Self-Guided Trekking Tips
Just as there are a number of different walks to choose from, there are also a number of different ways to walk. Whether you want the convenience, security and knowledge that a guided trek provides, or the independence, flexibility and freedom of a self guided trip, there are a number of benefits to both guided and self guided tours.
Self-guided trips are perfect if you are looking to challenge yourself a little more, to find peace and quiet in nature or to learn a thing or two about yourself and the world around you. With self-guided treks, you are able to move at your own pace, whether that means waking up for the sunrise every morning and setting off early or having a longer lunch break with an included nap to help spike your energy levels for the afternoon’s trek. And there’s nothing better than spending a few days out in the bush on your own or with a group of friends. Ask any trekker and they will agree that as the world grows larger around us, the everyday trivial annoyances of work, commuting or even home life seem minute when you are out trekking in the wilderness.
Follow our tips on how to stay safe on a self-guided trek to ensure you have the best experience possible. View our self guided trips here.
Stay hydrated – carry plenty of water
At home, water is usually no concern. We walk from our chair/bed/lounge to the tap, turn it on and voilá: it´s running! When you are on the trail, water may not be as easy to find – and the last thing you want when you are out in the bush is to run out of water!
From initial symptoms of thirst, soon followed by dizziness and fatigue, dehydration can be a critical health concern, particularly for independent trekkers. So make sure you carry plenty of water at the start of the day, enough to last you until your next guaranteed water source, and stay hydrated by drinking small sips frequently during your trek. If you notice that you are urinating less frequently, or that you have dark-colored urine or become light headed, confused or weak, re-hydrate yourself immediately. Check out our trekking hydration tips for more information.
Additional tip: If you encounter a fresh water source on the trail, do not drink the water unless you have been told it is safe to do so. Water can contain bacteria which can lead to serious illness, if the water is consumed without proper prior treatment.
Don’t approach animals in the wild
If you are walking in a rugged and remote location, remember that you are a visitor in the area, and that the animals that you encounter live in the area. Always respect the wildlife and observe from a distance. Feeding animals along the trail is a BIG no-no, as once animals learn to depend on human visitors for their food, they rely less on their natural hunting and foraging behaviours. This loss of self-sufficiency can put them in danger once the trekking season finishes.
To protect your food and the local wildlife, store your food in airtight containers, never leave food out at night time, and be careful not to leave food residue on the trail or at your campsite. And of course, if you encounter any wildlife along the trail, give it a wide berth and do not under any circumstances approach the animal – especially if it is a mother and her offspring.
So, keep your distance and observe wildlife from afar. Disturbing an animal in their natural habitat can not only lead to the animal’s aggression toward you, but can also inflict harm to the animal, when you disturb them in an area that they had previously considered a ‘safe space’. Some animals might start avoiding certain water sources etc. if they are disturbed in that area several times. In this way, you can disturb and change their natural behavior, which can have yet dire consequences for the environment around you.
Additional tip: If you see berries or plants on the trail that look like they might taste delicious, resist the urge to eat them – they may be poisonous.
Consult your doctor before your trip
This is one of the most important things to do before a self-guided trek. When you are on your own, you are responsible for your own health and safety and multi-day self-guided hikes can be strenuous for your body and mind. This is why we recommend you consult your doctor before booking and/or embarking on a self-guided trip to ensure you are in the right physical, mental and emotional condition to be complete the whole trek. That way you can embark on your trip, fit and fresh and your self-guided walk will be the great adventure you were hoping for.
Get help from experts
Just because you’re on a self-guided trip, it doesn’t mean you have to be ‘on your own’. Tasmanian Expeditions offers select self-guided departures that have all of the logistics organized for you, including transfers, meals, equipment, directions, permits and fees – so you can enjoy the scenery and surrounds on your own terms. Our self guided trips begin with an orientation session; your chance to ask our expert staff as many questions as you want about the route, destination, logistics and more. Once you’re off and away on your journey, you can take comfort in that the detailed maps and route notes will get you from A to B in ease. Feeling stuck? Our support staff are only a call away. Find out more about what self-guided tips are available here.
Know who to call
While you can take all the precautions in the world, some incidents can’t be avoided. Before you embark on your trek, ensure you have your emergency numbers and emergency phone accessible in your pack in case an incident occurs. A sprained ankle, a spider bite or taking the wrong turn and getting lost are all threats to your health and can require emergency or support services assistance. Tasmanian Expeditions self-guided tours always offer 24/7 emergency support services in case of incident, so do not hesitate to call our emergency line if you feel as though you need assistance, guidance or additional support. After all, our primary concern is your safety.
Carry enough supplies
You’ll be hard pressed to find a supermarkets or water tap in the bush, so prior to setting out on your trip, ensure you have enough food and water for your entire expedition. Our self-guided tours include meals for our clients, taking into consideration how much food to eat, what types of meals to have, as well as recommended quantity and quality of meals to ensure you are consuming enough energy and nutrients during your time on the trail. Catering for all dietary requirements, your pre-planned meals on self-guided treks ensure you will have enough energy to enjoy your trek, whilst limiting pack weight.
Temperatures can change rapidly in certain areas, especially in Tasmania. It’s not uncommon to have a beautiful sunny day along the Overland Track in summer, only for the next day to experience freezing temperatures and snowfall! With this in mind, even if the weather forecast for your trip says that you can expect a week of warm, sunny days, make sure to take enough layers with you to keep warm in case the temperature drops. We recommend bringing multiple layers of clothing to help you stay warm, comfortable and prepared for any weather while on a self-guided trek. Check out our gear guide on how to layer your clothing here.
Watch the weather
On a self-guided walk, it is especially important for your safety to look at a detailed weather forecast before you set out. It is easy to underestimate the forces of the weather when we are safe and sound inside our house. Outside, a change of temperature can have much more severe consequences to how you spend your day (freezing, or enjoying the hike) and your health.
Watch out for heavy rain, lightning storms, bushfires, flooding and extreme heat and adjust your packing or your plans. You might be lucky and only have adjust your pack with some extra gear for certain scenarios. In other cases such as bushfire dangers or extreme heat, you may have even to change the dates of your trip to avoid serious threats to your health and safety. In any case, if you’re on a Tasmanian Expeditions self-guided trip, don’t hesitate to contact our emergency contact number for 24/7 back up and support in case you have concerns about the weather, your health or safety.