Hiking. Trekking. Backpacking. These are three of the essential activities you will most likely encounter while going out on a backcountry adventure.
Is there a difference? Or are they all just the same? Or is it just that one of them happens to be more exotic-sounding than the others?
Trekking and hiking trips are basically the same.
The only difference is that “trekking,” a term borrowed from the Afrikaan term for ox-cart transport, is most often used when you are taking a hiking trip up the Himalayas.
Conversely, backpacking is a lot less exotic. It’s a phrase you use when you spend a day or two walking somewhere close to home. However, hiking in locations like the Grand Canyon is clearly what you’re looking for if you want something more daring than a simple backyard camping.
When you say hiking trip, people immediately conjure images of miles of hike through forests and mountains with scenic vistas waiting for you every which way you face. It’s no wonder then that hundreds of hikers spend their vacations on trips like these, whether of the leisurely self-guided kind from winery to winery or of the rugged, backcountry ones through pristine wilderness areas.
There are several alternatives available to a wandering hiker like you.
Maybe you’ve fantasized of being at the base of Mount Everest and reliving the moments when the first climbers made it to the summit. Or maybe you want to watch the sun rise over Africa from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. These are your alternatives.
The opportunity to visit areas that are otherwise inaccessible and cut off from civilization is one of the most thrilling parts of going on a hiking trip.
Although the majority of guided hiking tours are essentially the same, the setting and degree of difficulty differ. In addition, there is some difference in the types of treks, which all influence how challenging or adventurous your journey will be.
For instance, the traditional hiking trip is often expedition-style, which means that it involves guides, porters, and cooks. These people will carry your gear, set up and take down camp, and prepare all the meals.
However, if you want fewer people with you, there is also the lodge-to-lodge hiking trip. In this kind of trip, you would be staying in rustic mountain lodges or alpine huts with no cook or porter (if there’s any, still far fewer than in the traditional style). It usually costs a bit less than the fully catered alternative, but it could be highly inconvenient, especially if you prefer to focus all your energy on making it to the end of the trail instead of worrying over the next meal.
The hard-core adventurer may also have a style that totally fits. Mountain-climbing treks and the occasional exploratory hiking trips, while offered by only a few adventure travel companies, are trips on routes not previously offered by that company. This means that trips like these offer genuine adventure, since often not even the guide is sure what to expect.