A beginner’s guide to the world of hiking

by Kim on June 16, 2013

Hiking is a fantastic pastime that can open up a world of opportunity to you, especially if you want to travel. One of the best ways to explore new destinations is on foot, as you’ll have enough time to fully appreciate the places you’re visiting.

Trekking holidays are also brilliant if you enjoy having something of a challenge while you’re away. If you’ve never considered going on this kind of break before, we’ve put together a guide to help you get into hiking.

Choosing the right kind of trekking for you

One of the hardest things when you’re looking for a walking holiday is finding one that suits your preferences. There is such a wide selection on offer that it can be tricky to know where to begin. The best way to narrow down your options is to think about places you’d like to visit and things you want to see. For instance, if you are particularly interested in wildlife watching, choose an itinerary that takes you to spots where you’ve got a good chance of seeing unusual creatures.

Should you be more interested in the challenge of climbing a mountain, consider tours like those that tackle Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, or the Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Among the best things about walking holidays is that you can pick one that’s as gentle or strenuous as you’d like. To get an idea of the kinds of itineraries on offer, visit Explore Worldwide and check out their range of trips.

Make sure you consider your general fitness and health, too, as there are some hikes that certainly won’t be enjoyable if you aren’t in reasonably good physical condition.

Essential equipment

Another thing that makes hiking breaks so appealing and accessible is that you need very little expensive equipment to go on this type of tour, especially if you’re not intending to follow particularly tough routes.

One essential item, though, is sturdy, comfy walking boots. Comfort is the most important factor with hiking boots, so make sure you try any pair on for longer than just a few minutes. Walk around the shop in them and do your best to gauge whether there are any features that could cause discomfort if you’re wearing them for a long time.

If there’s any indication that they might rub, consider a different pair of shoes. Also, be wary of assuming that your boots will stretch as you wear them in – modern designs and fabrics mean that your boots should be comfy from the word go and while they will certainly get moulded by the shape of your feet, you shouldn’t experience severe discomfort in the process.

Waterproof layers and thick hiking socks are other items that you’ll want to purchase if you plan to trek frequently, but other items, such as walking poles, crampons, ice axes and heavy-duty jackets for extremely cold conditions can usually be hired from the firm you book your walking holiday with.

Fitness and training

Another plus to hiking holidays is that they’re generally very accessible. As mentioned above, there are itineraries that offer gentle treks as well as tours that are incredibly physically demanding. If you want to go for the strenuous end of the scale, you will need to do some form of training before you jet off to your chosen destination, whether that’s Kilimanjaro, the Himalayas or the Torres del Paine circuit.

The main thing to try and prepare your body for is the altitude sickness, as this can seriously affect you as you go progressively higher above sea level. You’ll have the best chance of coping with it if you do some cardiovascular training, as well as take on tough hill walks before going on holiday.

If you’ve got any advice for people who are new to trekking, let us know.

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