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There is no better way to get back to nature and really discover your destination than by exploring the wilderness.
Some travelers think they can trek out into the scrub without adequate preparation, but this is always a huge mistake. Even the most hardened hikers adequately prepare before setting off for a hike, and you should too.
Here's what you need to know to stay safe while hiking solo.
Before you set off – whether it's a short day hike or multi day trek – it's important to set yourself up with the right hiking equipment.
It's generally agreed that there are ten essentials to pack before you go for a wilderness walk:
Once you have your essentials, there are a few extra bits and pieces that could help you along the way, depending on the length and level of danger of the trail you are hiking.
A good pack is vital for a safe trip – but it is also a question of equipment versus mobility. You want a pack what will suit your requirements, but also make sure you aren't too weighed down by your backpack so you are free to move and walk without hurting yourself.
If you are planning a trek, short or long, you already have an idea of where you will be – make sure that at least one other person knows this too.
Let them know a rough plan of your journey – where your key stops are and when you plan to return.
If you do this, and don't return when planned, it will give your friend an alarm bell – which means that if you need help, it will be sent quicker.
And most importantly… stick to what you set out to do!
It's not always possible, but if you can share your trek with a friend you will be far more relaxed and safer in an emergency situation.
Be realistic about your journey. If you are fantastically fit, of course you may have a better chance of achieving a two-week trek than someone who is out of shape. Don't reach beyond realistic capacity.
For longer treks, train in preparation for your adventure. Go on smaller walks to get your muscles acclimatized, or try cycling – it uses the same muscles you use for hiking.
If you are planning on wearing regular shoes on your walk, as opposed to proper hiking boots (which many trekkers prefer), you'll need to strengthen your ankles. Try doing a range of walks on rough, uneven ground.
Also, know the conditions of where you are trekking – weather, terrain, geographic and topographic. Are you going to be climbing up huge, slippery hills? Will you get drenched in a monsoon? Bitten by sandflies?
Do your research to know where you are going, and what you are up against.
Even if you are the most seasoned trekker, there is still the chance that you could end up lost. Find out what your travel insurance covers by reading your policy wording carefully.
If you require rescuing from emergency services, you could be up for a hefty bill for the trouble depending on the country you travel to. Check with the local authorities in your destination to determine what their procedures are for search and rescue.
If you aren't ready for a solo hike, organize your trip through an established hiking agency who will have established safety procedures. Read reviews to find out about the reliability of tour guides, what's included and excluded, and the level of difficulty to make sure you find the right hiking agency to suit your needs.
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