A Grand Traverse of the Natal Drakensberg escarpment has special challenges:
- It is usually done over 12 to 14 days, and there is no let-up from one day to the next.
- It is physically demanding – you will burn 4000 to 5000 kilocalories most days. That is equivalent to ten good gym workouts per day! Unless you are exceptionally fit, most of the time you will be drawing on 80-90% of your maximum effort. Sometimes you will have to call on more than 100%. You may even “hit the wall” and have nothing left to give until you have recovered by taking in some high-energy food or drink.
- It is mentally demanding from dawn til dusk. There is a routine to follow in breaking camp on time and then making camp again every day, regardless of the weather. Pacing yourself, maintaining your humour even when the going gets tougher, and disciplining yourself to do all the things that need to be done – these require a constant mental effort.
- The weather adds another challenge. Over a 2-week period on the escarpment in autumn, you will almost certainly encounter every kind there is: heat, cold, wind, mist, frost, rain, hail, sleet and snow, as well as the occasional thunderstorm.
To successfully complete a GT, you need to have:
- a personal motivation for doing it, not someone else’s
- physical fitness
- extensive backpacking experience
- a goal-oriented outlook
- determination and fortitude
- the ability to work as a team member
- appropriate technical gear.