If you plan to have a memorable outdoor adventure, hiking is the best option. All you need is a good fitness level, to pack properly, find a great destination and make sure you take all the safety measures possible.
But, if you are a beginner, planning such an experience can be overwhelming.
To help you, we’ve created this essential beginner’s guide to hiking. So, continue reading, and find out how you can have a memorable experience in the middle of nature.
Choose your destination
If you never went hiking before, you should not aim climbing the Himalayas. It’s OK to dream about succeeding in exploring amazing places one day but to achieve such things you have to start somewhere.
Long hikes with too much climbing are out of the question for beginners. Instead, try to find a destination that has many short, easy trails, as well as other activities available for you to enjoy while you are not hiking.
A great destination is Scotland, and exploring the Scottish Highlands is a fantastic choice for an adventurous newbie. Not only does this area offer a great array of trails, but it also welcomes visitors with a spectacular mixture of culture, breathtaking landscapes, and interesting history.
It’s a perfect place for nature lovers to enjoy the impressive wilderness, but it also gives beginners the chance to indulge in other unforgettable experiences. And tasting the delicious whiskey and hearty foods, as well as befriending the welcoming Scottish people are just some examples.
Or, if you want something more exotic, head towards Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands that offers fantastic trails with great views, as well as perfect weather, relaxing beaches, watersports, mouthwatering local food, and of course Spanish wines.
And if you want to have a more meaningful experience, hiking El Camino de Santiago is a fantastic idea. While the complete pilgrimage might be too difficult for a beginner, you can always start somewhere close to Santiago de Compostela and enjoy a short walk until you reach the city.
Check the weather conditions
Before planning your trip, check the forecasts. While this is not mandatory when choosing a destination like the Canary Islands, if the Scottish Highlands sounds like a better option, you might want to avoid the rainy seasons.
In case you are a wild explorer and a bit of rain doesn’t scare you, you must pack properly. And while you’re on the trail, make sure to keep an eye on the sky, and if you think the weather is changing, it’s advisable to look for shelter or even turn back. Hiking in bad conditions is far from being fun.
How to pack for a memorable hiking holiday
If you’re a newbie who’s planning their first hiking adventure, packing is not as difficult as it is for advanced hikers who are getting ready for longer, harder trails.
The first thing to keep in mind is to have a waterproof backpack and pack light. It is a good idea to carry a light sleeping bag with you as most mountain huts won’t provide bed sheets, and even if they do, you might want to avoid using them.
You need comfortable gear, thermal underwear for hiking during the cool seasons, and light base layers during the summer months. And don’t forget your waterproof jacket for rainy seasons, as well as a hat and sunscreen for sunny days.
But probably the most important part is choosing your shoes. They need to be comfortable and worn before. You want to avoid blisters, which a brand new pair of hiking shoes can cause.
Besides proper clothing and shoes, you need water and snacks. Pack food that is highly nutritious because this is going to be your fuel. A tasty chocolate bar can also be in your backpack. You are a beginner, and you need a treat that will keep you going.
A map of the area is always useful, especially if you plan to have this adventure without friends or a guide. There are hiking guide books available for many popular destinations. Not only do these have maps of all the trails, but there is a lot of useful info about the best places to visit, where to eat, where to find shelter and much more.
What to consider during your hike?
A big mistake many newbies make during their first hike is not enjoying the surroundings. They are so focused on arriving at their destination and celebrating their first success that they forget their main reason for hiking is to be in the middle of nature.
So, do yourself a favour, and walk at your own pace. Stop from time to time to catch your breath and admire the landscapes.
Tell somebody where you are going and when
Even if you plan to go on a short trail, you can get lost.
To avoid disasters, any newbie should let somebody else know where they are and when regardless of their destination. Sure, places like the Scottish Highlands or Tenerife are always filled with visitors and hikers, and it’s unlikely that something bad will happen. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
These are our tips for a newbie who wants to have a memorable hiking experience. If you choose the right destination, pack properly, take all the safety measures possible, and walk at your own pace, you will have a successful first hike.
But to properly enjoy it, besides taking care of all the logistics, you must always go with an open heart and be prepared for unexpected things. For instance, if you plan a solo hike, don’t avoid having conversations with other adventurers. Or, if you didn’t complete your first trail because you had to come back to your accommodation for certain reasons, don’t feel disappointed.
Relax, enjoy a hearty meal, and get ready for walking it again or for your next planned route. The whole idea is to find pleasure in hiking. So, take it easy, and you will!