11 December is known as International Mountain Day! This day was established in 1992 to observe the importance of mountains, their roles in our communities – past or present – and its relationship to sustainable development. South Africa has a variety of impressive mountains and mountain trails.
Those living in the Western Cape are spoilt for choice! From the infamous Lion’s Head to Platteklip Gorge; the Pipe Track and the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, there are plenty of hiking trails for all fitness levels and interests.
Hiking: Experience the great outdoors
Hiking is a great way to connect to nature, to yourself and to others. However, as a rule of thumb, hiking is always safer in numbers and we should always take precautions when planning to go out onto a trail.
Joining a hiking group or going on a guided hiking tour is a good way to get the outdoors experience and maximize the fun – without compromising your safety either.
Join one of these hiking groups and guided hiking tours:
Trail Fit SA
Trail Fit SA specialises in guided hiking tours and their aim is for people to experience the beauty of Cape Town through hiking. Some of their tours include: Table Mountain via India Venster, Rock Hopper Waterfall in Bainskloof and a “Breakfast Rock” in Camps Bay.
They offer educational tours, a “pick up and drop off” option, a first aid medic, water, snack bars and fruit to munch on. Trail Fit SA also does a two-day/ one-night “glamping” experience at Orange Kloof in Hout Bay; a dinner and breakfast option, two guided hikes and local hotel transfers.
Meridian Hiking Club
The Meridian Hiking Club hails all the way back to the 80’s, where it was started by a group of friends who wanted to hike regularly but also safely. They’re now a group of more than 300 members, ranging from the ages of 18 to 80, and they specialise in a number of day and weekend hikes, conservation activities, social events, dinners and more.
Their website and calendar is updated regularly and their members receive a weekly newsletter informing them of upcoming hikes.
Bantu Hikers was established in 2015 by female co-founders and directors Mpho Sekwhele, Khanya Sosibo and Sizakele Sibanda. It is a non-profit organisation that serves as a platform of mentorship, empowerment through wellness and networking for first-generation students from under-recognised communities.
They encourage others to challenge themselves by taking up space in environments that they may not necessarily be used to.
Take Back Our Mountains
Take Back Our Mountains is a movement just as much as it is a thriving hiking group. Founded in 2018 by Taahir Osman – who is also the leader of the Back Our Mountains Movement (#TBOM) – its inception was the result of standing against and countering the attacks that was happening on the Cape mountains.
Their activities include: Safe community hikes; environmental cleanups; scholar outreach programs; social and community development and corporate building.
Hiking Cape Town
Hiking Cape Town is a large, friendly and interactive, online group for all kinds of hikers (local and international), as well as for those who just want to appreciate Cape Town’s natural scene. You’ll find tips on hiking trails, shared experiences from others and options to join on upcoming trips.
Some handy hiking tips:
- Always be prepared: Research the place you’ll be hiking at and let others know where and with who you’ll be hiking, as well as what time you’re expected to be back. Find out if there are any biodiversity that should be avoided in a particular area;
- Have your resources: Make sure your phone is fully charged, carry water and snacks on you, wear proper or comfortable hiking shoes, a hat and SPF. Carry an extra bag to put your litter in. And don’t forget the first aid kit.
- Hike for your level: Choose a trail that suits your level so as to avoid any injuries or strained muscles.
- Save these emergency numbers in your phone: Emergency SAPS: 10111; Wilderness Search and Rescue: 021 948 9900; Emergency Services, Cape Town: 021 480 7700 (cellphone) & City of Cape Town General Emergency: 107 (landline); Table Mountain National Park Security: 086 110 6417 or 021 937 0300 and Cape Town Tourism: 0861 322 223.