You can choose any amount of days, any route, any starting point and any final destination. We do however suggest you end your pilgrimage at the Light House in Agulhas as this is the KM 0 of all the routes. Popular starting points include Stellenbosch, Robertson, Volmoed (Hemel-en-Aarde Vallei) and Hermanus. It is advisable to walk at least 120 km from Hermanus to Cape Agulhas.
Pilgrims need to be well prepared and fit. We suggest you follow a proper training program starting a few weeks prior to your pilgrimage. The route often follows mountain paths with steep uphill climbs. When doing the coastal areas, pilgrims sometimes walk on the beach for several kilometres.
Pilgrims can also decide to shorten the first few walking days, in order to improve fitness and prepare for longer days ahead. If you are not a seasoned hiker and prefer not to make your own arrangements for the pilgrimage we suggest that PILGRIM ASSIST work out your itinerary according to your capabilities.
The average km per day throughout the hike is 20 km, although it varies with some shorter days of 10-15 km. Some days are longer and up to 27 km per day. However, it is possible to arrange for shorter walking distances per day, either by booking accommodation at shorter intervals or arranging lifts with the guesthouse hosts or booking a taxi (which isn’t always easily available in remote areas). Pilgrims booking their own trip could also consider taking along someone in a support vehicle for the duration of the pilgrimage. It is very important to be well prepared and fit and to be able to comfortably walk 20+ km on consecutive days – a weekend is usually a good test – before you start the Pilgrimage of Hope.
Pilgrims can walk any time of the year. December to February are the warmest months and pilgrims sensitive to high temperatures should take all precautions or perhaps look at alternative months. The winter months are usually from May to August when pilgrims can expect rain and even stormy weather at regular intervals – make sure to pack warm clothing and rain jackets. The best times are during autumn (March-April) and spring (September-November). During spring the fynbos is in full bloom along the route and the mesmerising yellow Canola fields are in bloom from the end of June to mid-August.
No. The Pilgrimage of Hope is still being developed and although the official guidebook has good maps and route descriptions, pilgrims need to know that this pilgrimage is by no means as frequently marked as the Camino in Spain. We are in the process of putting up more red arrows and signboards (it shows the lighthouse at Cape Agulhas) along the route, especially at points that might be challenging for pilgrims. There are Google Pins available for the route between Stellenbosch and Cape Agulhas, but bear in mind that Google Maps can often give alternative directions to the pins and that cell phone reception isn’t always available.
There haven’t been any incidents since the route was first walked in October 2014 but like anywhere in South Africa, pilgrims need to be vigilant while walking. We advise pilgrims to carry pepper spray and whistles and to refrain from walking alone. We advise pilgrims not to attempt this pilgrimage alone and to walk in groups of at least two people, but preferably more than two.
We advise pilgrims to walk in groups of at least two to eight people. You don’t have to walk together all the time – not everyone has the same walking pace – but it is better from a safety perspective and possible injuries or emergencies to be two or more pilgrims on a stage on a specific day.
A guide can be arranged at an additional cost. Please consult PILGRIM ASSIST or the official Pilgrimage of Hope guidebook for more information.
Most accommodation is in guesthouses, especially in towns along the route. In rural areas you can make use of farm stay accommodation, often in historic buildings, for example, an old farm school (“plaasskool”) building or a house built two hundred years ago. Some establishments are also existing retreat centres with good guesthouse facilities.
Accommodation is limited and most establishments only work on a pre-booked basis. If you are planning and booking your own trip it is advisable to pre-book all the accommodation beforehand, since you would need to consider alternative plans if some establishments are fully booked. Bear in mind that some stages along the route, especially in remote areas between farms only have accommodation for up to eight pilgrims. We don’t recommend groups of more than eight at this stage. If you book through PILGRIM ASSIST we will pre-book all the accommodation on your behalf.
In most areas yes, especially in or near towns like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Hermanus. Please contact PILGRIM ASSIST for options.
No, some rural accommodation establishments have limited options and pilgrims might have to share bathrooms.
Can I book a single room?
Some establishments offer single rooms, but extra costs will occur. Triple rooms are sometimes available.
What is the difference between twin and double rooms?
The twin room has 2 single beds and a double room has a double bed. Not all establishments offer 2 single beds per room so pilgrims might have to share a double bed when sharing a room. PILGRIM ASSIST will be able to assist with accommodation options for pilgrims who prefer only twin rooms.
Are there dormitory options?
Backpackers and some farm accommodation offer dormitory options.
Some establishments offer laundry services at an extra cost. Many times pilgrims have to do their own laundry so make sure you take some washing detergent with.
When booking your pilgrimage through PILGRIM ASSIST your luggage is automatically transported during walking days. This means you only need to carry a light backpack with your water bottle(s), snacks, lunch pack and warm clothing. You can however choose to carry your own bag with all your luggage, but as luggage transfers are quoted per group, there will be no discount unless the whole group decides to carry their own bags.
Pilgrims booking through PILGIM ASSIST will be assisted with transfers and taxies along the route. If you arrange your own accommodation please consult with the hosts and local tourism offices. The official Pilgrimage of Hope guidebook also has some transfer options available.
Some accommodation establishments include dinner and breakfast. When booking with PILGRIM ASSIST all meals will be arranged for you.
Not every day. Some days you will need to take a prepacked lunch pack. Some days you will be able to visit a wine farm or farm stall where lunch is available. The accommodation establishments often provide lunch packs at an additional cost. You can also buy your own food at supermarkets in towns along the way and prepare it yourself at the accommodation establishments.
Pilgrims should carry at least two liters of water at all times. On longer days it is advisable to carry up to three liters at a time. Always fill your water bottles when you get an opportunity at a farm stall or wine farm and also talk to your hosts re. waterpoints along the way and consult the official Pilgrimage of Hope guidebook. When booking through PILGRIM ASSIST you will receive detailed information re. water points along the route.
Yes, pilgrims often prefer to stay an extra day in towns like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Hermanus. You also have the option to walk a shorter distance, for example, 8-10 km on some days to allow time for sufficient rest.
Please make sure you book permits prior to your pilgrimage and arrange with farmers prior to your walk. Under no circumstance may pilgrims cross private farms and properties without prior arrangement with landowners. The official Pilgrimage of Hope guidebook contains info and contact numbers regarding permits. When you book your pilgrimage through PILGRIM ASSIST, all arrangements will be done for you, and you will receive a list of permits and private properties you will be crossing prior to your pilgrimage.
On most days you will have reception at times, but some rural areas have no reception for long stretches. It is also advisable to carry a battery pack in your backpack to ensure you have sufficient battery life on your phone.
Taxis are more readily available in towns, but definitely not in rural areas between farms and small villages. When booking through PILGRIM ASSIST they will arrange taxi’s for you. If you are making your own arrangements it is advisable to consult the official Pilgrimage of Hope guidebook or talk to your hosts or local tourism office.
If you book the trip yourself it is advisable to contact your hosts at the accommodation establishment directly if you encounter any problems while walking. Or contact the nearest police station or health services. If you are booking through PILGRIM ASSIST you will have 24/7 support and emergency stand-by during the pilgrimage.
Most establishments will try to accommodate changes.
GPS pins are available. Go to MAP. When booking through PILGRIM ASSIST the link will be sent to you via Whatsapp.
When booking through PILGRIM ASSIST you will get the following pre-pilgrimage preparation material:
- What to pack list
- Medication checklist
- A 10-week physical preparation program
- Detailed itinerary including accommodation, transfers and meals information