Walking, hiking and trekking in the Alps - Luxury walking holidays - SwisSkiSafari
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walking, hiking and trekking in the alps SwisSkiSafari

What is the difference between walking, hiking and trekking in the Alps?

If you’re going walking, hiking and trekking in the Alps, you should know the difference between each so you can be adequately prepared for your adventure. You’ve no doubt come across the terms walking, hiking and trekking in descriptions of adventure trips.

And they all basically mean the same thing, right? If you thought they all meant the same thing, think again. The difference between each is crucial for arranging the kind of trip you want, and the preparations you need to make.

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between each, so you can choose a trip that is right for you.

Defining walking, hiking and trekking in the Alps

According to the Cambridge dictionary, to walk is “to move at a regular pace by lifting and settling down each foot in turn”. Hiking is “the activity of going for long walks in the countryside”. Trekking, on the other hand, is “a long arduous journey typically on foot”.

Why do these differences matter? Not so you can impress your friends – you won’t. However, knowing what each means will help you prepare accordingly for the activity you have chosen.

For us, the difference between walking, hiking and trekking, especially in the Alps, is determined by the terrain. Focus on the ground surfaces, the geography and altitude of the environment and this will give you all the information you need to be properly prepared.

There is a combination of walking, hiking and trekking on all trips in the Alps.

You’ll begin by walking on flat, easy terrain to get to where the real fun begins. Usually, this will be on even, grassy ground or easy-going marked trails that will gradually become more complex. At this point expect rocky, slippery surfaces with steep inclines or declines. The game has changed completely. So, the trick is to plan for the more complicated topography. Adequate footwear is crucial: think ankle support and a good grip.

How do you know when your walking and hiking has become trekking?

When you realize that the mist ahead of you is actually clouds. Yep, you’re high up now. And those helicopters you see in the distance? They’re flying beneath you.

A guide is essential for a trekking trip, and it’s also a good idea to have a backpack containing sunscreen, a hat, layers for cold, sun and hydration. Guides usually carry a bottle of wine which they like to call hydration too. When in Europe, it’s necessary to respect the local customs, of course.

The gear

You will also recognize that your walking and hiking in the Alps has turned to trekking when you require more technical equipment. Walking poles, specialized trekking shoes, ropes, crampons, harnesses and a good guide with knowledge of the trail are necessary.

On a short day hike you might easily make your way at a gentle pace. Trekking in the Alps will be more challenging, and a trip like this demands careful consideration and physical preparation.

Be prepared and knowing what to expect so that you can enjoy your trip. Having everything you need will enhance your time in nature, challenging yourself. Don’t forget to step outside that refuge after dinner and appreciate the stars, the pure mountain air and the silence that can only be found when you are this far above civilization.

As an explorer of the early 20th century pointed out, “It is the misfortune of the person who once in his life felt, in solitude, a close and profound contact with nature. Because he will suffer the worst torments when obliged to rejoin the pack.”

If all this talk of walking, hiking and trekking in the Alps has got you ready to put on your boots, hike across borders, explore old Roman trails, inhale fresh Alpine air and take in the beautiful mountain scenery, give us a call.

Warm regards from the mountains,

Danielle