Our resident trekking ‘guru’, Helene Cooper, explains the various trekking options available for your next trekking holiday.

Tropical trekking

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A very different experience to hiking through mountain ranges. Any difficulty erased by the lack of altitude is more than made up for by the sheer challenge of walking in high humidity through dense vegetation on often slippery paths. However, at every turn there is a new sight to greet you – whether it is an incredible exotic plant with the most amazing flowers or a colourful toucan hiding in the canopy or chattering monkey peering down at you from high in the trees. And contrary to popular belief, rainforests are not a den of mosquitoes as it is simply too damp for them most of the time. Check out the rainforests of Costa Rica (one giant national park!) on our Rainforest Adventure.

Volcano trekking

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Many of the great mountains around the world are of course volcanic (including Kilimanjaro) but the epitome of a real live volcano has to be mighty snow-capped Cotopaxi in Ecuador. The scenery here is simply incredible with tropical lowlands and Amazon rainforest rising through lush terraced hillsides to barren volcanic scree and glacier-covered live volcanoes. With this variety and colour the entire country is a living geography lesson. Ease of access to the mountains makes it even more bizarre – you can be in the centre of the capital, Quito, in the morning and at 4800m halfway up the slopes of Cotopaxi a few hours later! I might also add that this was the smelliest walk I ever went on – these volcanoes are still smoking! See it for yourself on our Ecuador Discovered tour. In Indonesia, on Gunung Batur in Bali, (see our Indonesian Paradise tour), I became so frustrated by the ‘one step up, two steps down’ technique on the volcanic scree I actually turned round midway. However, as had happened in Peru, I discovered that ascending was actually easier than descending so in fact turned back round again and summited a few hours later. To be greeted by a wizened old lady who had carried a crate of bottled water up and was now selling them for a “very good price” at the crater rim – how pathetic did that make me feel! Perhaps our most unique volcano trek though has to be Oldoinyo Lengai, a holy mountain in the scenic Crater Highlands and Tanzania’s only active volcano. You can climb this as an option on our very unique People of Africa tour.

Wildlife trekking

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The good thing about wildlife trekking is that it doesn’t actually feel like you are trekking as you are too busy looking out for the wildlife itself! A walking safari in Timbavati Private Reserve, next to Kruger National Park in South Africa, proved a very special experience and a total contrast to 4WD game-viewing – I will never forget virtually tripping over a rhino (not sure who was more shocked!). Find out for yourself on our Kruger Breakaway tour. In Borneo I found myself going all ‘Livingstone and Stanley’ trekking through incredibly dense jungle to spot rare species. The night treks also provided some phenomenally exciting moments, spotting nocturnal species going about their nightly business. Check out our Sabah Wildlife Explorer which has a real emphasis on wildlife and the environment.

Desert trekking

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Again, totally different to tropical or high-mountain trekking. Jordan offers a superb mix of sightseeing around its numerous biblical sites plus the famous red-rose city of Petra which I entered via the narrow ‘siq’ canyon à la Indiana Jones – a classic example of having to walk to get there (unless you hop on an over-priced calesh/horse-drawn carriage). However it was trekking through the inspirational desert scenery of Wadi Rum and camping overnight with the Bedouin that really took my imagination. And it was nice not to wake to freezing temperatures for once! See our Jordan Explorer tour. Morocco too offers some great desert trekking – from the heat of Marrakech you can find yourself deep in the heart of the Sahara Desert on a camel trek to shivering at 4068 m in the High Atlas within a week. Combine culture with some really off the beaten track trekking on both our Highlights of Morocco and High Atlas Trek.

During these treks I have learnt some important lessons about fitness or equipment. Here is some further information if you are contemplating stepping out into the world.

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