Six unique hiking adventures
Six unique hiking adventures
If you love hiking you've probably considered walking the classic trails – treks like Everest Base Camp in Nepal or the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Or perhaps you've sampled a classic trekking summit – Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Mt Kinabalu in Borneo.
But there is a whole world out there beyond the classics. Places you may not have thought of. May not have even heard of. Thinking outside the box, here's six brilliant hiking destinations to add to your travel wish list.
Hike through the Julian Alps, Slovenia
The beautiful Julian Alps are little known outside Slovenia. Lush green alpine meadows lead up to rocky slopes and jagged limestone peaks. A hike through the Seven Triglav Lakes Valley offers beautiful scenery – the rocky hanging valley is studded with clear green alpines lakes that reflect the jagged, snow-covered peaks above them. This is classic European-style hiking: walking hut-to-hut, so you don't need to carry a heavy pack of camping gear or food.
The highest peak in the range is Mt Triglav which is snow-capped in winter and a serious climb at any time of year. The climb to the summit of Triglav is exciting – there's a fair hit of exposure, plenty of rocky scrambling and a non-technical via ferrata section – you'll be harnessed up for safety but the climbing is not too extreme. From the rocky summit the views are sprawling and incredible – you can see right across into Italy, Croatia and Austria
Walk through the cloud forests of Cuba
Running along the southern coast of the island of Cuba, the Sierra Maestra mountain range doesn’t receive a lot of international visitors. Most travellers are drawn to the old world charm of Havana and the glorious Caribbean beaches that surround the island. But head into the Sierras and you’ll find some pretty spectacular hiking set in lush cloud forest. It will be humid, steep and strenuous, but the flora and fauna of the cloud forest, plus the spectacular views, will make the sweat worth it.
Close to the city of Trinidad is Topes de Collantes National Park, a mountainous area of waterfalls, canyons, grottoes and caves. Here, you can walk through rich jungle studded with butterfly lilies, indigenous orchids and wild begonias and, after a hard morning on the trails, head to one of the glorious natural swimming holes. We’re talking clear aqua water pools, complete with small waterfalls and broad sunbathing rocks, surrounded by jungle. Hiking paradise.
Climb to the summit of Mount Toubkal, Morocco
If it's peak bagging that you're into, consider a trek to the summit of Morocco's highest peak, Mount Toubkal. Set in the Atlas Mountains, this peak rises to 4167 metres, so it's a serious climb – you'll need to be fit and bring your determination and commitment with you.
The hike takes you across a valley flood plain, through small mountain villages and up into a rocky scramble towards Tizi n Toubkal Pass. From the pass, ascend the dramatic ridge line all the way to the summit. You'll be rewarded with sterling views across the Atlas range and on a clear day you might be able to see all the way across to the Sahara Desert. Once you're done taking in the views, head back down the mountain for a delicious hearty Moroccan dinner.
Wander through the foothills around Sapa, Vietnam
For some cultural immersion, the lush green hills of northern Vietnam offer a fascinating place to travel on foot. Heading out from the French-colonial hilltown of Sapa, you can wander into the hills to reach small villages that have little or no road access. These villages are the home of the different ethnic groups that have settled here – the H'mong, Dao, Giay among them.
You'll walk past elaborate rice terraces that have taken hundreds of years to construct, watch farmers at work in the fields and interact with local kids along the trail. The views of the beautiful terraced hillsides are backed by the towering mountains behind, including Vietnam's highest peak, Fansipan (3143m). The beautiful scenery and the local villages combine to create what could be South East Asia's best hiking experience
Hike through the fjordlands of Norway
Norway's rugged landscape has been shaped by the elements – dramatic fjords, icy glaciers and plunging waterfalls tell of a turbulent geological history. Hiking through the fjordlands, every day is different – one day you will be in a picturesque farming valley and the next on a lunar-style landscape of rock and ice. What each day has in common, though, is spectacular scenery.
There's great hiking to be done near the massive Jostedalsbreen icecap and the Nigardsbreen glacier and you could even consider an ascent of Norway's highest peak, Mt Galdhopiggen. A walk in the picturesque Morkrisdalen Valley encapsulates what this region is all about. The walk starts in a narrow canyon dominated by a dramatic waterfall and soon the valley broadens and you find yourself strolling through pristine open moorlands in a lush green valley. It is a land of beautiful contrasts.
Trek in the Langtang region, Nepal
For many trekkers planning a trip to Nepal, the big question is Everest or Annapurna? The two main trekking regions offer a lot of great options. But if you've been to those areas – or if you want to get off the beaten track – think about a trek into the Langtang region.
The Langtang Valley is northwest of Kathmandu and is home to the Langtang National Park. The park aims to preserve the beautiful regional flora and fauna including rhododendron, alder and oak forests and creatures such as the red panda and Himalayan black bear. The valley has an established range of tea houses to provide food and accommodation along the trek. And in terms of mountain views, this region is right up there. You'll be walking near the local 8000-er, Manaslu, and along the trail sprawling views of Langtang Lirung, Ganesh Himal and Shisapangma will open up around you.