What’s the Difference Between Hiking, Trekking, and Mountaineering?

You hear the words mountaineering, trekking, and hiking used as if they were the same word all the time. The fact is, they’re similar – but very different. I guess they all involve walking outside. But there are some very important differences.

If you’re considering taking an Adventure Tour with us, it’s very important to understand these differences. We want to make sure that what we offer meets your expectations.

The best way to differentiate mountaineering, trekking, and hiking is to understand each activity’s degree of difficulty.


Typically, hiking is considered to be the easiest of these three adventures. Hikers are usually lead on a well-marked trail. Although there are definitely hikes that can be described as moderate to difficult, it’s still the easiest of the three.

Hiking tours are usually half-day to full-day tours. They may be in mountainous areas like the Swiss Alps or Appalachian Trai. The terrain can vary from very steep to flat.

Most hiking tours are measured in round trip hours. You typically start and finish in the same place. Sometimes we loop around and other times we may return on the same path we took initially. There are a few hikes that have unique starting and finishing points. You should always verify the route before you begin a hike.

Another differentiator can be the amount of equipment required for a hike versus a trek or mountaineering adventure. Hiking tours require very little equipment compared to trekking and mountaineering. We will always provide a list of what you need for your hike beforehand. Always be sure to bring lots of water!

Visit our Hiking Page if you’re looking for a list of our best hiking tours.


Trekking is considered to fall between hiking and mountaineering in the degree of difficulty. Trekking tends to be closer to hiking, however. Most treks are longer and more difficult than hikes.

When we say a trek is usually longer, that doesn’t necessarily mean by a matter of hours. Trekking adventures can take in between 10 days and an entire month. Camping equipment is usually required. As is food and a much longer list of equipment.

One of the more popular examples is the Everest Base Camp Trek. It’s a “World Class” 16-day trek through some of the most breathtaking scenery our planet has to offer.

Some trekking adventures provide the option to stay at a small lodge, mountain huts, or in the case of the Everest Base Camp Trek, you may get 4 nights in a bed and breakfast.

It should be clear now why trekking is considered far more challenging than hiking. You will be walking, camping, and even climbing for multiple days in a row.

Unlike hiking trips, Treks will typically start and end at different points. The distances you may travel can vary from 40 km to several hundred kilometers.

Some of our most popular trekking adventures take more than a couple weeks to finish. The Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lake Trek takes you to Mt. Everest’s Base Camp as well as the picturesque Gokyo Lake. This trek is typically completed in 20 days.


Mountaineering is far and away the most challenging adventure tour. It is a very technical method of trekking that takes you to the highest peak(s) in the world. These mountain summits will often time be over 5000 meters above sea level.

Mountaineering trips are also multi-day trips that require a large amount of regimented physical and technical climbing training. The amount of equipment required is more than hiking or trekking. You must also be properly trained on the use of all the equipment as well.

For instance, mountaineers have to understand how to climb on ice with crampons or an ice ax. Many mountains are glaciers with huge cracks and crevices that must be crossed safely. There is a higher element of danger in mountaineering. The weather is also a huge factor in these trips. Surviving massive snowstorms while almost blindly walking on glaciers is not for the faint of heart.

There is always a risk of death in mountaineering. In some locations, the oxygen levels can be so low that your body must be strong enough to endure hours of ascending and descending with low oxygen levels. The human body can be pushed to its absolute limits.

Mountaineering: The Annapurna Base Camp Trek is a good introduction to mountaineering in Nepal. Participants will encounter breathtaking scenery and native culture in this amazing journey. It’s a shorter trip (11 days) rich with culture, the sounds of birds, waterfalls, thundering rivers, and towering snow-capped mountains.

Wrapping Up

Hiking, Trekking, and Mountaineering all wonderful adventure tours for everyone to experience. We love hiking because that’s what ignited our passion for adventure tours. It can be done anywhere in the world, on any day, and will fit every budget.

Trekking is great for long weekends and extended vacations. Adding overnight camping to a tour really helps you to experience the wonderment of being one with nature.

But when we’re feeling bold and ready to conquer the world, mountaineering is in our blood. It can prove to be quite an exciting challenge. Even the training and extended preparation can be extremely rewarding.

Which adventure tour type do YOU like? Let us know in the comments below!


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