UA-46324036-2

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

The Path of the Gods and sensible hiking.

All of a sudden it feels like springtime. The sun has come out, temperatures are rising and  Sorrento is slowly emerging from hibernation ready for the new season and its accompanying invasion of tourists.
Over the past couple of years, anyone who lives here will have noticed the sharp increase in visitors. The reasons are manifold, not the least the impact of low cost airlines, Airbnb and relatively cheap alcohol. The fact that we  have Pompeii, Herculaneum, Vesuvius, Capri and the Amalfi Coast on our doorstep no doubt helps!
There are also far more "hikers" walking our paths. 
I say "hikers" because unfortunately  the vast majority are not true hikers at all, but one-off walkers and all here for the same reason: The Path of the Gods.  Second of Trip Advisor's Top Attractions of the Amalfi Coast, it has become  The  Thing To Do.
If you have a look at Trip Advisor and Viator there are numerous guided  tours on sale covering a range of prices and services. what is disconcerting is that many of them do not think to warn potential customers of the nature of this trail and the need for appropriate footwear and a strong head for heights, often rating the walk as easy to moderate.To do Viator justice, in its covering description of the walk, they do mention both the sheer drops and the need for appropriate walking shoes, but the people actually offering these tours generally miss this out. In fact on Viator, of all the tours on sale, just one contained this information. Trip Advisor fared a little better. Strangely enough they all had "Entry/Admission" to the Path as included.. nice one considering that it is free!
A couple of weeks ago we decided to go there for our Sunday hike, thinking that, being February and pretty cold,  we might be lucky and have it to ourselves.  We didn't, although  in all honesty I can't say that it was crowded. There were however far more people than I had expected, the majority  evidently not regular walkers . A lot of photographs were being taken, including selfies, and that is fine and perfectly acceptable, however apart from blocking the path  until they were satisfied with the shot, they would then amble along at snail's pace, a bit like Sunday drivers! I dread to think what it will be like in a few weeks' time and over the coming months. If the Amalfi Coast has problems with traffic congestion, The Path is no better.
More worrying was the fact that many were  wearing shoes  more suited to city pavements than a rough hiking trail. 
And this brings me on to the second point of this blog. Two days ago the local press reported  two separate emergencies on our trails. The first regarded a couple who had got lost up in the hills behind Agerola. The second referred to a minor injury along the Path of the Gods. Not wanting to be pessimistic,  I am sure that there will be many more this summer, the majority of which will be due to the incompetency of the individual "hiker" who ventures forth unprepared and poorly equipped. After all, if the very people selling hikes omit basic and essential information, what hope have we? 
Accidents can happen, especially on the kind of terrain that we have here. However wearing ballerina shoes or flip-flops is  tempting fate, as is staring into the screen of a phone as you are  walking along the trail or stepping to the  edge of a precipice to get a better shot. If you are venturing into unknown territory, take a map, let people know where you are going,
or even better hire one of our excellent local guides, rather than tempting fate and ending up on the front page of Positano News!


UA-46324036-2