Water is very important for survival. It has been said that while you can survive without food for 7 days, you can only survive without water for 3 days. When you’re going on an adventure in Africa, being highly hydrated becomes much more important. Because of the many visual feasts offered by these ventures, it can be easy to forget to rehydrate.
This is the reason why dehydration becomes one of the most common ailments while on tour.
So how much water should you be drinking to ensure that you are well-hydrated while hiking in the bush?
How to Calculate the Amount of Water to Drink
As a guide, the general rule is usually drinking 2 cups or half a litre of water for every hour of hiking. This means that if you are going to hike for 3 hours, you should at least drink 1.5 litres of water.
However, the amount of water that you should drink will still depend on many factors such as the weather and the difficulty of the hike. You should also consider your personal level of thirst. Young people are more active and usually, need to drink more water when going on a hike.
If the weather is very hot or if you need to do a lot of uphill climbs, then you are more likely to sweat and you would need to rehydrate more often. In cooler weather, you might not need to drink as much but even if you are not particularly thirsty, drinking the minimum amount of fluids is still recommended to avoid risk of dehydration.
How to Avoid Dehydration
Drink more during temperature and humidity spikes. To avoid dehydration, you should make sure that you are bringing enough water with you during the hike. Check with your guide and find out whether you are stopping at a location with a water source so you are aware whether you can do a refill. You can use the following to pack water with you.
Having a lightweight reusable water bottle will be a good choice. You should go for a durable one made of either steel or aluminium as these do not break even when dropped. The great thing with these bottles is that you can use them to boil water to make it safe to drink. The only downside is that most standard water bottles only hold 16 oz. or 24 oz. of water (around .4 -.7 litre) so if you are only bringing one bottle, make sure there is a water source where you can refill.
Hydration bladder packs are usually made of rubber or plastic-like materials with a long rubber hose that you can use to drink from it. The pack is usually flat so you can carry it easily in your backpack, with its weight distributed evenly.
A bladder pack usually holds more water (around 2-3 litres) than water bottles so it can be an ideal choice when going on long hikes and you are not sure whether there will be an available water source during your tour.
Bladder packs and their hoses are hard to clean so make sure you have a good cleaning kit and regime. Also, bladder pack hoses can freeze during cold mountain phases as the hose is exposed, so not ideal for hiking in temps close to or below zero.
Making Sure You’re Drinking Safe Water
Before going on a hike, you should drink water as this is a key time to hydrate as water is plentiful in camp. 1 litre prior to leaving camp is recommended, 2 litres is perfect. Adding some orange squash can make a lot of water more palatable and also add some sugars to the drink. You should resupply your hydration system when you stop at a place where there is a water source. However, make sure that the water that you are drinking is safe to consume.
For many people, drinking untreated water in a foreign land is a rookie mistake. Locals may have built up immunity from drinking their own local water, but travellers usually do not have the same immunity which can cause illnesses like stomach problems.
Even if the water looks clean and fresh, it is better to take preventive measures by treating or filtering the water to purify it. You can use purification tablets which are very portable. These tablets can chemically treat the water and kill bacteria and viruses. Remember for most tablets, you need to wait at least half an hour before the water is ready for consumption.
Another option is by bringing portable purification straws. These are pocket-sized water purifiers that filter out impurities rather than chemically treating the water. Because it is a filtering device, you don’t really need to wait before drinking the water – it’s an instant solution. This is good when you want to purify water from a tap water source or from a freshwater source like a spring or a stream.
At Africa Wild Trails, we make certain that you are equipped with the adequate amount of water before going on a hike. We also provide proper hydration advice and map out potential water sources available along the route.
If you want to learn more about wildlife and travelling to Africa, send us a message today. We’ll tell you all about how you can plan your adventure!