7 Hiking Safety Tips

By: Tim Lundy

Thousands of people traverse the Western Cape’s mountains daily and the vast majority make it home safely. Unfortunately, there are a few incidents that keep our mountain rescuers busy, but while there are always risks in every endeavour, some forethought and planning will help to keep you safe.

When we talk about mountain safety, we generally refer to four risks:

  1. Injury that would require the need for assistance to complete the journey
  2. Losing the trail, becoming disorientated, or going the wrong way, which would require assistance to complete the journey
  3. Being vulnerable to robbery
  4. Fire that would cause damage to the mountain

Tip #1 – Get the gear

Reduce the risk of injury by having good gear and being properly prepared for the hike. Invest in a good pair of hiking boots, for example, helps to protect from simple injuries like twisting an ankle on wet rocks.

[Photo Credit: Annie Spratt]

The Altitude VI is exclusively available at Cape Union Mart

Tip #2 – Map it out

Sometimes hikers will venture into areas without knowing the terrain and end up getting lost. Having a map of the area and familiarising yourself with the terrain should be a basic requirement – in this time of the convenience of GPS, for hikers it’s very useful to know how to read a map.

Tip #3 – Hydrate

Dehydration can contribute to disorientation, so ensure that you take more than enough water, and hypothermia is also a surprising risk for walkers. 

Tip #4 – Extra layers

Remember whatever the temperature it is in urban areas, it can be a good couple of degrees less on the mountain, so dress accordingly

Tip #5 – The buddy system

Minimize nasty encounters on the mountain by walking in a larger group (4+ people) or on a popular route so that you don’t get isolated or targeted.

Tip #6 – Don’t light fires on any mountain

This one speaks for itself.

Tip #7 – Never underestimate

Mountain rescue get called out every year for all sorts of reasons. Be properly geared up and know where you are going and what to expect on the trail. How safe is the trail and what precautions can you take to reduce the risk factor when on a hike? Always ensure that you have a well-equipped first aid kit and do not underestimate the mountain.

Mountain safety in all forms should always be taken seriously every time you decide to go out hiking or exploring the great outdoors.

Tim Lundy needs no introduction. He has been hiking the mountains of Cape Town for 38 years. He is an accomplished author, mountain-guide and member of Cape Town’s Search & Rescue.  You can also catch him on Cape Talk, presented with Lester Kiewiet every Thursday 8:30pm to 9pm.

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