Make Your Hikes More Meaningful with the UNHCR

IMAGE Elyssa Christine Lopez

Thanks to the wealth of information now available online, hiking in the Philippines has become easier and more accessible to Filipinos. Compared to a decade ago, when most thought the activity was exclusively for veteran hikers and outdoorsy types, even couch potatoes have gone on a mountain hike at least once in their lives.

Before the influx of hiking blogs and videos, Trail Adventours was one of the travel agencies that made hiking more accessible in the country. Founded in 2009 by brothers Coby and Guido Sarreal, the company has been leading hikes in different parts of the Philippines with the help of at least 40 guides.

With its expertise in the industry, it is only fitting that the local office of the United Nations and High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) tapped Trail Adventours to lead a hike, every third Sunday of each month, for the benefit of the 2 Billion Kilometers to Safety campaign.


“We wanted our hikes to be more than just going somewhere. We’ve always wanted to contribute to the communities we go to and go on hikes that are more meaningful. And when we this came to us, it was a perfect thing,” Guido shared with Esquire Philippines on a day hike with the press in Mount Nagpatong in Tanay, Rizal.

According to the UNHCR, refugees, who flee their troubled homes, travel at least two billion kilometers annually. That distance can bring you from the earth to the sun and back six times. What’s more troubling is that, every two seconds, someone in the world gets displaced and becomes a refugee.

Unknown to most Filipinos, there are a number of refugees seeking refuge in the country and calling the Philippines their new homes. The UNHCR did not share definite numbers, but it says the country has been welcoming the displaced since the 1920s.

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The campaign aims to shed light on the plight of refugees, a crisis that seems to see no definite solution in the near future as unrest in different parts of the world continue. But the UNHCR hopes the issue will become more relevant for people on this side of the world with this act of solidarity.

To participate in the campaign, anyone who goes on runs, hikes, or cycles, as either a form of exercise or part of their commute, can log the kilometers they have traveled on the 2 Billion Kilometers to Safety website. Since it was launched in February, the campaign has recorded more than two million kilometers from users worldwide.

With UNHCR-Philippines’ partnership with Travel Adventours, more Filipinos, especially those who are seeking something new to do, may find meaning in the travels they make. The group has previously led seven hikes for the campaign, logging in more than 1,600 kilometers for the cause.


“I think, it’s really an opportunity for us to make our hikes more meaningful. Imagine, others travel millions of kilometers just to get to safety, and here we are hiking just because we like it. It’s a good way to put things in perspective when we go on hikes, especially when things get hard on the trail,” Guido added.

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Elyssa Christine Lopez
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Esquire. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz
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