an order.
How should I handle encounters with snakes, scorpions, and spiders?
As the hike takes place during a warmer part of the year, there is a possibility of encountering snakes and other reptiles on the trail. Remain vigilant while walking and remember that you are entering their habitat, especially if you venture off the road into adjacent fields. Snakes and reptiles typically flee from sources of vibration and sound. However, exercise caution and always maintain a safe distance.
Please note that capturing, picking, or collecting any reptiles or plant species along the way is strictly prohibited.
If you are allergic to bee stings, it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct anti-serum available, which should be obtained with the assistance of your doctor.
Am I allowed to have visitors or use a support vehicle during the hike?
Hikers participating in the Tankwa Caminos must understand that this hike is intended as a retreat from their daily routines and society. The objective is to immerse oneself in the spirit of the "Great Trek" through the Tankwa Karoo as soon as possible.
Previous Camino hikers have earnestly requested that contact with the outside world be limited as much as possible. Therefore, no visitors or support vehicles, except those provided by the Tankwa Camino team, are permitted on the trail. In case of an emergency, we maintain radio contact with the emergency control station in Calvinia.
The Tankwa Camino team offers organized support to ensure your safety and address any potential issues.
Are there any camp rules to follow?
Yes, camp rules will be provided to you during the registration on the evening before the hike.
How do I apply?
You can apply by completing the electronic registration form on the website.
What do the Tankwa Caminos cost?
The annual cost of the Caminos and transport with shuttles on the last day of the hike is subject to change. The transport fee will be adjusted according to the number of hikers interested in the shuttle. Shuttle fees must be paid on the night of the meet and greet.
Tankwa Camino shuttle: Ceres back to Calvinia
Botterkloof shuttle: Clanwilliam back to Calvinia
Sterrewag shuttle: Sutherland back to Calvinia
Biedouw Shuttle: Biedouw Youth Camp back to Calvinia
Boesmanland shuttle: Garies back to Calvinia
If you have registered during the previous year, your registration fee will be adjusted according to the calculated tariff for your specific trail. Please get in touch with us for our most current rates.
If you have registered during the previous year, your registration fee, t-shirt and tent pegs fees will be adjusted according to the calculated tariff for your specific trail. Please get in touch with us for our most recent rates.
What can you expect from your entry fee?
Coffee/tea/milk/sugar in the early morning and after dinner.
Sweet snack on arrival at the next stopover.
Potjiekos made with different meats daily & pot bread/kaiings/dripping/syrup/homemade jams/fruit of the season are available every morning for hikers to take along on their day's walk.
Transport your belongings along the route.
Hot water will be available on arrival at each overnight camp for washing purposes. You collect your water out of the heating pots but are limited to 5 litres daily. No showers allowed.
Daily drinking water allowance.