Best Walking Holidays in the World
Taking a walking holiday can be a great alternative to spending yet another vacation cooped up at a tourist resort. Walking holidays emphasize the immersive qualities of travel: by traveling on foot, you can truly get to know a place, its culture, and the people that inhabit it. It is also one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel, a provision that is increasingly important to a great number of eco-conscious tourists.
Walking holidays have a long history. Their main precursor is the pilgrimage, a religious journey that believers traditionally took to a destination of significance for their faith. The walking holiday as we know it today has its roots in the Grand Tour, a trip that young men started taking in Europe from the 17th century onwards, which involved visits to cities and other cultural sites, while engaging in a variety of activities along the way.
If you would like to give walking holidays a try this year, check out our list of top walking holidays from around the world.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica
A cloud forest is a kind of rainforest that you can commonly find in coastal highlands. And taking a walk through one of them, like the Monteverde in Costa Rica is a great way to experience the limitless variety that nature has to offer. While sojourning on foot, you will encounter jagged craters and freshwater ponds, pounding waterfalls and peaceful sea coves. Tall cloud trees will tower above you while you cross winding rivers brimming with freshwater fish. As you move higher into the mountains, you will cross bridges suspended high above the forest, surrounded by clouds. The sensory kaleidoscope on display is sure to stay with you for the rest of your life. As for accommodation, you can stay in one of the many available eco-lodges, reducing your impact on local nature.
Camino de Santiago, Spain
The Camino de Santiago is an old network of pilgrim routes that traces its history back to medieval times. Pilgrims embarked on the journey to pay their respects to the remains of Saint James, whose purported final resting place was Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral in Northern Spain. A hike on the Camino can last several months, depending on which particular route you take. What awaits you on the journey is raw, untapped nature, scenic villages, and fellow pilgrims from all across the world. Accommodation can be found in numerous refuges along the road, and some of them even offer lodgings free of charge. A trip on the Camino can be tough on the body, so you should take ample time to prepare yourself. If you don’t like the idea of carrying your belongings everywhere you go, you can arrange to have them transported between your lodgings, so you can hike unburdened.
The Inca Trail, Peru
The Inca Trail is one of the most popular treks in South America, and the most famous one in in Peru. Situated on the slopes of the Andes, the trail encompasses multiple Andean biomes, including cloud forests, tundras, and river valleys. The scenic landscape is further enhanced by the presence of numerous Incan ruins, culminating with the Sun Gate at the archaeological site of Machu Picchu at the end of the trek. The trek usually takes between four or five days to complete, but there is also a shorter version of the trail that can be finished in just two days. The Inca trail can be traversed by people of all ages, provided you are in good physical health. Precautions should however be taken by people sensitive to altitude changes, as there are a several of them at heights over 3000m.
Nova Scotia, Canada
The peninsula of Nova Scotia is Canada’s best known travel gem. For one of Canada’s most densely populated and highly developed provinces, Nova Scotia has a remarkable number of opportunities for hiking. Its many trails meander through old forest groves, rolling hills, and pastoral fields. While you are on the trail, you can take the time to visit the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the home of many large mammals such as black bears and moose. You can also travel along the coastline and visit rural fishing communities with deep Scottish ancestry. While on the coast, you can book a whale-watching tour at North Harbour Beach. Nova Scotia has a little bit of something for everyone, from experienced trekkers to people that are just starting out their hiking career. And in case you grow tired of walking, civilization is always only a couple of miles away.
Kumano Kodo, Japan
Another world-famous pilgrimage trail, the Kumano Kodo is located on the Kii Peninsula on the Japanese island of Honshu. The trail has its origins in the 12th century, when it was used by noblemen and emperors to reach the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano, the Kumano Hongū Taisha, the Kumano Nachi Taisha, and the Kumano Hayatama Taisha. Travelers who decide to walk on Kumano Kodo will have a unique opportunity to observe traditional Japanese rural life. The path meanders through many tranquil cedar forests, high mountain passes, and moss-covered walkways. Travelers are advised to spend the night in traditional minshuku and ryokan accommodation, where they can try traditional Japanese cuisine, sleep on the floor in futons, and spend their evenings relaxing in the hot springs.
The Oregon Trail, USA
One of America’s top travel destinations, the Oregon Trail is a stretch of land that extends between Independence, Missouri, and Oregon City, Oregon. The trail dates back to 1841, when it was used by frontiersmen, gold seekers, missionaries, and fur traders in their westwards migration. Today, this 2170-mile long trail offers many opportunities for walking holidays.
Along the path, there are numerous historical sites and natural landmarks, including the Pioneers Woman’s Grave, Fort Laramie, and Courthouse & Jail Rock. The Oregon Trail is also one of the cradles of the Native American civilization, and there are a number of reserves in the area still. There are accommodation options on the Trail to fit anyone’s pockets, and the cuisine is some of the best in the region.
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