The golden rule of hiking is to be considerate towards nature and other hikers. Your mountain adventure is not just about you: chances are you will bump into other people, particularly on busy trails like Platteklip, Lion’s Head, and Kasteelspoort. Here are some tips to make and keep your hike fun for yourself andfor others – and nature too!
- Leave no trace: take down whatever you are bringing up the mountain. This includes food waste such as banana and orange peels. This stuff doesn’t belong on the mountain, messes with our sensitive ecology, is an eyesore, and can take YEARS to biodegrade. The same counts for tissues and wet wipes. They belong in your pocket, not in nature.
- Keep your music to yourself: Very little is more annoying when on the trail than music blaring from other people’s phones and portable speakers. Most hikers hike to get away from it all. Please be considerate and use headphones if you insist on listening to your music. They were invented for a reason.
- No graffiti: This shouldn’t even be part of the debate. Don’t write, spray paint, scratch, etch, or mark, sticker your name or any other message on rocks, trees, or anywhere else in nature.
- Don’t feed local wildlife: Human food can make animals sick and it turns them into a nuisance. This may result them in being harmed by humans.
- Don’t pick flowers: Go buy your own flowers but leave the ones growing on the mountain where they belong: on the mountain 🙂
- Please don’t smoke: Your smoke is annoying to other hikers and cigarette butts and coals may trigger wildfires. If you do insist on smoking, please carry your butts off the mountain (for instance in a small Ziploc bag)
- Be nice and say “hi”: Kindness goes a long way, also on the trail 🙂 Say “hi” 🙂 Hi!
- Don’t block the trail: If you decide to have a break, move to the side of the trail to let others pass.
- Let people pass: If a group of hikers wants to pass you from the back, move to the mountain side of the trail and let your fellow trail users pass you on the edge side.
- Share the trail: Share the trail with other mountain users such as mountain bikers and trail runners. Be civil, considerate, and courteous – and don’t take over the entire trail if it concerns a route that is shared by cyclists. Stick to the right or the left, whichever is better.
- Don’t use closed trails: If a trail or area is marked as closed, for whatever reason or another, stay away.
- Dealing with bottlenecks (e.g. staples on Lion’s Head): Be a nice person and take the three or five down, three or five up approach so that no one has to wait for hours or days to get up/down.
- Leave your drone at home: Drones are prohibited in South Africa’s National Parks and most other local/provincial nature reserves. These things are a nuisance to other hikers (they seriously are!) and they put animals in distress, so keep them at home. If not, you may risk a R2500 fine. True story.
- Offer assistance to fellow hikers: Should you come across mountain users in need of assistance, see how you can help them.
- Toilet rules: If you need to go, you need to go, it’s that simple. If you go to the toilet, please do so far away from the path (definitely not on the path, in a popular cave, or any other place that is frequented by hikers). Bury any number twos in a hole and cover it with sand, and tuck tissue/toilet paper in a Ziploc bag (and bring it down the mountain). Hiding your ‘load’ under a stone is not enough.
- Give right of way (but use common sense): there’s an old “Alpine rule” which says that hikers coming up a trail get right of way. In other words, at a narrow section of the trail, people coming down should give right of way to anybody coming up. However, when if you are hiking in a large group of 10 people or more and you are going up, you can’t expect one or two down-comers to wait for you. In such cases, be considerate and use common sense.
- Follow the rules of the area where you are hiking: Study any signs and notice boards at the beginning of your trail and know what you can and can’t do. Every reserve and park has different rules. These are the rules for TMNP, for instance.
- Follow any permit regulations: If you need a permit to access a certain area, from the Wolfberg Cracks in the Cederberg and Crystal Pools to Orangekloof, get a permit.
- Follow the instructions of rangers: This shouldn’t require any explanation.
Should you want to speak to us about this or give feedback, please contact our content manager and spokesperson Miriam Mannak.
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