Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Let's face it. We are not out of the pandemic just yet. The COVID curves are all over the place, flattening for a bit then picking up life again as the virus comes at us again and again in waves. Several countries are back in lockdown and several others are taking things cautiously, being prudent with what they allow and what they don't.
And rightly so, we are nowhere near done yet.
Luckily for me though, this time under forced travel restrictions has not been quite as tough. For someone who travels so frequently, owns a 'perpetually in transit' blog, it could have been 'oh so tough' indeed.
But thankfully, I discovered the joys of hiking during this period and it has indeed kept me sane. So here are the 5 reasons why I think hiking should be something that everyone should take up in 2021. And these 5 reasons to take up hiking apply to everyone with reasonable fitness levels.
We have all become our most unfit selves during these few months. What with gyms being closed for the most part of the year, social exercising or even running outside being restricted in some places, and even the whole 'work from home' situation that most of us have coped with this year, this comes as no surprise.
Hiking, in a socially-distanced manner, at uncrowded outdoor locations, is a great way to get your exercise safely. There are several great hiking destinations here in South Africa (where I am based) and that, of course, makes picking new destinations just as fun too.
2. Fresh Air
Cooped up inside our own homes was never how life was intended to be for any of us. And yet this pandemic has forced us indoors like little else has. Hiking is the one outlet that lets you get out and enjoy fresh air and sunshine without having to deal with crowds or having to deal with the fear of getting exposed to the virus.
3. Mental Health
Not everyone has the luxury of living in a home with an outdoor space or private garden. And fresh air and sunshine is vital for mental helath. Far too many people live in apartments that may not have access to any open outdoor scenery. And as this pandemic has forced us indoors, imagine the mental and psychological hit your brains have been taking with just your walls, a few good paintings and your Netflix for company.
Hiking is that outlet where you can uplift your spirits and refresh your mind.
4. Alternate Travel
Most countries, cities and destinations have controls regarding travel and tourism at the moment. Experts predict that for travel to become normal all around the world will take time and things should only start normalizing around mid 2021. Does that mean that there are just no travel avenues for travel addicts like me?
Of course not. As I have delightfully discovered. As inter-state travel opened up in South Africa, my access to hiking trails which were once limited to Johannesburg have now opened up to other alternatives in North West province, Limpopo and even as far as Kwa Zulu Natal or Mpumalanga.
Even better, I pick overnight trails, take along my camping gear and convince my sister to join in. Voila! It is travel, yet without the 'travel'; for we drive down to the location, park our cars and then enjoy a good bout of hiking, camping and fun.
Hiking is a very versatile activity. Of course, in the present scenario, you'll be doing it yourself or with your immediate family. But once things get better, and of course you'll be hooked onto hiking by then, you can make it into a group outing with your friends, colleagues or even strangers! Yes, connecting with other hiking enthusiasts and making new like-minded friends is a indeed thing! Who says, you can't make new friends in the times of this pandemic.
If these 5 reasons to take up hiking are not enough to convince you, get in touch with me and I'll give you more compelling reasons to hike (with pictures) than any other article out there, and if you're in South Africa, check these 3 top hikes near Johannesburg. Reach out to me via Facebook on my personal profile or business page. The name's Sayali Bedekar Patil, and thankfully, there's only one of me there. Yay!
Cheers, until next time.
Sayali is a travel blogger and web content strategist. She has recently started her new venture YOTRIPP, which intends to connect travellers with destinations, hotels and tours. YOTRIPP is a great place to get destination inspiration and free-custom itineraries for travellers. For hotels and tour operators, YOTRIPP offers white label social media marketing and custom digital marketing solutions. Get in touch via Facebook to get the deets.