Hiking Safety Tips in Cape Town
Cape Town is home to some of the most beautiful mountain trails in the world, with the iconic Table Mountain a silent guardian standing watch over the city. But don’t be fooled by its close proximity to the city centre, it is still a mountain and needs to be treated with the utmost respect.
If you are planning on hiking any of Table Mountain’s routes, or any other mountainous tracks in the Cape Town area and surrounds, please be sure to follow these safety tips.
Do not go alone
Do not hike alone! The ideal party size is four. Do not get split up while on the mountain and ensure you travel at the pace of the slowest member.
Always inform someone at your hotel or in your family of your intended route and your expected time of return.
In the event of an emergency
In the event of injury or other serious trouble stay in one place and find shelter. Do not move the injured person unless they are in a dangerous position. Do not leave the injured person alone – if possible send two people for help. Make a detailed note of where the injured person is, whilst looking out for landmarks to navigate back to the spot.
In the event of snakebite, immobilize the person laying them flat on their backs. Do not give them food or water. Get help and keep the victim very calm – shock and adrenaline is a major factor in the progression of snake bite symptoms. In the Southern Suburbs call the Red Cross Hospital Poison Centre on 021 689 5227 and in the Northern Suburbs, the Tygerberg Hospital Poison Centre on 021 931 6129. It is important to call ahead and to try and convey a good description of the snake so that the proper anti-venom and treatment can be prepared in advance.
In the event of contact with the blister bush (a plant resembling common celery) cover the area from sunlight to avoid skin irritations and the eruption of blisters.
The use of a qualified mountain guide is highly recommended should one wish to explore Table Mountain on foot. Alternatively, make sure to take an up to date contour map, comfortable walking shoes, a few friends, a cellular phone, sun block, and something warm as the weather on the mountain can change very rapidly. Carry adequate water (especially in summer) and food to replace energy.
Know your limits
On Table Mountain National Park, Skeleton Gorge & Nursery Ravine are dangerous and slippery routes when it rains. These are both routes for water to flow off the mountain. When hiking Table Mountain, key 021 480 7700 into your cellular telephone before you begin your hike so that an emergency number is always on hand. Keep to well used paths and do not descend unknown ravines or cliffs. Ensure you do not take on routes that are beyond your experience levels, you could quickly find yourself in serious trouble. Always be sure to leave the mountain before dark.
Chacma Baboons can be dangerous – do not approach them or feed them as they may attack humans. Do not eat in front of them. Do not let them sit on your car near an open window as they will attempt to enter your car and never feed them. Stand very still on the sighting of a snake – they will usually go on their way and are not generally aggressive.
Please be mindful that Cape Town’s festive season coincides with the Cape’s long, dry summer season i.e. please make sure that cigarette butts and/ or fires are put out properly before leaving the area, and please exercise caution when taking an action that could result in the ignition of a fire.
Be sure to program the following numbers into your phone in case of an emergency:
Emergencies: +27 (0)21 480 7700
Table Mountain National Park: +27 (0)21 957 4700
Wilderness Search and Rescue: +27 (0)21 948 9900
Cape Town Tourism: 0861 322 223