So what is the difference between hiking and trekking, hiking vs trekking! The terms seem to be used interchangeably on many websites and travel books. It becomes even more confusing when some companies sell their boots as “trekking boots” and then explain that they can be used on long hikes. And when is a walk a trek and when is it a hike?
It becomes even more confusing when the word trekking refers to the ascent of a mountain, such as Island Peak or Mera Peak in Nepal, which are both over 6000 meters high and both require the use of technical climbing equipment. How can they be called “trekking peaks”?
The term “hiking” is often used to describe day hikes in nature on clearly marked trails. It is used for leisure, recreation and the purpose of the movement. A small daypack is used to carry water, light fleece, and snacks. In places like Canada and New Zealand, the term is often used interchangeably with hiking, mountain walking or hitchhiking.
Trekking, on the other hand, is considered more strenuous, overcomes greater distances on different terrains and requires staying overnight and carrying heavy backpacks of food, sleeping bags, and equipment. The term actually derives from the Afrikaans work trek, which is derived from the Dutch word trecken and refers to a long and arduous journey over long distances and often unchartered terrain. It is often associated with the migration of people overland from one area to another.
Does this then mean that a difficult day hike, over rough ground and through a dense forest without paths, is a hike? In Australia, they would call it bush cutting, and in other places, they would call it punching. If you visit the mountain gorilla in Rwanda or Uganda, it is a one-day hike, but through dense forest, over very uneven and difficult terrain. No wonder there is so much confusion.
But let’s not end the confusion there. Anyone who has tried to take out travel insurance to cover their “trekking” or “hiking” trip will find that these activities are often referred to as “dangerous activities”. In fact, some insurance companies even use flat-rate terms such as hiking and mountaineering together because they can be used interchangeably or are synonymous with them. There are other companies that classify all hikes above 2000 m as mountaineering. I’m sorry about Scotland, but it means that your famous peak, Ben Nevis (1352m), is not a mountain but just a trekking peak?
Perhaps it is the best way to consider that a trek is usually completed over several days, consisting of hiking, mountain hiking, hitchhiking and bush picking.
Does it really matter at the end of the day? It’s about semantics and interpretation. The most important thing is that you enjoy it.
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