PICS: 5 Tips for hiking SA's famous Wild Coast

2018-01-24 21:00 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - Breathtaking coastlines, precipitous and craggy cliff faces, wild and desolate beaches, secluded bays and green rolling hills that rush into deeply etched river valleys. This is what a typical Wild Coast hike consists of. 

Hiking this beaut should be on your bucket list's must-do-items as it is an excellent low-impact workout as well as an outdoor activity that delivers benefits beyond its scenery and fun.

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Unlike walking on a treadmill or paved path, hiking in the Wild Coast involves more, sometimes unpredictable, variables. 

Of course, these variables are part of what makes it so enjoyable - trust me, I know! 

Having experienced such a painful but enjoyable moment, below are top five tips to help you out and not repeat some of my mistakes. I didn't know what to do before, but now I know and so I'm passing them on to you. 

Thank me later! 

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1. Prepare your body and mind.

For a rookie like me, before embarking on this journey I would suggest that you first take care of your body and mind before anything else. Wake up every morning and exercise. 

Your body needs to be, at least, prepared for the hike from Coffee Bay to Port St Johns, passing through different valleys.

To estimate the time required to hike the trail, follow a pace of roughly 2-miles per hour and add an hour to your estimated hiking time for every 1000 feet of gain. 

2. Check the weather.

Leading up to your hike, and again a few hours before, check the weather. This will give you valuable information on how to dress and what to pack. 

If the weather forecast looks awful, it will give you the chance to change plans instead of being surprised on the trail.

However, the Wild Coast's weather, just like Cape Town's, can go from zero to hundred real quick. Make sure you are sorted until the end. 

3. Pack these 8 essentials.

The 8 essentials have gradually shifted from a list of items to a list of must-haves. These are the things you should pack to stay safe in the outdoors. 

Depending on the length and remoteness of your hike, expand or minimize each packing. Here are the 8. 

Navigation

Timer (watch/hiking app)

Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)

Extra clothing

First-aid supplies

Nutrition (extra food)

Hydration (extra water)

Emergency shelter (garbage bag/plastic to cover yourself when it's raining)

4. Wear the right shoes.

My biggest regret was to wear Nike Roshe's. The sneakers are comfortable and everything, but they are not for hiking Wild Coast's green rolling hills. Especially when it's raining. 

Not only do they slow you down but can also be harmful as they get slippery when walking on wet grass. 

So, invest in quality hiking shoes. This doesn’t mean heavy leather boots, there are a lot of shoes available that don't require you to break the bank. Also pack blister dressings just in case.

5. Pace yourself.

When you first get on the trail, you may feel like powering forward and before you know it, you go from hero to zero by the end of the day if you don’t pace yourself. 

Instead, pick a pace you can maintain all day. It might feel a little awkward at first, but after a few miles, especially uphill, you’ll be glad you saved your energy.

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