Some routes that we walk are more challenging than others due to length, steepness, trail surface, or the amount of pasta you consumed at lunch. Generally speaking, the steeper the path, the slower we go. The following rating guide will help you decide if a tour is right for you. Remember, the ratings are an average for the whole tour, and the individual days may vary slightly. Generally these apply to the routes that we walk in the countryside, on the days when we are exploring towns you can walk as much or as little as you desire. Some walks can be shortened for those who wish an easier day.
Keep in mind that all of these ratings are for people who are fit, and are accomplished walker/hikers. The ratings apply to an average middle-aged walker/hiker, not beginners and not experts. For example, a Moderate rating means that a fit hiker will enjoy the route but not be challenged by it. If you don’t have a history of fitness or hiking, (couch potato), then the Moderate route will be more like the Challenging route to you. Like wise the Challenging route may be more than you can handle. The tour leader will assess your fitness level on the first day or two of the trip. They will then be able to counsel you on what the best route for you may be on certain days, or when a particular walk may be more than you can handle. Please don’t sign up for a hiking trip unless you plan to prepare yourself physically. For your safety and for the group safety, all decisions of the trip leader are final.
Easy We will walk between 3 and 6 miles per day, with mostly flat or gently rolling terrain. Although steps and steep stretches may be encountered, they are not frequent. Surfaces are generally solid, but can have occasional stretches of loose stones or uneven surfaces. Walking times will vary between 2-4 hours. To prepare for this level of hike you should be walking 3-5 miles at least twice a week, with some occasional hills or steps. Try to get off the paved trails occasionally.
Moderate We will walk between 4 and 8 miles per day, with some moderate to steep inclines or steps. Paths will vary from cobblestones and pavement to dirt, rocks, or grass. Surfaces can be loose and uneven, requiring normal balance skills. Some easy scrambling over boulders may be required. Walking times will vary between 2-6 hours. To prepare for this level of hike you should be walking 4-6 miles at least 2 times per week prior to the trip. You’ll want to find some longer hills, steps, and various trail surfaces too. (Not just paved trails.)
Challenging You should be prepared to be able to walk 5-12 miles per day over occasional to frequent steep inclines and declines. You should be able to negotiate any type of trail surface, from loose gravel and fist-sized stones to coarse ash (on volcanic surfaces). Surfaces can be loose and uneven, requiring good balance skills. Paths may be exposed to heights, sunny with no shade, or windy and cold. Walking times will vary between 4-7 hours. To prepare for this type of hike, you should be hiking 5-7 miles at least twice a week prior to the trip. You’ll want to have some steep uphills and downhills, various trail surfaces, and be able to keep up a steady pace.