Hiking Safety: Tips for Minimising Risk When Trail Running and Walking
As Cape Town is surrounded by a large, majestic mountain range, it’s only natural that there are incredible hiking ranges. It’s not advisable to simply run out onto the mountains with careless abandon, though, and you do need to know what you’re doing. Here are our best hiking tips and hiking trails in Cape Town.
HIKING SAFETY: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
KNOW YOUR ROUTE
It’s always a good idea to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, so make sure you do some research before embarking on the hike. Look at the route, see how long it is, as well as how challenging. Make sure that you know exactly where to start and end and how to get back to your car safely. Don’t deviate from the path and make sure you save emergency numbers in at least 2 people’s phones.
HIKE IN GROUPS
It’s advisable to hike in groups no smaller than 4. While most of the people you come across on hikes will be other hikers, there’s a small chance opportunistic thieves may be hanging around and you don’t want to be caught in small numbers. Four people are also advisable because if someone falls and is unable to walk, spreading the load between three is reasonably doable.
Even for what you think is going to be a quick hike, pack a smart backpack. Make sure you have sufficient water and sunscreen, as well as a small first aid kit and a lightweight warm item of clothing. It’s also advisable to bring high energy nutritious snacks, like bananas, nuts and dried fruit. A battery pack for your phone would also be a very smart idea, as well as some light source like a small torch or headlamp.
LET SOMEONE ON THE GROUND KNOW YOUR PLANS
Make sure you tell someone exactly what your plans are, what time you’re starting and what time you’re expecting to finish. This means that if something happens, someone on the ground knows to alert officials. We love this app Shake2Alert, which is activated by a shake of your phone and lets someone on the ground know that you are in trouble, as well as providing your location. It even works when there’s no signal available. There are also wearable panic buttons, that are sweat and rain resistant. Well worth investigating.
PICK THE TIME CORRECTLY
One of the most important things for hiking safety – this should be pretty obvious, but don’t hike at night unless in a very large and well-organised group. Stick to times where you’re likely to see other people, such as early in the morning or in the late afternoon.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT KIT
There is nothing worse than being unprepared and having the right shoes, clothing and accessories will make your hike more pleasant. A good pair of trail trainers or hiking shoes is recommended, plus good quality, breathable socks, sunscreen and a hat. A backpack that is comfortable to carry for a couple of hours is also key.
CHECK THE WEATHER
Again, this may sound obvious, but weather can change at the drop of a hat (especially in Cape Town). Make sure you check the weather for the whole time you estimate to be walking.
Trails are generally uneven, rocky and can be dangerous, so make sure you are paying attention, especially to how you land your feet, you don’t want to twist and ankle! Watch where you are going but do pause to take in the amazing surroundings, that’s why you’re there after all!
Now you know how to safely navigate trails, get out there into the fresh air. These are some of our favourite hikes around Cape Town:
A stunning walk that affords climbers the most amazing views once you reach the summit. Some parts are challenging and will involve some creative climbing but the end result is worth it. No real shade to speak of, so make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen. Trail shoes are definitely recommended.
Starting point: Signal Hill Road
Difficulty level: medium. Depending on your fitness levels, you might find some of the inclines challenging.
An easy walk that winds its way alongside Table Mountain. It is just as the name says, a path that was built to service a pipeline that runs along the Twelve Apostles. It isn’t fully shaded and can get quite hot so bear this in mind. It is relatively easy going though with a few ups and downs, nothing someone of average fitness won’t manage. Also amazing views over Camps Bay and beyond.
Starting point: where Kloof Nek road meets Tafelberg Road
This is for the more experienced climber as it is a pretty relentless upward climb. Be prepared and don’t attempt if you haven’t completed an easier walk previously. Also requires sunscreen, proper walking shoes and being prepared ahead. The views are definitely worth the effort and the burn in your thighs will be too.
Starting point: Tafelberg Road
Also not the easiest climb and better suited to the more experienced hiker. The route goes from Newlands forest up to the saddle. You need proper trail shoes, it is quite well shaded but a hat is always recommended for any outdoor activity.
Starting point: Rhodes Memorial parking lot
Silvermine – Noordhoek Peak / Blackburn Ravine
Begin at the pristine, Silvermine reservoir. Take the jeep track trail up through some of the most well-preserved and diverse fynbos on the Table Mountain Reserve. As you reach the higher altitudes you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Hout Bay initially, keep climbing to see the vast, coastal expanse of Noordhoek beach stretching all the way to Kommetjie and finally False Bay will come into view. This is a hike that rewards you with 360-degree views of the peninsula and is well worth the moderate effort.
Starting point: Silvermine
Try these recipe ideas for high energy healthy snacks to pack for your hiking trip.