As an avid hiker, you might think you know all there is to know about lacing up your boots and heading into the great outdoors – but when it comes to exploring new areas, it pays to be prepared.
Unpredictable weather changes and miles of barren land can make the Canary Islands a dangerous place for inexperienced hikers – and that’s why we rely on tips from the Lanzarote locals when planning trips, regardless of how far or long we plan to be out.
- Dress for the occasion
Any hiker will know the importance of suitable clothing when hiking but, in hotter climates, it can often be more challenging to find walking wear that’s both practical and comfortable when worn in the sun. As tempting as it may be to wear open-toed footwear in the 20-30°C heat, this can lead to a number of risks – including sunburn and cut feet, not to mention a lack of grip for slippery rocks and uphill climbs. Lace-up hiking shoes and socks should be worn when taking on any sort of climb, providing the wearer with maximum support when tackling challenging terrain.
Protecting other areas of your body is crucial, too. From a hat to shield you from the Sun’s strong rays to a waterproof jacket for when the weather turns sour, it pays to be over-prepared when hiking in lesser-known areas. There may be limited space in your backpack, but you’ll be pleased you shouldered the extra weight when it comes to getting caught out on a deserted hillside.
- Beware of the weather
Even the sunniest climates can experience shifts in weather and, on the Canary Islands, an overcast day can soon lead to a deluge of rain. With this in mind, it’s worth checking the forecast before you head off on your trek, as finding yourself stranded on a muddy hillside can significantly hinder your walking experience.
While not always accurate, a forecast will give you a guide to any predicted weather changes – and you can use this to inform your route. If you’re planning to head into the mountains for a week of hiking, it’s worth choosing a time of year with little chance of rain. A downpour while out hiking or camping will no doubt dampen the party’s spirits – so, where possible, plan your trip around the elements.
- Schedule in water stops
While it goes without saying that you should never set off on a hike unless you’re armed with plenty of water, it’s unlikely that your supplies will see you through the entire trip. With this in mind, scheduled stops throughout the day will allow you to top up your provisions and take stock of how the hike is going.
Whether you’re hiking in a pair or as part of a larger party, it’s important to ensure everyone stays hydrated throughout the day. Don’t be misled by a cloudy day, as the heightened temperatures can still lead to dehydration – which can be dangerous, particularly when hiking up in the mountains far from civilization.
- Don’t leave valuables behind
Whether it’s a one-day hike before returning to your villa or you’re backpacking your way around the islands, keeping your valuables tucked safely away will give you peace of mind – leaving you free to enjoy the adventure. Top tips include storing valuables in different places (e.g. in your backpack, inside your socks and in your tent) to ensure that you’ll still have access to important items even if some of your possessions are lost.
If you’re camping overnight, avoid leaving your campsite unoccupied at any given time. Instead, as you move, move your camping equipment with you. This way, you can minimize the risk of any crucial kit going missing or being damaged by wild animals – and, in turn, reduce the chances of having to cut your trip short.
- Plan your routes
Reliance on Google maps just won’t cut it when you’re thousands of feet above sea level without a phone signal, so plan your route in advance and keep a couple of hard copies handy – preferably in separate backpacks, in case one goes missing. As mentioned above, water supplies will quickly run short in the heat, so plan your route around areas you know supply water.
Frompitstops at village pubs to pitching up overnight in local fishing ports, these stop-offs will allow your hiking party to rest and refuel. With temperatures known to hit the late 30s in July and August, an afternoon spent under the shelter of a restaurant will give you and your party some welcome relief from the Sun’s penetrating rays.
With miles of sandy beaches and unexplored forests, the Canary Islands offer a truly magical experience for hikers of all abilities – and with our tips, you can make the most of this unforgettable adventure.
Originally written Optima Villas.