Hiking is becoming more and more popular. Especially in times of Corona, more and more people want to spend time in nature and switch off from everyday life at home. Sounds like a good thing at first, but the more people flee to nature, the more endangered it becomes. Even before Corona, certain very popular tourist regions or places suffered from masses of tourists. It is therefore clear that it is becoming even more important to act in a sustainable way when hiking in order to leave as little impact on nature as possible.
However, if you follow these tips for sustainable hiking, it is definitely possible:
1. The journey
It all starts with the journey to your starting point. If you travel there alone by car, this is obviously not sustainable. Therefore, if possible, take public transportation such as buses or trains. For the very sporty ones, it might also be an option to combine the hike with a bike ride to get to the starting point.
Sustainability should also be considered when it comes to clothing and equipment. First of all, the less you buy new, the better. Especially if you are a hiking beginner, you don’t have to stock up on all your equipment. Normal sportswear is usually sufficient and everything else, such as special hiking backpacks, can be rented. However, you should pay attention to the quality of the shoes. Hiking shoes are essential for hiking and should therefore be chosen well so that you can enjoy them for a long time. In general, when you buy new things, make sure they are of good quality and made from recycled and sustainable materials.
3. Rubbish and meals
Sounds obvious, but unfortunately it is not. Regularly, you see rubbish, leftover food such as fruit peels or tissues lying by the path. That is why you should always take a rubbish bag with you when you go hiking so that you can dispose of the rubbish at home.
In general, to avoid rubbish, you should reach for snacks such as fruit, vegetables or homemade cereal bars without packaging. And of course, it is always a good idea to have a refillable water bottle with you.
This applies to nature, to animals, but also to fellow human beings.
To be considerate towards animals, you should not leave paths and avoid walking at dusk and in the dark. It is also important to keep your distance from the animals and never feed them. Avoiding noise is just as important, not only for the animals, but also for other people who want to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. That you change as little as possible in nature should also be a matter of course. No flowers should be picked, branches broken, or things taken as souvenirs.
5. Avoid crowded places
The more hikers, the greater the impact on nature. That is why you should choose a place for your hike that is not so well-known and crowded. This is not only better for nature, but you can also enjoy the peace and tranquillity.
Example: Machu Picchu
One of those much visited and crowded places is Machu Picchu. For most, the Inca site is at the top of their bucket list. Lisa from our socialbnb community was also there and noticed, that Machu Picchu is no place to go for a relaxed hike or to enjoy the peace and tranquillity.
There are two ways to visit the spectacular site: Either you take the tourist buses, or you hike. The most popular hiking route is the Inca Trail. Unfortunately, just like the option of going up by bus, it is quite crowded.
Access to the trail, which must be booked in advance, is only allowed to about 500 visitors a day and only with a guide and in small groups. Permits are booked out months in advance.
But here too are some additional things you can consider making your trip to Machu Picchu more sustainable and, most of all, more relaxed.
First of all, you should consider the possibility of planning your visit not during the peak season from April to October, but in the peripheral months. During this time, it might rain more often than during the main tourist season, but there are also fewer tourists on the road. The hike is not recommended from December to March, as this is the rainy season. In addition, the trail is closed in February for maintenance work.
However, there are also alternative hiking routes that lead to Machu Picchu. The Salkantay Trek, for example, is very spectacular but not as crowded as the Inca Trail, although this could also have to do with the fact that the hike is much more demanding.
For most, this will certainly not be an option, but there are also alternative attractions to Machu Picchu. If you want to visit an Inca site in the mountains of Peru but without the tourist hustle and bustle of Machu Picchu, you can alternatively hike to the ruined city of Choquequirao. It is located at an altitude of about 3,000 metres, is built similarly to Machu Picchu and can be reached in a hike of three to four days.
We hope that these tips have inspired you for your next hiking trip! If you want to learn more about traveling in Peru, you should read through this travel experience!