Challenging Overseas Walks & Treks

challenging-overseas-walks-chinaHere in the UK we have some amazing scenery and some challenging walks.  But sometimes you want something different, whether for a personal challenge, to add to your walking skills or even as part of a charity challenge.  That’s when you start to look overseas for walks and treks that are a little different to what the UK can offer.

Great Wall of China

Without doubt, one of the biggest challenges for any walking fan is to trek the Great Wall of China.  Most treks start and end in Beijing so are also an ideal opportunity to fit in sights such as the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.  The Wall has enough variation that there is something for everyone though if you plan to do one of the challenges, such as a five-day trek, it is always a good idea to do some training beforehand.  It is an amazing chance to see one of the most famous man-made structures in the world as well as glimpse life from a different era in the unchanged villages along its length.


Kilimanjaro is over 19,000 feet high, 24 miles wide and 49 miles long – it is a big mountain in every way!  So I was more than a little excited to climb the highest mountain in Africa. This was my first personal charity challenge when I went with a group of fellow hikers to conquer the mountain to raise money.  There are various routes up the mountain with the Machame Route being very popular.  It offers all the amazing views and a wide range of landscapes including lava towers, ice cliffs and glaciers.  It ends with the Stella Point crater rim, the highest point in Africa and the best place to see a sunrise.

Avenue of the Volcanoes

The Ecuadorian Andes of South America include Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world and is part of the challenge known as the Avenue of the Volcanoes.  This involves climbing four different volcanoes over a 12-day period and is a great team challenge.  This isn’t one for the novices and a serious training regime is advisable but the views and amazing landscape is well worth the work.

Icelandic lava trek
If mountaineering isn’t your thing, then check out the Icelandic lava treks for a chance to see something completely different.  Iceland’s South Highlands is a very volcanically active area and the Landmannalaugar route is the perfect way to see the best of them.  Most walks last around four days and take in waterfalls, fjords and steaming lava fields along the way.  Warm clothes are needed and with the right preparation, the trek is suitable for all levels and abilities.


Sumatra is an Indonesia island famous for its rain forests and vastly diverse wildlife.  A trek through the jungles offers the unique chance to see animals such as the orangutan in their natural environment.  You can camp in the rain forest, track wildlife with the locals and even go river walking as well as learning about the habitat and what makes it so unique.  There is even the chance to get involved with the Tree Replanting Project and give something back to the island.


Best Walking Holidays in the UK

The UK has walking-holidays-uk-snowdoniasome amazing scenery, stunning places to visit and as a result, a wealth of fantastic places to go for a walking holiday. Regardless of whether you are new to walking or an experienced hiker or mountaineer, there are plenty of holidays to suit all tastes across the country and here we look at a few.


If you are really into your walking and mountaineering, then the ultimate experience is to climb the north face of Ben Nevis in winter. The mountain is the nearest to alpine scale we have in the country and there are some really challenging routes but also some that are easier to manage if you don’t have a huge amount of experience. The mountain offers classic scrambles and rock climbs from beginners right through to experienced mountaineers.

The Munros are another series of mountains, some reaching the 3000 feet mark and including Ben Lui, said to be one of the finest mountains in the Southern Highlands. There are two routes up the mountain including one with a scramble as well as the shorter route through Glen Lochay. The Saddle is another mountain in the area with a series of impressive ridges, including Forcan Ridge, said to be one of the airiest scrambles in the Highlands.


For walkers of all grades, then the Peak District is a great place to visit. The Pennine Way is probably the most famous long distance path in the UK and features beautiful villages such as Edale, which also sits on a rather spectacular train route from Manchester to Sheffield. The path itself runs from Edale right north to Kirk Yetholm in Northumberland and covers 268 miles. This means it can be broken into sections allowing walkers of all abilities to cover the distance that suits them.

While lakes are obviously the first thing you associated with the Lake District, there are also a wide variety of walks. These range from gentle strolls between the bodies of water to some tough hikes such as Blencathra. There are also plenty of shorter, easier walks for those who like something a little more relaxing includes a 4.5 mile one around Angletarn Pikes and an easy fell climb at The Helm, just three miles long.




If you are serious about your mountain climbing, then you can take the Wales 3000 challenge which involves climbing 15 peaks in the Snowdonia range that are above 3000 feet in height. Because all of the peaks are close together, it is possible to climb them all within 24 hours – if you are serious enough! There are also plenty of easier walks around the national park if you haven’t reach the mountaineering stage yet including the Wales Coast Path with its series of 18 circular walks.

The Cambrian Mountains run across the centre of Wales and include peaks such as Pumlumon, the source of both the River Severn and the river Wye. There are a series of walks laid out on the website for the area that accommodate everything from easy to mountain walking routes if you want to plan your holiday ahead.


Choosing a Guided Walking Holiday

Walguided-walkking holidays may sound like the kind of thing you do by yourself or with someone else who has the same passion that you do. Self-guided walking holidays are a popular choice, especially for seasoned hikers.  But there are now a good number of guided walking holidays available and some clear reasons why these are worth considering.

Safety in numbers

One of the first things to consider is if you get into trouble on a walk by yourself, can you get help? Sure if you have a little fall, you can grab a mobile phone and ring for assistance. But what if you can’t access your phone or are in a no coverage area? Walking even on level areas can be a little dangerous and accidents can happen on the most benign of terrain. By choosing a guided walking holiday, you are accompanied by someone who has knowledge of the area and is simply there if something bad happens.

Jetting off to an adventurous part of the world and exploring out of the way areas is a major benefit of walking. But it can also leave you vulnerable, especially if you don’t know the area. By taking a guided holiday, you can see the best and worst of a place but avoid those spots that tourists of any sort should never venture near.

Insider knowledge

One of the biggest things about going on a guided holiday is simple – a local knows more about the area than you do. Let’s face it, when you are in your local zone, you could tell someone which routes to walk, where the weather comes from, spots to avoid, great places to have a break and a thousand other little tips. By using a professional guide for your walking holiday, you can access someone else’s knowledge of their area in the same way.

Another bonus of a local guide comes in when you are away from English speaking countries. Unless you are fluent in the language, there can be issues with a breakdown in communication. But by walking with someone from the area who speaks the language, this problem goes away.

Many companies offering this kind of break know what they are doing. Walking goes at the pace you want with the guide fading into the background if required. You can organise an itinerary ahead of time or simply follow where they suggest when you get there.

Group walking

While walking on your own is a great thing, there are also benefits to walking in a group, even if they are complete strangers. Walking with other walkers can spur you on, something that is ideal for people new to the experience. Group walking holidays often put you together with others of a similar experience and ability so that you don’t end up ahead of the group or lagging behind.

Whatever type of walking holiday you choose, the key is to getting the right grade of walk for your ability. Even regular walkers should be aware that some walks can be extremely demanding so talk to the travel companies beforehand to make sure you get the right walk so the holiday is fun, not too gruelling.

A Starter’s Guide to Mountaineering

Do you love backpacking in the outdoors? Want to experience what it’s like to hike and trek through thick vegetation or rugged terrain? Have you ever wanted to cross rivers or explore high altitudes? Then mountaineering is for you.

mountain-climbMountaineering has a simple premise. Simply choose a mountain and make your way to the top. The challenge, however, lies in accomplishing the latter. With the varied extreme situations and unexpected obstacles that you’ll face, getting to the finish line tends to be a demanding feat.

Higher altitude is an expected obstacle hurdle in mountain trekking. You can also expect to climb over fallen trees or rocks as you explore the outdoors. If you can’t reach the summit within a day’s hike, it is possible that you’ll set up camp along the way.

The terrain isn’t the only thing that will test your fortitude and determination. It will also defy your patience and motivation. Reaching the top of that mountain requires a great deal of physical endurance and presence of mind.

The climb to the peak may be a daunting task, but reaching it is a truly rewarding experience. Trust me. I’ve been to the top many times, and each experience is as gratifying and fulfilling as it was during my first time.


Why Mountaineering

Many people ask me why I do this. Aside from the majestic view, mountaineering cultivates a sense of environmental awareness. It also contributes to the positive development of one’s character. I’ve always had apprehension when in the outdoors, and mountaineering has allowed to me face this. Of course, conquering that mountain leaves me with a great feeling of achievement.

Do you love trekking in the outdoors? If you don’t mind doing that with a backpack in tow, mountaineering might be a thing for you.


Getting Started on Mountaineering

High mountains provide an elegant view. To reach the top, you need the right mindset, physical attributes, and specialized gear. I offer these simple pointers to help you get to the summits with the most fun and less difficulty as possible.

To begin your mountaineering quest, you need to improve your physical conditioning. As with any sport, getting in shape is crucial. Running is an inexpensive way to prepare physically. For beginners, you can start your training at least three or four weeks before your scheduled outdoor exploration.

In addition to running, stair climbing is a great way to strengthen your leg muscles. If you want to up the ante, put on a weighted backpack, which can also target your back and shoulder muscles. This will help you get accustomed to carrying a heavy load on your back during the actual mountain climb. However, the harder the climb, the longer and more intensive your preparation should be.

You also need to have the right gear. Quick-drying clothes is a must. When going out for a hike or trek, you will be sweating much. It’s also possible that you’ll be crossing rivers. Wet clothes can increase the risk of hypothermia, especially in areas where the climate is cold or characterized with strong winds. Keep yourself dry for most of the time by staying away from clothing made of cotton fabrics or denim materials as these tend to stay wet for longer periods. Headgear is also a must for your protection against the sun.

There will be a lot of walking, so you’ll need a good pair of comfortable hiking shoes. Ordinary rubber shoes and sneakers won’t do you good and will only create problems for your feet; also, these shoes are not designed for the rugged terrain. Hiking shoes should be paired with thick socks to achieve overall protection of your feet.

For climbs that span for days, having a tent is vital to getting a good night’s rest. There are several outdoor shops that offer decent tents. You don’t need to buy those expensive ones, unless you’re really serious about pursuing this outdoor activity. While choosing the most lightweight tent is ideal, this, however, may be a bit expensive.

Mountain-PNG-PictureWhen it comes to preparation, you should never neglect your nutrition. Mountain trekking is physically demanding. Fueling your body is crucial for this grueling endeavor. It is important to stick to a healthy diet weeks leading to the climb. At the same time, make sure you’ve packed enough food to sustain you through the trek. Bring trail food like peanuts or energy bars to boost your energy levels.

Along with food, you need ample hydration during the climb. On an ordinary trek, an average person may need about two liters of water. There are pros and cons with bringing lots of water. The pro is that it’s best to bring extra because you’ll never know when you’ll need more; the con, however, is that it will make your backpack weigh heavier.

Venturing outdoors without adequate survival skills can be risky. Never go alone. For your safety, always go with an experienced climbing buddies. Also, inform people that you’re venturing outdoors.

For more mountaineering tips, please continue to check out my blog.