Safety Guidelines for Hikers

Many of you looking at this will skip over it or completely ignore it. If you have read this far, a little known fact is that in 2017 there were approximately 185 rescue incidents in the Table Mountain chain. Some of these were serious, some were even fatal. Most were successfully resolved due to a small group of volunteer rescuers who are exceptionally knowledgeable and skilled and frequently put there own safety at risk to bring others down safely. It is your responsibility to them to ensure that you are properly informed and equipped.

  1.  Never hike alone. A minimum of four is essential.
  2. Choose your route according to your ability and fitness and that of the group, of the group.
  3. If you don’t know the route go with somebody who genuinely knows the way, join a hiking club or find a professional guide.
  4. Take a good map (
  5. Remember it is a Mountain – safe most of the time but weather conditions can change very quickly)
  6. Take enough food and more than enough water for the route you are too follow, plus a bit extra for emergencies. (Minimum of 2 lt).
  7. Tell someone exactly where you are going and stick to this plan.
  8. Ensure that at least one member of the group has a fully charged cell phone with emergency numbers for the area saved on it, also the number of a friend or family member who knows where you are going.
  9. Always go prepared for bad weather – windcheaters, cold weather clothing and rain gear (it can get cold on top of the mountain in the middle of summer).
  10. Apply sunscreen before you hike and carry extra.
  11. Travel at the pace of the slowest member of the party.
  12. Never split up and go in different directions.
  13. Do not push on into the unknown. If you get lost, retrace your steps.
  14. If you are unsure of what to do, find shelter, especially from the wind,
    and stay put.
  15. Emergency numbers:
    • Wilderness Search & Rescue: 021 937 0300
    • Table Mountain Security: 086 1106417
    • Cape Town City Emergency: 021 4807700 / Mobile 107
    • General Emergency: 10177 / Mobile 112
    • Police Emergency: 10111 – national / 021 4678002 – local
    • Metro Police: 021 5961400
    • Cape Town Fire & Rescue 021 590 1900
  16. Be aware that there have been incidents of crime in Table Mountain and surrounding areas. Get local knowledge as to where the unsafe areas are and which the safest routes are – consult a guide.

Essential Equipment

  • Hiking boots/shoes & hiking socks (good sole support for longer routes).
  • Comfortable day pack
  • Sun block (apply before you start & re-apply during the day)
  • Wide-brimmed hat (with fastening chord, for the wind)
  • Warm clothing, suitable rain jacket/wind breaker (the temperature often drops unexpectedly on the mountain, even on the hottest day)
  • Layers of clothing, gloves & beanie (in winter)
  • At least 2 to 3 litres of water (depending on distance & weather)*
  • Food & snacks – consider distance/time & allow extra for emergencies
  • Cell phone – fully charged, on silent, with ICE numbers (In Case of Emergency)
  • Personal medication & relevant medical information
  • Personal first-aid kit (if you’re prone to cramping, speak to your pharmacist about suitable emergency medication)
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Small, reliable (preferably head) torch, with extra batteries
  • Whistle (from a toy or sports shop)
  • Copy of driver’s license or ID
  • Plastic packet for used tissues and other litter

Optional extras:

  • A set of walking poles. Used properly, they (a) go a long way towards avoiding knee problems (made worse by excessive strain on the knees & tendons during the ascent, which causes tenderness during the descent), (b) spread the load & workout between the upper & lower body & (c) minimise erosion-causing impact when descending a loose path.
  • A hands-free water system or bladder