Below is an explanation of what you can expect the difficulty ratings to indicate. What one person thinks of as an easy hike, someone else might call moderate. So this legend explains what the difficulty ratings mean when used in Voetsac hikes.
Note that these ratings are in normal weather conditions.
The hike is mostly level with small hills mixed in and the walking is relatively smooth. You can certainly expect tree roots, small rocks, and things of that sort on any trail walk but for hikes rated as easy there won’t be any big-step-up boulders to get past, no rock scrambling, no boulder hopping and no bundu bashing.
If a hike is long and flat, it will likely get a rating of easy in spite of its long distance. If a hike is short but has more than minimal elevation gain, it can also be rated as easy due to the overall level of the hike.i.e. If big hill only accounts for a tenth of kilometer of a hike, then it’s probably something that people accustomed to walking on flat terrain can handle.
The time it will take to complete an easy hike will be between 3-5 hours. This time includes tea & lunch time as well stops for pictures, swimming etc.
Easy hikes are generally suitable for anyone that enjoys walking. Just remember to choose an easy hike with a distance that you can comfortably handle.
All people attending any easy hike must still be walking fit. Please see the walking program at the end to prepare & test yourself before attending your first easy hike.
This rating typically describes hikes that are not flat but whose elevation gain is less than 80 meters per kilometer. For an easy/moderate hike, you should definitely be prepared for a lot of uphill walking. Overall the uphill will be on the gentle side but there may be some short steeper sections.
This rated as moderate usually gain 80-140 meter per kilometer. Moderate hikes usually ascend steadily at an incline that would be difficult for an unconditioned person to comfortably handle.
The terrain can consist of boulder hopping and slight bundu bashing.
The time it will take to complete a moderate hike will be between 5-8 hours. This time includes tea & lunch time as well stops for pictures, swimming etc
This level is used for challenging hikes that fall somewhere between the moderate and strenuous rating. Perhaps the average elevation gain falls within the criteria for moderate but there are enough steeper sections or rough segments to warrant a higher rating. This may also describe hikes that are quite steep but short enough in distance to give it an overall feel of something less than strenuous.
The hike is clearly difficult with steep inclines and often rough footing or rock scrambles and long distances. The elevation gain is usually greater than 140m per kilometer and is oftentimes 200m or more per kilometer (which is very steep).
A hike may fall in the strenuous level if the terrain is very challenging: such as for certain rock scrambles, boulder-strewn summits where there is no typical trail but rather a constant procession of boulders underfoot, rock debris at the base of a cliff, bundu bashing etc. Even if a hikes average gain is less than 90 meters per km, a hike will be rated as strenuous if there are significant section of the route that gain more than 140 meter per kilometer.
The time it will take to complete a strenuous hike will be between 8-12 hours. This time includes tea & lunch time as well stops for pictures, swimming etc
It is very important to have the correct hiking gear for this type of hike.
Rock scrambling refers to the need to use both hands and feet in order to get past boulders or ledges that are part of the trail.
Bolder hopping refers to stepping from rock to rock. It is mostly in river beds. It is very tiring.
Bundu bashing refers to trail paths that are over grown with the area’s type of vegetation.
Basic Training Program for beginners:
The best exercise to prepare for your first easy hike is the good, old fashioned walking. Walking provides both a cardiovascular workout and strengthens the same muscles you’ll use on your hike. Begin by walking 30 to 45 minutes three days a week to train for an eight kilometer hike. On a fourth day, take a longer walk and increase your distance each week until you’re walking about two-thirds of the length of your hike. For example if you train for 8km you should be able to cover 5km in your training. You should be fit enough after 4 weeks for your first easy hike.