Traveling without a detailed itinerary can be exciting and the best way to experience a country. It can also be foolish and even downright dangerous, as we learned on our recent trip to Lesotho.
Today marked my official foray into the sport of orienteering. A couple weeks ago during my orientation weeks at Wits, I was looking for the football and futsal club tables to sign up. Unexpectedly, a booth caught my eye because of the large map displayed behind a bored-looking student. I reached the booth to find it was the Wits Orienteering Club, and was greeted with enthusiasm by the student as if I had finally broken the monotony of her post. I heard of Orienteering before but let her know I was new to the sport. I enjoy hiking and enjoy maps, so it didn’t take much for her to sell me on joining the club.
The basic premise of orienteering is that the participant is given a map of a defined area – a farm, park, neighborhood, etc. – and the goal is to navigate through the map based on a predetermined route marked by waypoints. The key is that each waypoint must be reached in a particular order, and if you accidentally break that order and tag in to the wrong waypoint, you’re disqualified. The most popular players of this sport are in the UK and Europe, where there is a professional league with events across the continent. After seeing a promotional video during my first club meeting, it seems the pros all have one thing in common: lankiness. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence or just a result of the sport essentially being a long-distance running competition with the added wrinkle of navigation.