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There are no prizes for guessing where I met Leni Hamilton over 30 years ago.
Outdoors of course, in the hiking community on some trail, and while setting up an Association for experiential education.
She was a pillar of strength in the South African hiking community and beloved owner of Hiker's Paradise in Centurion, so it more than appropriate to honour a life well-lived and a legacy that will forever inspire. Leni's passing leaves a profound void in our hearts, yet her indomitable spirit and enduring contributions to the world of hiking will continue to guide us along the trails she loved so dearly.
I am indeed honoured to be writing about her life, even though we weren’t very close friends, we chatted often and popping into the store whenever I was in Centurion (planning an expedition or not) was always on the cards. In fact she really wanted me to buy the shop last year as she was looking to transition from retail to find ways to be more focused on upskilling and training hikers. This is ultimately where I believe life had led her – her unmatched enthusiasm for and knowledge of trekking needed to be shared with the world at large.
Leni was more than just a business owner; she was a beacon of enthusiasm, knowledge, and unwavering support for all who shared her passion for the great outdoors. With boundless energy and a genuine love for nature, she cultivated a warm and welcoming haven at Hiker's Paradise, where novice adventurers and seasoned trekkers alike found solace, camaraderie, and the essential gear for their expeditions. I often referred my Xplore clients to her for gear and advice and she excelled at getting them to buy everything they needed – often the kitchen sink as well.
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I remember fondly having a 35 minute conversation with her at around 5800m on Aconcagua in 2019 about turning her back the day before summit camp. She was having a tough time but refused to acknowledge it, she was moving at the speed of turtles stampeding through peanut butter but refused to quit. Her pack was bulging despite my insistence that she empty it. She was adamant that it was empty! Her dogged determination, not just on Ac that day, but in life in general was an asset that had her constantly looking for new avenues and new opportunities. She truly embraced the true spirit of adventure. She eventually agreed to turn back and was diagnosed with early stages HAPE two days later at base camp. Being more stubborn than she was on this occasion probably allowed me to save her life!
Beyond the walls of her beloved store, Leni's impact reverberated throughout the South African hiking community. Her dedication to promoting responsible outdoor practices, environmental stewardship, and inclusivity made her a revered figure among enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds. Whether organizing guided hikes, sharing invaluable insights on trail safety, or simply lending a sympathetic ear to fellow adventurers, Leni embodied the spirit of community and generosity that defines our shared love for the mountains and valleys of our beautiful land. But not just in South Africa. She had completed countless Everest Base Camp treks and Caminos in all shape and form. The information sessions in the store were legendary!
Those fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Leni were greeted not only by her warm smile but also by her boundless enthusiasm for sharing her expertise and fostering a sense of belonging among fellow hikers. And not local ones – some of the first tributes and expressions of shock and sadness came from her suppliers and operators around the world. Her passion was infectious, her wisdom boundless, and her kindness unparalleled. She leaves behind a legacy of empowerment and inspiration that will continue to guide us as we navigate the paths she so fervently cherished. For years she’d been trying to find me a girlfriend or wife – always wanting to know how I knew everyone I brought into the shop or referred to her – especially ladies.
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As we mourn Leni's passing, let us also celebrate the extraordinary life she led and the countless lives she touched along the way. Her legacy lives on in the trails she traversed, the friendships she forged, and the memories she created with each step taken. Though she may no longer walk among us, her spirit remains woven into the fabric of the landscapes she held dear, forever guiding us forward on our own journeys of discovery and exploration.
In honouring Leni's memory, let us recommit to upholding the values she held dear: respect for nature, compassion for our fellow adventurers, and an unwavering dedication to preserving the beauty of our natural world for generations to come. Though she may have bid us farewell, her legacy of love and stewardship will continue to inspire us as we continue to explore, discover, and cherish the wonders of the great outdoors.
Leni’s sudden passing is a stark reminder that tomorrow is never guaranteed, that we should explore, that we should live every day like it’s out last. That we should reach out to people more often. That we should embrace uncertainty.
Rest in peace, dear Leni, you will be deeply missed, but your memory will continue to inspire us as we embark on our next great adventure.
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- Erik Vermeulen
Owner Xplore, Adventurer and Motivational Speaker


News & Reminders
Our last tidbits of admin and member updates!
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To our amazing volunteers and Eco Rangers,
A heartfelt thank you for your incredible effort removing crofton this past Sunday! You battled both terrain and tenacity, making a huge difference to our beautiful Magalies.
Special shout-out to our Eco Rangers who braved the cliff faces to tackle the toughest crofton patches. We're in awe of your dedication and skills!
And to the rest of our incredible crew, wading up the kloof with meticulous determination? Your patience and attention to detail will go a long way in reclaiming this precious area. Thank you for leaving no root unturned!
Together, we made a visible impact on the fight against invasive plant species. You should all be incredibly proud of yourselves!
Every donation to the club, big or small, makes a difference. Your support in this crucial time will help us pay off our debts promptly and maintain a strong financial foundation. You can donate by transferring money via EFT with your annual membership fees, or you can donate through our web portal. Please consider a recurring payment, which will make a big difference over time.
It is not what the club can do for you, it is what YOU can do for the club.

Explore. Discover. Connect. Protect.
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Office Number:  061 461 8259 
Office Hours: Mon & Wed 15:00 - 20:00, Tues & Thurs 13:00 - 18:00, Fri 9:00 - 12:00