Hiking, Tramping Or Trekking, Walking Holidays Should Be High On Your Bucket List
If you’re like many twenty-somethings, you probably constantly have your next overseas jaunt on the brain. But for your next adventure, don’t discount exploring our own (big) backyard with hiking holidays.
For keen hikers still learning the ropes of multi-day treks, solo female travellers or anyone looking for a short holiday that gets them out of their comfort zone, a guided hike ticks a lot of boxes. You can learn new skills, meet new people, and gain advice and inspiration for your next hiking holiday while you’re at it.
I know because I’ve tried it, and experienced all the above as well as the feeling of health and accomplishment that come with hiking holidays.
So, why go guided?
First, it can address common barriers to hiking. I’ve never been! I don’t want to get lost! Nature, ew!
A guide will be able to help you with the serious things: permits, navigation, explaining the topography of the area and ensuring your safety, including plans for leaving the walk in the unlikely event that something goes wrong while you’re out of range and away from roads.
On the fun side of things, they’ll be able to introduce you to the region’s history, Indigenous culture and the local flora and fauna, of which there is plenty to see and learn.
If you’re setting out on a multi-day hike, it goes without saying that you’ll also be a lot closer to your group at the end than you were at the start. Walking between five and seven hours a day gives you a lot of time to chat, play games, sing and share knowledge with people of different ages, experience levels and reasons for being on the hike.
“There are myriad reasons why people enjoy multi-day hiking,” says Steve Grainger, co-owner of Tropical Treks, a guided hiking and birdwatching operator in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast region. “I think it’s generally a mixture of nature connection, challenge, peace, connecting with their own spirit and bragging rights.”
Beat the basics
For brand newbies, a guide can help with a thorough introduction to the basics.
“We would start with instructions on how to pack, including providing a food selection for you, recommending how much to bring and how to plan your meals,” explains Steve. “Then before setting out, we’ll also look at how to carry the pack properly and trekking techniques.”
With food and drinking water taken care of, you’ll start to learn the skills you can take forward for your next hikes. Throughout, you’ll be absorbing tips on self-sufficiency, overcoming challenges like sore muscles, and working on your walking technique.
Even for experienced hikers, there’s knowledge to gain from a guide that’s out there most of the year. An understanding of the area can be invaluable for further expeditions if you’re inspired to book a little more time on your own.
“For more experienced walkers that might be new to the region, we instruct on light-weight packing for temperate weather conditions, share updates on necessary gear, and focus on increasing knowledge,” says Steve.
Lessons in practice
To try this all out, I set out on the five-day 88km Cooloola Great Walk in the Sunshine Coast – which, as far as Australian hiking holidays go, is pretty spectacular. Each day we would rise and shine with the dawn, before heading out into the woodlands, rainforests or across planes and beaches. Walking beneath towering scribbly gum and blackbutt forests, with shuttered glimpses of Lake Cooloola or the Noosa River through the tree line, we could start to gain an appreciation of how this spectacular landscape was formed over the last 500,000 years.
The night three camping spot is set on a ridge in a eucalypt forest, where upon stepping outside my tent I was looking into a valley of trees. Standing on a nearby log in the open forest using water bottles for a cold-water shower (I was far enough away from the other campers), it became an experience with nature like nothing I’d had before.
Take the Cooloola Great Walk
The Cooloola Great Walk with Tropical Treks is $1095 per person. While it might sound a little steep for camping, it includes transfers to and from Noosa, accommodation and dinner the night before setting out, five days of food, drinking water and all permits, and a celebratory lunch at Rainbow Beach on day five, all of which add up quickly if you’re arranging things yourself. Most importantly, it includes the part I found invaluable: the guide.
And what’s better is that I now have an understanding of hiking, and the practical knowledge to take it further on more hiking holidays. I know what I need to pack, and how much food and water I need. I know a few navigating skills. Will I be confident enough to do a long hike on my own? Maybe not just yet. But I’ve fallen for hiking holidays as a way of travel, so you bet I’ll be back out there again soon, whether it’s a trail walk in Tassie, or something a little bigger in scope overseas.
(Lead image: Stockpic / Pixabay)