Two local hiking trails, the Chokka Trail and Baviaans Camino, have received awards as Best Visitors Experience in South Africa at the National Lilizela Award Ceremony.
The awards ceremony was held in Pretoria on Saturday, November 9.
The Chokka Trail, established in 2013, has received the Award in the Beach Category for the fourth consecutive year, and the Baviaans Camino, established in 2016, received it in the Action and Adventure Category. Both hiking trails are organised by Eric and Esti Stewart from St Francis Bay.
“We are extremely proud that both our trails have won,” says Eric. “We are proud of each and every person and business involved in our trails; they make it what it is.”
The Chokka Trail is a 62km hiking trail over four days and three nights in the greater St Francis area.
“It is more than a hike, it is a hiking holiday, the staff at the overnight points really spoil the hikers as they know the trail can be challenging, especially on windy or rainy days,” says Eric.
“They also enjoy a calamari tasting at Chokka Block, and a cruise on the St Francis canals. They swim, have fun on the dunes and visit all the points of interest along the shoreline.”
Hikers stay at the Oyster Kaya, Dune Ridge Country House and the Cape St Francis Resort, as well as Brisan B&B on the Canals.”
Three years into running the Chokka Trail, the Stewarts decided to expand with a trail in the Baviaanskloof. They knew of Hercules van Huyssteen, owner of the Moria Boerperd Stud outside Kareedouw, who organises long distance trails on horseback into the Baviaanskloof.
“Hercules said he will show us the most beautiful sections of the Baviaans, but only if he can bring his horse!” says Esti.
“That’s how the Baviaans Camino was born. The presence of the horse brought such an amazing dimension to the hike that we have decided to keep the option so six people per trip can be on horseback.”
Hercules and his wife, Anieka, are leading the groups on this 95km trail on their trusted Boerperde, while Eric is in the support vehicle. The trail starts in the Steytlerville District and finishes just outside Kareedouw, at the Nguniland Self catering Chalets.
Other accommodation is in old farmhouses and an outpost on a honeybush farm, while the food is homecooked meals supplied by local farmers.