Hiking is one of the best ways to get your heart rate up while enjoying the spectacular beauty of our country. If you’re a regular weekend hiker, why not try a long-distance hike, which offers more challenges and unique thrills?
Here are some long-distance hiking tips:
Assemble a posse
It’s always better to do things as a team, and doing a long hike alone isn’t a great. The South African National Parks (SANParks) recommends hiking in groups of at least four for safety. Make sure thought that your companions are on the same page as you in terms of where you want to go and what you want to see. Also always remember to tell someone where you’re going, which route you’re using and when you expect to get back. They will need to know whom to call and where to look for you if you are not back in time.
Get your body ready
No one wants to feel like they’re dying half the time . . . so boosting your fitness levels before the time will ensure you’re properly ready for your adventure. Put in some hours of training, either in the gym or on one-day hikes. Some long-distance hikes could see you covering 10km to 15km a day (the Otter Trail is more than 13km a day and the Amatola and Outeniqua Trails are more than 18kms on some days).
Step number one – get the right gear! Boots are, obviously, very important. A backpack must fit so well that when you put it on you don’t feel the weight of it. When you’re carrying everything on your back for several hours a day, less is most definitely more, so make sure you pack only what you need. Think practical, weatherproof, durable, lightweight and multi-purpose.
Finding your way
Long-distance hiking isn’t delicate, so a solid phone with GPS, which is hard-wearing, waterproof and reliable in cold conditions is imperative. (The Land Rover Explore Outdoor phone is a great option with military standard credentials and a selection of curated apps for the outdoors that would come in handy on your hike). However, you should still take your map and compass along too!
Go the distance
If you want to challenge yourself and have fun at the same time, South Africa has plenty of great long-distance hiking trails to add to your bucket list, including:
Drakensberg Grand Traverse, Kwa-Zulu Natal
Wild Coast Hike, Eastern Cape
The Rim of Africa, Western Cape
Otter Trail, Western Cape
The Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail, Western Cape
Outeniqua Hiking Trail, Western Cape
Amatola Hiking Trail, Eastern Cape