Taking safety to another level.

Growing up in Bishop Lavis I’m attuned to Safety and Security, many a time finding myself chasing down perpetrators of crime and reclaiming what was rightly mine at the time. From bird baths, to bicycles, to car jacks, to my Dad’s roses (10 of them, ripped from the ground overnight), I’ve seen and experienced quite a few adrenalin-fuelled events.

And so at some stage whilst donating blood more than a year ago and getting to know a particular employee at the WPBTS (Western Province Blood Transfusion Service), I happened to mention that I had an interest in MMA fighting. He, Mark Kapot, invited me to join them in close combat training mentioning that the training was unlike any other. Being a student and having to juggle between work, studies and maintaining some sanity around the home, I never accepted the invitation until, recently when 9 people were attacked during a hike in Silvermine. We were on that very mountain, on the day, and I vividly recall how the dynamic of our hike changed from being a relaxing Saturday morning out, to one where we needed to secure our group and alert other hikers to the danger that, quite possibly, was still lurking on the mountain. We kept the group tight and compact as we made our way down the mountain.
It was after this experience that I decided to contact an old school friend of mine, Nigel February, who happened to own the very gym where Mark Kapot himself is an instructor. We met, I explained that we wanted to better equip our leaders with knowledge on self-defence, and that we were looking for someone to teach the group. Nigel contacted me shortly after, made a proposal and the training began. Every Tuesday @7pm, the voluntary leadership team met at Mustang Gym in Parow, where Nigel, over a six-week cycle imparted knowledge and physical techniques that the team practised week on week to provide the confidence the team desperately desired.
At the first session Nigel spoke about the 5 steps in the self-defence process. These included the interview phase where the would-be perpetrator interviews the victim, watching hikers body posture and how we carry ourselves. The second stage is the approach where they either approach the hiker/ group or wait for someone who appears more vulnerable. The 3rd stage is where they make contact and start engaging with hikers. Examples, as we who been exposed to this before would know, would include questions such as,” hoe laat is it?”(what is the time?) and “Gee ‘n entjie” (Give me a cigarette). It’s only at stage 4 where the perpetrator gets physical and starts to attack the hiker. Stage 5 is the aftermath following the attack, either leaving the hiker seriously injured, or in the worst case, dead. Nigel suggested that if Hikers focussed on the first 3 stages, we could reduce or even avoid the potential for stages 4 and 5 to be realised.
Having recently undergone a minor back operation I unfortunately did not attend all the sessions but watched most of the videos the team made during training. I particularly liked the fact that Nigel did not simply jump into the training but offered the team valuable insights into the mind of a person who intends to cause us harm. For many this was new but for others, who grew up in this environment, it served as a refresher. Physical training commenced following the theoretical aspect and the team were shown how to use edged weapons, knives, screwdrivers and machetes as well as how to disable someone, in close combat, with the use of our bodies.

The last session took place at the gym on 13 March 2018. one of Nigel’s students participated as a sparring partner to demonstrate close combat techniques without any edged weapons. As usual, the team was gob-smacked by the techniques and the physical demonstrations of how to incapacitate someone within seconds. The training has been a considerable value add for Hikers Network and we appreciate the sacrifices and knowledge Nigel and his team shared with us
The training is highly recommended for anyone, not only those who use the mountains but anyone who feels they want to equip themselves with specific, Jason-Bourne like stealth and ability. I hope that none of us ever need to use the knowledge we gained but I certainly am better prepared and better equipped if I find myself at stage 4.
Nigel’s business name is Greyblade Security Solutions and if you’re wondering why Greyblade, have a look at the “ou kaapie” knife. It will answer the question immediately.
Until next time………..Salute!

By Wayne Davids

Table Mountain Disas

The Table Mountain National Park is a treasure trove of wildflowers. Some of them are endangered, and those of us who enjoy nature and the outdoors while hiking the multiple paths in the park, get to experience these wonders of our floral kingdom.

Currently, three of our disa orchids are in bloom and they can be found without any difficulty along some of the routes. These plants generally flower between mid January and the end of March.

Disa uniflora

The Disa Uniflora (Red Disa) is best viewed on the Back Table along the main feeder stream in the catchment area of the Hely Hutchinson Reservoir. This section is known as the “Backwater Stream Ravine”, and can be reached via the small path opposite the Water Works Museum.


Disa Graminifolia

The Disa Graminifolia (Blue Disa) is easily found along the paths on the “Top Table” between Platteklip Gorge and Maclear’s Beacon.


Disa Ferruginea Picture: Rod Prodgers

Disa Ferruginea (Orange Cluster Disa) is quite common and can very easily be found along the Bridle Path at the moist slope, just below the bridge at Splihaus Ravine. They are also in abundance on the Top Table as well.

Please take special care when identifying this flower, since the Tritoniopisis Triticea (Summer Snowflake Iris) is also in bloom at the moment, and the two are often mistaken.

Tritoniopsis Triticea

A very good reference to have, is a book called Common Wild Flowers of Table Mountain & Silvermine by Hugh Clarke, Bruce Mackenzie and Corinne Merry. Please click        here        for more information about this very useful book, as it is quite easy to follow since the flowers are referenced in colour sequence for quick identification in the field.

Please enjoy your hikes by taking some time out to observe and marvel at the natural beauty and wild flowers that we so often take for granted.

Be out and be safe.









The Track Record: 19-25 Feb 2018

The past week was a busy one, during which hundreds of outdoor users were tracked.


On Tuesday evening, a regular hiker, Kosta from Lion500, reported that he came across an injured hiker just below the summit.  We put him in touch with Metro Rescue Control, who activated a response.


On Wednesday morning Kosta was out on Lion’s Head again, doing his thing, when he came across a hiker who was suffering from dehydration due to the extreme heat conditions at the time. WSAR, who had already been dispatched to Lion’s Head for an earlier call regarding an ankle injury, was alerted as well.

Thank you, Kosta, for being at hand and assisting with these three mountain calls in less than 24 hours.


On Thursday evening, a party who was being tracked by us at the time, reported that they had seen some  “suspicious” men who were hiding, off path. The authorities were immediately notified and they sprang into action. No further details are at hand.


On Saturday morning, a group who had checked in earlier, alerted us to an incident where a member in their party had taken a fall and was badly injured. The Metro Rescue Control call center (021 9370300) was notified, and they subsequently activated the Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) for an immediate response. It was decided that a Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) by helicopter was best.

WSAR helicoper rescue featured image)

During this rescue, another call came in for a dehydrated patient. WSAR was again activated and the helicopter responded to do the necessary.


We wish the injured hikers a speedy recovery, and we would like to thank our members who volunteered re the upkeep of our tracking service, as well as  their time monitoring as the members who responded to the various rescue calls this week.

Be out and be safe.

Crystal Pools hike a Cape Gem

On the 6th of January, Wayne and I, Annabelle-Linda Gertze (Hikers Network Hike Leader), set off towards Gordon’s Bay to meet up with our fellow HNHC members in anticipation of the long-awaited Crystal Pools hike. Staying true to our hiking tradition we made a quick pitstop at McDonald’s for some cheeseburgers with jalapeno sauce, which usually serves as breakfast!

We arrived at the parking area ahead of time and whilst Wayne explored the area taking a few photos I had a short morning nap. At about 7h30 am the rest of the team arrived, eager to get the hike started but patiently waiting for the park rangers to check our permit. They also assured us of no baboon sightings in the reserve, which we were warned against by fellow hikers.

Our hike leader, Shamiel, did the briefing and we set off on an easy but brisk pace with Steven being the sweeper of the 19-member team.

Since I’ve never done this trail before I wasn’t too sure about what to expect – the only knowledge that there are 5 pools one can swim in or picnic at.

The trail, albeit it rocky, is clearly marked and after a short walk, you’ll have a view of the Steenbras River flowing underneath the bridge we drove over earlier that morning. Both Wayne and I commented on the fact that we took a gazillion road trips passing over the bridge and never knew what lies beneath it. A magnificent view of the bridge, the river and the ocean awaits you.

We continued along the trail, which at some points, is a bit of a scramble over the rocks but spirits were high and all we could talk about was reaching the pools and enjoying the swimming break we all anticipated. Shortly after our first rest stop one of the members said she was feeling dizzy and nauseous and would not be able to continue any further.

After some consultation and discussion between the leaders it was decided that two of us, Wayne and Nabeal, would escort her and hubby back to their car and then catch up with the group at pool no 2. It placed a bit of a damper on the mood of the day but it was soon forgotten as we steadily made our way to the pools with the sun hot on our backs.

The pools were simply amazing and well worth the hike there … picture perfect with the waterfall in the background. We quickly stripped down to our swimming gear and eagerly yet cautiously ventured into the deep dark waters. It was simply breathtaking.We extended our stay at pool no 2 to allow Wayne and Nabeal time to return and rejoin the group. This allowed for plenty of swimming and playful antics in the water.

Upon their return, we decided not to continue to the rest of the pools but rather make our way back to pool no 1, where we relaxed a bit, enjoyed some more swimming and a quick bite to eat before journeying back.

All too soon it was time for us to pack up and head back. The sun was scorching hot by now and it wasn’t long before we were yearning for the cool waters we left behind. Sadly, Toeghfa sustained a minor foot/toe injury after stumbling over a rock and whilst Shamiel expertly applied ointment and bandages to her foot the guys made a makeshift canopy from a towel to provide some shady relief in the heat.

We continued at a slightly slower pace from here, enjoying the beautiful views and in-between stopping to take lots of photos. Our last picture was taken on the sandy patch by the river before the completing the last few steps of the trail.

What an awesome day this was, a hike to be remembered for a very long time. The group was jovial from start to finish, the company was great, the sights were magnificent, the leaders were fantastic but the highlight of the day was without a doubt the mountain pools?

The debriefing was done at the car park after which Wayne and I treated the team to some ice-cold cans of coke, which even I gladly welcomed at that point. We said our goodbyes and took the long drive home once again happy to be part of such an amazing group of people.

Hiking maps

A recent and updated hiking map is a very essential part of your kit.

Below are some reasons why hikers and other outdoors users should always have one at hand.

  1. It will give you an opportunity to study the area and lay of the land in which you would like to hike, beforehand. Use it to plan your route.
  2. You can use it to determine your position and distances as well.
  3. Once you have set off, you may find that you are progressing slower than anticipated. Use the map to plot a shorter route instead, thereby maintaining your time frames.
  4. You could use your map to assist another party who may be lost or are just wanting to know more about a particular route that they are on.
  5. This party will be able to take a picture of the relevant section of your map, for reference later.
  6. A map is also useful for finding and sharing landmarks and places of interest.
  7. It is also important to have one for sharing your location with the rescue services.
  8. Is invaluable in cases of low visibility when the path ahead is not clear.

Important things to remember when using hiking maps:

  • Use your map in conjunction with a compass.
  • When reading your map, always face north (use your compass to assist you).
  • In windy conditions, never use your map when you are close to an edge. It may just blow out of your hands. The same applies to coastal walks: be careful not to lose it over the water.
  • Understand the map’s symbols and scales.
  • Know how to interpret contour lines and contour intervals. These indicate cliffs, valleys, saddles, ravines, koppies etc
  • Contour lines also indicate altitude.
  • From The South African Mountain Leadership Guide

  • Please take special care of your map, and keep it dry at all times.

The most reliable maps are the ones in the Slingsby range. These have been tried and tested and are used by the Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR). Most of them are waterproof as well.

They are available at shops like Cape Union Mart and other outdoor and camping shops.

Please click       here       for more information about these useful maps.

Be out and be safe.

The Track Record 12 – 18 February 2018.

12 – 18 February 2018

The week behind us has proven to be another busy one with hundreds of outdoor users being tracked. Here are some of the incidents that were attended to.

On Monday afternoon, a member of our Paragliding Tracking group reported a fire on the lower slopes of Lion’s Head, just above the residential area on the Clifton side.

Picture Paragliding Safety


Fire Services were in attendance, and we put in a request for the traffic department to manage the road which was congested as a result.

A safety alert was put out to inform hikers of the situation, as well as pilots of the paragliding fraternity. The fire was successfully taken care of by the on scene fire crews.


Later on in the afternoon, we were asked by the Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) whether we were tracking any hikers in the Northern section of the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). VWS were receiving reports of smoke blowing down into the Camps Bay area from Table Mountain (TM).

We contacted pax who were on Lion’s Head, Platteklip Gorge and India Venster who had earlier checked in via our system. We asked them whether they saw and/or smelt any smoke in the area. They confirmed smoke, however, no flames were spotted.

This was relayed to VWS, and the alert was withdrawn when it was discovered that the smoke was from a fire somewhere to the south east of TMNP.


On Tuesday afternoon, a regular trackee asked whether he should rather wait for the pending lightning to pass, before he commenced his trail run up Platteklip Gorge. We advised him that it was best to wait it out. Once he set off, he was also able to provide an update re a “walk out” rescue that was being executed by members of the volunteer Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) team, halfway up the gorge.

Later in the evening, one of our members on the Paragliding Tracking team reported that there were two small fires, one on Devil’s Peak, and the other on the front face of Table Mountain.

Picture Paragliding Safety


This was as a result of the lightning. The necessary services where then notified.


On Wednesday morning, again from the Paragliding Safety team, a report of a different fire lower down on Devil’s Peak was received.

Picture Paragliding Safety

The necessary services were once again informed.


On Thursday afternoon, a trackee who was routing up Skeleton Gorge on his way to the Upper Cable Station (UCS), did an update check in at the ladders. This area can be a bit hazardous due to the slippery moss, as this section of the gorge is mostly in the shade which renders it very moist. A couple of minutes later, he messaged again. Thinking that there may be an incident, we examined his message.

Funnily enough, he posted a picture of mature male Himalayan Tahr. There is an unknown number of these animals which are alien to Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) and the continent for that matter, still roaming around in the park.


Picture C. de le Harpe



Picture C. de Le Harpe


It is the first time that I learn of a sighting this far south.

Please click      here      for an article by Ridgway Ramblers.


On Saturday morning we learnt of another violent mugging attack on Noordhoek Beach.

The assailant escaped and the victims required medical treatment as well.


The CoCT is drilling for water into Table Mountain aquifer at the lower slopes of Devil’s Peak. This work creates dust and water spray which looks like smoke when viewed from a distance. The authorities are receiving loads of reports of wild fires in the area, which after investigation proves to the the drilling site.

Should you wish to report any wildfires, please take a photograph and forward that with your complaint when reporting. This will not only assist the authorities as far a location and wind direction goes, they will also be able to clarify whether it is indeed a wildfire or not.

Having said that, a false alarm is much better than no alarm.

We thank all the members who were involved with these incidents, and we continue to pledge our support to outdoor users in the name of safety.

Please sign up for this service      here    if you are not already a member,

Be out and be safe.

Junior Hiking Club a first for South Africa – Youth the Future

Hikers Network -Junior Hiking Club (HNJHC)

Hikers Network Junior Hiking Club was launched on October 1st 2016 and is the only Junior Hiking Club of its kind in the Western Cape. The club has grown in the last 15 months to approximately 200 members, with ages ranging from 4-12 years. The JHC is comprised from the different Enviro-Groups within Hikers Network, namely,
Hikers Network Hiking Club
Mitchels Plain Enviro Hiking Club
Strandfontein Enviro Hiking Club
Bishop Lavis Enviro Hiking Club
Bonteheuwel Enviro Hiking Club
Kensington Enviro Hiking Club
Hanover Park Enviro Hiking Club

Launch of HNJHC ~ 1 October 2016 ~ Newlands Forest

The JHC’s launch took place at Newlands Forest. We started at the helipad and made our way along the circular route towards the Stonebridge where the children enjoyed some treats and a talk from the president of The Hikers Network president, Anwaaz Bent about the area and its heritage before completing the trail.
Newlands Forest is home to the Volunteer Wildfire Services. The Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) has been combating dangerous and sometimes deadly runaway fires since its birth through the devastating fires in 1999 / 2000 in Cape Town.

WOF Education hike


Aims & Objectives of HNJHC
The chief activity is leading the members and their families along trails and footpaths safely.
To promote friendships and interactions!
Our Junior Members come from different cultures, religions and communities within Cape Town.
To promote fitness and health of our Junior Members through their participation in the clubs activities.
To teach the kids to act responsibly in nature with an emphasis on safety.
To learn about nature
Teaching the members leadership roles

In the upcoming months our goals are to start incorporating mountain skills such as learning how to read maps and use a compass, tying knots, learning about the fynbos in the different areas and continuing to learn about nature.

Tygerberg Nature Reserve
HNJHC has hiked in many areas in and around Cape Town. This hike was a first for the JHC and they did an amazing job covering 14 km! Johan Stapelberg lead this hike with the juniors close at his heals.

Helderberg Hiking Trail – 11 November 2017
Helderberg Nature Reserve is home to a beautiful Biosphere. On this particular day the JHC did the Sugarbird Walk (Yellow trail) and was approximately 2.2 km long. Our Juniors enjoyed this lovely walk away from our regular Table Mountain routes. We enjoyed a lovely picnic together after this awesome hike before parting ways.

Kogelberg Nature Reserve-River Walk
Considered by many to be the most beautiful of CapeNature’s protected areas, Kogelberg Nature Reserve is home to a variety of fynbos. It is also considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom. On January 14, 2018 we enjoyed a Back@School hike along the Palmiet River in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Our Junior Hiking Club members exceeded all our expectations when they completed the 10km River Walk trail. It was a hot day and the area was very exposed. Although we braked often this trail was exhausted for the kids. One thing that kept our spirits up, was knowing the reward! An hour long swim in an area known as the beach. This was a day well spent. Definitely to be visited again!!!

Newlands Forest ~ Carousel Trail
Newlands Forest is home to many amazing trails. On the 27th January 2018 the Junior Hiking club completed the carousel trail. This is not an easy trail. Our Junior Hiking members did an amazing job showing off their improving hiking skills! We are all super proud of them.

Future hike leaders in training!!

Kakapo Shipwreck Trail ~ Noordhoek.
The Cape of Storms was the reason The SS Kakapo, a 665 ton schooner rigged steamship, wrecked on the Noordhook beach in the 1900’s. Today when you take a walk along Noordhoek 8km beach, halfway along, you can clearly see the exposed ribs and engine block of this ship buried in the sand.
The JHC enjoyed a long hike across the beach sand in Noordhoek to the Shipwreck. Followed by a lovely picnic while some kids opted to swim under close supervision!

These are only a handful of amazing hikes that we have enjoyed and completed since the Junior Hiking clubs birth in October 2016. A huge thank you to all the leaders who always avail themselves to assist, your commitment is greatly appreciated by the The Hikers Network

Melissa Walters – Hikers Network Junior Hiking Club Co-ordinator

Summer hiking with K9s

Hiking is meant to be an adventure, and in the hot summer months, this could turn out to be more of an adventure than what one had planned for. Especially when you have K9s in your group.

During the summer months it is much better to do short walks with your K9s, either early in the morning, or late afternoon.

Dark coloured dogs are more at risk due to the fact that they absorb heat faster.

Please click      here     for more information relating to how dogs are susceptible to heat stroke.

Be out and be safe.




Mugging arrests.

There has been official notice of arrests made in respect of the recent mugging attacks in the Central section of the Table Mountain National Park, by SAPS.

Well done to the officers involved, as well as to the members of the Table Mountain Security Action Group (TMSAG) on their collaboration with the authorities regarding this breakthrough.

TMSAG may be reached at info@tmwatch.co.za

Be out and be safe.