Talking Tourism: Mountain safety advice

We heard with sadness about the Australian tourist who died on Table Mountain last week during a tragic accident while descending. It was his last day in the Mother City after what he described as a “glorious holiday”. Together with our tourism partners, we express our sincerest condolences to his loved ones and offer our full support to his family members.

He fell to his death while navigating a path unknown to him. We cannot emphasise the importance of mountain safety enough and would like to urge all visitors to please take care when navigating Table Mountain. Situated within an urban environment, Table Mountain is often underestimated, but it is an immense wilderness area. The highest point is 1 085m above sea level and hiking up it is definitely no walk in the park, although this is the way it is often marketed. Many of the routes are too difficult for the inexperienced.

Many visitors head out to Table Mountain with flip-flops and a T-shirt and take no water and no map. This is potentially very dangerous – dehydration can set in quickly, hikers trailing off designated paths can fall and weather changes can leave you exposed to the elements. We would like to advise people to please:

  • Use the recommended routes and stick to the contour paths provided, as well as the safety tips on your printed route map.
  • If you are unfamiliar with the area, please make use of a registered tour guide, preferably a mountain guide. Cape Town Tourism can assist with guides for mountain hiking.
  • Don’t hike alone; four is the ideal number.
  • Always let someone know which route you will be following and when you are expected to return.
  • Choose your route according to your ability, fitness and experience.
  • If lost, don’t split up. Rather try to retrace your steps.
  • Programme relevant emergency numbers into your cellphone before your hike and take a fully charged phone along.
  • Always take enough water and food in case of a delay and don’t forget something warm. Watch the weather and time, and turn back before you start running late or if bad weather threatens.
  • Wear the right clothes and shoes, fit for rough terrain and sudden temperate changes.
  • Do not attract unwanted attention by openly displaying cash, cameras or other valuables.
  • If you are confronted by a criminal, don’t resist. Hand over your goods and report the incident later.
  • Emergency Number: +27 86 110 6417 or Mountain Rescue: +27 (0)21 948 9900
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We cannot ever be complacent about safety and security in all parts of our city and maybe more specifically on Table Mountain. 

Table Mountain is in the running to be one of the New7Wonders of Nature. This is a once-in-2 500-years chance to put the mountain on the map and the tourism implications for Cape Town are not to be scoffed at. Make your voice heard by SMSing “TABLE” to 34874 (each SMS is charged at R2) or visiting www.votefortablemountain.com.

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