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Preparation Tips for a Long Distance Trek

Part of the fun of travel is the spontaneity and freedom it provides. However, if you’re planning a long-distance journey on foot, you’ll need to take the time to prepare a little. A long distance trek could mean anything from a two-week hike through the Andes to a six-month long journey backpacking through Southeast Asia. No matter how long the distance may be, there are a few tips that can help you start off on the right foot.

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Choosing a Route

The first step towards planning your trek is to choose an itinerary. The terrain, distance, and climate will help determine what you need to do to prepare, so it’s important to research these aspects of the trek before you begin. Think about the type of scenery you’re interested in exploring. Do you prefer a gentle walk around a series of lakes and valleys, or would you prefer a more challenging hike up the side of a mountain? How far do you plan to travel to get to the beginning of the hike? It’s best to narrow the route down by region and preferred terrain before you begin. You can then read reviews, books, and blogs about the trail. Be sure to stock up on hiking guides and maps for your journey.

Getting in Shape

With a good idea of what your route is going to look like, you’ll be able to start training for this endurance challenge. Remember that you’ll not only need to be walking for eight hours a day, potentially on steep inclines, but you’ll also need to be carrying a heavy load for much of this distance. Focus not only on building your leg muscles, but the body as a whole. Cardio exercises will help build your endurance, while weight lifting can help you prepare for heavy lifting. Even if you’re in top shape, prepare to start slowly on your hike and build up to more gruelling days, particularly at high altitudes.

Preparing your Packing List

What will you need to bring on your journey? If you’re travelling abroad, how will you get in touch with people? One option is to get a prepaid international SIM card from a provider like lebara.co.uk, which you can use in case of emergency. Yet in remote areas, you’ll also need to be self-sufficient. Think about health and beauty items like toilet paper, sanitary supplies, and soap, as well as adequate food and water. Dehydrated food is ideal for the trail, as it weighs less and doesn’t take up too much room. Powdered beans, vegetables, and soups can help keep you going on the trail.

Final Preparations

As you get closer to your final preparations, think about how you will stay in touch with the real world on a long distance journey. If you’ll be gone for several months, don’t forget to cancel your subscriptions and turn off media services. Prepay your bills or even switch over to a prepaid phone like the ones at Lebara, particularly if travelling abroad. You’ll also need to research your destination and find out if you need visas, permits, or vaccinations before entry.

By taking the time to research your journey in advance, you can ensure that your trip runs smoothly while still enjoying the spontaneity of life as a backpacker. You’ll then be free to enjoy the renewal of mind, body, and spirit that a long distance trek can provide.

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Test your grit on a double volcano trek in Tanzania

If the challenge of scaling one summit isn’t enough for you on a walking holiday, why not consider tackling two? Tanzania might be most famous for Mount Kilimanjaro, but the country is also home to Mount Meru, another volcano that it’s possible to climb.

At 4,562 m, Mount Meru is the smaller of the two, so it’s this volcano that you’ll trek up first. One of the big advantages of choosing to take on this walk ahead of your Kilimanjaro climb is that it will help you acclimatise to being at a high altitude, which means you will improve your chances of reaching Uhuru Peak (Kilimanjaro’s highest point) successfully.

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Opting to do the Mount Meru trek before attempting to summit the Roof of Africa is just one of the ways to climb Kilimanjaro – as there are six routes up Tanzania’s tallest mountain, you have plenty of other options if you don’t have long enough to do the two treks.

Mount Meru – a warm-up for the Kili climb

Although Mount Meru makes an excellent warm-up for your ascent of Kilimanjaro, it is also worth climbing in its own right. There are excellent wildlife spotting opportunities in the early stages of this walk, with the likes of giraffes and elephants often seen on the grassland and in the forest that you’ll hike through on the first day of your trek.

The views across the crater of Mount Meru are spectacular, particularly as you climb higher. One thing you shouldn’t miss is the optional walk to the summit of Little Meru, from where you can see the crater’s sheer walls and the bed of the horseshoe-shaped crater below.

Reaching the summit of Mount Meru on the third day of trekking is really special, though, as you’ll hopefully arrive in time to see the sunrise behind Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance – a spectacular view that you’ll remember forever. After descending from Meru, you’ll typically have a half day of walking before you are driven to the starting point for your Kilimanjaro climb.

Mount Kilimanjaro – the big challenge

One of the best routes to follow to the summit of Kilimanjaro after successfully completing the Mount Meru trek is the Rongai trail. This will give you six days on the mountain (five for the ascent and one for the descent), so you won’t be rushing your hike. This particular track is less crowded than some of Kilimanjaro’s other paths and is the only one to approach the mountain from the north.

It still has a real sense of wilderness about it, which only serves to enhance your experience when climbing the mountain. There is some spectacular scenery on this route up Kilimanjaro, too, with the track leading you through vast swathes of moorland, verdant pine forests and a desolate lunar-type landscape as you get closer to the summit.

On the day that you push up to Uhuru Peak – Kilimanjaro’s highest point at 5,896 m – you’ll aim to reach Gilman’s Point on the crater rim, which is a little lower than the peak itself, in time to see the sunrise. Once the sun is up, you’ll continue to the top of the Roof of Africa, where you can admire the vast plains that spread out around the volcano, see Mount Meru in the distance and get a close-up look at some of the glaciers and ice cliffs that are found near the summit.

There’s no doubt that tackling Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro on one trip is physically demanding, but it’s an incredibly rewarding experience and an excellent way to really test yourself on a trekking holiday.

 

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