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.

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

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

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.