Adventuring alone is simply wonderful. It builds self-sufficiency, offers incredible opportunities for contemplation, meditation, and communing with nature, and delivers a real sense of personal achievement.
There are a couple of different approaches when looking for walking holidays for single travellers. Deciding which approach is right for you will probably come down to the reasons why you are travelling solo.
There are now many specialist walking holiday travel operators who cater specifically for solo hikers. These guided walks offer the advantage of having everything planned for you, plus meeting new people, making new friends, and having someone there for you if something goes wrong.
Choosing a walking holiday for single travellers from such a company also ensures that you’re not going to feel out on a limb, because everyone is in the same boat. It’s also a good way to introduce yourself to travelling solo without going for full-on isolation from trek one.
If you are going to trade a truly solitary experience – and shell out for a guide – for a guided walking tour, it is probably worth looking for a route where you’d have to book and pay for a guide even if you weren’t walking alone.
Since the Peruvian authorities introduced limits to the number of visitors accepted along the Inca Trail and to the beautiful mountain-top UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu, it is mandatory for hikers to be accompanied by an official guide.
This is one of the most famous treks in the world, and for good reason. It’s a hard but extremely rewarding hike along ancient Inca trails through beautiful mountain scenery and subtropical forest at altitude. The dramatic ruins don’t require added hardship to be appreciated, but this hard-won arrival at the cascading Inca ruins at sunrise definitely does add to the experience.
Numerous walking holiday for solo traveller specialists offer this route as part of a guided walking package, or an alternative route via Salkantay mountain.
The trek to Everest base camp with Sherpa Guides is another popular route for guided walking holidays for solo travellers, and is another classic trek where a guided tour is advisable. Again, there are numerous operators that offer this walk as a package holiday for single travellers, taking you along hilly passes and past traditional Buddhist monasteries and offering sparkling vistas under blue, blue skies and snowy Himalayan peaks.
It isn’t a trek you could do without support, so is a good option for solo travellers who want to make the most of being in a group.
Of course, on a guided walking holiday for single travellers you gain convenience and company, but lose the solitude, silence and much of the self-determination you get from setting off truly on your own.
If the ability to go at your own pace and feel truly at one with nature is important, a guided walking tour isn’t going to be for you. But, if you haven’t hiked solo before, it can be a hugely intimidating idea.
Before you take the plunge, there are some basic safety principles you need to follow: make sure you leave a detailed itinerary behind before you go, have check-in points, and keep your family or friends informed of any changes to your plans. Do your research – understand the risks and how to deal with them. Take a first aid kit, and know how to use it; you might want to take a wilderness first aid course before you go. Pack a map and compass, and know how to use them – don’t rely on GPS, even if you have backup batteries and chargers.
If you are heading off on your own for the first time, choose a route that isn’t too challenging and that offers plenty of opportunities for hopping off the trail if necessary. This gives you an opportunity to test out your skills, your preparedness, and how much you enjoy the experience, as well as building your confidence.
The five beautiful villages that make up the Cinque Terre on Italy’s Ligurian coast are the perfect spot for this, especially if you choose to go in Spring or Autumn to avoid the worst of the summer heat. These clifftop paths take you past scented lemon and olive groves, vineyards, rocky coastal vistas, and panoramic sea views.
Walk from Monterosso towards Rio Maggiore and you will enjoy the stunning views of the pretty pastel-hued towns as you wander the coastal path towards them. These well-marked, populous routes are a rewarding hike without being too challenging. There are trains and boats connecting the villages, so you can hop off the trail if you need to. You could even take the route in sections and stay at one hotel for the duration of the trail – returning every evening. As well as saving weight in your pack, this gives you the added peace of mind that you know the person who is expecting you to check back in every evening.
If you are used to walking alone and want to extend this to a long-distance route, the GR10 is a great choice. This 538-mile route stretches the length of the Pyrenees from Hendaye on the Bay of Biscay to Banylus-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean.
The entire route requires a commitment of at least 52 days, but with careful planning you can easily enjoy sections of it at a time to create a shorter walk. Late Spring and early Autumn are the best times to enjoy it; without the snows or the punishing sunshine. It has a sister walk on the other side of the Pyrenees, but the French path is better maintained and marked, so is preferable for a solo hike.
It is also dotted with Refugios, staffed CAF cabins, and pastoral huts that offer places to stop or stay, plus, in many sections, hotels just off the route. The beautiful snow-capped peaks, flower-filled mountain meadows, waterfalls and crystal-clear lakes offer perfect moments for contemplation and simply enjoying the scenery for the solo hiker – you can’t feel alone with views like these.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of hiking solo, but aren’t sure where to start, or would like the peace of mind that comes from someone knowing where you are going, a good hybrid approach is to use a professional route planning company to plot and organise your walk.
This enables you to combine the joy of trekking solo through the wilderness with the comforting knowledge that someone knows where you are (or are supposed to be), as well as being able to tailor your itinerary exactly as you want it.
One of Book My Trails’ most popular routes is the South Downs Way. It’s great for international visitors who want to combine a visit to London with an authentic experience of the rural idyll that is the English countryside.
On the 100-mile route that leads from Winchester to Eastbourne, you’ll hike through green river valleys, shaded ancient woodlands and flower-festooned chocolate-box villages, before culminating in the dramatic white chalk cliffs of the south coast.
The great thing about choosing the hybrid approach that Book My Trail offers, is that you can choose from luxury glamping yurts, basic campsites, welcoming country pubs, or luxury guesthouses and hotels, and know that your hosts are expecting you at the end of a tiring day walking – gaining the convenience and peace of mind of a guided walking tour without compromising your schedule or your sense of solitude and achievement.
Ultimately, deciding which approach is right for you will probably come down to the reasons why you are travelling solo and what you want to get from the experience.
The Book My trail team are on hand to help and offer advice if you would find it useful to talk through your trekking goals with us.