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Mountain Hiking Safety Tips

04 April 2021
From being adequately prepared for varying weather conditions to knowing what to do in an emergency, these are some things to keep in mind for your next big appointment with Mother Nature.
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The sun is out, the skies are blue and it’s a perfect day for a hike. But it’s important to ensure you practice basic safety protocols before lacing up your trusty boots and heading up a mountain or koppie. From being adequately prepared for varying weather conditions to knowing what to do in an emergency, these are some things to keep in mind for your next big appointment with Mother Nature.


  • Plan to hike in a group, preferably no less than four. Not only does this provide extra security, but it also ensures that there’s someone to assist should you get injured or lost.
  • Go over your route. Knowing exactly where you’re going and how you’re getting there is vital. 
  • Tell others. Inform family and/or friends of your hike up a mountain and the route you intend on taking. This will assist authorities in locating you should you get lost or trapped.
  • Ensure you have enough water for the entire route, especially during the summer months. Also have some food items in your bag in case there’s a delay along the way.
  • Always be prepared for any weather. Have waterproof clothing with you, even in sunny weather and wear a proper hat and sunscreen. Also play close attention to weather conditions as things could change at any time and turn back at any sign of inclement weather.
  • Wear proper hiking shoes that provide adequate grip and comfort and have a first aid kit on hand.
  • Ensure your phone is fully charged before going up any mountain and have emergency numbers ready should you need urgent assistance.


  • Have a hike leader who knows his/her way around the route. It’s also important for the hike leader to accommodate the slowest member of the group by adjusting the group’s overall pace.
  • Don’t deviate from your route. While it can be tempting to wander off, it’s important to stick to your route as it lowers your chances of getting lost and helps authorities better pinpoint the area to be searched should something go wrong.
  • Follow the signs. Stick to routes that are clearly marked and pay attention to any warning signs either on the route or on the map.
  • Never wander down a ravine unless you have the proper climbing equipment.
  • Don’t split up, especially if you get lost. Rather try and retrace your steps and avoid continuing your ascent.
  • Keep an eye on the time and rather turn back when the sun begins to set.


  • If you have to stop due to bad weather or injury, stay together as a group and stay in one place. If you need to find shelter from rain or wind, try and find a spot as close to your current location as possible.
  • Should someone in the group sustain an injury, assess the situation and perform basic first aid.
  • Don’t go it alone. If more specialised help is needed, a minimum of two group members should head out to find assistance while at least one person stays behind to tend to the distressed group member.
  • When seeking help, try and draw a map of the approximate location of the distressed individual. This will ensure trained authorities get to the individual as quickly as possible.


  • Avoid taking any unnecessary valuables such as watches, cameras and large amounts of cash with you.
  • Always keep an eye on your surroundings and take note of any suspicious individuals along the route. If at any time you feel unsafe, turn back and alert authorities.
  • Ensure your group has an action plan should you find yourselves falling victim to criminals and make sure everyone on the group knows the plan and understands it.

Source: SANParks