Where to go hiking
By Samantha Fergusson
Walking is a wonderful way to discover a destination. By travelling through a country on foot you can see views otherwise unnoticed, get to areas otherwise untraveled and simply enjoy a true sense of well-being. Lots of our local partners offer hiking tours, whether that's in the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa, along the Inca Trail of Peru, through the rice terraces and volcanoes of the Philippines or within the soaring Georgian Svaneti highlands. We've picked out some of our other favourite places to go hiking, from Namibia to Japan, and hope that they get you reaching for your walking boots.
China is often associated with cities of soaring skyscrapers and frenetic streets, or fascinating historic sites such as the Great Wall or the famous terracotta army, therefore it generally doesn’t leap to mind as a hiking destination. There are, however, some fantastic trails to be trod through its many magical landscapes.
For a challenge, head to Tiger Leaping Gorge where 30 km of steep rugged trails criss-cross the side of a spectacular mountain valley. If you are after breathtaking views of Asia’s iconic rice paddies then the well signposted trails of the Dragon’s Backbone will take you to panoramic viewpoints, and hikes through the forests and lake-filled valleys of the Siguniangshan National Park will show you a whole other side to China’s landscapes.
The iconic snow-capped cone of Mount Kilimanjaro stands majestically over the plains of Kenya and Tanzania. As the tallest mountain in Africa, it represents one of the top bucket-list activities for travellers all over the world... Climbing Kilimanjaro takes determination and careful preparation, but with the right expertise on tap there is no reason why any fit and healthy traveller can’t manage it.
One of the founders of our local partner company was born and raised in the mountain’s foothills, so you can’t be in better hands when it comes to planning your ascent. There are several different routes to take, but our experts recommend either the popular Machame Route or the lesser known and slightly longer Lemosho Route. Along each you can expect to admire fantastic scenery, waking up each morning and opening your tent to views that change and improve day after day.
This Central Asian gem of a country is a paradise for hikers. Start off in Chon Kemin Valley, were glacial streams are fringed by verdant forest and the summer meadows are blanketed in flowers. To get off the beaten track our local experts can take you to Jyrgalan Valley, home of the Boz Uchuk Trail. This lesser-known trek takes you 58 km over three days through stunning rural scenery where views of snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes and verdant green valleys are worthy of a Sound of Music remake.
Namibia is a land of otherworldly beauty where red sand dunes soar into azure skies, fossilised trees are blackened silhouettes against baked salt pans, and mysterious circles decorate the earth. One of the best ways to explore this beautiful country is on foot and there are ample hiking trails allowing you to do this.
Our local experts have put together a ten-day itinerary that takes you through desert dunes and across vast beautiful plains. Start off on the picturesque Olive Trail which takes you from a plateau with a view into a secretive winding gorge. Hike the Waterkluft Trail for a bit of a different experience - set off following a spring with water pure enough to drink and trek towards a ridge offering stunning views of the Naukluft Mountains, then stop off for a swim or two in one of the beautiful pools on your way back.
Finally, the Tok Tokkie Trail is a three day trek through the NamibRand Nature Reserve. Admire the breathtaking landscapes by day and sleep under the stars at night - NamibRand is a recognised Dark Sky destination meaning the night skies you see here are amongst the most spectacular in the world.
Traditionally linking together the Japanese cities of Kyoto and Tokyo (known as Edo when the route was revitalised in the 17th Century) the Nakasendo Trail is a staggering 322 miles (530 km) long. Lined with inns and medieval villages, it makes for a brilliant way to get off the beaten track in Japan and truly immerse yourself in the peace of the rural areas.
These days you don’t have to walk the entire length in order to visit both cities and get a feel for the beauty of the trail. Make the most of Japan’s fantastic railways to cover the ground in leaps and bounds, stopping to walk the most picturesque and historically fascinating stretches of the trail.
Ethiopia is a far cry from the dusty deserts that spring to mind for many. It is actually one of Africa’s most fertile countries and the Bale Mountains National Park is truly spectacular, containing the volcanically formed 4,000 metre high Sanetti Plateau and scattered with hot springs and soaring peaks.
Our local experts can take you on a spectacular hike through the national park, leading you through the very best scenery and stop offs and ending the trip on the Sanetti Plateau where you must keep your eyes peeled for a sighting of the rare Ethiopian wolf.
Make it happen
Take a closer look at what our local experts can offer by way of hiking by clicking on any of the section titles to see the itineraries. Each tour can be tailor-made to your needs and requirements. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.