“Walking is man’s best medicine” – Hippocrates
So you’ve made the decision you want to do a hiking holiday this year? Congratulations! Your body, mind and soul will thank you. However, a certain level of hiking fitness and preparation will help you to get the most out of your holiday.
To help you on your way, we have compiled a list of our top hiking fitness tips and some information that will help you navigate your way around hiking in the Canary Islands.
Hiking Fitness Top Tips
If you have never been on a hiking holiday, you are in for a treat! But beware there are certain things you need to prepare before going.
Feeling physically fit and being medically fit (as discussed with your doctor) is the priority before going hiking anywhere. So get yourself checked if you have any doubts about your ability to hike long or short distances.
If you are a little out of shape, don’t worry! There are plenty of hiking fitness apps and fitness guides for getting hiking-ready. Some examples would be MapMyHike and MyFitnessPal. For Caminoways.com we also compiled a Camino de Santiago Fitness Ebook which could help with basic training for walking.
Hiking Fitness Training: The 5 basics
We recommend you begin training for your hiking holiday around 3-6 months in advance at a minimum.
Walking and stretching is the best way to train and to build up your fitness – we recommend you do this gradually.
- Start by walking for 30 minutes 2/3 times a week.
- Build it up slowly until you can walk for 2 hours at a good pace while holding a conversation and comfortably have enough breath left in the tank afterward.
- Stretching is equally important to walking – it is important to warm up and warm down before every hike.
- Our top stretches for hiking are lunges, squats, leg curls, and lateral stretches for the back.
- Yoga and Pilates and both excellent workouts to enhance your hiking abilities and strengthen your muscles. These exercises also focus on breathing and being able to control your breathing is essential to hiking fitness.
Hiking in the Canaries: Advice before you go
Weather: When most people think of the Canary Islands they think of sun, sea, and sand. However, the reality is that there are many different micro-climates and you need to prepare for all types of weather. In general, the Canaries are very pleasant for hiking, never getting too hot or too cold but you can expect mixed weather with cloudy and rainy conditions, depending on where you are on the islands. Always bring rain gear!
Hiking Gear: Hiking/Walking Poles, hiking shoes, rain gear, and sun protection are all essentials. Try to use your hiking shoes as part of your training so you will wear them in and avoid blisters! In addition to good hiking shoes, good hiking socks are essential and although they are pricey, we recommend Merino Wool socks. As someone who has used them before to hike in Tenerife, I can highly recommend them.
What to bring in your pack: You should always pack like you could be gone from your hotel for 24 hours. Pack sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a rain poncho, spare socks, first aid equipment, portable battery charger for your phone, plenty of water, and bring a full array of snacks to keep you going as your hike may be very remote. Good snacks are nuts, fruit, and protein bars which don’t take up a lot of room in your pack but are high energy. Practice walking with your pack before going to see how it feels.
Hiking Nutrition: We have previously written about food on the Canary Islands. Food and nutrition is an essential ingredient in any hiking adventure. It’s not about cutting back on food, it’s about eating the right food and knowing the effects of that food on your energy levels. Stocking up on healthy carbs, fats, and proteins at breakfast can be extremely beneficial. For me, a breakfast staple is porridge and eggs. I also make a little ham and cheese sandwich at breakfast to bring with me in my pack.
Maps & Walking Notes: We provide you with detailed downloadable walking notes and maps of the hiking trails before you go. However, we strongly advise that you read the notes and read the map prior to embarking on your hike. Good preparation means you can plan where to rest, where to eat etc. Preparation (and not getting lost) makes for a more enjoyable experience.
*Another tip is to check with your phone provider that you have an adequate data plan before you go. Wi-Fi is not 100% reliable. And if there are areas without 4G (which there are in remote areas) make sure you have what you need for your hike pre-downloaded to your phone with a full battery. Bring a portable charger if you are worried about your battery being low.
Safety advice: Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. This can be the person in the reception at your hotel. They can also give you tips for enjoying your trip. Always check the weather before leaving your hotel and ensure you are not walking anywhere which has a weather alert.
All in all the Canary Islands have some excellent hiking and are one of the best-hiking destinations in the world. Happy hiking!
If you would like to talk to a member of our team about choosing your next Canary Islands hiking route, please contact us via the form below: