6 simple steps for how to get into hiking and unlocking experiences in the beautiful landscapes and parks of South Africa.
You’ve seen all the Instagram posts, and your friend has been nagging you for about a year to hike with them. But you don’t even know how to start, where to start or even the basics of what to buy. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely afternoon walk or a multi-day trek, South Africa has it all. In this post, we will guide you through some tips and advice on how to get into hiking in South Africa.
1. SAY YES TO GOING HIKING!
Hiking is one of the most inclusive and inviting activities you can enjoy – and just about anyone can do it, irrespective of fitness level, experience, or gear. All you need is the first step of bravery and you’re in for a whole world of reward. So, say yes to the friend that has been nagging you for months on end, or simply take on the closest trail near your house.
2. Start small
Hiking can be physically and mentally demanding, especially for beginners. It’s important to start small and work your way up as you gain more experience and fitness. Begin by exploring local day trails near your home, parks or nature reserves. These trails are generally easier, shorter and can provide an excellent introduction to hiking. You’ll also be able to see if hiking really is for you.
3. Join a hiking club
Hiking clubs are a great way to meet new people and get into hiking. There are many hiking groups across the country with regular meetups and organized hikes. Joining a club can provide you with access to hiking routes, hiking partners, and transport to remote trailheads.
4. Invest in good gear – don’t be afraid to ask.
Hiking gear is essential to ensure your comfort and safety on the trail. Investing in good gear will also enhance your overall hiking experience, however, stay clear of the pressure to buy the best and most expensive products out there. Start out by simply asking if you could borrow some of your family/friends’ gear. Take care of each item as if it’s your own and get a feel for what you really want and need on the trail. The number one item every hiker should have is comfortable hiking shoes. Do not skimp on proper hiking shoes!
Look here for some advice on finding the right hiking shoes.
5. Prepare for the hike – but be prepared to be unprepared
Planning will ensure a better attitude towards the unexpected – know your terrain, weather conditions, group fitness level and individual ability. However, hiking is not home – so embrace the unknown and uncomfortable conditions. Seek discomfort! It will change your life.
6. LNT – Leave no trace!
Man – nothing gets me like a dirty contaminated trail. Keep the environment clean, stay on the designated trails, and avoid damaging plants or animals. South Africa is home to various flora and fauna species; it’s essential to keep them safe and conserve them for future generations.
To summarize; JUST START. As with anything new, you’ll get better and more comfortable the more you do it. The first step is scariest, but it will expose you to a whole new world of adventure, community, peace and hope!