Ok, so you have decided that you would like to develop a hiking trail on your land and believe that you have the potential to attract hikers in sufficient numbers to make it viable. Before you rush out and get started, there are a number of questions that you need to look at. They include the following:-
1/. What are the legal aspects that need to be looked at?
If a hikers falls and breaks his leg while hiking on your property, what is your legal position?
Say a hiker leaves a gate open and one of your prime bulls strays out onto the road and a passing motorist collides with it, do I have any claim against the hiker or how do I stand legally as regards the motorist?
These questions and others need to be taken up with your attorney and the question of indemnity sorted out PRIOR to you allowing hikers to walk across your land
2/. What are the implications for me?
Do I mind if hikers come knocking at my door at 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon to tell me that one of their fellow hikers has had a fall and needs help and can you come over with your 4x4 to help. Or even at some other inopportune time with the request ' Do you perhaps have any sugar?
Hikers can be a nuisance sometimes but I have found in practice that, on the whole, they are considerate and respectful of your privacy.
3/. Who can help me?
There are some excellent professional booking agents is South Africa who are well qualified to give you advice on all aspects of owning a hiking trail. You would be well advised to contact them and also use their services for bookings.
It is worth finding out what other hiking trails are in the area and visiting these and talking to their owners to find out how they have experienced hikers and hiking. Bear in mind that they may be a little over negative as they may view you as a competitor.
There are several hiking clubs such as the Footprint Hiking Club who can be contacted for help and advice.
You may be well used to traveling along sand roads to reach your farm or to reach any overnight facilities to be used by hikers but consideration should be given to the fact that most hikers come from the cities, they invariably arrive after dark and drive fancy town cars. How much work is going to be needed to be done to bring your access road up to standard?
For comments and information please contact Tim Hartwright firstname.lastname@example.org