Hiking is my love language. I fell in love with it as soon as I moved out to BC. There is something about being out in nature, just you and the wilderness and taking in the natural beauty around you. I have experienced some pretty magical hikes in my own backyard, but every time I travel, I try to find a local hike.
Hiking in a foreign country can be a scary thought. I sometimes still don’t feel fully comfortable because there are so many factors you have to consider when you are outside of your own comfort zone. Safety, ability, transportation, just to name a few. But through my experiences I have gained a few tips that have made me feel more confident. And trust me it has been worth it. From conquering Lions Head in South Africa to experiencing the most magical sunrise on Mt. Batur in Bali – hiking in foreign countries have left some incredible memories.
I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks I have found have been helpful when it comes to hiking in a foreign country.
1. Do your research
Just like any local hike, it is important to be prepared. Do as much research ahead of time to make sure you understand the safety aspects. Are you an experienced enough hiker? How long is it expected to take you? How do you get there? Who are you going with? ( there are very few hikes I will do solo even locally in my own backyard). In order to be as confident as possible, it is important to have as much information ahead of time.
2. Look for local and reliable guides
Sometimes I just feel more comfortable going out with a local or on a guided tour. They can get you from point A to point B safely and know the area. Recently when I was in Sayulita I joined an Airbnb experience with a local guide to hike Monkey Mountain. Our guide was so knowledgable that not only did I enjoy a wonderful hike, but I also learned so much about the local area and culture. Also since I was planning to hike for sunset, I just felt more comfortable with someone who was familiar with the route for coming down in the dark.
3. Don’t go off the main path
I learned this lesson the hard way in South Africa – everyone kept talking about this cool cave off of Lion’s Head. We went looking for the path and ran into a Park Ranger and were fined for our off roading. We later learned that the reason they are so strict is because the area is prone to slides and they are also trying to restore the flora in the area. I know how upset I get at home when people are going off the main path because of how precious the wildlife is and so it is important to be respectful in other countries too.
4. Pack proper gear
Just like you would for a hike at home it is important you have the right gear. While I am guilty of not always packing the top 10 items – whenever I am in a foreign country I try and make sure I pack for worst case scenario.
5. Get travel insurance
You always hope you don’t have to use it but there is always a risk in the outdoors and if you are stuck with medical bills in a foreign country, well that could be a pretty pricey bill.
6. Check warnings and risks ahead of time
I have learned over the years that there are different seasons and concerns. For example maybe a hike in Hawaii during the rain season isn’t your best bet as it can impact safety of the route. Or maybe you are going to an area where zika is prevalent – pack a ton of repellant.
These are my top six tips for hiking in a different country – but I really cannot stress enough number 1. Over preparation is key for a safe and incredible experience.
Happy hiking my friends,