If you are inspired by the beautiful hiking pictures you see all over the internet and if you are thinking of swapping your usual holiday destination at the seaside for a more active environment, but you don’t know how to start… Keep on reading. Here are our 9 tips on how to start hiking – the luxury way:
- Find your perfect hideaway. A lodge or guesthouse that is surrounded by trails and where you would love to come back to in the evening, after a long day outside. This is your base. Small luxury hotels are usually a good source for local information too.
- Gather information. Tell the specialized staff at your lodge that you’re a beginner at hiking and what level of fitness you have. Ask what they would recommend. Some hotels have nature guides or outdoor staff. If possible go to the local tourist office and do the same. Pick a well-marked trail that matches your level and fitness. Take also into account the difference in height in the trail, not only the distance.
- Aim for high ground. It’s easier to get hooked on hiking if you are rewarded with spectacular views. Ask locals about their favorite trails and the ones with the most beautiful views. Hint: ski areas usually operate some cable cars in summer to bring hikers up the mountain, easy access for one of your first high altitude hikes.
- Check the weather forecast and discuss it with locals. Pack accordingly and wear layers. Bring enough water, some food, sunscreen, a hat, band-aides, a charged telephone and local emergency phone numbers.
- Let people know where you are. Tell your hotel which trail you have chosen.
- Use worn-in walking shoes.
- Start early, so even if you are slower than expected, you won’t feel pressured for time and you’ll be back long before dark.
- Leave nothing but footprints. Bring a plastic bag in your backpack to take rubbish back with you.
- Just do it. You know what they say: every journey starts with the first step.
Should you train before your trip? It helps. But if you’re not going for a hardcore hiking trip and you are merely in for a couple of relaxed (half) day hikes, why not try it on your holiday. Basically everyone who can walk and is reasonably fit should be able to do a 3-hour walk without too much difficulty.
Some great luxury hideaways to start hiking:
Country House Hotel The Grove, Wales.
Vira Vira Hacienda Hotel, Chile
Flocons de Sel in Megève, France
If you have enjoyed your first hikes and are longing for more, you might want to get some decent gear. My colleague Brian Bradshaw of the website Bootbomb does extensive reviews on hiking shoes and gear. Check for instance his article on lightweight daypacks. And if you really start to have a taste for hiking, you might want to take a peek at his list of 50 long distance hiking trails in the USA.
© Text and feature image by Linda van de Pavoordt; thumbnails courtesy of featured hotels. Published April 13th, 2016.
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