HIKING SAFETY TIPS
Baboons & bad weather - 2 things to avoid when hiking
- DO NOT PLAN TO HIKE DURING OR AFTER BAD WEATHER.
- The rocks on the mountain get very slippery in wet weather, it is dangerous.
- Get a proper weather forcast at: 082 2311 640, the Cape Town Weather Office will give you a 3 & 5 day forecast for Cape Town area and beyond.
- PLEASE DO NOT PLAN TO HIKE IF THERE IS A COLD FRONT APPROACHING - WE LOST 3 WONDERFUL HIKERS LAST WINTER TO A SUDDEN SNOW STORM. It is possible to freeze to death in South Africa.
- Watch the weather - don't push on in bad weather. Find shelter from the wind and rain and guard against hypothermia.
- Do not continue in heavy rain or mist. YOU MUST CONSERVE YOUR ENERGY - freezing to death is possible in South Africa.
- Be aware that weather on the mountain can change very rapidly, take wind and waterproof clothing.
- Hypothermia is one of the biggest dangers when hiking, and it can result from inadequate food intake, bad weather, unsuitable clothing or over-exertion.
- Do not hike alone - ideal party size is four.
- Choose an experienced leader for your group and do not drift apart.
- Travel at the pace of the slowest member.
- Always inform someone at home of your intended route and your expected time of return.
- Always carry a cell phone and know the emergency rescue numbers.
- SA+(0)21 948 9900 - Wilderness Search & Rescue / All Emergency: SA+(0)21 480 7700
- 10111 Police & rescue services / 10177 Emergency Medical Response / 107 Disasters
- Avoid routes that are too hard or long, do not descend unknown ravines or cliffs - keep to well used paths.
- Skeleton Gorge & Nursery Ravine - both above Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, are dangerous and slippery routes - especially in Winter when it rains. These are both routes for water to flow off the mountain - making them wet and dangerous ravines.
- If you plan to hike after wet weather rather choose a jeep track, there are several on the mountain to choose from: Silvermine, Constantia Forest, Lion's Head are safer options than climbing up or down a steep, narrow, wet ravine.
- Carry a good contour map - the best are by Peter Slingsby - see more hiking map details at www.themaps.co.za
- Carry adequate water (especially in summer) and food to replace energy.
- The more strenuous the walk - the more refreshments you will need, bannanas & chocolate are not enough if you are doing a 6 hour hike - take sandwiches and solid food. Carbohydrates are good.
- If you feel you have lost your way, do not forge ahead but rather return along the way you came.
- Watch the time - avoid walking in the dark, but carry a torch just in case you need one.
- Know how long the hike takes before you start out, make a plan according to the seasonal change in the time the sun sets.
- 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 - look out for landmarks.
- Chacma Baboons are VERY dangerous - do not approach them or feed them, as they will 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 even with you in it. Stay away from them.
- There are 5 venomous snakes in the region, but except for the puffadder these are seldom seen.
- Back off on sighting any snake - they will usually go on their way and are not aggressive.
- Puffadders often hide under logs, be carefull when you are stepping over one on a trail. Short, fat, brown snake.
- Cape cobra snakes are also common on the mountain, especially in the Cape Point area. Long brown / black snake with yellow sides.
- In the event of snakebite, immobilize the person and the part bitten, suck hard on the area of the bite, apply a firm pressure bandage, then get help. Do not use a tourniquet or administer anti-venom unless under supervision.
- Carry an Instant Cold Pack for emergency use on the bite area, this will slow the movement of the poison - could save a life.
- The blister bush (a plant resembling common celery - see photo of plant below) can cause severe irritation of the skin.
- In the event of contact, cover the area from sunlight as this causes the eruption of blisters.
Baby bird in nest on side of hiking trail up Table Mountain.