If you’re a weekend hiker looking for your next adventure, consider clocking some mileage on one of South Africa’s spectacular long-distance trails.
Unlike your one day explorations, longer hikes present both challenges and unique thrills for the avid hiker, and there are some key essentials to have in your outdoor adventure kit.
Assemble a posse
Doing it alone isn’t always a good option and the South African National Parks (SANParks) recommends hiking in groups of at least 4 for safety. But your companions aren’t just there for muscle – make sure you’re on the same page in terms of where you want to go and what you want to see.
And while you’re thinking of safety first, Cape Nature recommends that you tell someone where you’re going, which route you’re using and when you expect to get back. They will need to know whom to call and where to look for you if you are not back in time.
The ViewRanger app on the Land Rover Explore Outdoor phone allows you to share your location via the Buddy Beacon function, with friends and family. You can also download your route before your trip and share it with someone at home.
Getting your body ready
Boosting your fitness levels before the time will ensure you’re prepared for your adventure. Make sure you’ve put in some hours of training, either in the gym or on one-day hikes. Some long-distance hikes could see you covering 10 to 15km a day.
The Otter Trail will see you covering over 13km, while the Amatola Trail and Outeniqua Trail will see you covering over 18kms, on some days.
Choosing the right gear
Get the right gear – boots are very important. A backpack must fit so well that when you put it on you don’t feel the weight of it.
When you’re carrying everything on your back for several hours a day, less is most definitely more, so make sure you pack only what you need. Think practical, weatherproof, durable, lightweight and multi-purpose.
Finding your way
Long-distance hiking isn’t delicate, which is why the Land Rover Explore Outdoor phone is hard-wearing, waterproof and reliable even in cold conditions:
· Its rugged credentials are military standard so you can be confident that it can get wet while crossing a river.
· It is drop tested to 1.8m and comes with a factory-fitted screen protector, so a fall from your pocket while climbing over a rock is not a problem.
· The Land Rover Explore Outdoor phone has the unique feature of the Adventure Pack, which not only boosts your battery life but your GPS signal too.
· Switching to night mode will activate a dimmer red screen on the phone, so as not to ruin your night vision if you’re checking directions on a night hike.
You already know that it’s essential to carry a proper map and compass but a phone with a GPS might just be your new best friend.
With apps like ViewRanger, you can download detailed maps to use offline and determine your exact location on a trail, even if you’re surrounded in thick mist and can’t see more than a metre in front of your face.
It also shows your position on the map, putting an end to those endless ‘where am I now?’ moments.
Make tech work for you
The Dashboard on the Land Rover Explore is a one-stop shop for all your outdoor conditions: Weather, barometric pressure, visibility, wind speed, tides, UV index and more.
It’s customisable so you can choose what data you want to see in your favourite locations. You can also access useful tools like the torch or compass quickly.
The Land Rover Explore Outdoor phone comes with a handy selection of curated apps for the outdoors under the Explore Hub. There are a number of apps that could come in handy on your hike:
· For medical advice at your fingertips download the First Aid app by Red Cross.
· The SAS survival guide app has all the information from the bestselling book including help with identifying animal tracks and recognising edible plants.
· The Skyline feature on the ViewRanger app will allow you to see your route in augmented reality. It’s also great for identifying local peaks and hills.
Go the distance
If you want to challenge yourself and have fun at the same time, South Africa has plenty of great long-distance hiking trails to add to your bucket list, including:
· Drakensberg Grand Traverse, Kwa-Zulu Natal
· Wild Coast Hike, Eastern Cape
· The Rim of Africa, Western Cape
· Otter Trail, Western Cape
· The Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail, Western Cape
· Outeniqua Hiking Trail, Western Cape
· Amatola Hiking Trail, Eastern Cape