What do the Ramblers do?
Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Peninsula Ramblers hiking club has been going for over 70 years. The Club is run by volunteers and would not exist without the support and participation of its members. Our aim is simple: to get out into the fresh air and beauty of our magnificent Cape Mountains – and beyond – as often as possible, while at the same time doing whatever we can to help protect the areas of indigenous fynbos we visit. We lead moderate hikes of three to four hours on Saturdays, and more strenuous and longer hikes of five to six hours or more on Sundays. From time to time, impromptu hikes will be posted on our Facebook page, as well as any changes to the program, and you are invited to connect with us there.
How can I prepare for hiking?
The best preparation for hiking is to hike: do half an hour of walking each day, walk to the shops instead of driving, use the stairs instead of the lift. A little bit of exercise every day is very helpful.
What do I need to bring on a hike?
What to wear
- Sturdy, worn-in, hiking boots and thick hiking socks, a thinner lining pair is also a good idea – avoid cotton – can lead to blisters.
- For shorter easier hikes, comfortable walking shoes or trainers are suitable.
- Loose-fitting, light-weight shirt and comfortable shorts / long pants or longs with zip-off legs.
- Sunhat that will give adequate protection to your face and the back of your neck.
- Sunscreen – at least factor 15 is recommended – otherwise cover up..
What size pack do I need and what do I put in it?
- A comfortable day pack, big enough to take what you need to carry, with shoulder straps and, preferably, a hip belt and sternum strap. A 20 to 30 litre size is ideal.
- A warm fleece or jersey and a good rain jacket or poncho. These should be in your pack even if you start off on a sunny windless day. The weather can change quickly in the mountains.
- Water bottle: you should carry a minimum of 1 litre on a half-day hike (more in summer) and 2 litres on a full-day hike (more in summer).
- Munchies: this means yummy food / snacks; sandwiches, fruit, a flask of tea/coffee/hot chocolate…and always take emergency rations like dried fruit, nuts and chocolate.
- Small torch or head lamp: also useful for exploring caves and overhangs or for finding your way down a rocky path if for some reason you are out after dark.
- Use a splash cover for your pack or put everything inside a thick plastic bag in case of rain or falling into water: there is nothing worse than having wet gear and soggy sandwiches if it starts to rain.
- Take only photos, leave only footprints: this includes fruit peels and cores.
- Leave jewellery and other valuables at home.
- Do you want to drink from streams on the mountain? Think about this and take care not to pollute. It may be a good idea to carry water purification tablets in your pack.
- Open fires and stoves are not allowed on Table Mountain.
- R20 visitor fee if you are not yet a member: have exact amount of cash.
- IMPORTANT! If you are on medication for a serious health condition, or may require emergency medication (diabetes, allergies etc.), inform the leader of your condition and where to find the medication in your backpack.
- The leader usually carries a First Aid kit but you should carry personal medication and a few plasters, pain-killers and an emergency space blanket.
- Have your next-of-kin details written inside your backpack or on a travel tag. Have ICE (in case of emergency) on your phone: ICE1son 083 567 8900; and AA Metro Rescue 021 937 0300; AA Mountain Security 086 110 6417.
- It is also a good idea to carry a whistle.
How do I choose which hike to go on?
Contact the hike leader before the hike and find out what is involved and if you can cope. Tell the leader what sort of hikes you have been doing recently and any health problems which might slow you down (sprained ankle, hip or knee injuries…) The Club uses this very simple grading system:
2 – 4 hours of walking on good paths, mostly on the flat or on contour paths. There may be some mild uphills and downhills. Approximate distance covered: less than 6 km.
3 – 6 hours of walking, mostly on good paths, some of it on the flat, but with uphills and downhills, most of which will not be too steep. Approximate distance covered: 6 – 10 km.
6 – 10 hours of walking, not necessarily on paths. Sustained, steep uphills and downhills. Approximate distance covered: 10 or more kilometres.
Some hikes may be a combination of the above. Each leader hikes at his/her own pace and you will soon get to know which leaders go at a pace which suits you.
What does scrambling mean?
Nothing to do with eggs: it is when you need to use your hands and feet to negotiate a rock face, like climbing an uneven ladder. Generally a rope is not necessary, but a rope may be available to assist if required.
What is meant by exposure?
Not to the sun: it refers to “exposure to heights”, areas where there could be a ledge to negotiate or a narrow path with a drop-off on one or both sides. These can be daunting and if you’re scared of heights, avoid these until you’ve built up some confidence. Remember, the more familiar you become with scrambling and exposure, the less likely they are to bother you.
Be conservative. Pick an easy or easy to moderate hike to start with. You will soon get a feel for your own level of fitness, the hike leaders style and, better still, each time you hike you’ll become fitter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I be able to share transport?
On out-of-town hikes there is usually a central meeting place and the minimum number of vehicles required to transport everybody is used. Bring some cash with you as it is customary for all passengers to contribute towards the travel expenses. On local hikes you will need to get to the start of the hike.
How safe is it to walk in the Cape Peninsula?
There are some areas where muggings have occurred and do occur on a fairly regular basis. However, if you walk in a fairly large group, stick closely together and are alert to what is going on around you, you should not experience any problems. Our leaders are very aware of the security situation and will do their best to avoid trouble. A decision will be made by the leader if there are insufficient hikers, generally less than 4, to cancel the hike or change the route.
What if I need a toilet break?
If you require a toilet stop on the hike, inform the leader or one of the other hikers that you are stopping so that we know to wait for you. Choose a private spot off the path not closer than 30m to rivers, streams or water sources. It is advisable to bury faeces and toilet paper, (toilet paper decomposes faster when buried), or take your used toilet paper/tissues with you in a small plastic bag for later disposal. Do not burn your toilet paper – no fires are allowed on Table Mountain – and never leave used toilet paper exposed – it’s unsightly and unhealthy. A small hand trowel is a useful item in your pack.
Tips on avoiding expensive Entry Fees
My Green Card: (for Cape Town Residents only) – 12 entries per year into selected Sanparks (Cape Point being one of them). Simply go down to your Cape Nature or Tourism Info Centre with your SA ID book, two ID photos and a utility bill (proof of residence), not older than three months. This would be the same process for the Table Mountain National Park Dog Walking/Activity Permit. Both of these expire after a year. Click here for more details.
The Wild Card: this is quite a bit more expensive, but worthwhile if you go to Nature Reserves more than 12 times a year. There are different options Individual, Couple or Family and then you have the options of various park clusters. More information may be viewed on www.wildcard.co.za.
The Cableway Card: If you are a Wildcard or My Green Card holder you qualify for a 20% discount when you purchase a Cableway Card. With a card you can use the Cableway as often as you like, limited to one return trip per day Purchase your card online or at the Lower Cable Station. Click here for more details.