Mountainous landscapes are always popular with hikers, as they present a challenge and offer some fantastic views as a reward for having scaled steep hills and towering summits. If you’ve never been mountain trekking before but are interested in this kind of walking, read our guide to the essentials.
The basics of mountain trekking
Trekking up and around mountains is typically challenging, as you’ll hike lengthy uphill trails, followed by steep downhill sections that can often prove just as tricky as going up! You need to be moderately fit if you want to head out on strenuous mountain hikes and, if you’ll be gaining altitude quickly or simply walking considerably above sea level, make sure you’re aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness and how to treat it.
Should you have a particular peak in mind for a hike, take the time to train for your ascent, especially if it will be something especially challenging like the walk to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Where can you go mountain trekking?
There are plenty of destinations all over the world where you can have a go at mountain trekking, with several peaks in the UK offering the ideal introduction to this kind of hiking. Snowdon in Wales and Ben Nevis in Scotland are just two examples of summits that are walkable and that have well-maintained trails leading to the top.
For serious mountain trekking, you’ve got destinations like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Nepali Himalayas and the Alps in Europe, to name just a few! If you’d also like to get off the beaten track when you book a hiking holiday, consider what Africa has to offer. For example, the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia are home to some stunning trails that are infrequently visited by travellers.
Closer to home, you have destinations like Turkey (where you can scale Mount Ararat), France (where you can hike in the mountains surrounding Mont Blanc) and Tenerife in the Canary Islands (where you can walk to the top of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak). Explore Worldwide offers guided tours to all of these locations and many more.
Equipment for mountain trekking
The level of specialist gear you’ll need to go mountain trekking safely will largely depend on where you’re planning to hike and how high. It’s essential to have a sturdy pair of hiking boots that’s comfortable to wear and provides support to your ankles. Many people also find walking poles useful for balance on steep up and downhill tracks, as well as to help you keep up a steady pace while you’re trekking.
You should also follow the old motto ‘always be prepared’ when you’re trekking in mountainous regions, as the weather can change quickly. Wear layers of clothing and always have a waterproof in your day pack. As with any longer hikes, make sure you have plenty of water and food with you as well.
Considerations when mountain trekking
One of the major considerations when trekking in the mountains is altitude sickness, which can occur when you’re walking in areas where there is less oxygen in the air than your body is used to. Typical symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, tiredness and shortness of breath, among other things.
The best way to deal with it if it affects you is to simply descend, but if you’re keen to prevent it make sure you don’t plan any treks that involve fast ascents and build acclimatisation stops into your itinerary (or check that your tour operator does so).
Have you got any advice for people going mountain trekking? Let us know in the comments below.