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The Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) is the largest and oldest mountaineering club in South Africa. It facilitates and organises various mountaineering activities including rock climbing and hiking). The MCSA is involved in mountain search and rescue, training, conservation of mountain areas and the procurement of access for mountaineering.


The MCSA was founded in 1891 and hence is one of the oldest mountaineering clubs in the world. The MCSA is one of only two mountain clubs in Africa that are affiliated with the world mountaineering body, the UIAA. Members of the MCSA have climbed and hiked on all the major mountain ranges throughout the world. Since its inception, the MCSA has published an annual journal. The MCSA Journal is one of the oldest mountain club journals still being published on an annual basis.

The Club is organised into 14 sections geographically spread over South Africa and Namibia and has more than 4000 members.

  • Amajuba
  • Cape Town
  • Eastern Province
  • Free State
  • Hottentots Holland
  • Johannesburg
  • KwaZulu-Natal
  • Magaliesberg (Pretoria)
  • Namibia
  • Paarl/Wellington
  • South Cape
  • Stellenbosch
  • Tygerberg
  • Worcester

The objectives of the Mountain Club of South Africa are to further the interests of mountaineering in South Africa and elsewhere, and in doing so inter alia to:

  • Organise and facilitate mountaineering
  • Procure and protect real rights in and access to mountains and mountain areas
  • Initiate and support actions towards protecting the natural beauty and wilderness character of mountains and to promote their effective conservation management
  • Promote the safety and training of mountaineers
  • Organise search and rescue parties
  • Promote the study of mountains and their environments, the preservation of historical and archaeological sites on them and the dissemination of information on mountains and mountaineering.


MCSA Search & Rescue is a volunteer-run organisation formed under the auspices of the MCSA and funded by MCSA members and donations. The first MCSA led rescue was in 1893 and since we have been involved in over 3 000 rescues (currently more than 150 per year). The MCSA offer wilderness rescue services to bona fide emergencies without charge as a community service. It works in conjunction with other public and private emergency services agencies such as the South African Air Force, WSAR, Off Road Rescue Unit, K9 Rescue, Police, Fire Services, Private Medical services and many others.

MCSA Search and Rescue's area of specialisation lies in the mountains and is able to respond to incidents in a mountainous or wilderness area that involves missing, overdue, stuck or injured persons.

WE DO NOT CHARGE FOR RESCUE - when you are in a situation which you cannot resolve yourself we suggest you raise the alarm, even if it is just to get someone on stand-by for in case a situation worsens and outside help may be required.

For emergencies contact the following numbers (primary numbers in bold):

  • Western Cape (Cape Town): 021-937-0300, Co-Convenor: 079-814-7801 - Wesley New, Co-Convenor: 082-403-6994 - Brent Jennings, Convenor (Hottentots Holland / Somerset West): 082-393-0407 – Gela Tölken
  • For Mountain Security/crime-related incidents in the Cape: Call 021-480-7700 (or 107 when using a normal landline)
  • Eastern Province (Port Elizabeth): 10177 / 041-585-1555 - Metro, 072-324-4985 (Standby 1), 073-755-2250 (Standby 2), Convenor: 082-781-1770 - Tim Jones
  • KwaZulu-Natal (Durban / Pietermaritzburg): 0800-005-133, Convenor: 082-990-5876 - Gavin Raubenheimer
  • Gauteng / Free State / North West / Limpopo / Mpumalanga (Johannesburg/Pretoria): Standby 1: 074-125-1385, Standby 2: 074-163-3952, Convenor: 072-583-7456 – Shaun Hadfield

When calling have the following information available:

  • Your name and contact number (be prepared to stay in contact and keep us informed until help arrives)
  • Your exact location (GPS if possible) and where you parked/started your hike/climb
  • What has happened, when and where
  • Number of victims and bystanders
  • Injuries sustained and first aid given
  • Names of any injured persons (NOK and medical aid details if possible)
  • Who else is on-scene to assist. Who else has been asked for help / are assisting you
  • Local weather


  • Internet:
  • The Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) Search and Rescue National Convenor is Steve Cooke – 082 554 4883
  • All phone numbers are the emergency numbers that can be contacted in case of a mountain rescue emergency. Please specifically state that you are calling regarding a ‘Mountain Rescue Emergency’.
  • The primary cities from which the teams operate are shown in italics. Where a provincial coordination centre that uses MCSA Search and Rescue as a resource exist, the number of the provincial coordination centre is given as the priority contact number
  • Helicopter flight criteria applies, MCSA SAR reserves the right to perform its own assessment of incidents and may transfer incidents to more appropriate agencies or request additional assistance, assistance is dependent on resource availability, resources provided on a volunteer basis
  • Information correct as of February 2021


A great deal of work is done by the MCSA to keep access to climbing areas open, please adhere to all access arrangements and help keep climbing and hiking areas open to all. We are seeing many climbing areas overseas losing access and the same is happening in South Africa. Please support our efforts and help stem the trend.

Please contact the MCSA before visiting unknown climbing areas which might be sensitive to access, very often negotiations are in progress and you visiting the area can upset them or even close the access. Always keep noise levels down at climbing areas, never litter, preserve the fauna and flora, do your ablutions far from rivers and bury them thoroughly. Remember that fires are usually prohibited in most areas, please respect this and other access conditions the owners may have set (e.g. in many areas you may only arrive and leave in daylight hours).

Above all remember that many of the properties you climb on are privately owned and upsetting the owner (which has proved to be very easy) often causes them to close access.


The MCSA (specifically the Johannesburg and Magaliesberg Sections) owns and manages several of the kloofs in the Magaliesberg. Access to these kloofs is controlled for conservation reasons and the number of permits is limited. Up to 20 persons per day can visit a kloof via the permit system (depending on the kloof). The permit fee goes towards conservation work on the properties (e.g. eradication of alien vegetation as well as fire breaks). MCSA members do not require permits to access MCSA properties when carrying their membership cards, in addition each MCSA member may be accompanied by a guest. Note that no facilities are provided and paths are not marked.

Permits are available, subject to availability, at R60 per adult per day, R40 for discounted people, including seniors, students and children (2017). Different rates apply to commercial activities please enquire (additional restrictions apply).

Area Contact name Contact details
Castle Gorge (JHB Hiking Club) 078 885 6505 (Mon-Fri, Weekdays 8h30 to 12h30) -
Dome MCSA Magaliesberg Admin 083 845 1573 (Mon-Fri 08h00-10h00)
Grootkloof MCSA Magaliesberg Admin 083 845 1573 (Mon-Fri 08h00-10h00)
Wilgepoort MCSA Magaliesberg Admin 083 845 1573 (Mon-Fri 08h00-10h00)
Mhlabatini MCSA Jhb Admin (011) 067 0326 (Mon-Fri, 15h00-18h00)
Tonquani complex (incl. Cederberg Kloof and Boulder Kloof) MCSA Jhb Admin (011) 067 0326 (Mon-Fri, 15h00-18h00)

Note that additional fees may apply for members/non-members may apply for parking on private land/access via private land. – please ask when booking permits and keep to the arrangement with neighbours to MCSA property.