South Africa has hundreds of hiking and walking trails through the many mountain ranges, deep gorges and magnificent forests. Whether you are looking for a quiet country getaway or an experience to test your skills and expertise, there will definitely be the perfect place and trail to suit your needs and capabilities.
However, there are associated risks with hiking and walking, particularly in a place with which you are not completely familiar.
To make sure that you get the most out of your hiking experience, apply the following tips and guidelines.
HIKING TIPS AND GUIDELINES
- Ask plenty of questions about and do research on the route you plan to hike to make sure that it is suitable for all of the hikers involved (including children, if applicable). If even one person cannot do the route, your trip will be plagued with problems.
- Do not compromise on good quality equipment, even though it is a bit more expensive and check all of your equipment carefully before leaving for your trip to make sure that
it has not been damaged or disintegrated over time.
- Get a list of essential hiking items from a hiking shop and make sure that you stock your backpack according to the list.
- Weigh the bag you will be carrying and ensure that its mass is less than a third of your body weight so that you don’t become exhausted.
- Pack your waterproof clothing in plastic bags so that they do not wet your other clothing. If you are cold and wet, the worst thing to do is to have damp or wet clothing on your body. You have to ensure that you have something that is warm and dry at all times.
- Elect a group leader for bigger hikes and don’t leave your group, unless the leader knows where you have gone and for how long you will be away.
- Don’t ever burn or bury your rubbish. Carry it with you until you find a rubbish bin in which to throw it. Certain natural materials, such as orange skin, are also not biodegradable, and should be discarded with your rubbish.
- Be very careful and aware of loose rocks. They can cause serious harm and even death.
- Always apply a high-factor sunscreen and keep applying it every few hours. Wear a protective hat and clothing at all times to avoid sun damage. Sunburn can be painful and, if severe, can make you very sick.
- Use an eco-friendly insect repellent on all of the exposed areas of your body to prevent itchiness and discomfort. Bad illnesses, like tick bite fever, are far more serious and can be avoided by using an effective repellent.
- When in need of passing bodily waste, be sure to dig a hole far away from the campsite, path, people and water, and then cover the hole completely once you have finished using it. Place a big rock on top so that an animal doesn’t dig it up again.
- Do not bath or brush your teeth in the local rivers and streams and do not swim in a farm or community’s drinking water. Rather, when cleaning your hair, body and teeth,
use a small bucket with soap and water.
- Do not drink any alcohol before or during embarking on a hiking trail. This can lead to very sad consequences.
- Be aware of the weather conditions and the health of the other hikers in your group.
- Always carry some communication device with you so that you can be in contact with emergency services, family or the managers of the reserve in which you are hiking.