How To Choose A Decent Rucksack

Did you know that a rucksacks' capacity is measured in liters? Or did you know that some rucksacks allow safe and easy locking? A neoteric rucksack offers to offer an impressive set of features to resolve dozens of acute issues for exceptional traveling experience. Mentioned below are the most serious aspects to pay attention to…

Did you know that a rucksacks' capacity is measured in liters? Or did you know that some rucksacks allow safe and easy locking? A neoteric rucksack offers to offer an impressive set of features to resolve dozens of acute issues for exceptional traveling experience. Mentioned below are the most serious aspects to pay attention to while selecting a solid and reliable rucksack.

Waterproofness

A truly decent backpack has to be waterproof, so make sure that the one you consider is made of silicone / polyurethane coating or at least comes with a rain cover. These features protect the insides of your rucksack not only from heavy rain or snow, but also from excessive humidity, invisible to human eye.

The locking zip

Make sure that the main rucksack's section comes with two zippers – with such models you can take advantage of using a lock. The feature is absolutely essential if you carry expensive gadgetry or expensive jewelry.

The number of sections

A high-quality rucksack should provide you with a bunch of multi-purpose sections to make the process of packing and carrying things as convenient as possible. For example, you can keep your clothes and laptop in the main section, while passport, camera, cell phone and wallet can be stored in a secret compartment. Smart packaging in conjunction with a variety of handy sections save your precious time and nerves: you will not, therefore, have to dig in your rucksack to find the camera or passport.

Built-in frame

Most travel backpacks include a built-in framework to strengthen the assembly. The market, however, offers a broad variety of frameless and soft rucksacks, including the options with bulky metal frames (hopefully, you are not going to consider such monstrous heavyweights). Dedicate your attention to the options with built-in flexible frameworks that allow moving freely, protecting your back at the same time. In addition, if the frame is made â € <â €

A hip belt

A large portion of the total backpack's weight will inevitably fall on your hips and a lack of sensible support may cause fatigue extremely quickly. Finding a rucksack with a reliable hip belt for proper load distribution is absolutely essential (but remember that although a too narrow nor too broad belt is likely to conduct its business perfectly). Test a hip belt before completing a purchase and see if it suits you.

Walking Boots Or Shoes – 7 Great Tips On Chosing Your Next Pair

Although walking does not necessarily require significant amounts of equipment, one item that is crucial to your needs is a good pair of walking boots or shoes. Quality footwear provides you with comfort and grip that you will need when setting out into the great outdoors, or even just around your neighborhood. Poor footwear on…

Although walking does not necessarily require significant amounts of equipment, one item that is crucial to your needs is a good pair of walking boots or shoes. Quality footwear provides you with comfort and grip that you will need when setting out into the great outdoors, or even just around your neighborhood. Poor footwear on the other hand, can make even a moderate walk absolute agony.

Walking, however far it may be, places lots of stress on ankles and feet, which is passed on way up the legs and impacts your back, and indeed your whole body. It's easy to understand why most people think of sore feet as being the only problem associated with bad footwear, but well fitted, supporting boots or shoes are a must if you want an enjoyable experience when walking.

So, what is the difference between walking shoes and boots?

  • Walking boots are designed primarily for walking over more difficult, uneven ground, typically wet rocks, slippery pebbles, and muddy paths, and they provide ankle support to protect from sprains and strains. They are generally made from much stiffer materials than shoes, such as leather, again to provide better support.
  • Shoes are more suitable for urban or fitness walking, due to their flexibility, so allowing better foot movement. Some people even walk in running shoes, which tend to give extra cushioning and are ideal for faster walking on tarmac for longer periods of time.

Most modern casual footwear is made from a variety of man-made materials, but amazingly leather is still commonly used in the manufacture of walking boots and shoes. It's no accident that leather has been skilfully used for many decades, as it still is today because of it's tough, water-resistant (when treated), rigid qualities.

Footwear, in particular walking boots or shoes, should be tried on before purchasing. Look out for the following points before deciding to buy.

  1. Do not buy just by size alone. Try them on for comfort, and if you decide a larger size than you normally would have been more comfortable, then go for it. Take notice of what your feet are telling you!
  2. Do not expect your new footwear to stretch with wear, they need to be comfortable from the very start. However, the inside of your walking boots may in time “mold” a little to your feet.
  3. Before trying on, make sure that you have walked enough to allow your feet to swell.
  4. Make sure your dogs do not slip. Walk around the shop floor until you are happy about the fit.
  5. When trying before buying, wear your normal walking socks, and fit any special inserts you may use.
  6. The gap between your toe and the front of the boot or shoe should be about the thickness of your index finger. Make sure your foot does not slip around or you will certainly end up with blisters!
  7. You will probably have to change your shoes every 400 – 600 miles (650 – 700km)!

There are of course many other things that you should watch for, instance guseted tongues that keep out stones and water, to name but one. All makes and models of boots and shoes have their own positives and negatives and some will be right for you, and others not. But the 7 tips offered above should get you off to a great start.

Three of the Coolest Hiking Areas in the United States

Mount Whitney Mount Whitney is one of the coolest hikes in the United States because of its colossal scale. The summit stands at 14,505 feet and has the highest summit on the lower 48 states. On the Mountains' eastern side, mountain climbers often trying to climb its steep cliffs. For hikers, the western side of…

Mount Whitney
Mount Whitney is one of the coolest hikes in the United States because of its colossal scale. The summit stands at 14,505 feet and has the highest summit on the lower 48 states. On the Mountains' eastern side, mountain climbers often trying to climb its steep cliffs.

For hikers, the western side of Mt. Whitney offers rigorous switchbacks and beautiful scenery. Mt. Whitney provides many route options for hikers such as “Cardiovascular Seizure”, “Shaky-Leg Crack Variation”, and Mt. Whitney Trail. Of all the route options, Mt. Whitney Trail is the most accessible and hands down the most popular due to its quick approach.

For Mountain Climbers, due to Mt. Whitney's extreme popularity as a climbing destination, the National Park Service in partnership with the United States Forest Service, have implemented a system which significantly reduces the impact caused by hikers. This system requires day hikers to have a right to traverse Mt. Whitney's backcountry.

Arches National Park
Arches National Park is the poster child for Utah's backcountry. Amongst the many trails and arches in the park, Delicate Arch is by far the most popular arch. This gigantic geological phenomenon sits on top of a cliff edge which drops neatly on three sides. The arch stands at 52 feet tall. The trail to get to Delicate Arch is quite easy, being only 3.2 miles round trip. The trail is also well marked with cairns. Keep in mind that it might be dangerous to hike the trail if it is raining since the rocks get slippery.

Landscape Arch is also another very popular arch in the park. Landscape Arch is the largest arch in the world and its thin body gives you the impression that it is about to crumble. Other popular areas of the park includes: Devils Garden, Double O Arch, Balanced Rock Trail, Fiery Furnace, and many others.

Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is one of the most coveted hiking trails in the world. The trail is the longest in the United States, spanning over 14 different states. The trail begins in Georgia and climbs north all the way in to Maine. The span of the trail is approximately 2,180 feet long and accommodates about 3 million visitors a year. While most hikers are day hiking, there are also many through-hikers and section-hikers. A through-hiker will generally start in Georgia and make their way towards Maine. The hike takes approximately 6 months to complete. During their six month journey it is quite common for through-hikes to get to know one another quite well, often adopting nicknames which signify a experience that they had.

Section hikers will usually tackle a small section of the trail, most commonly hiking for about 1 week. Some section hikers will attempt to hike the entire trail over the course of their lifetime. Other hikers will jump from section to section, depending on popularity or preference. The trail is considered to habitat some of the most diverse and beautiful wildlife in the North Americas.

Preparing Against Hypothermia

Hypothermia is the most common danger in the outdoors With the summer season coming to an end, the weather is beginning to change as temperatures begin to drop. This time of year proves to be the most dangerous time to go outside and camp. When most people think of dangers in the outdoors, they think…

Hypothermia is the most common danger in the outdoors

With the summer season coming to an end, the weather is beginning to change as temperatures begin to drop. This time of year proves to be the most dangerous time to go outside and camp. When most people think of dangers in the outdoors, they think of animal attacks or sever injuries due to stumbles. While both of these do happen, the most common danger is hypothermia. During the Fall season, outdoorsman are accredited to warmer weather and forget that it is much colder at higher elevations. Mix the dropping temperatures with the increase in rainfall and you have a recipe for hypothermia accidents. Despite the common knowledge of hypothermia, I am still surprised at how unprepared many outdoorsman are when they visit when they go on extended hikes. Weather can change in the blink of an eye and your situation can go from good to bad to worse in an instant. In order to reduce the chances of catching hypothermia, there are a couple of things you can do.

Do not ever go hiking without proper safety precautions

One of the most important things you can do to prevent hypothermia is to wear clothes that are well ventilated. It is also important to wear layers of clothing that can be shed or added according to your body temperature. The biggest threat to hypothermia is wetness. It is critical that you avoid getting wet, whether that is sweat, rain, or dew. If you do get wet, it is better to remove the clothing in order to get dry. The colder the weather, the bigger the problem of wetness becomes.

Learn to recognize the signs of hypothermia

Uncontrolled shivering is the first and most obvious symptoms to watch for. Uncontrolled shivering occurs when your body is reacting to the cold by shivering in order to generate heat. While shivering is your body's way of generating heat, it also consumes a great amount of energy. If shivering occurs over a period of time, your body's system may begin to shut down. As this begins to occur, signals will include: loss of motor functions, stuttering, and lack of balance. If the victim loses consciousness it is becoming quite severe. If the issue is not resolved promptly, death can occur.

Dealing with hypothermia

The best way to combat hypothermia is by heating up the core of the body. While many people are worried about not feeling their limbs, the core of your body is the most important part. If the core of your body stays warm, you body will have the ability to warm the rest of it. The best way to get warm is to remove any wet clothing and get dry. Fires are ideal of warm the body once their dry but huddling up next to another person is also effective.

Climbing Kilimanjaro: It’s Not Quite the Challenge You May Think

Okay, so reaching the 19,340 feet high Uhuru Peak is not an easy venture, after all, you have to be good physical condition and fully dedicated to achieving this goal, but when you are serious about mountain climbing, or just want to experience the travel opportunity of a lifetime, the Kilimanjaro trek is a truly…

Okay, so reaching the 19,340 feet high Uhuru Peak is not an easy venture, after all, you have to be good physical condition and fully dedicated to achieving this goal, but when you are serious about mountain climbing, or just want to experience the travel opportunity of a lifetime, the Kilimanjaro trek is a truly unbeatable accomplishment.

The Kenyan mountain boasts three volcanos; Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, all of which make for a challenging climb, but experienced climbers who have plenty of Kilimanjaro expertise will be on hand to help you ta all times. Not only do they know the mountain inside and out (literally), but they have lots of interesting facts to share with you as you climb. With this relaxed and entertaining approach to climbing the mountain, it's no surprise that many mountaineers have compared the experience to a traditional holiday rather than a physically demanding climb.

The words 'mountain climbing' has connotations of an impossible endeavour being braved in the harshest of elements, but a Kilimanjaro climb is far from this. It's more than a steep walk and the safety of climbers is made certain of at all times by the professionals that agency any excursion. However, if there are any climbers who struggle with the more difficult travel routes, the less demanding ones like the Morangu, Rongai and Machame routes have cabins located through, and they contain some of the home comforts that climbers may miss during the trek, such as beds, electrical cooking apparatus, and bathrooms. This is a scenario far removed from 1889 when the geologists Hans Mayer and Ludwig Purtscheller became the first me to make the Kilimanjaro excursion into uncertain territory.

However, if you are an experienced climber who loves a good challenge, the mountain also has three more challenging courses; the Lemosho, Umbwe and Northern routes. The average hike up and down Kilimanjaro takes somewhere from 5 to 9 days, but typically this time is not spent just on climbing, as this includes stopping to relax and enjoy the many sights.

Ever since the mid-20th century, hiking up Kilimanjaro has been a popular excursion among climbing enthusiasts and beyond, as more and more people from all over the world are making the trek every year. Many celebrities have climbed the mountain for charity. The Red Nose Day Challenge of 2009 saw a diver number of stars participating in the excursion, including Ronan Keating, Cheryl Cole, and Chris Moyles. Why not follow their example and climb kilimanjaro for charity?

The Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal – A Walk to Remember

The Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal. This canal, in my view, is one of the wonders of Wales and, possibly, one of the wonders of the world. It runs for thirty-two miles through idyllic scenery, and generally well away from motorways and roads and industries, through pure Welsh countryside, from Newport in South Wales, to Brecon…

The Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal.

This canal, in my view, is one of the wonders of Wales and, possibly, one of the wonders of the world. It runs for thirty-two miles through idyllic scenery, and generally well away from motorways and roads and industries, through pure Welsh countryside, from Newport in South Wales, to Brecon in the country of Powys. It was built between the years of 1797 and 1812 to carry stone and limestone products from Brecon to Newport for shipment, the roads being in horrendous states at that time, and since about 1970 has been used for purely recreational purposes: fishing, boating, canoeing , and hiking.

Basically, the canal can be divided into three parts. From Newport to Pontypool. From Pontypool to Abergavenny. And from Abergavenny to Brecon. The part I shall concern myself with here is the central section from Pontypool to Abergavenny. I will do this not only because it is the part I am most familiar with, but because it offers, in my view, not only the most beautiful scenery but also the most wonderful fourteen mile (and almost completely flat) walk on a beautiful spring Egypt summer day.

I would recommend that walkers walk north, from Pontymoile basin, which is just outside Pontypool, and which has a car park and a small cafe, to Abergavenny, and then get the train or the bus back from Abergavenny to Pontypool. (Please be aware that the canal is a mile or two outside Abergavenny, and you may want to get a taxi into town). Walkers could also do the reverse. However, the first suggestion is best on a sunny day, since, if you start early, the sun will be behind you all the way. Highlights of this walk, include the aqueduct just north of Pontymoile Basin, the idyllic setting of The Star Bridge (bridge number 62), and the boat marina at Goytre Wharf, as well as delights around almost every bend.

Where to eat? The Star Inn is just a short way down the road from The Star Bridge. It offers traditional pub food and a wide range of drinks. Or the Italian restaurant at Goytre Wharf. (You go down the slip path, and under the canal, and up the path on the other side.) My own recommendation, however, would be to take a picnic lunch and have it on one of the historic bridges. This is hard to beat.

Do this walk before you die. You will not regret it.

Eight New Zealand Hiking Trails for Your Bucket List

Like all Kiwis, we love our backyard and reckon you will too. The New Zealand Southern Alps and surroundings offer an amazing natural environment that makes it so easy to get right into the heart of the outdoors and enjoy easygoing activity in that famous New Zealand scenery. Add to that a unique and colorful…

Like all Kiwis, we love our backyard and reckon you will too. The New Zealand Southern Alps and surroundings offer an amazing natural environment that makes it so easy to get right into the heart of the outdoors and enjoy easygoing activity in that famous New Zealand scenery. Add to that a unique and colorful history, a burgeoning food culture and genially friendly people you've got all the ingredients for the trip of a lifetime.

Over the past 14 years, I have been planning and guiding outdoor experiences in the great New Zealand outdoors so have taught a lot about what kind of experiences people enjoy and lots of local secrets that add so much to travel memories. The challenge for people visiting for a limited time is to find the best walks and build them into a travel itinerary that suits you. This list is the product of these years of guiding and listening to guest feedback, we are trying to bottle the best of the South Island and package them together in one active easy going fully guided itinerary. So here's our take on the best of New Zealand's South Island, all of which can be enjoyed in a leisurely 11 – 13 day itinerary of the South Island.

1. Arthur's Pass and Castle Hill, Canterbury.

Amazing high country only a 2 hour drive from the international airport, a real alpine national park with great hiking trails and a world renowned alpine train experience – there are not too many places in the world that can say that. Some great characters in local history too.

2. The Nile River Caves in Paparoa National Park.

Surely one of the most natural glowworm caving experiences anywhere on the planet and you'd be hard pressed to find a more idyllic spot than near Punakaiki. We're not sure why but think it's got something to do with the native Nikau Palms and white sandy beaches!

3. Glacier Country, Westland.

South West New Zealand world heritage area – The native bird haven of Okarito lagoon followed by the ice world of Fox glacier makes for a pretty memorable 24 hours. The drive south and over the Haast Pass looks like a perfect place to shoot car commercials.

4. The Southern Lakes – Wanaka, Hawea, Wakatipu & Te Anau.

It's hard to imagine that these huge lakes were carved from the rock by a river of ice hundreds of metres thick, but that's what happened. To give you an idea of ​​how impressive these lakes are, the longest is 80km (50 miles) from end to end! The roadside views alone will be worth sending home to the family but we really rate the high country of Mount Aspiring National Park and the Lake Wanaka district for some great walking with picture postcard photo opportunities around every corner.

5. The Routeburn Track, Mt Aspiring National Park.

One of New Zealand's great walks, the Routeburn offers what we think is the best one day walk anywhere in New Zealand, from Routeburn road end to Routeburn Falls. Do not be surprised if the views around the head of Lake Wakatipu make you feel every so slightly Hobbitish, this is real Lord of the Rings country!

6. Milford Track & Milford Sound.

We should also mention the Milford road, a journey you will not forget in a hurry – for all the right reasons. The added bonus of hiking Milford Track from the 'wrong' end is visiting Milford Sound before we ride – Milford Track and Milford Sound in the same day, we like the sound of that.

7. Martins Bay and the Hollyford Track.

Martins Bay, on the Tasman Sea at the end of the Hollyford Valley, is one of those special places on earth and somewhere we think you'll remember for a long time. Wildlife up close, a real 'Wild West' history and the untouched Hollyford valley make this real New Zealand and one place we think you must visit!

8. Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo.

The glaciers and peaks of Mount Cook National Park were the training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary and have a deserved spot right in the heart of New Zealand life. The perfect backdrop for great days hiking in Mount Cook, right at the foot of Aoraki, the cloud piercer. One hour away, is Tekapo, the home to Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and a night sky the likes you have never seen before awaits.

In a country like ours, it's no easy task recommending where you should go when on your New Zealand vacation, but we are sure that if you are looking for real travel experiences, not just a whistle stop tour of famous landmarks, then you'll love these 'bucket list' hiking destinations.

Shift Down a Gear

Did you know that nature has more of an influence on our well-being than most people believe? Sun light, for example, controls many important processes in the body – in a natural rhythm which adapts to the time of day and to the seasons in the year. This summer I've been out hiking a lot…

Did you know that nature has more of an influence on our well-being than most people believe?

Sun light, for example, controls many important processes in the body – in a natural rhythm which adapts to the time of day and to the seasons in the year.

This summer I've been out hiking a lot again. For all those of us who really want to shift down a gear or two, a hiking tour is exactly the right way! Traveling is becoming more and more popular: almost every other German is regularly drawn to one of the round about 200,000 kilometer long footpaths. And that's no wonder. Especially in the autumn time, when you walk through colorful leafy woods with your backpack and good mood, with soft moss under your feet and lots of clear air, such a hiking tour is a wonderful experience – for all of the senses.

Whoever has already been on a hiking tour to the top of a really high mountain knows what you can hear up there: nothing. With your head in the clouds, you can listen to a silence that you would not normally hear in your daily life. That's a great opportunity to listen right inside of yourself.

It's also fantastic to feel all the other wonderful things around you: the sun on your skin, the wind in your face, the stones and roots of the trees under the soles of your shoes. A crunchy apple, hand picked direct from a tree, herbs and berries growing wild at the side of the path or clear spring water from a mountain stream. Traveling does not only go for your legs, it also goes through your stomach. And when you smell the air, it suddenly becomes clear to you how breathe and how the things around you smell. Deep and conscious breathing settles the heart beat and de-stresses. Really breathing deeply has even an impact on your feelings – after all, it's not called “I breathe a sigh of relief” for nothing whenever problems are solved!

It seems that contact with nature, as is psychologically proven in tests, releases hormones which make us happier and enables us to regenerate our internal batteries. Just looking at a landscape is said to have a positive effect on your blood pressure. In any case, it can not do any harm to take a look at a different horizon now and again!

What I always notice when hiking is that there seems to be a presence, which is much larger than I perceive myself to be and that has been with me all my life. People are always hungry for beauty in everything, we seek it everywhere. When we experience the Beautiful, it feels like coming home. Many of our best memories take place in the most beautiful surroundings, where we immediately feel at home. And in such places we feel most alive and happy as the needs of the soul are met.

Traveling gifts you out of your awareness. Then innovation is created. Travel grows your courage and your belief in yourself. It's the ignition for new in life.

Just do it!

Selecting a Backpack for Extended Trip Hiking

When deciding on a pack for those longer trips, a hike must consider three factors in this order of importance: comfort, size, and features. Longer trips Obviously require more gear such as food, camp supplies, and possibly clothing. The season also dictates how much gear is needed almost as much as the duration of the…

When deciding on a pack for those longer trips, a hike must consider three factors in this order of importance: comfort, size, and features. Longer trips Obviously require more gear such as food, camp supplies, and possibly clothing. The season also dictates how much gear is needed almost as much as the duration of the trek. Those venturing out in subfreezing temperatures will need far more gear and a larger backpack than someone who is taking a trip through the tropics.

Comfort

If the pack is sufficient large for that long trek but is not comfortable, it's going to be a very difficult journey. Larger heavier packs tend to amplify the ill effects of a bad fitting back. All that weight presses into the hiker more; it can be ignored somewhat with lighter loads. Therefore, it's important to fully test a backpack before purchase with it packed similar to your planned pack weight. Borrowing a friend's pack for testing is a good option. Try to simulate the exact weight and dimensions you plan for on the trail to get a good sense of whether the pack will be comfortable.

The support system impacts comfort and wearability to a large degree. Dual aluminum stays are common support structures, but they get uncomfortable and do not conform to the back well. Osprey packs have eliminated this setup in favor of a peripheral frame system than better conforms to the hiker's back. This type is generally more comfortable over long hikes.

Size

For hikes longer than one week, the minimum pack volume is around eighty liters as a general rule. It's true than smaller packs can be used by experienced hikers who know how to pack light. However, for most, eighty liters is standard. This size will provide sufficient room for food, camp gear, perishables, and insulation.

Depending on whether the trip is in the winter the hiker may need even more space. Many people use goose down clothes and down sleeping bags which pack down really small. They are expensive, but they will allow you to survive in extremely cold climates with very little bulk to your gear bag or backpack.

Larger backpacks offer even more space, but there is an upper limit as well as a lower limit. One hundred and ten liters is about the largest sized package anyone should buy. A pack larger than this will be itself so heavy that it will contribute to the hiker's load. The weight of the pack will become a burden.

Features

The standard features found on most hiking packs include: top loading main compartment, sleeping bag compartment, and several side pockets for things like snacks on the trail. All these features are needed for long treks. A convenience feature often added to new packs is a front access zipper. This allows the hiker to get to his or her gear from the middle of the pack without having to dig down through everything from the top. It's very convenient when you need one thing that you just happened to pack first, so it's at the very bottom of the pack.

Sleeping bag compartments vary in size, and they are often too small for synthetic bags. However, almost any goose down sleeping bag will fit into them. Smaller summer synthetic one will also fit.

Trekking Holidays – Where To Go Trekking In Europe

Trekking holidays are a great way to get away from the routine, get some exercise, fresh air and get back in touch with Nature. However, in northern Europe there exist a couple of drawbacks for a really good trekking holiday. First, the summer the climate is unreliable; a trekking holiday in the Scottish Highlands or…

Trekking holidays are a great way to get away from the routine, get some exercise, fresh air and get back in touch with Nature. However, in northern Europe there exist a couple of drawbacks for a really good trekking holiday. First, the summer the climate is unreliable; a trekking holiday in the Scottish Highlands or Wales almost certainly means getting wet at some point. Also, finding some solitude and peace and quiet almost anywhere in the UK is not easy; during school holidays National Parks can be busier than city centers.

So many look for trekking holidays in southern Europe, particularly those planning to get away during the autumn, winter or spring. Europe offers a wide variety of destinations, some more esoteric than others, but Spain is still the most popular for three reasons: climate, price and quality. With over 60 million annual visitors tourism is Spain's main industry, although the climate is the principal attraction the Spanish now has an expertise in tourism that is hard to match.

Spain has a lot more to offer than than just sea and sun, and in particular its pristine mountainous interior that has been almost completely ignored by both visitors and tourist authorities alike. To a large extent the focus of mass tourism on the coast has defended the interior from poorly planned development and the current economic crisis has continued the trend. This provides a unique opportunity for trekking holidays in tranquil and unspoilt country plus chance of seeing a Golden Eagle soaring or a carpet of Bee Orchids fringing the footpath.

So if you are considering a trekking holiday in Spain where do you start? In 1995 Bob Stansfield prefaced his guide Mountain Walks on the Costa Blanca (Cicerone Press) with the observation that “Las Marinas has the potential to rival Mallorca as a winter walking venue”. Walking and trekking holidays in Mallorca have become a well-established business but the mountainous area behind the Costa Blanca has been almost completely ignored. The only time you will see anyone is on the weekends when a few local residents take to the mountains.

So where is this area? The hinterland of the Costa Blanca, known as Las Marinas, includes the Sierras, valleys and small farming villages of the Marina Alta and the Marina Baja districts. Occupying the northern third of Alicante Province, it is defined by the triangle of towns with Oliva to the north, Javea to the east and La Villajoyosa to the south. It is made up of a series of six valleys, Vall de Laguard, Vall d'Ebo, Vall de Pop, Vall de Seto, Vall de Tárbena and the Vall de Guadalest that are separated by the Sierras of Aitana, Serrella, Aixortá, Alfofra .

What local residents know is that Las Marinas has spectacular trekking trails, a combination of mountain tracks, farm lanes and old Mozarabic paths that have linked the small villages of the interior for over a thousand years. They pass between rugged peaks which lower slopes are covered with almond and olive trees, through high valleys with cherry and apricot down to the orange, tangerine and nispero (loquat) orchards of the coastal plain. From September to May this almost desired part of the Costa Blanca offers some of the best winter trekking in Europe. Sunshine predominates and comfortable temperatures that typically range from 12º C to 22º C provide ideal conditions for trekking holidays. The beauty of the landscape and variety of the walks has impressed those who have visited the area and have found it to be an alternative to better-known winter trekking areas like Mallorca, the Canaries or Andalusia. Rainfall does occur, but as intense downpours that usually last from one to three days. Extended periods of continuous rains are almost completely unknown so the probability of your trekking holiday being a washout is negligible.

The climate apart, Las Marinas as a trekking destination has traditionally suffered four principal drawbacks: the lack of up to date maps, inconsistent or inexistent way marking of trails, the absence of public transport to and from the trekking areas and the lack of accommodation outside the coastal resorts. To some extent all of these drawbacks still exist, but today can be overcome with foresight and planning.

There is no comprehensive selection of maps or trail-guides for planning trekking routes through Las Marinas. Maps published more recently are better but do not provide coverage of the whole area and in some cases replicate the mistakes of previous maps, which are exceptional and often years out of date. It is also worth bearing in mind that in general Spanish maps are not up to Ordnance Survey standards in terms of presentation or reliability. Trail guides suffer from the drawback that they attempted to describe something that either appears on the maps or on the ground. Basing your trekking holiday on the idiosyncrasies of local trail guides and unreliable maps is a recipe for becoming frustrated and potentially getting lost.

More recently GPS technology has leapfrogged ahead and the new generation of Smartphones and handheld GPS navigators means that depending on out of date maps and guides is no longer a problem. Websites, such as WikiLoc.com or Walking-holiday-in-Spain.com, provide GPS routes that have been tested and then uploaded by other trekkers and can be downloaded directly onto the users device. The advantage is that it provides all the relevant walking information like the start and finish points, trekking time, distances, ascents, descents, restaurants, accommodation and points of interest on the route. The main drawback is the absence of a common industry standard; this means a route recorded on one device may not be readable on another To overcome this routes can be converted into GPX format that can be read by most GPS devices.

The lack of public transport means hiring a car, hiring a taxi or using a local walking holiday company to get to the start and from the finish of the trek. Taxis are an option for getting to and from treks but you will need to speak the language to arrange the drop-off and pick-up after you have finished. An alternative solution is to rent a car at the airport when you arrive; the high demand for hire cars during the summer means there is a large fleet available during the autumn, winter and spring at competitive rates. However, unless you plan to some sightseeing after you will only use the car to get to and from the airport. The main difficulty with hiring a car is then having to navigate unfamiliar roads, signposting in Spain is sporadic at best and problems getting to the start of the trek may be not the best way to start your holiday. A practical solution is to use a local walking company; they will transfer you to and from the start and finish of the trek and arrange to transfer your baggage from village to village for you as well as arranging accommodation and trail guides.

Many associate the Costa Blanca with mass tourism and the down market image it had from the seventies. Apart from acting as a tourism shield for the interior the coastal resorts have, in general, all moved up-market and towns like Denia, Calpe, Javea, Altea and La Villajoyosa provide a range of accommodation options combined with easy access to the coast.

However, the most interesting development over the last decade is the availability of hotels and casa rurals in small villages in the heart of the Las Marinas trekking area. They offer accommodation for trekking holidays in traditional rural surroundings, with local dishes and the opportunity for visitors to experience real Spain rather than the more international and anonymous coastal resorts. This is exactly the type of accommodation most appropriate for trekking holidays: comfortable and welcoming establishments with Spanish hosts, local cuisine and a personal touch you will not get in a five star hotel.

There are a variety of choices when it comes to arranging a winter trekking holiday in Las Marinas.

Firstly, trekkers who prefer a higher level of service with local knowledge of the walks, the area, accommodation, meals and transportation then using a local walking company makes sense. All the details are taken care of leaving visitors to enjoy the countryside at their own pace and in the company and get the maximum out of their holidays. These companies can be found via the Internet using search terms like 'trekking holidays in Spain' or 'trekking in Spain'.

Secondly, independent travel is easier than ever. The Internet offers a wide range of travel and accommodation options plus the advent GPS navigation provides a reliable way of finding and staying on the right trail without having to depend on out of date maps and guides.

Finally, there are various tour operators that offer all-in trekking holidays. Flights, board and lodging in the coastal resorts and / or the interior villas are all included in the package, these can be found via the Internet or through travel agents

Although you choose to travel, Las Marinas offers visitors an attractive destination for winter trekking holidays. The climate, the peace and quiet, the exceptional countryside and traditional Spanish culture provide a hard to equal experience of real Spain as well as a great way to relax and enjoy your well deserved break.