Hiking has become something I love to do, especially when travelling. I love the “aimless” wondering, the exploring and the time spent outdoors in what often feels like the middle of nowhere. Hiking Cape Town is an incredible guide to Cape Town’s many hiking routes by Evelyn John Holshausen, an avid hiker and former journalist who runs hiking groups for friends. 

He details 35 hiking routes from the popular ones to the lesser-known ones, ones for novices and ones for avid hikers. He tells you exactly where to start, the distances, the fees and even whether dogs are allowed. In a way it reminds me of the Runner’s Guide race guides to road races by Tom Cottrol, but more interesting because hikes are A LOT more scenic than road races. 

Hiking Cape Town is a fantastic guide to have if you live in Cape Town or holiday there often. Before he gets into the hikes, he shares how to prepare for a hike with tips that apply no matter what hike you do. Below are some of his tips. 

How to Prepare for a Hike

1. Figure out Your Route 

The first step to any hike is deciding where you’re going and the route you’re taking. He also suggests identifying exit points in case you have to leave mid-hike for an emergency. If you’re doing one of the 35 hikes in his guide it’ll give you enough detail to plan the hike, but he still suggests using google maps or downloading a hiking app like AllTrails which I shared here. 

2. Fuel Yourself 

Hikes are often long which makes fueling your body prior to the hike important. I’d stick to an easy to digest breakfast or meal (toast and egg or peanut butter or a bowl of oats) and some water. Always take water with you, this water bottle keeps beverages cool all day.  For longer hikes a snack bar you can stash in a pocket. We love the Rush snack bars available here

3. First Aid

Always carry a small first aid kit. It should have different sized plasters for cuts or blisters, a crepe bandage suitable for sprains and anti-inflammatories. If you’re embarking on a long or difficult hike also include ointment for cuts and a tube of deep heat or arnica for cramps and a tweezer in case you get a splinter.

4. Dress the part

For shorter or easy hikes, you just need comfortable clothing you can move in and takkies that have a good grip. If you’re doing longer and more difficult hikes, you’re going to want to purchase a good pair of hiking books, a windbreaker, extra socks, a light backpack, hat and maybe even hiking poles. 

When it comes to gear, Holshausen has a number of tips:

Hiking Boots: Make sure there’s enough wiggle room for your feet – about a finger sized gap between your heel and the back of the boot, especially if you like to double your socks. To make sure they fit, take the socks you plan on hiking in with you shopping to try on the boots. When trying on boots keep in mind that your feet will swell on a hike, so a tight fit in store is going to be uncomfortable during a hike. 

Double up socks: wearing one thick woolen pair of socks and one thin everyday cotton socks can make for a more comfortable hike. On shorter hikes your feet are more cushioned and on longer hikes perspiration will be absorbed by the thinner sock while the outer socks will protect against blisters. 

Clothing: Bring a warm jacket, windbreaker or jersey in case the weather turns cold and an extra pair of socks if they get wet. In addition, a hat protects your face from the sun. 

Backpack: for a day hike a light backpack with adjustable shoulder and hip belts that can carry between 20-30 liters is sufficient. He suggests wearing it high on your shoulders when you go uphill and low on your shoulders for downhills for the best comfort. 

Hiking poles: These are for more technical hikes that involve river crossings and descending steep rocky paths. He recommends buying ones with a cam or flip lock which lock your pole in your desired length. Twist mechanisms he says are often difficult to lock and release. 

Extras: tissues, a towel, sunscreen and insect Repellent are good to have extras especially for day hikes. If you’re crossing a river pack a swimsuit. 

Hiking Cape Town: 35 spectacular hikes in and around Cape Town by Evelyn John Holtzausen is published by Penguin Random House and is available here

1. Hiking Cape Town 2. Road Trip Hat 3. Ankle sports socks 4. Little gems rescue kit 5. Insulated Water bottle 6. Outdoor anorak 7. Rush On the go snack bar 8. 360 degrees hike and climb first aid kit

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