Sex on the beach at Koh Phangan might top your list as the most exciting way to celebrate the full moon, but if you’re not going to make it to Thailand’s rowdy beach party this month, here are some suggestions to appreciate the moon nearer home. Here are four of the best full moon hikes in South Africa.
1. Swartvlei, Garden Route
It may not be as racy as Thailand’s party, but the highlight of the Moonlight Meander is marine fundi Judy Dixon’s entertaining insight into the reproductive and survival strategies of marine plants and animals in this intertidal zone. This hike, as well as the Starlight Stroll on new-moon evenings, starts at Swartvlei Beach parking lot at 19h00. After a short introductory talk, you head down the beach, stopping to enjoy the antics of the plough shells, hermit crabs and other sand dwellers before reaching the wonderful rock pools of Gericke’s Point. R60. Tel 044- 883-1015, www.gardenroutetrail.co.za/moonlightmeander.htm.
2. Treasure Beach, KwaZulu-Natal
“˜Walking on the beach is mindblowing at night,’ says Wessa’s Chris Bezuidenhout. “˜It’s when nocturnal marine life is on show and rock pools are a mass of activity.’ Chris leads fascinating two- to three-hour outings on Treasure Beach for Durban’s Bluff Environmental Society. Departure times depend on tides. R20. Tel 031-466-2306.
3. Lion’s Head, Cape Town
The hordes trekking up Lion’s Head on a full moon should discourage you from a quick frolic in the fynbos – an ascent of this prominent Cape Town landmark is so popular, the peak is lit up like a Christmas tree. City lights twinkle below and the sheer face of Table Mountain provides an imposing backdrop to a wonderful tradition that doesn’t seem to be matched in other big cities (please let me know if I’m wrong). Although young kids, agile grannies and even some adventurous dogs make it to the summit, the recommended route avoids the chains and involves rock scrambling, so you need a head for heights. Allow at least an hour each way as it can get congested and make sure your head-torch has fresh batteries.
4. Klapmutskop, Stellenbosch
If you’re looking for something less crowded, this marked trail on Delvera Wine Farm offers spectacular views of Cape Town and the surrounding vineyards. The full hike to the top and back is 9,75 kilometres, but you can catch a shuttle to the half-way point. Picnics from Simonsberg Café can be arranged on request. R50 or R20 for kids under 10 and bookings are essential. Tel 021-884-4752, www.dirtopia.co.za.
When doing any hike after dark, personal safety is an important consideration. The best option is to go with an organised group, such as those mentioned above. Contact your local hiking group to find out if they have any events planned.
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- The new KSO Trek Sport, designed for hikers, features a lightly cleated Vibram sole for extra grip, whatever the terrain, and the uppers will keep toes toastie, even in winter. R1 500. Tel 021-511- 1943, www.vibramfivefingers.co.za.
*Photo courtesy of Shaen Adey