While hiking in the great outdoors with family and friends is a wonderful experience to share, if you’re keen for a new challenge then a solo, self-guided trek might be just the ticket.
You have the luxury of being able to choose your own adventure, set your own pace and make your own decisions without having to factor in other people’s needs and wants. Though solo trekking can be reclusive, it’s a refreshing break from the usual fast-paced lifestyle. Chances are you’ll be enjoying your hike so much, you relish the quiet isolation and the chance to be in your own company for a time.
But before you set out, here are some factors to consider which will help make your journey much more enjoyable.
Choose a realistic goal
If you have never attempted a solo overnight or multi-day hike before, start small with a three-day hike on a well-marked trail, then build up to bigger challenges and longer hikes as your confidence, fitness and skills grow.
Build up your fitness
Being in the best physical and mental shape you can be is vital for a safe, enjoyable trip. The length of time and amount of training you need to do will depend on your baseline fitness and the length of the trek you wish to attempt, but generally three to six months of solid training is a good guideline.
Aim for three to five sessions a week and mix it up with walking, swimming and cycling. Practice hiking in all weathers, over different kinds of terrain with a pack.
Generally, if you are on a multi-day hike, you can expect to be carrying around 15-20kg of gear, so get used to walking while carrying a similar weight. Yoga and pilates are also great for balance, centering yourself and staying grounded. You can also sign up for an adventure training program such as Luvmyhike.
Learn basic orientation skills
Without a leader to guide you, or a friend to confer with if you wander off the trail or hurt yourself, you will need to be as self-sufficient as possible. Learn basic map reading and first-aid skills and learn to use a compass. There are plenty of one-day courses on offer which cover these topics.
Invest in good gear
Lightweight clothing that wicks the sweat away from your body makes for a more comfortable hike. Pack a few layers which you can add to or take off, depending on the temperature. A good hat that covers your neck will protect you from the hot sun. Choose comfortable, waterproof leather or Gore-tex boots and wear them while training prior to your trek.
The gear that is provided on World Expeditions’ self-guided treks is lightweight, of excellent quality and easy to use. You will be provided with a tent and sleeping gear, cooking gear, rain jacket, lightweight trekking food, maps and an EPIRB (Emergency position-indicating radio beacon station) for emergencies.
The remaining gear you’ll need to bring includes your footwear and clothing, camera, first aid kit and personal toiletries. Pack what you need, but pack wisely.
Remember that shaving off a few grams here and there with each item may add up to a couple of kilos, meaning a lighter load to carry.
Words and images by Nicola Conville, who trekked solo on the Larapinta 3-day Self-Guided Walk with World Expeditions.
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Experience it yourself
Check out our range of self-guided walks in Japan, Nepal, Chile, Australia and across Europe which give you the flexibility of solo travel, but have the perks and benefits of a group tour. Experience travelling under your own steam where the hassle of logistics (think: route descriptions, maps and local sightseeing information, etc.), transfers and accommodation are all taken care of, so you can focus on savouring the sights and experiences of the region. View trips >