The CLT Gents Trek – from good boys to better men

Published: 18 October 2023

Early in October 2023, as the sun peeked over the rugged horizon of the Cederberg Mountains, ten young men gathered at the trailhead at the bottom of Welbedacht kloof. The group’s excitement was palpable, mixed with slight trepidation for the unknown – for this marked the beginning of an epic adventure, the inaugural ‘Gents Trek’.

Organised by the Cape Leopard Trust in collaboration with Love our Trails and Be That Guy, this four-day wilderness hike aims to be a transformative experience, inspiring high school boys to live more sustainably and become better members of society. The journey takes the group deep into the heart of the Cederberg wilderness, where they learn valuable life skills, strengthen their bonds, and discover the beauty and fragility of nature. Emphasis on the importance of nature conservation, social well-being and adventure is a golden thread that runs throughout.

So with backpacks loaded and spirits high, the 2023 Gents Trek set out on a challenging trail that wound through rugged terrain, crossed crystal-clear streams, and climbed steep ascents. Along the way, they learned essential outdoor skills like map reading, navigation techniques and water purification, all while sharing stories and laughter. It was not just about surviving in the wild though – it was also about thriving together as a supportive community of young men. As they navigated the trail, they discussed topics like communication, conflict resolution and the importance of empathy, while forging strong bonds and discovering the value of brotherhood.

Along the journey, the group explored the Cederberg's rich biodiversity and learned about the delicate balance of ecosystems. With leopard field signs scattered across the landscape, the participants found a new sense of appreciation for this iconic apex predator. The boys exchanged stories of these elusive creatures and learnt about the vital role they play in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. They also learnt that preserving wilderness meant protecting not only the majestic big cats, but also the myriad of other species that call the Cederberg home. The boys engaged in discussions about the importance of reducing their ecological footprint and adopting sustainable lifestyles. They practised ‘Leave No Trace’ principles, embracing the concept of living harmoniously with nature.

The group was also tasked with contributing to the restoration of the critically endangered Clanwilliam cedar trees by planting seedlings along the way. As the group reached a breathtaking summit on the final day of their trek, they found themselves surrounded by a stand of ancient cedars. These towering giants had stood for centuries, their branches reaching toward the sky. The cedar trees were a symbol of resilience and longevity, a testament to the enduring beauty of the natural world. The Gents Trek participants realised that, just like the Cederberg’s cedars and leopards, they too could make a lasting impact on the world. Their journey had taught them that sustainability was not just a buzzword but a way of life, and that protecting the Cederberg's unique environment was a responsibility they would carry with them.

The 2023 Gents Trek was much more than just a hike; it was a revitalising experience that touched the hearts and minds of these young men. They had formed meaningful friendships, gained new skills, and developed a deeper appreciation for the environment. The group left the Cederberg Mountains with a newfound sense of purpose, ready to embrace a sustainable lifestyle, foster social well-being, and protect the natural world. As they return to their everyday lives, we are hopeful that they will become ambassadors for sustainability, role models in their communities, and advocates for the conservation of nature. The Gents Trek had ignited a fire within them – a commitment to be good men in society, stewards of the environment, and custodians of our rich biodiversity.

A huge thank you to the funders and supporters who contributed to the success of this programme – without them this amazing experience would not have been possible! Our appreciation goes to Oak Foundation, Falke Socks, Hi-Tec, First Ascent, North Ridge, Tentco, Forever Fresh, Love our Trails and Be That Guy.

Please enjoy some highlight images from this amazing experience below.