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Hiking and trekking: everything you need to know

When it comes to hiking and trekking, the confusion is around the corner. For those who are not familiar with outdoor "walking", it is important to make the right distinctions to be able to choose the most suitable experience in terms of both physical and skill. What we call nowadays hiking in English is the activity that most closely resembles the concept of outdoor hiking.

When hiking, you walk in nature along marked paths, called hiking trails. Hikes usually last a full day, without the overnight stay, but there are also those during the night. There are four types of hiking: Mountain Hiking, Nature Hiking, Fast Hiking and Snow Hiking. Trekking, on the other hand, takes a longer period: you walk for several days, even months, and in areas where there are often no means of transport. Unlike the hiking trails, the trekking paths have not been beaten because you are walking in unexplored places. Here too there are different types: Mountain Trekking (in the mountains), Backpacking (the trip with the backpacker) and Desert Trekking (in the desert of course). Compared to hiking, trekking is far more intense.

Hiking and Trekking trails

Among the most suggested hiking trails, there are certainly the Inca trail, in Peru, between the jungle and the ruins to reach the summit of Machu Picchu; the tour in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, between the high mountains and the blue icebergs and Kilimanjaro, in Africa, to reach the summit and see the stars.
Among the most popular destinations for trekking, there are again the tour of Machu Picchu, this time spread over several days, the Himalayan mountains in India and Mount Everest in Nepal for those who felt the need to say I was at the base of the highest mountain in the world.

The idea of taking a walk in the countryside for pleasure developed in the eighteenth century, thanks to the new way of seeing nature and approaching it. In the past, in fact, the act of walking referred in general to the poor people who moved on foot and also to wandering.

Benefits of trekking and hiking

Recently, even doctors have begun to prescribe outdoor activities instead of medicine. The reason? It's not hard to imagine. Anxiety, diabetes, depression and other ailments or illnesses can be treated through contact with nature and hiking, as well as trekking, have been found to be among the recommended activities even for children who learn to benefit from this approach from an early age.

Time spent outdoors is a great remedy for health problems.

The mere fact of going out and staying in the open air has beneficial effects on the body: greater oxygenation and strengthening of the muscles, more endorphins that reduce anxiety and stress and positively affect the mood, greater absorption of vitamin D, essential for bone welfare and health, especially when practicing activities where you are exposed to the sun. In addition, practicing activities in the midst of nature makes people more likely to come into contact with others, because the mind is more open and responsive. Last but not least: it costs nothing so wear your shoes and go out for a nice outdoor excursion.

5 tips for getting started with hiking

1. Choosing a suitable route
It is very important to find out the best route before you go on an excursion, and there is no shortage of information on routes or paths. Sites dedicated to tourism, guides, online maps will help you get an idea before leaving to avoid unpleasant situations, even if many paths are marked during the journey. The routes are divided into tourist, hiking and equipped. It is up to each of us to choose the type of route to take also taking into account the physical and mental preparation and endurance required.
2. Don't be in a hurry
Hiking does not mean running a marathon so we can relax and enjoy the view. Walking in nature is an experience that transmits positivity and wellbeing to the whole body. Enjoying these occasions takes us away for a second from the frenzy of everyday life, without always having to record the calories burned.
3. Outfit makes the difference
Both sports need proper physical preparation. The first piece of advice is to start with simple flat walks and then gradually increase the difficulty. At the same time, you also need to have specific clothing and equipment and carefully choose your backpack. Shoes should be suitable for the type of route and the temperatures. For wet and cold climates, a heavier shoe that wraps around the ankles and has excellent thermal insulation is best. For trekking in warm climates, it is better to have one with a lower sole that is impact-resistant, lightweight and breathable and allows freedom of movement.

The same applies to clothing as well. It makes no sense, as you can imagine, to choose breathable garments for a mountain route and heavy garments for a warm climate. And, as far as the backpack is concerned, the trekking backpack is certainly more spacious than the hiking backpack to take everything you need to face a path of several days in self-sufficiency. Don't forget a headlamp, water supplies calibrated according to their duration, a first aid kit, a topographical map and a compass for orientation. Be careful though: don't start to buy a thousand things straightaway with excitement but stop for a moment and consider the duration of the route, the altitude you want to reach, the climate and the planned season.

4. Drink regularly
During the journey it is important to hydrate at regular intervals so as not to have dips in energy. During the walk it is recommended to munch on something like bars, cereals, chocolate to keep handy inside your backpack.
5. The right company
If you are not an expert in trekking it is recommended to go in a group, perhaps with someone who already knows the route or who is used to do this kind of activity. It helps to learn as much as possible all the techniques and tips to keep in mind for future routes. Walking in a group is also a great way to feel less fatigue, to socialize and share experiences.

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