Trekking in the wilderness can take you completely out of your comfort zone, allowing you to explore areas of the world which are too harsh and environmentally challenging for normal life to flourish.
Throughout my trekking career I have explored Peru’s Andes, Morocco’s Atlas Mountain and Everest base camp in the Himalayas; here are some tips to help you brave the wild:
Start training early
The Inca Trail lasts three to four days and you will be expected to walk for around six-eight hours a day, often across difficult terrain at steep inclines. Your preparation should include some practise walks in hilly areas at the very least, while carrying a rucksack.
However, to really prepare yourself, hill running will build your leg muscles and improve the rate at which your body can transport oxygen to your muscles. Weight training will also make climbing a lot easier; make sure you do some work on your arms, shoulders and back to help with lifting and manoeuvring.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a whopping 19,341 feet above sea level at its highest point, with oxygen levels diminishing the further you climb. Altitude sickness will develop if you don’t give yourself enough time to adjust to the atmosphere before setting off.
When climbing, ensure that you ascend slowly, climbing too quickly will make you feel nauseous and dizzy, slowing you down; drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol at all costs!
Pack the right clothes
The weather can vary hugely depending on your chosen trek. In the Andes, daytime is really warm but the night is bitterly cold. Research the weather conditions and pack accordingly, but always include lots of layers, including a thermal vest, a warm hat, gloves and thick socks, which will help you to avoid heat loss from your head and feet.
A good set of walking boots is a must; make sure they are worn in to avoid blisters. A light, durable backpack is also a must, you need to make sure it evenly distributes weight across your back and provides quick access to your most important items.
You should also carry a compass and guide book for navigation, the last thing you want is to get lost; without supplies of food and water, you could die.
Food and water
You need to make sure you pack a water bottle and have access to a steady supply of water; water purification tablets will allow you to drink stream water safely, killing bacteria.
Make sure you pack light in regards to food, dry foods like pasta and rice will not take up much space and are rich in carbohydrates for energy. You also need protein, which can be found in nuts, lentils and eggs, to build and repair muscle. I also usually take some sweets for a quick emergency sugar boost.
The most important thing about trekking is preparation: train hard, adjust to your environment and be sure to pack carefully.
This post was written by Helene Cooper of Imaginative Traveller, the adventure travel operator. Helene is an avid trekker, having climbed some of the world’s biggest mountains.