Monday, 30 July 2012 3:06 PM
If you're a keen hiker and enjoy getting out and about when you travel overseas, booking a walking holiday as part of a group could be perfect for you. As well as striding out each day, you'll have a guide to ensure you get the most out of your destination.
Here are just a few of the main benefits to choosing to go walking as part of a group on an organised trip, rather than arranging everything on your own.
1. It's stress free
The best thing about opting for a group walking holiday is the lack of stress, both before you leave and once you're on your break. The hardest part will be deciding where to travel to - but with tours taking in everything from the glamorous resorts of the Cote d'Azur in France to Madeira's stunning flora, you should find something that grabs your attention.
Booking is straightforward - simply pick your trip, contact the operator and make one payment. They will take care of everything else, from arranging your transfer from the airport to your accommodation. Once you're on holiday, it gets even easier, as your guide will do all the navigation and ensure you reach your next hotel safely.
2. You'll have local knowledge
As all group walking holidays are led by an experienced guide, you can guarantee you'll see places independent walkers miss. Itineraries are often created with the aim of leading you off the beaten tourist trail. Take a tour of Andalucia's villages as an example - on this trip you hike between the delightful towns on the edge of Tejede National Park, as well as exploring the reserve itself. Many of the villages you'll visit are very traditional, giving you an insight into how life was here centuries ago.
Experienced guides aren't just useful for sightseeing, either. There are numerous holidays that focus on spotting unusual wildlife, whether it is the birds of Portugal's Alentejo region or the butterflies and wild flowers on Tenerife. Your guide will be able to help you identify the flora and fauna you see, as well as lead you to the best locations for wildlife watching.
3. Make new friends
Guided walking breaks are particularly good if you're travelling alone, as they present an excellent opportunity to get to know other likeminded people - and perhaps find some new walking partners.
Most groups are restricted in size, so you needn't worry you'll be herded around. You'll get an incredibly personal service and have the chance to bond with everyone you're hiking with. In the evenings, you can choose whether to spend time with the group or enjoy a bit of space - it's entirely up to you.
4. Stay in wonderful accommodation
Even if you intend to be out and about on foot all day, you'll want to return to somewhere comfortable and friendly each evening. One of the best things about booking a break with an operator who has local staff and plenty of experience is that you'll get to stay in some fabulous places. You could be spending one night at a small establishment tucked away in beautiful countryside and the next in a larger hotel with all the home comforts you could need, depending on the itinerary you choose.
5. Explore somewhere new
If you're uncomfortable exploring a country that you've never visited before - or are unsure about heading into remote locations on your own - a guided walking trip is perfect. It allows you to be confident striding out somewhere completely different to what you're used to and will mean you can go to places you'd otherwise never have dreamed of discovering.