The journey of the Valley of a Thousand Hills had promised to offer breathtaking views and the opportunity to #occupyspaces that would awaken the soul, and it delivered. Arrival at King Shaka International was a scene of warm greetings and laughter as the Bantu Hikers professionals filled up the shuttle that would carry them across South Africa’s playground for the next 48hrs. As the 16-seater took off, the spark of playful banter was soon ignited, with backing tracks blaring in the background after all, Ethekwini is the home of Gqom music.
A peaceful stillness took over as the minibus snailed through Zimbali Estate, as the mission to #occupyspaces was now in full effect. Day 1 was sealed with a delicious buffet spread that embodied the love it had been prepared with. As Friday the 13th faded into black at 1 Fish Eagle Villa, 90s music and laughter accompanied it.
The dancing sun had taken to the skies over 35 Sanctuary by 5:10am filling up the spaces with shadows of lush green towering trees, the cool ocean breeze promising a day filled with discovery of not only new physical spaces and friendships, but also that of a personal and intimate kind.
Having taken the “scenic route” the shuttle eventually pulled up alongside the cars of fellow hikers, eager to uphold the Bantu hiker’s pillars of wellness, networking and mentorship. Kitted in branded caps, buffs and t-shirts, the army of positive change was ready to explore. As is the start of most hikes, there is lively chatter of introductions and catch-ups and as Mother Nature reveals herself, the mumbles disappear to sounds of measured breathing and footsteps, with the occasional “thank you” as arm chains and gentle pushes are extended to those that need.
The majestic mountains of Krantzkoof Nature Reserve, stood tall and bold, as they cradled not one but two waterfalls that quenched spiritual thirsts. Once again the metaphoric parallel was drawn by the experience to conquer a hike and that of our lived professional and personal journeys. Some parts of the journey require the individual to navigate alone and take decisions that are unique to them, while others can only be successful through team work and collaboration. Nature suggests that true and real success ought to be aligned and measured uniquely for each of us, celebrating being the best version of oneself while contributing to the betterment of those we encounter.
After 3 hours of meditation, cleansing, impromptu photo shoots, social and mental fellowship, a picturesque picnic display was the perfect welcome as some crawled and others bounced back to the car park. The drive back to Zimbali Estate was filled with reflective moments.
The arrival of lady night meant the birth of the next exploration, a trip to one of Durban’s popular townships, Umlazi, for a taste of a variation of home. Eyadini offered a suitable setting for the ultimate celebration of a success story of a group of young South Africans, working together towards a vision to create a legacy of positive experiences on the journey to empowerment through education.
A calm grey Sunday set sights of the beauty that is Kwa-Zulu Natal marking the end of the journey of a thousand hills, but also the start of many new friendships, professional collaborations and new personal beginnings as the next #occupyingspaces is loading.