As is the case with all outdoor activities, hiking does abide by specific rules which aim at guaranteeing the safety of hikers and climbers as well as reducing your environmental footprint.

If you are a seasoned hiker, you’re probably already familiar with the following. But if you’re just finding out how enticing hiking is, our tips can really come in handy for you. So, are you ready to make the first step?

Choosing the right trail

Picking the right trail isn’t as simple as it initially sounds, and that can frequently cause confusion to beginners and more experienced hikers alike. Successful hiking depends on several factors. If you answer the following questions candidly, then you’ll most probably end up selecting a trail that will both suit your aspirations and your skills while keeping you on the straight and narrow. So:

  • Do you have any prior experience? Are your friends skillful enough?
  • Have you allowed enough time for your outings?
  • What’s the elevation change, length and the difficulty level of the trails you’re considering to hike on?
  • Would you rather hike on a trail with signage or you think you can plot your course on less distinctly visible ones?
  • What’s the landscape you want to wander into?
  • Have you checked the weather forecast?
  • How will you get to the trail and how are you planning to get back?

Key points

A wide range of hiking equipment items available in specialized stores can allow for a pleasant and safe expedition up the mountain. If spending a fortune on hiking equipment doesn’t ring that well, you can initially opt for the basics and gradually work your way up to more exclusive things based on your needs.

  • Shoes. Quality shoes are definitely the items worth investing in. If you’re planning to take up mountain hiking, shop for booties rather than conventional shoes, since the former provide greater stability and can safeguard you against potential injuries. The lighter and more pliable they are, the more comfortable your hike is going to be.
  • Water. Heavy as it may be to carry around, water is vitally important while hiking, since it makes up for the water loss caused by sweating. One and a half liter should see you through a medium difficulty winter hike, but in summer you may need to double that. Keep in mind that getting to the end with water to spare is preferable to running out of it and make sure you drink it in modest sips rather than huge gulps.
  • Clothing. Comfortable hiking pants, sweat-proof shirts, proper socks (neither very warm nor very thin) and an appropriate jacket can make for truly enjoyable outings. There is, after all, a wide array of options available. It advisable that you always carry a lightweight windcheater with you, since weather in the mountains can get very unpredictable, winter or summer.
  • Snacks. When hiking, it is vital that you take a couple of well-judged breaks so as to catch your breath and regain your strength. Energy bars, dried-fig bars (“pastelaria”), unsalted nuts, fruits –preferably bananas– are sensible snacks, easy to carry around and sure to replenish your energy.
  • Navigation accessories. If you opt for hiking alone on the mountains, it is imperative that you be equipped with either a map and a compass or an orientation device. Today, every modern cellphone comes with gps, though a malfunctioning device or a drained battery can render that feature pointless.
  • Protect your skin from the sun. Areas receiving long hours of sunshine (Chios certainly falls into that category!) can spring nasty sunburn surprises, especially during summer, and turn a casual outing into a troublesome experience. Hats equipped with protective neck curtains along with face and body sunscreen can allow for enjoyable summer hiking while sparing you from the pain associated with sunburns or sunstrokes.
  • Backpack. Backpacks are essential for carrying around everything you need for your outings. They come in various sizes, depending on how hard and how long you’re planning on hiking. A twenty-liter backpack is usually more than enough when hiking in summer, although it may prove to be slightly inadequate for the increased winter clothing needs.
  • Hike safely. As with all sorts of outdoor physical activities, dangers are inherent in hiking. If you choose to hike on your own, it is advisable that you not only carry a small first-aid box with you but you also have working knowledge of first aid procedures. However, in the event of an emergency, the following phone numbers may come in handy: Emergency Services 112, Fire Department 199, E.M.S. 166.

Don’t go overboard

One of the greatest virtues every sensible hiker should have to avoid getting into trouble is self-control. Don’t let yourself get carried away but rather stick to the following guidelines, which can promote safe and pleasurable hiking for everyone involved:

  • Don’t exceed your limits. It is indeed enticing to make it to the next peak, but are you sure you’ll be able to get there and hike down before sunset? Never underestimate the time available, the endurance levels of the less fit, or an unexpected mishap. Don’t hike on your own.
  • Don’t get off the beaten track. There must be a good reason why the trail follows that particular course. Going off trail might result in disorientation, inconvenience or even injury while also potentially disturbing plants or animals and causing multiple routes to appear.
  • Leave No Trace. When hiking, it is vital that everyone minimize their environmental footprint. Respect nature and wildlife, don’t litter, try not to cause damage to historic monuments and, as a rule of thumb, make sure you leave everything the way you found it. You are, however, allowed to take pictures –or trash that other hikers “happened” to leave behind.
  • You’re not the only ones out there. If you run into other hikers along the way, treat them with respect. Do not harass them, do not disturb, help those in need. Always keep in mind that those ascending (or those facing a troublesome situation) should get right of way in tight and tricky spots.

Turn to the locals for advice

So, you’re eager to explore the mountains of Chios, and your online research did yield a promising trail. Are you sure that the trail’s condition is still the same? You see, older posts may not reflect its current state, since it’s highly likely for trails to be reclaimed by nature or drop out of sight due to neglect. Locals –those with a sound knowledge of the surroundings– can hand over invaluable relevant information which can save you of unpleasant experiences.

Those best acquainted with nature are retired shepherds you may bump into while wandering in the villages. Not only are they familiar with every nook and cranny of the mountains, but they can also relate fascinating stories of life on the mountains. If you’re lucky enough to run into a shepherd willing to show you a trail, don’t let the opportunity slip through your fingers; it’s guaranteed to be a very original experience. On top of that, local hiking aficionados are likely to possess up-to-date information on the trails’ condition, or even recommend interesting paths for which no relevant information is available online.

Those locals do know whether water is still coming out of that mountain source, or whether it has run dry, plus they can show you the best possible vantage point from which to admire the view while letting you in on the most interesting points of every route. After all, it would be a shame to climb all the way up but end up missing out on a memorable part because you just happened not to know about it.


Even if you’re planning on hiking in a group, it would be wise to let someone know about the area you will be walking in or the trail you’re planning to hike on.

When slipping into hiking shoes for the first time, chances are they’re going to feel a bit uncomfortable. This is especially the case with hiking boots, since it’s going to take a while for you to break in them due to their stiff nature. Therefore, make sure you’ve casually walked around in them a little bit to get them nice and soft before you take to the mountains.

Sensible use of your cellphone during hiking is essential so as to avoid disturbing those around you, relish the sounds of nature as well as save up your battery, which can come in very handy in the event of an emergency.

Wild fauna generally avoid contact with humans. Still, coming across a dangerous reptile or insect is not an entirely unlikely scenario. There are 11 different types of snakes on Chios. Ten of them are harmless, yet the Ottoman viper is venomous. That practically means that the hiker leading the pack should be keeping their eyes peeled, whereas all participants should be very cautious about where they choose to sit when taking a rest or when leaning against a rock. Also posing a threat are scorpions coming out of hiding during night looking for food.

Medical fitness is everyone’s personal responsibility. If you’re feeling under the weather on a given day, stay at home to avoid posing trouble to yourself or your friends. Calling it a day and getting cracking once you feel better again is the prudent thing to do.