- With limited entertainment options, many South Africans are turning to hiking as a popular leisure activity
- However, it's still important to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing even in the great outdoors
- There are ways to keep you and your family safe while enjoying nature
Hiking has suddenly become a popular pastime in South Africa.
During level 3 lockdown, entertainment options still remain quite limited despite the easing of some restrictions, with many opting for the outdoors where the chances of catching the new coronavirus are far smaller than in a stuffy cinema.
But that doesn't mean you needn't take precautions. The increased popularity of hiking means a greater chance of interacting with potential spreaders, so here are six tips for staying safe and healthy on a hike:
Always wear your mask
While the spread of the virus is reduced in outdoor environments, you might still pass close to people on smaller trails, and you never know when the wind might blow a rogue cough in your direction.
If you need a quick breath of fresh air, only take off your mask when there's no one around you.
Make space for people to pass
Seasoned hikers will know that awkward jig when trying to squeeze past fellow hikers on narrow paths, but during the pandemic, it's best to give others a wide berth.
Now is not the time to be daring
While cabin fever might entice you to try new, more adventurous hiking routes, be mindful that emergency and search-and-rescue services are probably spread quite thin due to the pandemic. Sticking to familiar routes and being less daring won't just help them out, but potentially keep you out of hospitals and occupying scarce beds.
Avoid rush hour
With the skyrocketing popularity of hiking, once empty trails are becoming jam-packed.
If your schedule allows, try to avoid the early morning joggers and just-after-work walkers during the week. Over weekends, opting to take a short hike over lunchtime will also help you avoid the crowds.
Be careful of what you touch
While you might be mindful of what you're touching indoors, outside it's easy to forget how many people are touching railings, trees and branches on popular hiking trails.
Be careful where you place your hands on hikes, and take a travel-sized hand sanitiser with you just in case.
Don't creep up on people
This is especially important for trail runners: If you're approaching a group of hikers from behind, a gentle "hello" or "excuse me" will allow them to give you space to pass. Don't just barrel past them.
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