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Is Etna a good place for doing trekking? And what about hiking? But are they not the same thing? No, actually trekking and hiking are not the same sporting activity. Even if initially, mistakenly, you might believe that it was the same thing but indicated with different terms (English and American), today you know that there is a – even subtle – difference… . Let’s see what it consists of, and above all whether both activities can really be done on our volcano.

Trekking, or an experiential walk

The word “Trek” comes from a South African term, in that mixed language English-Dutch-Tribal dialects they speak in the southernmost nation in Africa. It indicates the “great displacement” to which the farmers of Dutch origin were forced when the new English rulers imposed themselves on their territory. Oppressed with unjust laws, the farmers began to move long distances in search of new lands, as far away as possible from the British.

Therefore “trekking” is a sport that developed in South Africa based on the memory of those long migrations. It actually consists of walking in search of something, walking for experiential purposes. You don’t walk for the sake of just moving around, but to learn and discover new things. The aim of those who trek is to walk to absorb any stimulus coming from nature, transforming the journey on foot almost into a sacred moment.

TREKKING HIKING ETNA 2Trekking may last a long time, going from a few hours or even several days. But it can be suitable for everyone, in fact, depending on the route, even families with children can go on long treks without effort.

Hiking, or struggling towards glory

Initially hiking was a synonym of trekking. An “Americanization” of the word (from “to hike up”, i.e. climb) linked to going on an excursion in nature. Soon, however, the activity of hiking differed from trekking especially in terms of duration and effort.

In fact, hiking certainly requires great training and a habit of climbing big slopes and great heights. Hiking routes are almost always mountain routes, with significant gradients, to be completed within a few hours. Overnight stay is not foreseen for hiking, while for trekking it can also be included. Those who hike give their best, make maximum effort to complete the journey to their destination. More than getting satisfaction from nature, you get satisfaction from pushing your own limits.

Trekking and Hiking on Etna

The entire Mount Etna area is perfect for trekking. From the route lasting a few hours (Sartorius craters, Schiena dell’Asino path) to the one that lasts half a day (Tiparossa path, Galvarina path), up to trekking divided over several days. In fact, you can also travel around Etna as a “ring” with a trekking trip that lasts about three days, including overnight stays. The woods, the cold lavas and the lava gullies allow you to do different types of trekking, of varying difficulty and suitable for everyone.

Hiking also finds ample space on our volcano, particularly in the summit part. Crossing Valle del Bove on foot is an undertaking for true “hikers”, as is reaching the summit craters on foot from the cableway station. Reaching the Grotto of Ice, among the rugged slopes of the northern side, is a very hard and very exciting hiking route at the same time.

The suggestion, both for trekking and hiking, is to do them accompanied by expert local guides. Etna is an active volcano and tackling it alone, if you are not familiar with the places, may also involve risks to your life.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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