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We hear lots about thrill seekers who are planning their next adrenalin fix on a bigger mountain or across a deeper ravine. What about those of us who dream of scaling such dizzy heights but don’t know where to start?

Activity holidays don’t have to mean attempts at scaling impossible heights for fear of feeling inferior to your friends. If you are fit it’s possible to get started quickly and build up to the more challenging peaks in your own time.

Here are some tips for first time trekkers and some suggestions for climbs to help you build-up to that all-important experience.

Tip One: You must be fit. Trekking isn’t simply a tough walk. It is a challenging activity. If you are suffering from even a slight cold do not attempt to climb. A cold or respiratory infection will only worsen as you do.

Mount Kilimanjaro – the Rongai Route

Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most popular and much travelled routes for trekkers starting out but just because a multitude of celebs have successfully managed it don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. It is tough. For a determined newbie, the Rongai Route is the ‘easiest’ of all of Kilimanjaro’s ascents with a relatively gentle gradient and you can trek in short daily stages. You can also take an extra day to acclimatise as the trail starts to climb beneath Mawenzi. The final ascent is the major challenge and is usually made in darkness to enable you to view the dazzling glaciers and ice cliffs at the summit in their best perspective which is usually at dawn. You’ll have a chance to relax before a gentle descent. Tip: The key to succeeding is to pace yourself throughout your trek.

Tip Two: Travel as lightly as you can. Trekking tours can often present porters to assist with your backpacks however, your luggage is ultimately your responsibility. Check with your tour operator on what to take and follow their advice. They are the experts; until you are experienced enough to make your own call adhere strictly to their advice.

The High Atlas Mountains of Morocco

The High Atlas Mountains have long been a favourite of trekkers but they are also ideal for lovers of road trips and challenging cycling holidays. It’s probably best to have successfully completed a couple of smaller treks first before attempting this one. It’s allegedly more challenging than say Mount Kilimanjaro but not as tough as the Alps and it’s ideal for trekkers who are keen to get used to acclimatising at high altitude. The High Atlas Mountains are Africa’s largest mountain range and will take you to just over 12,000 feet.

Tip Three: Know Your Limits. Understand when you are ready to step up to the next level. For the peak below it’s best to have one or two climbs under your belt.

Mount Elbrus

Located on the Georgian/Russian border, Mount Elbrus is the tallest mountain in Europe and is steeped in history and legend. It was to this mountain that the Titan Prometheus – depicted in the ancient Greek play Prometheus Bound - was chained by Zeus as punishment for stealing fire from the Gods to give to mankind. In modern times it was also much fought over by the Russians and the Germans during the Second World War. Bringing us back to the present day, Mount Elbrus is now equipped with a cable car to take less experienced climbers up to 12,500 feet. The remainder of the journey (another 6,000 feet) must be done on foot. Ensure you have all the relevant equipment and it’s recommended that less confident climbers should use ropes even on the slightest of gradients.

Final Advice

As you are beginning your journey into the world of trekking don’t be daunted if you fail at the first attempt or don’t feel able to continue to your first peak. A reputable tour operator will ensure there are points along the trek that you can remain and wait for your fellow trekkers to return. It is not an easy task but with perseverance and experience you will become a seasoned trekker.

Guest author: Kate Smedley is definitely not fit enough to attempt activity holidays like this but will keep trying!

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