Best foot forward - choosing your first trek

Here are a few pointers from the guys at Explore Worldwide.

Posted: 5 November 2007
by Explore

The massive choice of organised trekking trips out there can make choosing one seem a bit overwhelming, but using a few basic pointers can make the decision a lot easier

1. How many days?
Decide how much of your trip you want to spend actually walking: every day or, say, two out of 14?

2. How many hours?
Do you want an easy-going two hours per day - or more like seven?

3. What time of year?
Look at the right place at the right time. For example, think Europe in summer and Thailand in winter.

4. What' s the weather going to be like?
Temperature and humidity are important factors - extremes of either can make trekking uncomfortable. If possible, avoid extremes in the early stages.

5. What kind of terrain?
Distance can be misleading; what you really need to know is what the landscape you> '> ll be walking over is like. Find out if it' s flat or hilly - 15 kilometres on the flat is easy; 15 kilometres over hills is moderate; 15 kilometres downhill will be tough on the knees. The brochure and dossier will state this.

6. What comfort level?
Are you willing to rough it in the wilderness for the sake of a wonderful location? Or do you want a comfortable hotel with all the amenities?

7. Linear or circular?
Decide if you want to walk from point to point or go on circular hikes (ideally a centre-based holiday, returning home every day).

8. What kind of footwear?
Find out if you will need trainers, sandals, walking shoes or trekking boots. The dossier will offer advice.

9. Guided or DIY?
Consider the amount of independence you want, and consider safety, pacing and emergency back-up requirements.

10. What equipment?
Make sure you pack good (and well worn-in) footwear, a waterbottle, layered clothes and, if relevant, suncream and bug repellent.

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