The descriptions here will only give you a rough idea of the routes, so you will need a good map and one or two detailed route descriptions from reputable hiking guides. I use the Slingsby map of Table Mountain and the second edition of Tony Lourens’s Table Mountain Classics.
STUDY YOUR ROUTE
Do this beforehand, but carry your map and copy of the route description with you. It’s best to take the more technical route on the way up and find an easier way down. Allow more than enough time to complete the entire route in daylight. Let someone know your intended route and expected return time.
IF YOU GET LOST, DON’T PANIC
Don’t carry on blindly or take a short cut. As soon as you realise you’re off route, backtrack carefully to the last place you knew you were on the right path, and try again. If you still can’t find the way safely, turn around and head home. There’s less shame in an unfinished exploration than having to be rescued.
CHOOSE YOUR GROUP
Wilderness Search & Rescue recommends a minimum hiking group of four people. New hiking buddies should start out doing easy, well-marked paths together. Be aware of the level of hiking experience, fitness, injuries or other issues (such as a fear of heights) in the group. A wellcoordinated group is important for general safety – appoint one person as the leader and another as the sweeper to make sure no one gets left behind. If you’re aiming to tackle a tricky new route, consider using a professional mountain guide, such as Justin Lawson (who can also take you rock climbing). 082-696-4067, climbing.co.za/hiking
JOIN A CLUB
If you don’t have a suitable group of friends to hike with, join a hiking club. The Mountain Club of South Africa has regular hikes for its members. 021-465-3412, mcsacapetown.co.za