Best Time of Year to Plan a Hiking Tour
The best time of year to plan a hiking or walking tour depends greatly on the region, weather, and your preference. The tour companies on Stride offer hiking and walking tours year-round, with many that specialize in winter hiking excursions. For instance, many national parks in the U.S. offer classic winter hiking routes, including The Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Yosemite National Park, and Yellowstone National Park, where you can snowshoe through a winter wonderland during the colder seasons.
In Morocco, you can experience the invigorating Mt Toubkal Winter Climb. You can also enjoy a Canadian Rockies Winter Adventure with action-packed outdoor itineraries guaranteed to impress. Don’t forget the enchanting winters in Scandinavia! If you’re lucky you will get a glimpse of the wondrous Northern Lights on your hiking trip.
Hiking and walking tours might be most common in the summer months, but those in areas that have hotter summers are perfect destinations for fall and spring travel (and will be less crowded in the off season). Again, the national parks and canyons in the U.S. are popular locations, especially Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Iceland is another top destination for fall and winter hikes.
Top hiking locations in Asia during the fall and spring seasons include Bhutan, China, Japan, and Indonesia. South and Central America also have frequented hiking and walking tours during these seasons to help stay cool from the summer heat! Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, and Nicaragua are among the most popular destinations.
If you are looking for hiking and walking tours during summer travel, there will be an abundance of options listed on Stride. Most locations that offer hiking during other parts of the year, also offer hiking tours during the summer season. Just make sure to prepare with adequate breathable clothing, sunblock gear, and plenty of water, especially in locations that are traditionally very hot in the summer.
Hiking tour packing list suggestions
What to pack for a hiking trip can depend on the time of year you are traveling, but overall, your packing list will look quite similar regardless of season. Some important must-pack items are as follows:
1. Hiking backpack - This is an important item to have to carry things you may need along your hiking tours (water bottles, sunscreen, layers, etc.). You could also have it double as a carry on depending on the length of your trip!
TIP: Be sure to break in your backpack well before the trip. Don’t buy a shiny new one and leave the next day. The material will chafe and get uncomfortable very quickly. Give your pack and your back and shoulders plenty of time to get used to one another first!
2. Weather-appropriate clothing - Jacket, hat, gloves, rain shell, and thermal underwear. Depending on the season, your clothing items may vary. Jackets and layers are always recommended, however. It can still get quite cold during the dawn or dusk times in regions where hiking is popular, especially in the desert and national parks!
3. Sturdy Hiking boots or shoes - Depending on the physical level and terrain of your hiking or walking trip, you may need hiking boots and even poles or other hiking gear. Always check with your tour guide and/or company prior to any hiking trips to confirm what type of equipment might be needed. And similarly with the backpack: always break in your shoes! This will avoid blisters and rubbing - your feet will thank you.
4. Plenty of food - Always carry snacks! (You backpack will come in handy for this). Depending on the length of your hiking tour, you may need more or less sustenance.
5. Plenty of water - This is very important! Always pack ample drinking water on hiking and walking tours (better to have too much than too little). The general rule for adults is 2 cups (about 1/2 liter) of water for every 1 hour of hiking.
6. Sun Protection - Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat. Even if the sun is not out, there is still a chance of sun exposure and sunburn, so keep yourself safe and comfortable by protecting your skin on hikes!
7. Illumination - Flashlight, lanterns, and headlamp. Depending on the region and time of year, lights might be helpful to bring on your hiking tour. Check with your tour guide and company to see what they recommend.
8. Navigation - Map, compass, and GPS system. Although most tour guides will be equipped with these items, it is always a safe idea to have them for your own personal use as well. If you ever partake in a self-guided hiking tour, these will definitely come in handy to ensure a safe and fun hiking trip.
9. First-aid kit - In case of any injury that might occur on the hiking trail, it is always smart and safe to have a first-aid kit on hand. Again, tour guides most often have these tools, so check with them to confirm prior to your walking or hiking tour.
What are the fitness expectations for hiking tours?
One of the significant benefits of choosing a hiking or walking tour on Stride is that you can find an option for any physical level, whether you are an avid and advanced hiker, or you prefer more casual, leisurely walking tours. Hiking and walking tours range from very easy to extreme on Stride. The majority of hiking tours listed (1,000+) are moderate.
Easy hikes consist of low elevation, low intensity, and shorter distances. Extreme hikes typically consist of higher incline, longer durations, and more vigorous routes and terrain. If you are interested in hiking and walking as only part of your holiday, you can find both easy and difficult physical level options that are paired with other excursions, however, it is the more extreme physical levels that are primarily focused on hiking and trekking alone.
Hiking vs. Trekking: What’s the difference?
When distinguishing between hiking and trekking, the biggest difference between the two terms is the intent and rigor. Hiking can range from easy to strenuous, but the primary intent is leisure, most prominently on man-made and marked trails.
Trekking, on the other hand, is seen as more intense, off-the-beaten-path type of hiking. Here trails are often less frequented, routes are more challenging, and travelers are more experienced, pushing their physical and mental capacity along with their endurance.
Trekking tours are more often focused primarily on the routes, many being paired with camping and multiple-day hikes and excursions. Make sure to clarify with your tour guide and company whether your trip is a trekking or hiking tour, to make sure you are adequately prepared!
Safety on Walking Tours
If you choose to embark on a hiking or walking trip, no matter what part of the world, we highly recommend a guided tour. Going on a hiking tour is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with a country and its natural sights. It also helps with safety. Walking tours often take travelers into isolated places where it may be hard to find help, and easier to get lost. By going on a guided hiking tour, it is guaranteed that you will be with an expert who knows the area well, and you will never be alone in case of an emergency.
Preparation is also a big part of being safe on a hiking tour. If you are planning on visiting Nepal, for example, you should prepare with the right kinds of clothing, be realistic about the kind of endurance that may be required, and read up on the possibility of altitude sickness.
Hiking Tours in South America
Most hiking and walking tours in South America emphasize its unique natural scenery. Patagonia, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and the Amazon rainforest are the most popular destinations offered.
Patagonia is a region comprised of Argentina and Chile. It is known for its beautiful natural scenery in the form of mountain ranges, glaciers, lakes and forests. In Argentina, Patagonia hiking tours note that Tierra del Fuego National Park and Los Glaciares National Park are a top attraction. While in Chile, most tours make sure to include Torres del Paine National Park. Most hiking tours through Patagonia involve lots of camping, exercise, and other outdoor excursions.
Peru & The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is the trail taken in order to reach numerous ancient, archaeological sites in Peru. The most popular of which is Machu Picchu. The trail itself displays a beautiful array of natural scenery from cloud forests to mountain ranges. The journey to the top, although challenging, is proven to be well worth it with its stunning views of ancient ruins surrounded by lush greenery.
Because of its growing popularity among travelers worldwide, planning ahead is a must. The Peruvian government limits the amount of travelers on the trail each day, so make sure you book a tour to Machu Picchu far in advance.
Hiking tours of the Amazon Rainforest are most common in Brazil, which houses about 60% of this jungle. The Amazon is the largest and most biologically diverse tropical rainforest in the world. Because of its sheer size, taking a guided tour is always highly recommended. Guided tours provide insightful knowledge about this truly unique jungle and its inhabitants. They are also very aware of the terrain and always make sure to take the proper safety precautions.