Hiking is generally a very safe and healthy activity, but as with many outdoor persuits you need to respect the environment. Weather, particularly in the mountain environment, is not always predictable; factors such as fire, erosion and natural weathering can cause known paths to change or even be destroyed; landmarks such as trees can dissappear and places where you expected to find water can suddenly become dry or be polluted. There are a number of safety rules that should be followed – these are usually common sense – but are often ignored.
Safety Guidlines for Hikers
- Never hike alone. A minimum of four is essential.
- Choose your route according to your ability and fitness and that of the group, of the group.
- If you don’t know the route go with somebody who genuinely knows the way, join a hiking club or find a professional guide.
- Take enough food and more than enough water for the route you are too follow, plus a bit extra for emergencies. (Minimum of 2 lt).
- Tell someone exactly where you are going and stick to this plan.
- Ensure that at least one member of the group has a fully charged cell phone with emergency numbers for the area saved on it, also the number of a friend or family member who knows where you are going.
- Always go prepared for bad weather – windcheaters, cold weather clothing and rain gear (it can get cold on top of the mountain in the middle of summer).
- Apply sunscreen before you hike and carry extra.
- Travel at the pace of the slowest member of the party.
- Never split up and go in different directions.
- Do not push on into the unknown. If you get lost, retrace your steps.
- If you are unsure of what to do, find shelter, especially from the wind, and stay put.
- Essential Equipment
- Hiking boots/shoes & hiking socks (good sole support for longer routes).
- Comfortable day pack
- Sun block (apply before you start & re-apply during the day)
- Wide-brimmed hat (with fastening chord, for the wind)
- Warm clothing, suitable rain jacket/wind breaker (the temperature often drops unexpectedly on the mountain, even on the hottest day)
- Layers of clothing, gloves & beanie (in winter)
- At least 2 to 3 litres of water (depending on distance & weather)*
- Food & snacks – consider distance/time & allow extra for emergencies
- Cell phone – fully charged, on silent, with ICE numbers (In Case of Emergency)
- Personal medication & relevant medical information
- Personal first-aid kit (if you’re prone to cramping, speak to your pharmacist about suitable emergency medication)
- Emergency space blanket
- Small, reliable (preferably head) torch, with extra batteries
- Whistle (from a toy or sports shop)
- Copy of driver’s license or ID
- Plastic packet for used tissues and other litter
- A set of walking poles. Used properly, they (a) go a long way towards avoiding knee problems (made worse by excessive strain on the knees & tendons during the ascent, which causes tenderness during the descent), (b) spread the load & workout between the upper & lower body & (c) minimise erosion-causing impact when descending a loose path.
- A hands-free water system or bladder
For information on guided day walks in Table Mountain or overnight trails in the Western Cape please complete our on-line TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org – all our guides are fully qualified mountain guides and registered tour guides.