Hiking without a hitch
With increased temperatures, the issue of hiker safety is paramount in summer. Read our handy tips on staying cool and safe on our trails.
CapeNature has many reserves near Cape Town, including Jonkershoek, Hottentots Holland, Limietberg and Kogelberg, where you can find great hiking trails, ranging from short rambles to kloofing at Suicide Gorge, and multi-day hikes that allow you to explore the vast beauty and biodiversity of our natural resources.
But, as with all outdoor activities, safety should always be a primary concern. During the summer months, the risk of overheating (hyperthermia), sun stroke, and dehydration increase, so you should be prepared.
Before setting out on your hike, you should make sure you have educated yourself about the route, terrain, difficulty, and expected time required to complete the trail. Never hike alone, and always make sure someone else knows where you are going, your route, and when you are expected back.
Your hiking essentials are :
- Wide-brimmed sun hat
- Closed shoes
- Sunscreen (at least SPF 30)
- No less than a 1.5l water bottle. Dry conditions in the Western Cape means regular water points may be dry in the summer months.
- Torch (with new batteries)
- Pocket knife
- First aid kit
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Waterproof gear
- 1:50 000 contour map in Wilderness Areas
- Space blanket
Taking the following precautions can help you avoid feeling any ill effects of the summer sun:
- Hike in the cool of morning and evening
- Rest in the shade during midday
- Wear a sun hat with a wide brim to protect the back of your neck
- Drink at least 250 ml (one cup) of water every hour
- Wear cool, cotton-type clothing
There is also the risk of encountering fire on the trail during summer, as the hot, dry conditions are ideal for the development of runaway fires. For your own safety, follow these guidelines if you are near a fire:
- Stay calm and think in practical terms. Keep your group together, keep water bottles filled and, if possible, wet your equipment and clothes. Synthetic materials can melt.
- Never try to out-run a fire, especially uphill. Take note of changes in wind direction.
- Find water, rock slabs or cleared areas and stay there. Avoid thick bush, kloofs and rocky areas where you could be trapped.
- Try to keep to jeep tracks, paths or open slopes. If you are in a hut or building, stay there.
- Never try to start a back-burn; you can cause even more danger.
- Remove gas canisters and all other fuel and inflammable objects from your rucksack. Store them in a safe place.
- Keep a lookout for helicopters. Wave bright items to attract attention.
- Inform the trail authorities when you reach the end of your hike.
For more information on hiking safety and permits, please click here.
To download CapeNature’s Hiker Safety Guide, click the image below.
If you follow these tips and guidelines, you can ensure you will not only enjoy your hikes, but remain safe on our nature reserves. So get out there and take advantage of the beautiful landscapes around you!