A group of hiking enthusiasts were part of the Start Hiking Today and embarked early hours on a 10 km trail at Groenkloof Nature Reserve. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)
Pretoria - Hiking enthusiasts hit the ground running - or at least walking - at the Groenkloof Nature Reserve to set the tone for the year ahead.

And, aside from enjoying the group hike, they said they felt safe.

Hosted by an adventure club calling itself “Start Hiking Today”, the hike was well received with more than 60 participants taking on a 5km or a 10km trail in the urban reserve.

From about 7am the group which included novices and seasoned hikers, set off on the trail carrying water bottles. While some found the going tough, others took it in their stride.

Organiser Sandra Goodchild, who established the club two years ago, said besides being fun, hiking also had plenty of health benefits. She said it was a powerful cardio workout that lowered one’s risk of heart disease.

“Hiking is such a great activity for wellbeing and happiness. And with a club like ours, it is also a great way of networking,” she said.

The club organises fully catered day and weekend hikes. Day hikes take place on a Saturday while weekend hikes include hikers sleeping over in tents in the nature reserve.

Hikers said it was a great way to kick off the year and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Pretoria News photographer Thobile Mathonsi, who joined the 10km hike,said it definitely set the mood for the rest of the year. “It was absolutely refreshing and a great workout. I could see myself doing this for the rest of the year,” she said.

An official at the reserve said that on a good day one could spot interesting game including impala, blue wildebeest, red hartbees, zebra, kudu and giraffe.

Regarding security concerns, she said before the hike the organisers would do the trail and consult with the security officials at the reserve. “There is safety in numbers - the bigger the group the safer (you are)” she said.

The reserve has not experienced serious crime incidents in recent years and so should not be confused with the Fort Klapperkop area where people have been attacked.

Last year Dickson Nyathi, who had terrorised Groenkloof visitors by assaulting and robbing them of their belongings, was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

He was arrested with another suspect, after being found in possession of a stolen cellphone, police spokesperson Captain Augustinah Selepe said.

Pretoria News