Eventually … we are ready for our first South African Tankwa Camino.

At around 8:00 we’ve gathered in front of the local church in Calvinia. Our luggage were loaded on the Camino lorries and we’ve walked over to the BIG red post box from where our Camino will start.

23:08 - 1(DP)

One of the Camino lorries ready to transport our luggage and camping equipment to our first stop tonight at Boskloof

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

Me and Berto at the starting point in front of the BIG red post box and Tankwa Camino flag

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

The hikers were all in a good mood and were laughing and joking, but you could sense some anxiousness … we did not know what was ahead of us. Although a few of the hikers have done this Camino before, their lips were sealed on what awaits us!

23:08 - 4(DP)

All the hikers of the Tankwa Camino of August 2019 … with our red flags tugged in behind our backpacks, we’ve showed eager- and readiness!

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

The first part of the journey out of Calvinia is on a tarred road, but then, when the first road sign appears to indicate the way to Ceres, we’ve started to walk on a dirt road.

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The road sign that indicates we must turn left to find the dirt road that will (eventually) leads to Ceres, our destination

We have ride part of this road (by car) before and sort of knew what to expect. But, as we know by now, you see so much more when you are walking.

23:08 - 5(DP)

“Only” another 247km to Ceres … how will this uneven dirt road treat my sensitive feet?

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

One thing that we know for sure, is that we will not encounter many vehicles on this road … this is the road less travelled! And other people, except for us hikers, will be few – we will have to find spectators in the animals in the fields and other wildlife.

Our “spectators” – a bird on a wire and a farmer’s sheep next to the fence

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

In the next couple of days, we will see many farm houses – big and small, some with families still living there and others abandoned. I find it quite amazing how people can make a living out of this drought-stricken land.

23:08 - 8(DP)

Small farm houses in a bare piece of field

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

As mentioned in a previous post, there are no facilities next to the road. The Tankwa Camino team literally provides everything … every 5km we will find a dry toilet (shielded from “traffic”) and a water point.

The toilet, which is set up by the Tankwa Camino team each day and a red flag that indicates the water point … we will see this every 5km

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

We have made so many new friends on this Camino … I just love this aspect of the Camino. People from all over South Africa are walking the Tankwa Camino (even some tourists from overseas). This is the ideal hiking trail to prepare for the well-known Camino de Santiago in Spain … I would say that if you can walk the Tankwa Camino, you will easily complete the one in Spain!

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I’ve met Judy from Port Elizabeth and we’ve become good hiking friends – walking most days together

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

The month of August is almost the start of Spring in South Africa … flower season. But here in the Tankwa Karoo, where it is so dry, flowers are not easily seen. However, when you are walking, you tend to see much more of what is on the ground.

You can find small, but colourful little flowers on the ground next to the road – you just need to stop every now and then and look closely at what beauty is around you

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

It is not necessary for hikers to walk in one big group – you determine your own pace. Sometimes I would look in front of me or to the back and see hikers forming a thin line. You cannot get lost – just follow the dirt road and find the South African flag that will indicate the camping site for the evening.

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Hikers as far as the eye can see

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

The one thing you will almost see every day, is a windmill and cement dam … some are working and others not. This way, the farmers can assure that water is pumped into the dams and be available for the farming fields and animals.

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Farmers’ windmills are a familiar sight on the Tankwa Camino

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

The color green is not something you will see very often on the Tankwa Camino. It is a dry and barren piece of land. But every now and then we will find a farm house surrounded by green grass and what a sight it is!

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Farm houses surrounded by green grass, an unexpected sight

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

After 22.5km we reach Boskloof, our camping site for the evening. The first day was filled with mixed emotions: Excitement to start the journey, pleasure in sharing this Camino with our fellow hikers, agony as the dirt road just goes on for kilometers in front of you and then happiness to reach the overnight site!

23:08 - 17(DP)

Me and Berto arrives at Boskloof, chatting to Rhina about the day

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

As I’ve mentioned, we’ve met wonderful people … but two people that found a special place in my heart, is Ouma Lisa and her daughter Truia. They’ve prepared most of the food that we had every evening (together with Rhina and some of the men that helped chopping up the vegetables and making the fires). And my goodness, how delicious were these traditional South African dishes!

But the other gift they have, is the way they’ve talked to the hikers and in a very softly manner encouraged each of us to walk every day. I’ve learned so much from them …

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Ouma Lisa and her daughter Truia … what amazing people they are

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

As each hiker arrived, we’ve set up our tents. I already thought on our first day that this routine can get difficult with tired feet and aching bodies!

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Our tents are set up and it now becomes a small Tankwa Camino town

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

The only way to prepare the food on the Tankwa Camino, is over a fire. And we can find no better way to end a day as to sit around a fire somewhere in the field under the open sky until the stars appear and you can later only hear the sound of night.

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Danie & Johan are busy preparing (“braai” in Afrikaans) the meat over the fire

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

23:08 - 21(DP)

While we all sit around the fire, Danie concludes the day with a few wise words

(Credit: Diana Pieterse)

What is there to say about our first day on our Tankwa Camino … so much different than our previous (overseas) Camino’s, but yet, in some weird way, very much the same …

7 thoughts on “TANKWA CAMINO – Day 1

  1. Ai Corna… Nou het ek lekker saamgestap… En in my geestesoog kon ek jou voor my lessenaar sien staan en al die stories vertel. Met daai stralende gesiggie en mooi lag van jou….. Ek kon ook die tyd sien op die wifi horlosie in die kantoor…. Dit was voor 10 want die engels is goed. 😉. Mis nog steeds ons geselsies

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😁 … Rene, die sperdatum van 10 uur het nog nie verander nie (of soms maak ek sommer my eie Engels op!) Hierdie Tankwa Camino was ‘n “ander” stap … jy sal nog sien soos ek verder vertel … maar dis wat elke avontuur so lekker maak – niks is ooit dieselfde nie. Jaaa … ek mis ook ons geselsies … baie xx


  2. I have been saving this as a treat as I know it is the last one of your caminos I can read about but I just could not resist any longer.

    I know this is not a “proper” camino with the historical importance of the others you have done on the Iberian peninsula but I am loving it already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you’re right, this Camino is not as we know it from Spain and Portugal … but the main thing that connects it, is the new friendships that are formed and the amazing hospitality of our hosts – something we really enjoyed on this Camino. And the main difference (except for the scenery) … almost everyone spoke Afrikaans, our home language 😁.

      Liked by 1 person

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