Three hikers, who allegedly ignored warnings not to take the path they had set out on, got lost in the Jonkershoek Mountains in Stellenbosch and had to be airlifted to safety on Saturday, Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) said.
"Hikers are once again urged to record their plans with family/friends, log their destination with the authorities and venture into the wilderness areas duly prepared and equipped," said WSAR spokesperson Johann Marais.
This was after two men in their late twenties and a woman in her mid-thirties set off towards the "Die Pieke" - two steep twin peaks - on Friday morning through the Jonkershoek Reserve gate, in spite of the gate keeper and a marshall manning a checkpoint at a train-running event, advising against it.
Marais explained that at this time of year, Die Pieke is only for very experienced climbers, who have to get a permit from Cape Nature.
Cape Nature describes Jonkershoek as a vast reserve in the Boland mountains with a diverse plant species and rivers running through it.
Hikers are warned to be on the look out for berg adders, puff adders, boomslang snakes and Cape Cobras, and cautioned that the peaks can get a dusting of snow in winter.
By around 17:00 on Friday, the trio sent a message to family that they were lost and worried that it was getting dark, with rain forecast.
A massive search by WSAR volunteers and Cape Nature rangers was started on Friday night until just after midnight. This included placing cars with flashing lights as beacons for them, with rescuers looking for them on foot and in 4X4 vehicles.
Early on Saturday morning, a relative of the missing trio received a message saying they thought they were in the remote Banghoek River kloof.
Due to the terrain, the Department of Health gave WSAR the go-ahead for a helicopter search.
In the meantime, the trio managed to get to a point where they got a phone signal and sent a message to say they could see the helicopter.
Meanwhile, a relative of one of the hikers experience chest pains and became short of breath and was assisted by the doctor who was present to help the trio.
By mid-morning on Saturday all the hikers and the technical rescuer were brought down.
After a change of clothing and hot tea, the hikers and the ailing relative were taken to a clinic in Stellenbosch for follow-up care.