New Beginnings: Cape Camino - A journey to the self in the south

In Spanish the word ‘camino’ means path or journey. For over a thousand years pilgrims have walked the Spanish Camino. One of the most popular routes is 780 kilometres. It starts at St Jean-Pied-du-Port in France and ends at the shrine of the apostle St James in Northern Spain.

There are lots of reasons why people walk (or cycle) this route; religious, spiritual and physical. More than 200,000 people complete a portion of the Camino every year. Yet just one person decided that she wanted to bring the Camino to the Cape. Pippa Hudson spoke to Gabrielle Andrew about her journey.

My daughter and I did it in 2012 and it was inspiring. We walked 350 kilometres in two and a half weeks. You get up in the morning and you walk. All sorts of things happen to you in terms of introspection. You come across extraordinary places in Spain that have been around for hundreds and thousands of years. But most importantly you spend time on your own and you reflect about who you and where you are in your life and what kind of evaluations you need to take. You shower the pain away, you eat and sleep and then you do it all over again.

Gabrielle Andrew, founder of Cape Camino

By finding the internal space Gabrielle Andrew was able to tap into the external space. When she returned to South Africa she longed for the peace and soothing environment that the Camino offered. It’s a space that is as containing as it is challenging. It is both solitary and yet offers comradery. It is a journey that is as much about your feet as it’s about your heart. Pippa took calls from listeners who had walked the Camino.

The Camino doesn’t give you what you want it gives you what you need. You are faced with yourself day in and day out

Maureen, from Tamboerskloof

It has become part of my fabric. Lessons come into my daily life now

Jane from Parrow North

It’s certainly not a holiday, everyone walks for different reasons, people are open and honest with each other

Melissa from Vredehoek

Andrew’s challenge was to continue her journey. When she returned from her travels she would regularly walk from Constantia to Kalk Bay.

When I got back I needed to walk and to have a reflective process to go on with my life, it became obvious you didn’t need to do this in Spain

Gabrielle Andrew, founder of Cape Camino

So Andrew decided to create a Cape Camino, to find similar spaces of grace for a local pilgrimage.While not prescriptive the basic route has been broken up into a figure 8. It includes diverse places of worship from a Catholic nunnery to a Sufi establishment, a Khoi San burial centre, a Buddhist tea house and a Hare Krishna centre. There is an open invitation to other places of grace and religious worship to put their scared sites on the routes

We have enormous diversity. As well as other facilities practical for pilgrims so it seemed as if it was already set up. All I needed to do is collect the information which is what I’ve done and called it Cape Camino

Gabrielle Andrew, founder of Cape Camino

Cape Camino route:

  • Day 1 Constantia to Muizenberg
  • Day 2 Muizenberg to Simonstown
  • Day 3 Simonstown to Scarborough
  • Day 4 Scarborough to Hout Bay (transport over Chapman’s Peak)
  • Day 5 Hout Bay to the City, arrival at St George’s Cathedral and a reception evening.

Safety considerations have been taken into account . The Cape Camino is an urban, not a rural hike. All major walks are alongside the seaside or on roads. The route is approximately 160 km long. Pilgrims can choose their own pace; they may want to walk 5km, 10 km, or even 50 km a day. The Cape Camino is not only a boost to the soul but also the local economy. It also offers wonderful opportunities for small businesses to get involved.

Gabrielle Andrew has taken her lessons and moved beyond the self to facilitate a journey for others.

We need this now in our history It’s about group conscious reflection. Who am I and who are we as South Africans? It’s time to put our differences aside and aspire to something as outrageous as peace. It’s all in line with building a new nation, building a new world

Gabrielle Andrew, founder of Cape Camino

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