2015-05-26 06:00

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With over four million visitors a year, it’s easy to see ­Table Mountain as a tourist destination.

It is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic or watch the sunset. It’s a space to take the family or walk the dogs.

But while we enjoy having one of the world’s natural wonders on our doorstep, we should never underestimate Mother Nature.

The fact remains that our beloved mountain is just that – a mountain. And with it comes any number of dangers.

Yet every year we see tourists climbing the mountain without water, in poor weather conditions and dressed inappropriately (some even wearing shorts and flip-flops). And a number of these hikers come off second best, with their day outing having the reputation of the “world’s most underestimated mountain”.

Every year people go missing, are injured and even die while climbing Table Mountain. Last year, the body of a 23-year-old judo expert from Japan was found after he fell 30m. A two-week search is currently underway for a missing Muizenberg man who is thought to have gone hiking from Tafelberg Road.

This is not to say you shouldn’t enjoy the World Heritage Site. But you owe it to your family and to yourself to take basic precautions.

Tell someone where you are going and never hike alone – four is considered the safest number for a hiking group. If lost, never split up. Rather retrace your steps. Make sure your cellphone is charged and you have the basics – sunblock, plenty of water, snacks and a waterproof jacket. Don’t forget your hat and hiking boots.

Choose your route carefully and stick to it. Allow yourself enough time and start early. Don’t take on a trail beyond your experience level. Watch the weather and time, and turn back before you start running late or if bad weather threatens

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