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Adventure Travel Trends 2023

Not seeing a destination that appeals? Unsure of where to go to next year?

We chatted with our sales staff, checked with travel consultants, and researched everything, and we found that post-pandemic, these ideas are trending: health trips, ethical journeys, regenerative travel, camping, smaller groups, solo travel, going green, boutique hotels, local experiences, cultural immersion, active adventure, train travel, adventure closer to home, and bucket list experiences.

Luckily, we’re already deeply involved in these types of active adventure for decades, and all of our trips have at least one of those values built in—most have several.

So, we humbly offer a few suggestions for the coming year.


Misty morning hike on the Kumano Kodo

Japan: Land of the Rising Sun and winding pathways

Japan’s fascinating culture shines through on all of our active adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun. From woodland walks to backroads cycling, Japan offers myriad adventures with the backdrop of ceremonial teas and exotic foods.

Along Japan’s Nakasendo Way, you will visit incredibly quaint and charming post towns, and stay in their family-run boutique hotels called ryokan.


Stunning sight of Adishi glacier on the Transcaucasian Trail

The Transcaucasus Trail (Georgia and Armenia)

With their small colorful cities and World Heritage-Listed ancient towns, fascinating culture and breathtaking landscapes, it’s easy to see how these countries attract visitors. You probably didn’t know Armenia is 85.9% covered with mountains, more than Switzerland or Nepal (75 percent).

The Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) is a long-distance hiking trail that is currently being established across parts of Georgia and Armernia, but large sections of it are already hike-able. It was dubbed one of the world's greatest places by Time magazine in 2019.


Our camp at Thyangboche Monastery |  <i>Peter Walton</i>

Nepal: the land of Everest


Home to ten of the world’s 14 highest mountains and 75 percent covered by mountains, Nepal is the go-to for high adventure, literally. World Expeditions started in Nepal in 1975, and it’s still our greatest trekking itinerary. 

Nepal is home to the big daddy of them all. The world’s highest, most culturally stimulating camping trip—the Everest Base Camp Trek In Comfort. The great thing? You don’t need to bring a tent.                                   


 Friendly village children in Ha Giang, Vietnam

Vietnam: active tranquility

A land of bicycles and scooters, lanterns and rice paddies, modern Vietnam is a hustling, bustling colorful destination. We get up close and personal on our active Vietnam trips that include walking, cycling, and kayaking. 
Our Ha Giang Hike & Homestays trip takes you hiking in a remote region between the Tay Con Linh and the Song Chay mountain ranges of North Vietnam. You’ll spend three nights on homestays with local families while exploring breathtaking mountainscapes.


Paddle among tropical islands

Fiji: serious beach time

Explore the emerald waters and white sand beaches of the South Pacific on one of our adventurous trips to the archipelago. We offer several options for travellers wanting to get themselves a serious dose of beach time.

Northwest of Fiji's main island is a stunning group of small volcanic islands—the Yasawas. Unspoiled, uncrowded, sparsely populated and spectacular, with no big resorts, shops or roads, the Yasawa Islands are something out of a tropical fantasy. Our Yasawas Ultimate Sea Kayak Expedition includes snorkeling reefs and wandering along deserted beches.


Smooth rock formations in Monument Valley |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>

USA: where the West is best

The western United States is one of the more geographically fanciful regions of the world (think Road Runner and Coyote), with a staggering array of geology as you travel from west to east and back again.

Our Best of the West is a grand tour of the best canyon and mountain country of the USA’s West. We visit five of America’s most spectacular National Parks—Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion—and the ancient Sequoia forests in California, along with Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation.


Bull moose in Kananaskis, Alberta |  <i>Travel Alberta</i>

Oh Canada!

Pristine and sparsely populated, with vibrant cities, diverse cultures and landscapes of staggering beauty, Canada is an outstanding travel destination. A seemingly boundless realm of snowcapped peaks and imposing glaciers, unspoilt forests, labyrinthine coastlines and isolated islands, this is truly nature’s playground.

The area around Banff and Lake Louise is especially spectacular, and here you’ll find eight national and provincial mountain parks boasting some of the best hiking trails in the Canadian Rockies. On our Scenic Trails of the Rockies adventure, you’ll wander past startling turquoise lakes with crumbling glaciers below steel-colored peaks. You’ll be visited by sure-footed Rocky Mountain goats and soaring eagles. This one’s a true feast for the senses.


Ecuador, Galapagos Islands |  <i>Marta Ticha</i>

Galapagos: Wildlife & Beauty

Few places on earth are as revered as the Galapagos Islands off the northwest coast of Ecuador. Jammed full of wildlife both beautiful and strange, a visit to the Galapagos helps you understand why the area influenced Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

We have a number of different excursion options, from our first-class brand new yacht Solaris to our luxury cruiser the Beluga. Join one of our cruises and you’ll instantly become a part of a tight-knit like-minded group of fauna adventurers.


Walking in the Drakensberg Ranges on the Drakensberg Traverse trip.

South Africa: safaris & more

South Africa is a land of deserts, mountains, coastlines, and savanna with just about every type of active adventure you might seek. Whether you’re looking to see the Big Five at a national park or scrambling in the layer cake–like Drakensburg mountains, the scenery is always stunning and inviting.

Our South Africa Walking Adventure hits all the highlights of a real walking adventure in the Rainbow Nation: Kruger National Park, the Drakensburg Mountains, Zululand, Swaziland, and the Blade River Canyon.


Cycling along the Munda Biddi Trail from Albany to Walpole

Australia: explore your backyard

Of course, if you’re interested in adventure closer to home, you’ve only got to look through our Australia trips, of which there are dozens. Walking, cycling, paddling along with cultural immersion via indigenous-based activities, there’s an Australia adventure for everyone.

How about a Christmas wilderness trek in Tasmania, a bicycle journey through south Western Australian forests, or hiking and scrambling in the spectacular Warrumbungles National Park? One of these trips will fullfill your need for an adventure break.


Eight Big Things You Might Not Know About Alaska

In Alaska, everything is big—wait, huge. The mountains are huge, the waterways are huge, the animals are huge, and the spaces are huge. 

And the experiences are enormous. 

Here are eight things you probably didn’t know you could experience in Alaska that’ll make you realise how big Alaska is.

1. The biggest mountains in North America

But Alaska doesn’t just have the biggest individual mountain in North America (6,190-metre Denali), it has 17 of the United States’ highest mountains. 

During your 386-kilimetre drive from Anchorage north, up the George Parks Highway toward Denali National Park, you’ll see a huge white front of mountains (or is that clouds?—wait, it’s both) matching over the horizon towards you. 

That incredible view—reminiscent of the Himalaya Front when traveling north through India—is the biggest, tallest, wildest cluster of peaks in North America.

Native Caribou enjoying the sunshine |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>

2. The biggest national park in North America

As you fly to the tiny mining hamlet of McCarthy (they dug for copper here, not gold) via plane to do a bit of wilderness canoeing, you’ll be flying over portions of the Wrangell–St. Elias National Park, a park filled with animals, lakes, and (what else?) more mountains. 

And ponder this: at 13.2 million acres, Wrangell–St. Elias National Park is the size of Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Switzerland combined!

3. The biggest stretches of unpopulated country in North America

Alaska has very few people. In fact, it’s the least densely populated state in America, with just 1 person per square mile. 

If New York had the same density, there’d be 23 people in Manhattan. While the locals are quite warm and welcoming, you won’t come to Alaska to see people. 

You’re here to see those huge expanses of woodland, tundra and the classic taiga forest.

Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska |  <i>Amanda Mallon</i>
 

4. The biggest biome in the world

And speaking of taiga forest, it’s one of the things you’ll marvel at as you putter around Alaska. 

These forests can be thick and dark with larch, spruce, fir, and pine, or in places where the soil is less rich, the trees can be spindly and much less dense—reminiscent of trees drawn by Dr Suess. The taiga forest stretches across the entire northern hemisphere and scientists have described the taiga as the biggest biome (a geographical area that has similar plants as a result of similar physical environment) on earth.

Kayaking the breathtaking Shoup Bay |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>

5. The biggest shoreline in America

Alaska sits at the junction of three huge bodies of water: the Arctic and Pacific Oceans and the Bering Sea. 

It has more shoreline than all the other US states combined (more than 54,500 kilimetres). Of course, having 2,600 named islands doesn’t hurt. While you’re peddling around Shoup Bay, one of the many arms of Prince William Sound, you’ll be able to take in parts of Alaska’s massive shoreline up close, including the Shoup Glacier.

6. The biggest glacier in North America

And speaking of active glaciers, Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers which along with icefields cover an estimated 10 per cent of the state. 

The largest Alaskan glacier is the Bering. Combined with the icefields that feed it, it is 203 kilometres (126 miles) long and covers an area of more than 5,000 square kilometres (1,900 square miles).

Trekking on Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska |  <i>Sue Badyari</i>
 

7. The biggest numbers of brown bears in North America

There are 32,500 brown bears in Alaska, and at some point during your trip, you will encounter something bear-related. It might only be a paw print in the mud (and those are everywhere), or it might be a full-blown sighting (the author of this piece saw one in the suburbs of Anchorage). 

In Alaska there’s one bear for every 21 people, so keep your eyes peeled and more than likely you’ll spot one. (There’s a 98 per cent chance you’ll see a moose.)

Up close and personal with Grizzly Bear |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>

8. The weirdest geographical records in America

Sitting close to the International Date Line, Alaska is home to both the easternmost (Pochnoi Point on Semisopochnoi Island in the Aleutians) and westernmost (Amatiginak Island in the Aleutians) points in the United States, as well as the northernmost (Point Barrow).


View Alaska adventures
Kumano Kodo or Nakasendo Way—which Japan walking trail is for you?

When you start to research walking holidays ideas in Japan, you are going to come across the Kumano Kodo and the Nakasendo Way, Japan's most famous hiking trails. 

So, which one should you do?

Similiarities Between The Kumano Kodo and Nakasendo Way

Both the Kumano Kodo and the Nakasendo Way travel through mountainous regions, and they both offer a deep immersion into both the rich culture and splendid natural beauty of rural Japan.

Along both routes you’ll find hot springs (called onsen) and associated facilities like small traditional family-run hotels (ryokan) where you can relax after a day of trekking, as well as shrines that offer insight into Japanese religion.

But there are a few differences to consider when choosing which walk to do in Japan.

The Kumano Kodo - for the more confident walker

The Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes that was created when Buddhism came to Japan during the 6th century.

The classic Kumano Kodo trek, known as the Nakahechi route, traverses the rugged Kii Peninsular from the west to east, starting near the village of Kii Tanabe and ending near Katsuura on the east coast. It’s about 68 kms long, but don't underestimate the challenge based on the length.

The Nakahechi trek isn’t a straightforward walk in the park, so to speak. Much of the trail consists of cobble stones or dirt track with lots of tree roots. These sections can be uneven and difficult to walk on, especially when they are mossy and/or wet.

There are many sections of stone steps, and some of the forests are so dense and dark you’ll need to watch your step closely. In other areas it follows mountain ridges and offers expansive panoramas. While it’s rated 4 (introductory to moderate), the track undulates considerably for much of its length.

Oyunohara shrine's entrance is marked by the largest Torii gate in the world

The Kumano Kodo trail network has UNESCO World Heritage status. And, because of its remote location on the Kii Peninsula, you’ll encounter fewer people. On certain days, you might not see another party. There are, however, “get out” routes along the trail so you can get back to civilisation—e.g., a taxi or bus—easily.

To be sure, the Nakahechi route is really about the great shrines. There are three grand Buddhist/Shinto shrines along the walk: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha. These grand shrines will instill in you a feeling of ancient tradition and beguiling calm as you ponder their construction and the devotion of their pilgrims.

 

The Nakasendo Way - a snapshot into Japan’s past

The Nakasendo Way is less remote and travels from Kyoto to Tokyo through more populated areas of Japan, so it’s often done in smaller sections. In fact, because the Nakasendo Way is so accessible to public transport, many local people use public transit and walk only the most spectacular sections of the trail or short sections they have time for.

The Nakasendo Way is much younger than the Kumano Kodo network. It was established during Japan’s Edo period (1603–1867), built so that 17th century feudal lords, samurai and traders could transport their missives and minions between Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo).

For most of the hike, you’ll walk through beautiful bamboo forests, past stunning waterfalls, and through traditional rural areas. The trail is less demanding than the Nakahechi route, but it still has a few hills you should train for.

Passing through historic postal towns on the Nakasendo Way

The highlights of the Nakasendo Way are the post towns. Post towns are charming wooden villages dotted along the trail that were designed and built to offer royalty, samurai, and traveling merchants places to stay as they journeyed in this region of Japan.

Originally there were 69 post towns built along the 500-kilometre Way. Over the years some have burned down, and some have fallen into disrepair. Many of them have been restored at various times, their dark wood and traditional delicate Japanese design are pleasing to the eye.

Some travellers have likened them to a snapshot into Japan’s past.

Three of the most charming post towns are Narai, Tsumago, Magome, which are also home to museums. All the post towns along the Nakasendo Way offer unique gastronomical experiences.

Whether you pick the Kumano Kodo or the Nakasendo Way for your active adventure, you can rest assured that you’re going to see the best, most beautiful areas in the Land of the Rising Sun.


View Kumano Kodo walking trips

View Nakasendo Way walking trips

Larapinta Trail program crowned 'Best in Adventure Tourism'

We felt confident we our Larapinta Trail walks were offering travellers a quality experience in the Red Centre of Australia. Now Northern Territory’s official tourism organisation has confirmed it with our fourth Brolga Award at Tourism NT's 2022 Brolga Awards, this time for 'Best in Adventure Tourism'.

The Adventure Tourism Brolga award recognises our entire Larapinta Trail walking program, from our exclusive Eco-Comfort Camps to our Indigenous-focused activities to wide range of offerings to suit nearly every ability.

“World Expeditions … are a world leader in sustainable walking holidays, offering multiple departures a week with 12 different itineraries on the Larapinta Trail utilising their four, multi award-winning exclusive eco-camps”, noted Tourism NT on their Brolga Awards Facebook page.

Nice words. We'll take 'em.

“Since being the pioneering first commercial operator on the Larapinta Trail in 1995 we have spent the last 27 years developing and improving on our product to ensure it is at a world class standard and is aligned with our ethos of Big adventures, small footprint”, said Michael Buggy, General Manager.

“It has been a privilege to share this beautiful country with so many travellers and we remain committed to respectfully connecting people with Arrente Country via our immersive walking experiences. It is an honour to receive this award and have the continued efforts of our entire team, from our guides in the field to our tireless Sales & Reservations staff, recognised with our fourth Tourism NT Brolga Award”.

The 2022 win builds on our Brolga Award wins in past years. In 2019, 2017, and 2016 our Larapinta Eco-Comfort Camps won the prestigious Brolga Award for “Ecotourism”. Winning the award for “Adventure Tourism” is a notch up from these previous wins as it gives a nod to our entire operation.

In addition, earlier this year one of our senior guides, Anna Dakin, was named Northern Territory’s Top Tour Guide for 2022, helping to make our Larapinta Trail walking program one of the most recognised adventure travel operations in the world.

World Expeditions are the pioneers on Australia's iconic desert trail, operating the first commercial guided small group walking tour on the Larapinta in 1995. Heading into our 28th year on the trail, it's humbling to know that our peers believe that our Larapinta Trail walks are still the best in the business. And we continue to offer the same high level of service on Larapinta walks as we did on day 1. 

“Winning a Brolga Award is the industry’s highest accolade and the recipients represent the best products and services in the Northern Territory,” notes Tourism NT on its website.


Cycling Australia's Central West Cycle Trail

5 Central West Cycle Trail Tours

One of the best ways to experience the iconic lifestyle of country Australia is to take an immersive, slow, active holiday. It's for this reason that the Central West Cycle Trail is quickly becoming a mecca for Australian travellers - even if you're not a regular cyclist. 

From the classic Australiana landscapes filled with eucalyptus and open plains, to the laidback and charming hospitality of the locals along the trail, cycling the Central West Trail is suitable for all kinds of travellers. 

There are now five ways to explore the Central West Cycle Trail with our mates at Australian Cycle Tours. Each trip includes comfortable accommodation, daily luggage transfers, vehicle transfers, navigation app, e-bike hire and local support among other benefits.

Central West Cycle Trail Self-Guided Tour

Cyclist on the Central West Cycle route between Mudgee and Gulgong |  <i>Ross Baker</i>
 

The classic route. Over 7 days, you'll experience classic Central West scenery and hospitality. On day 1 you'll be transported from Mudgee to the small hamlet of Goolma, where the Central West Cycle Trail starts. From here you'll discover the country towns of Wellington, Dubbo, Ballimore, Mendooran, Dunedoo and Gulgong, before cycling to Mudgee on the last day. You'll stay in comfortable accommodation in each town and have your luggage transferred daily, allowing you to fully embrace the local atmosphere along the way. 

 

Central West Cycle Trail Highlights Self-Guided Tour

Cyclists in Gulgong outside the Ten Dollar Town Motel |  <i>Ross Baker</i>
 

The Central West Cycle Trail Highlights tour offers a similar self-guided experience to the above trip yet cuts down on some stops to shorten the itinerary. The key difference is that on day 2, you'll cycle from Wellington to Baltimore and bypass the 'big city lights' of Dubbo, and the final day of cycling sees you finish in Gulgong before being transferred to Mudgee. This 5 day itinerary will appeal to those who are more limited on time or do not want to include a visit to Dubbo.

 

Central West Cycle Trail Supported Tour

Happy cyclists on the Central West Trail |  <i>Shawn Flannery</i>
 

On a supported bike tour of the Central West Cycle Trail you'll be accompanied by an experienced driver who will escort the group. Their role is to provide bicycle assistance, help with any issues that arise, and meet the group at designated breaks for coffee and tea. These tours are more sociable as they attract like-minded travellers to experience the Central West Trail together. Learn more about their supported bike trips.

 

NEW: Women's Central West Cycle Trail Self-Guided Tour

Cyclists in Gulgong outside the Butcher Shop Cafe |  <i>Ross Baker</i>
 

This one's for the ladies only: join a special Central West Cycle Trail tour that is escorted by the passionate bike blogger, Gail Rehbein. This self-guided cycle trip follows a 7-day itinerary and gives women the opportunity to engage in an unforgettable active travel experience in a safe and encouraging environment. 

 

A Taste of the Central West Cycle Trail

Cyclist on the CWCR from Gulgong to Mudgee |  <i>Ross Baker</i>
 

Short on time but high on inspiration? Enjoy a taste of the Central West Cycle Trail on this shortened version of the ride. Arrive in Mudgee, where you will be transferred to the start of the cycle in Wellington before riding to Ballimore, Mendooran, Dunnedoo and Gulgong over 4 days. During this sweet trip, you will be supported with e-bike rental and luggage transfers between towns, giving you the freedom to cycle at a relaxed pace and take in the ever-changing landscape of grazing country, vineyards, national parks and reserves.

   

 
Ten Mountain Views With The Wow Factor

Mountains are a genuine attraction to travellers, and typically the more rugged and tall they are the more appealing to the senses. But not all mountain views are created equal.

The Himalaya certainly are tall, but there are other parts of the world where the vertical relief of a mountain within the context of its location make for gobsmacking mountain scenery.

Geographers describe mountain elevations in scientific terms (things like “topographic prominence” and “ultra prominence”), but we prefer to describe how high a summit rises above its surroundings in terms of our own “wow” factor.

You know, giant drops from summit to base.

Here are ten of the most prominent that you can visit on one of our active adventures.

1. Aconcagua, Argentina

The trail towards Aconcagua |  <i>Angel Armesto</i>
 

The tallest peak in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua is nicknamed the Stone Sentinel. When you reach it, you’ll see why. It pokes up above the surrounding landscape by thousands of metres. In fact, it is so tall it is visible from the Pacific Coast 100 kilometres away!  We can take you straight to the top.

2. Denali, USA

Amazing mountain views near Denali National Park |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>
 

Denali hulks above other peaks of the Alaska Range like a big brother. On our Great Alaska Adventure, you’ll get several opportunities to experience a magical view of Denali. You'll also encounter the genuinely wild wildlife and explore the starkly wide expanses of the 49th state.

3. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Spot incredible African wildlife on a game viewing safari
 

Kilimanjaro is of course a massive chunk of the earth’s crust, and one of the prettier sights of East Africa—a mass of white dazzling in the sunshine and floating above the horizon. Early explorers thought the snows of Kilimanjaro were clouds. 

We offer many different routes up “Kili”. But be prepared for the views from the base, in either Tanzania or Kenya. That's where its huge form will impress you the most. 

4. Mont Blanc, France

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc |  <i>Michele Eckersley</i>
 

While Mont Blanc is not tall in world terms, it’s big, and local climbing guides would suggest the well-loved mountain punches above its weight. We offer several trips to the great white mountain in the heart of Continental Europe, including a mountaineering skills course for those keen to reach the summit, or a chance to circumnavigate Mont Blanc, through France, Italy and Switzerland, with our sister company UTracks.

Mont Blanc is such a dominant piece of mountain topography that its size will "wow" you from various locations.

5. Cuernos del Paine, Chile

Cuernos del Paine in Torres del Paine National Park ,Chile
 

Wedged between the tallest peak in the park, Paine Grande, a hulking giant of a massif itself, and the famous Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine) is a massif that captures everybody's attention when they visit Torres Del Paine National Park.

Technically, the Cuernos del Paine or 'Paine horns' is the collective name given to the set of spiky granite peaks, all of which stand at over 2000 metres high, found along the stunning W trek. 

The spikes have fittingly sharp names: to the north, the Aleta de Tiburón (Shark's Fin), to the east, from north to south, Fortaleza (Fortress), La Espada (The Sword), La Hoja (The Blade), La Máscara (The Mask), Cuerno Norte (North Horn), and Cuerno Principal (Main Horn).

6. Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Ay 4207m, Mauna Kea is the high point on the Big Island of Hawaii, and for many the highest on earth. Some argue that Mauna Kea is the true biggest mountain on earth as much of its bulk lies underwater. 

On our active trip to Hawaii, you’ll get opportunities to see Mauna Kea as well as chances to explore both active and inactive lava flows.

7. Chimborazo, Ecuador

Snow capped views of Chimborazo Volcano |  <i>Heike Krumm</i>
 

Hovering above the Ecuadorean rainforest like a flying saucer, Chimborazo is another contender for the biggest mountain on earth as its summit is the point farthest from the centre of the earth (because of the squashed nature of the globe). 

Edward Whymper of Matterhorn fame made the first climb of this exotic jungle mountain on the earths equator in 1880. 

8. Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

The jagged summit of Mt Kinabalu |  <i>Sabah Tourism</i>
 

At 4,093 metres, Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu is the third tallest island mountain on earth (after Puncak Jaya in New Guinea and Mauna Kea in Hawai’i) and the most dramatic natural feature found on the island of Borneo.

For those that choose to climb Kinabalu, you’ll go from steamy jungles to cool mountain air.

9. K2, Pakistan

In front of K2, the world's second highest peak |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>
 

K2, known as the Savage Mountain because of its toll on climbers, is a striking piece of the earth's crust when you first lay eyes on it. K2 rises so sharply from the surrounding glaciers its form can cause mountaineers to pause and reflect when they're headed up to climb it.

While we don't offer trips to climb it, trekking to K2 basecamp should be a bucket-list hike for any adventurer.

10. Fujiyama (Mt Fuji), Japan

Stunning views of Mt Fuji |  <i>Felipe Romero Beltran</i>
 

As you would expect from the Japanese, Mount Fuji is a beautifully symmetric mountain. 

Rising from sea level in the Japanese prefecture of Shizuoka, Fuji is the seventh tallest island peak in the world and can be appreciated on many of our Japanese adventures. From just about any angle, Fuji offers and impressive chunk of mountain real estate.

 

World's Best Mountains Ranges for Trekking

Individual mountains are a genuine attraction to travelers, and typically the more rugged and tall they are the more appealing to the senses. But oftentimes it’s the range the mountain’s in that makes a trekking route standout as a spectacular adventure.

Ranges like the Cordillera Blanca in Peru, for example, where there are hundreds of shimmering white peaks piercing the deep blue sky. The sheer number of peaks is simply overwhelming, and treks through ranges like the Blanca have a special feel to them— like walking inside a long cathedral rather than standing at one altar.

Here are ten of the best mountain ranges where you can trek and enjoy many peaks, standing shoulder to shoulder and layered upon each other, all at once.

Southern Alps, New Zealand

Trekker on Buchanan peak with Mount Aspiring behind, walking above Matukituki valley, near Lake Wanaka |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>

Enjoy stunning vistas day-in and day-out along a hiking trail not featured in any New Zealand guide book. Shh, it'll be our little secret. From remote lakes and valley systems, secluded ridges to splendour panoramas of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring from high vantage points, the Southern Alps is an exciting blend of adventure and wonder.

From moderately graded to challenging adventures, and even an alpine climbing course, there are plenty of options to explore the dramatic mountain landscape in New Zealand's South. We promise it will take your breath away.

Karakoram Range, Pakistan

 

An eternal favourite with all our experienced trekkers and climbers for it's vast number of tall, dramatic peaks in a relatively close proximity.

There’s an area in the Karakorum near K2 that has so many huge peaks (we’re talking 6,000-, 7,000- and 8,000-metre peaks) that it’s called the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods. But it's the sheer number of big mountains across Pakistan's entire Karakoram mountain range make it one of the great ranges on earth for trekking. 

Everest Region, Nepal

It's the world’s highest peak and one of our most favourite mountains on earth, so we had to add this beauty to the list. Mount Everest, or Chomolungma as it's known on the Tibetan side, entices more people to visit a destination than perhaps any other mountain on earth. There are many trails that take in the famous peak on the Nepalese side, the most famous being the Everest Base Camp trek via Thyangboche monastery, or you could simply drive to the Tibetan side for for uninterrupted views.

View our treks in the Everest region or our High Road to Lhasa, which offer a side trip to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side.

Sierra Nevada, USA

The sun sets on the John Muir Trail in California's High Sierra |  <i>Visit California/Michael Lanza</i>

The Sierra Nevada runs for over 640kms north–south in California and is known for its staggering array of granite peaks, domes, and ridges. 

One of the greatest long distance treks known to humanity is the John Muir Trail, a 344-kilometre jaunt from the spectacular glacier polished walls of Yosemite Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States at 4418m. It crosses a number of 4000m passes and wanders beneath high alpine peaks and traverses beautiful meadows and forested river valleys. Due to the remoteness a full-pack is required to undertake the John Muir Trail.

Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa

Walking in the Drakensberg Ranges on the Drakensberg Traverse trip.

The north east of South Africa is a region blessed with dramatic mountains and world class game, giving you a unique opportunity to combine both. Even more exciting is when you can experience this highland – home to one of the world's best mountains – on foot. In Kruger National Park, go for a real bush and big game experience or do the strenuous ascent of Amphitheatre.

Other hikes in the Drakensberg mountains include the Grotto, Cavern Big 5, Sugarloaf, and remote Cathedral Peak. If you love hiking, the Drakensberg is a must add on your bucket list.

Turkestan Mountain Range, Kyrgyzstan

The towering sheer rock peaks of Asan (4,230m), Usen (4,378m) and Piramidalnyi (5,509m) The verdant valley home of Dzhalgychy camp Ridge between Dzhalgychy and Orto-Chashma gorges
 

Central Asia is hot right now and deep in the heart of the Pamir-Alay mountain system are the towering peaks of Asan (4,230m), Usen (4,378m) and Piramidalnyi (5,509m), set in a backdrop of alpine meadows and picturesque gorges. With its stunning sheer rock formations and the sense of true wilderness, the area is often referred to as Asia's Patagonia - but with much fewer crowds.

Local legend has it that an old man who lived in the mountains had twin sons named Asan and Usen who were raised as warriors and later joined the military. Both were sent to war but neither returned, leaving their father stricken with grief. The father raised his arms to the sky and cried, "Oh Allah, you gave their lives, you then took them away. Return my sons to me and take my life instead." Allah, hearing his prayer, cracked open the ground and towering peaks rose toward the sky. It is believed by locals that the two bastions, standing alongside one another at the beginning of Karavshin River are the twin sons with the snowy white peak of Piramidalnyi in the background is believed to their father watching over his sons for eternity.

You can experience the best of the Turkestan ranges on our Ak-Suu trek which takes you along stunning gorges, through alpine meadows and to the remote and impressive peaks.

Vilcabamba Mountain Range, Peru

A group of trekkers near Salcantay |  <i>Mike Shrimpton</i>

The great Vilcabamba Mountain Range is the last stronghold of the Inca Empire. Here is where you can find the unique and spectacular 'lost' ruins of Choquequirao. When you trek over mountain passes, you will have stunning views of the Pumasillo, Humantay, and Salcantay (the ranges’ highest) peaks. Enjoy ancient cloud forest, abundant wildflowers and of course the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. It's offers an extraordinary alternative to the much busier Inca Trail and is one of the most best and most beautiful mountain ranges to hike in.

Patagonian Andes - Argentina & Chile

A trek in Patagonia will replenish the soul |  <i>Sue Badyari</i>

A climber once described the mountains of Patagonia as something out of a nightmare. Wild spires of granite and ice bursting thousands of metres into the sky. 

Indeed, the region’s sharp granite towers are so steep they literally look like knives placed in a mug with their blades pointing up. 

Yep, they're that exciting to look at. Experience them in both Argentina and Chile on one of our Patagonia treks.

West MacDonnell Ranges, Australia

They aren't the biggest, but they are one of the world's oldest. Tjoritja West MacDonnell National Park stretches for 161 kilometres west of Alice Springs and is home to the famous 223km Larapinta Trail, which begins at the Old Telegraph Station near Alice Springs and ends at Mt Sonder, the NT's third highest peak.

The ancient landscape, sculptured over time by climatic change and made famous by the art of Western Arrernte artist Albert Namatjira is on display in the West MacDonnell Ranges. You can find relics of a bygone tropical forest at many of the cool scenic gorges that act as a refuge for an assortment of plants and animals.

There are many gaps, gorges, rivers, chasms and pits across the West MacDonnell Ranges suitable for hiking, experience them on a Larapinta walk.

Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The Atlas Mountains in North Africa stretch across the top of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia and are renowned for their colours—red and orange rocks and lush greenery—as well as their traditional Berber population. This is a big mountain range, and the possibilities for exploration are endless. Join us in exploring these peaks, and its people, in one of our Moroccan adventures.


Feeling inspired? Browse our complete overview of trekking holidays to some of the world's best mountain peaks or get in touch with one of our travel experts around the world for more information and advice.

Which mountain is still on your bucket list to explore?

On the Couch with Rebecca Stephens: A special relationship with Africa

A few years after she led a trek to Ethiopia’s dramatic Simien Mountains with World Expeditions, Rebecca Stephens MBE prepares to return to Africa for another trek, this time on what she describes as her favourite mountain: Mount Kenya.

In this exclusive Q&A session, the mountaineering legend shares with us what draws her to the mountains and how her love affair with Kenya began.

What is it that draws you to the mountains time after time?

I feel properly alive in the mountains. It’s a combination of things: the aching beauty of the landscape and the big open skies. Then there’s something about using one’s whole body - every muscle, every sense - that awakens us and feeds our physical and mental well-being. 

There’s the thrill of the journey, seeing new vistas, new people, new cultures - and that wonderful connection with the earth, a reminder of our place in nature and our oneness with the universe. 

For me it’s the best tonic in the world, the mountains nourish the soul and I’d feel bereft without them.

I thought, ‘this is happiness, I’ve arrived.’

What has been your most memorable mountaineering expedition so far and why?

There’s perception, and reality. Everest changed my life and I’ll carry the label of first British woman to climb it to my grave.

But my most memorable mountaineering expedition wasn’t 1993 when I climbed it, but 1989 when I discovered it - everything fresh, brightly coloured, exciting, full of anticipation and hope. 

You have a special relationship with Kenya, don’t you?

I’ve had a long-standing love affair with Kenya since my student days when I worked there on a farm.

One of my most vivid memories is sitting in a beautiful garden, squeezing freshly picked lemons for juice to take on safari, whilst looking out at horses grazing in the shade of an acacia tree, and beyond, the vast expanse of the Rift Valley. I thought, ‘this is happiness, I’ve arrived.’

Blessed with stunning weather as we trek the Alpine Zone |  <i>Heike Krumm</i>
The glaciated terrain of Mount Kenya is one of the most spectacular trekking destinations in Africa |  <i>Chris Buykx</i> Descending from Point Lenana |  <i>Heike Krumm</i> Rebecca Stephens at the Lho La

Have you climbed Mount Kenya before? 

I have but on a different route, what was called the Ice Window, way back in 1991.

What magic to stand on the top, at the very pinnacle of a vast obtuse triangular shadow of the mountain cast across the savannah where life itself began.

What makes the Mount Kenya trek so special for you?

Asked what is my most favourite mountain in the world, my answer is Mount Kenya - more so than Everest, Denali or Vinson. It isn’t only the romance of the mountain itself with its rugged summits and beautiful names - Gates of the Mist, Batian, Nelion, Point Lenana - but where the mountain sits.

Much less populated than Kilimanjaro, it's surrounded by pristine moorland and rainforest and the real possibility of seeing game.

Do you have any fitness or training routine that you can recommend for someone who wants to do this trekking adventure? 

The best training is to do what you’ll be doing: namely, climbing hills. The gym might be all that’s accessible if living in the city - stair masters are great - but it is important to put on some boots and clamber up a few hills as well.

I’m lucky to live at the foot of the South Downs and my dog is always happy when I’m off on a trip, she gets a lot more exercise than she would otherwise. [red: find more training tips on our blog]

 

It would be crazy to go to Kenya and not go on safari.

What do you expect will be the highlight of the trekking tour?

I expect every step to have its meaning and joys, but highlights come from unexpected places - a glimpse of an exquisite dawn, a new friendship, the sense of achievement with having reached the summit, the list goes on…

The Mt Kenya trip finishes with a safari. How does this compliment the whole experience in the mountains?

It would be crazy to go to Kenya and not go on safari. There’s always a feeling of accomplishment having completed a trek, and a renewed appreciation of a hot shower and the luxury of clean sheets and a comfortable bed.

On this trip, this will only be heightened by the treat of witnessing Africa’s majestic animals in their natural environment. I can’t wait.

Finally… do you speak a few words of Swahili?

Jambo! Hakuna matata – no worries!  And how can any of us who've climbed in Africa forget, Polepole - slowly…up that hill. I’m going to have to get my phrase book out and brush up before we go!

 
 

Do you want to join Rebecca Stephens on her next trekking adventure to Africa? Mount Kenya and Safari with Rebecca Stephens departs in March 2023. Limited availability. Book your place now or contact us for more information.


 
Dolpo: The way trekking in Nepal used to be

In 2023, we’ll be offering a dedicated trek through the remote Himalayan region of Upper Dolpo. We wanted to find out more about why someone would want to trek to Dolpo, so we talked to one of our most experienced Himalayan trekking guides, Garry Weare, who’ll be leading the trek. Garry led his first Himalayan trek in 1973, and he’s been returning yearly ever since. Garry wrote all editions of the Lonely Planet guide Trekking in the Indian Himalaya as well as his acclaimed Long Walk in the Himalaya, so he clearly knows his stuff. He’s been associated with World Expeditions as a former director, guide, and Himalayan consultant since 1977. He also helped to establish the Australian Himalayan Foundation.

Why is a trek to Upper Dolpo so special?

It’s a Trans Himalaya region, that is to say it is north of the main Himalaya divide. It is a wild and rugged region that sustains remote villages and settlements in the depths of the valley  located beneath soaring mountain ranges that stretch to the borderlands of Tibet. 

The area was made known by Peter Matthiessen in his classic book The Snow Leopard about his 1973 journey to Dolpo with biologist George Schaller as well as with Eric Valli’s evocative film Himalaya.

For me, Dolpo’s particular appeal is that it is culturally and geographically similar to Ladakh (in northern India) where I have trekked regularly since 1976, and in particular its historic ties with Tibet.

How do you get get to Dolpo?

It takes two flights to get into Dolpo. You fly from Kathmandu to Nepalganj (on the Indian/Nepal border) and the following day to the airstrip at Juphal. An hour later you’re are on the trail.

How many people visit Dolpo each year?

It’s remote and only visited by a handful of trekkers each year which so many trekkers returning to the Himalaya appreciate. As I noted, it takes two flights just to get there from Kathmandu and there are currently no direct road links into Dolpo.

You’ve been trekking in the Himalaya since the early 1970s, you must’ve seen quite a few changes over the years?

Obviously road developments, but that has not deterred coming up with more inventive itineraries over remoter passes and previously untrekked valleys. Rest assured there is still huge potential for getting off the beaten track on exploratory treks.

It is also good to note that over the years there has been a noticeable increase in environmental awareness—that the Himalaya is not just some vast adventure playground. Then there is the vexing question of age. In the 1970s anyone over 50 signing up for a trek was considered a novelty. Nowadays it is very common to have at least a couple of trekkers in their 70s and that includes the more challenging treks.

The change I feel least comfortable with is the trend to try to fit itineraries into the least possible time. Well into the 1980s I would include at least a handful of rest days. While I appreciate that people have less free time at their disposal nowadays I feel a little concerned that there are not enough contingency days to allow time to rest, savour, explore and allow for inclement weather that may disrupt a trek.

What first took you to Dolpo?

A few years ago, my long-time friend and associate Dr. Rodney Jackson invited my wife and me to join him as he planned to visit Dolpo. In the early 1980s, Rodney did some ground-breaking research on snow leopards, radio-tracking them for four years. The effort was featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine in June 1986.

Rodney heads the Snow Leopard Conservancy in America and is recognised as the world’s leading authority on snow leopards. Rodney invited us to join him as he planned to return to Dolpo—just one last time. Then COVID hit so everything was put on hold. We finally met up and went to Dolpo in May 2022.

Dolpo is something special. I wish I’d been there ten years ago.

Crystal Mountain Upper Dolpo Nepal |  <i>Garry Weare</i>

Tell us about Crystal Mountain

The mountain has a deep spiritual significance to the people—rather like Kailash in Tibet. Pilgrims encircle Crystal Mountain but not in the numbers that you’d see for Kailas. The trails are well defined although kora (the pilgrims’ circuit around Crystal Mountain) is more challenging.

What is the main religion in Dolpo?

The more I have studied Tibetan Buddhism the more I am perplexed. Dolpo is steeped in Bon and Tibetan Buddhist traditions with Bon founded in a region of western Tibet, close to Dolpo. For further insights I suggest you join a trek to Dolpo where the mixture of exquisite Bon and Buddhist monasteries will capture your interest.

Phoksundo Lake in Upper Dolpo |  <i>Bill Quinlan</i>

How long has World Expeditions been operating treks to Dolpo?

We ran our first treks to Dolpo back in the early 1990s, just after it first opened. In 2023, it will be the first time in many, many years World Expeditions has offered a dedicated trip to Dolpo so it’s very exciting for me to be heading back. The company has been offering treks to Dolpo through their Great Himalaya Trail series of treks since 2010.

How hard is the trekking in Dolpo?

The trek is moderate to challenging, and it includes crossing two 5,000-metre passes, including the Ngadra La at 5,375 metres. You’ve got to be pretty keen to want to go to Dolpo. Trekkers who’ve been to Ladakh will be interested—similar sort of culture and location. It’s a trek for people who’ve trekked elsewhere in the Himalaya. It’s not a trek for first timers.

Preparation advice?

I would recommend people get themselves as fit as they can before departure. It’s not a challenging trip. It’s more moderate to challenging. But still, being fit will ensure they get as much as possible out of the trekking experience.

They also need to make sure they’re positive. It’s a bit of a trite comment, but it’s really important. I was really lucky with my clients on this last trip (Mustang to Nar Phu via the Teri La). Whatever was thrown at them, they were asking for more.

Is there much interaction with the locals?

Apart from the World Expeditions local Nepalese leader we engage a local guide from Dolpo who can arrange literally, any number of doors for interaction when we’re there. We won’t be staying in lodges—we will be camping, so there’ll be plenty of time to visit the villages and settlements. The children of course, always come and check us out as soon as they see us.

Between villages on the Great Himalaya Trail |  <i>Howard Dengate</i>
 

What should trekkers expect from a trek to Dolpo?

A combination of an exhilarating adventure; an appreciation of the deep-hearted Buddhist and Bon cultures; and sheer inspiration that come of trekking across rugged mountain ranges that extend to the borderlands of Tibet—and will they see a snow leopard? Not a chance! 

Famous Last Words?

I’m 75 now. And I’ve got a limited number of years I can continue to trek, especially at altitude. So, I’m really picking and choosing my trips. And Dolpo is an area I’d love to return to. Dolpo is something special. I wish I’d been there ten years ago.


View treks to Dolpo
Food costs on a Nepal trek: are meal inclusions worth it?

The last thing you want to find out after booking and spending thousands of dollars on a holiday is that there is a huge list of things that weren't initially included. One of those kickers is finding out that meals were never part of the deal, and this can prove to be a costly issue for trekkers and hikers.

Here are some key reasons why it’s a good idea to have your food included when heading on a trek.

1. Value for money

Many who book a holiday feel that taking care of their own meals for the journey will end up saving them money in the long run, but is this really the case?

On average, the prices for meals, snacks and drinks in tea houses or lodges across the Himalayas are not as cheap as you may think. Many companies advise that you should budget anywhere from $US650-$US800 for a 13-day trek, often with limited food choices — and many of which are fried. Incidentally, the cost of food has appreciated over the years and no longer comes at bargain prices, so by the end of your trip, you can rack up quite an expensive food bill.

Unlike most companies, however, World Expeditions provide customers with full-service meals on their trek as part of the trip price. On our Nepal treks, a cook and kitchen crew join travellers during their expedition to provide three hearty meals a day. A combination of local and European cuisines ensures travellers are taken on a culinary experience that is varied and delicious, as opposed to a number of lodges and tea houses that offer a standard set menu.

Trekkers can expect cuisines such as the classic Dal Bhat (lentils, beans, rice and vegetable curry), pasta, momos (dumplings) and tasty regional breads. And, when dinner arrives, a generous three-course meal awaits. Yes, that's an entrée, a main, and a dessert — every evening — with plenty to go around, so you can even go for seconds at no extra cost! Not only that, the cooks secretly make a note of trekkers celebrating a special occasion or a birthday to later bring out a surprise cake that'll make you feel right at home.


 

2. Security

The last thing you want on a trip is to lose your wallet and when travelling to destinations, such as Nepal or Bhutan, carrying cash is a necessity with few shops and restaurants accepting card payment options.

By having meals included in your trip price, you eliminate the need to carry significant amounts of cash for food purchases. The convenience of having everything included can definitely lift the weight of responsibility from your shoulders.

3. Food safety and hygiene

By having a trained cook, you can feel confident your food is prepared fresh and under strict hygiene standards, lowering the risk of illness on your holiday.

On trek, produce is purchased from local communities where possible, so you know your meals are prepared with fresh ingredients, while non-perishable foods are often transported ahead of time. Porters and kitchen staff are, however, on hand to help carry food supplies and replenishments during the expedition.

Enjoy local cuisines during your expedition in the Himalaya. Photo: Sally Imber

4. Water

If you had to name a must-have item on a trek, we're sure water would be the top answer. When reaching high altitudes and undergoing strenuous and enduring physical activity, hydration is critical. Research has shown that regularly consuming liquids can help people acclimatise better and, thus, reduce feeling the effects of altitude sickness.

So, when you think about having to continually purchase bottles of water on a hike, it can seriously add up — not just in your pockets but in landfills with single-use plastic bottles. As part of our responsible travel efforts, we avoid daily plastic bottle usage and instead encourage travellers to bring refillable bottles, which we continually replenish with clean drinking water. So, you can rest assured that we take care of you — and the environment.

RELATED: 10 steps to being a sustainable traveller

5. Convenience

An eventful day of trekking and exploring can be tiring, so the last thing you want is to lug around extra supplies. Also, the task of buying, preparing and cooking your own meal may also be far from your mind after a long day on your feet, which is why on all World Expeditions treks in Nepal, a cook and kitchen crew accompany the group so you can sit back, relax and enjoy a freshly cooked meal.

6. Dietary requirements

A key concern for many travellers with specific health and dietary requirements is finding restaurants and food shops that can cater to their needs, especially when heading to remote overseas destinations. For those with any dietary requirements, World Expeditions’ cooks can accommodate most diets, provided that we are notified in advance. Coeliac? No problem! Diabetic? We have you covered. What’s more, meals are balanced and wholesome to provide you with enough energy to take on activities for the day. Healthy appetites build up when travelling, so it’s gratifying knowing that you will be provided with nourishing foods.

7. Dealing with waste

The proper disposal of waste and rubbish is vital when entering natural environments that are already threatened by deforestation, pollution and climate change. Therefore, as part of the ‘Leave No Trace’ campaign, our Himalaya treks are operated on the ethics of minimal impact, which include responsible waste management. When it comes to kitchen food waste, the biodegradable matter is buried away from campsites and streams and placed within deep leaf litter or in village composts. Paper and plastic are safely burned and where possible — such as in Bhutan — litter is taken to the nearest city where it can be recycled. By integrating these practices into our itineraries, our travellers can feel satisfied that their travels have left a positive impact.

 

 

By embarking on a complete trekking experience, which incorporates all meals as part of the trip cost, you can limit your spending once you leave home and focus on catching picturesque sunsets and admiring the majesty of the mountains ahead.

What have your experiences been when it comes to meal inclusions on your trip? Let us know in the comments below.

Thinking of hiking the great Himalayas with all the inclusive benefits? View our treks across Nepal.

Great Himalaya Trail: World's Most Epic Trek in Numbers

The Great Himalaya Trail is often described as a “trekking’s holy grail”.

It is the longest and highest alpine walking track in the world winding through the tallest mountain ranges and most isolated communities from Tibet to Pakistan. World Expeditions was the first company to offer the Nepal section of the Great Himalaya Trail in its entirety.

  Gokyo Lakes Nepal

Available exclusively through World Expeditions, here is the lowdown of what makes The Great Himalaya Trail – The Full Nepal Traverse so special:

1,700

kilometres is the length of the Full Nepal Traverse, from Mount Kanchenjunga in the east to Yari Valley in the west

150

days of walking is what it takes to complete the Full Nepal Traverse

2011

was the year that World Expeditions offered the complete Trail for the first time

6,190

metres above sea level is the highest part of the Trail you will trek

8

peaks of more than 8,000m are what you'll get to see along the way

18

days is what it takes to complete the smallest section of the Great Himalaya Trail; if you do not have 150 days to spare, the Trail can be broken into seven parts, which can be joined separately

13

people have completed the Trail since it was commercially launched in 2011 – that is just one more than the number of people who have walked on the moon (12)

1

tour operator in the world offers this unique experience: The Great Himalaya Trail - The Full Nepal Traverse is available exclusively through adventure holiday specialist World Expeditions

Manaslu, Nepal

The Nepal section of the Great Himalaya Trail offers a kaleidoscope of experiences. The landscape is defined by lush rhododendron and temperate forests, glaciated passes, high arid plateaus scarred by deep canyons, and the largest lake in Nepal, Rara. The people of remote mountain villages of Tamang, Sherpa, and Gurung are very curious and hospitable, and they welcome the very few strangers that have made it to their settlements in the mountains.

The Trail is a fantastic way of sharing the benefit of tourism dollars with isolated mountain communities that currently receive little to no income from this source. Trip gradings for the trail range from 7 to 9 with a duration of 18 to 34 days and of course the ultimate 150-day traverse. So why not set yourself a challenge and experience this challenging and at the same time rewarding trek. Call now for pricing and info!

How To Become A Dual Pilgrim: Camino + Kumano Kodo

Ever heard of the Dual Pilgrim programme? Not many have, but it’s worth exploring—no pun intended!

The Dual Pilgrim programme came about in 2015 when officials in Spain and Japan agreed to “twin” the only two UNESCO-listed pilgrimage routes on earth, the Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan and the Way of St. James (better known as the Camino de Santiago) in Spain.

Recognised by the United Nations as having cultural and natural significance, the two pilgrimage routes offer fascinating and beautiful ways to travel through well-preserved regions in the two nations. The Dual Pilgrim programme was designed to honour and celebrate those who have walked both trails.

HOW TO BECOME A DUAL PILGRIM

To earn a designation as a Dual Pilgrim, you have to walk a significant portion of both routes. You can complete either pilgrimage route first.

For the Camino de Santiago, you need to earn your Compostela (Pilgrims Certificate). That means you must walk at least the last 100 kilometres (Sarria to Santiago) or cycle at least the last 200 kilometres (various options are available) of the Camino de Santiago and that you walk one of four options for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.

Dual Pilgrim Certificate

Three of the four Kumano Kodo options are part of the Nakahechi Route. They include: Takijiri-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~38 km/23 miles), Kumano Nachi Taisha to/from Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~30 km/19 miles) or Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~7 km/4 miles) plus a visit to Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha. Or you can walk the Kohechi Route from Koyasan to Hongu (70 km/43 miles).

The ancient Kumano Kodo Trail network is known for its beauty and the deep dive it offers into Japanese culture. The 11th century trail visits the near perfectly preserved three grand Shinto shrines (Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Kumano Nachi Taisha) of the Kii Mountains, an area sometimes called the land of the gods. You’ll pass through mountaintop villages, enjoy soothing hot springs, and be left in wonder at sacred temples on this trip through authentic rural Japan.

We offer several beautiful walks that take in portions of the Kumano Kodo Trail.

Meanwhile, the Camino de Santiago is a network of pilgrims trails in mostly northern and western Spain that lead to the shrine of the Apostle Saint James the Great, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The various Camino routes pass through quaint Spanish villages and sparkling Spanish countryside.

Our friends at UTracks offer several walking or cycling journeys that take in various portions of the Camino de Santiago.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU BEGIN EITHER PILGRIMAGE

Before you start walking make sure to pick up a Dual Pilgrim Credential, a type of passport for pilgrims.

Dual Pilgrim Credential

WHERE TO GET YOUR DUAL PILGRIM CREDENTIAL

On our trips to both the Spanish Camino and Japanese Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes, you will be provided with your Credential on day 1 of your tour. 

If you are walking independently you can obtain your Credential at a local tourist offices or in some cases whatever accommodation you’re using.

More specifically, in Japan the Credential is available at these seven locations:

1. TANABE Tourist Information Center (next to the JR Kii-Tanabe station);

2. Kumano Hongu Heritage Center (near the Kumano Hongu Taisha, Hongu Town, Tanabe City);

3. Kumano Kodo Kan Pilgrimage Center (next to Takijiri-oji, Nakahechi, Tanabe City);

4. Shingu City Tourist Information Center;

5. Nachi-Katsuura Tourism Association tourist information center (next to JR Kii-Katsuura station);

6. Central Information Center, Koyasan Shukubo Temple Lodging Association (near Senjuin-bashi bus stop); and

7. Koyasan Tourist Information Center.

In Spain the Credential is available at tourist offices at the start of each Camino route. They are also available at the end, at the Turismo de Santiago Information Center (near the Santiago Cathedral). The Dual Pilgrim Credential is free of charge.

Along your chosen journey make sure you get your Credential stamped as a record of your pilgrimage. The stamps are reminiscent of country-entry stamps you get in your passport.

There are two sides to the Credential, one for the Kumano Kodo and one for the Camino.

On the Kumano Kodo Trail, the stamps are found in small wooden stands at temple sites along the walk. If the stamp is missing, ask the temple keeper.

On the Camino de Santiago, you can get your Credential stamped by the innkeepers where you stay.

Dual Pilgrim Badge
 
HOW DO I GET MY DUAL PILGRIM CERTIFICATE & BADGE

At the end of the Camino in Santiago, you share your stamp-filled credential with the tourism office and voila—you get a Compostela (pilgrim’s certificate).

The final stamp for the Kumano Kodo is available in the South Hall at the Kumano Hongu Heritage Centre. Here, you’ll also get your certificate.

Now that you have all the necessary stamps, you can register for “Dual Pilgrim” status. You can register after you have completed the second pilgrimage in either Santiago de Compostela (Spain) or Tanabe City (Japan). You’ll receive a nifty badge as well.

For registered Dual Pilgrims completing the Kumano Kodo Trail, the Kumano Hongu Taisha (shrine) has a short “Dual Pilgrim Taiko Ceremony”. This can be arranged at the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine office. Ceremonies aren’t available on all days.

For Dual Pilgrims that wish to share their experiences, you can ask to be included on the official Dual Pilgrim website.


For more information on either of these special pilgrimages, get in touch with our expert team.

8 Australia Wildlife Myths Debunked

Australia has an unfair reputation when it comes to our wildlife. Are the animals really that bad? The answer is an emphatic no. We dug into the stories and found some science refuting many of the myths.

1. Myth - Australia’s Snakes Will Kill Me

Reality

Venomous snakes live across much of Australia but—as with most wild animals—they live mostly in bushland areas. Occasionally red-bellied-black and eastern brown snakes are found in urban areas, but these encounters are rare, and snakes tend to shy away from humans.

The numbers are telling. Every year, worldwide snakebites kill between 81,000 and 138,000 people and cause long-lasting disabilities in another 400,000 people, according to research published in the Lancet. But those people are primarily in Africa and Asia. One reason for these numbers is that many residents of Africa and Asia live in prime snake habitat and they lack access to anti-venom treatments.

Only two people per year die in Australia from snakebite, according to The Australian Snakebite Project. 

Five to ten times more people die while riding horses than from snake bites, according to Safe Work Australia. And the cause for deaths that do occur is often people showing off and handling venomous snakes or people reaching into holes.

Also, snakes are shy retreating animals, and they’ll slither away from you as quickly as possible when you approach. The most important thing you need to do when there is a snake around is stand still until it has passed, then slowly move away from it—it’s that simple.

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2. Myth - Australia has Deadly Sharks Everywhere

Reality

Certainly, sharks are found throughout the world’s oceans. But when it comes to getting bitten by a shark, Australia is not one of the top places. In fact, Florida in the United States leads the world—by a long shot—in terms of shark bites.

According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), in 2019 there were only 73 unprovoked attacks worldwide and 39 provoked attacks. (See below for definitions.)*,**

“For decades, Florida has topped global charts in the number of shark bites, and this trend continued in 2021”, an ISAF report said. “Florida’s 28 cases represent 60 per cent of the U.S. total and 38 per cent of unprovoked bites worldwide. This is consistent with Florida’s most recent five-year annual average of 25 incidents.” During the same time period (2019), Australia saw a total of 12 unprovoked attacks—resulting in three fatalities. (Surprisingly Florida had no fatalities.)

Additionally, Australia has a robust programme of shark-spotting from the air as well as offshore netting that thwarts sharks’ attempts to get close to popular swimming areas. According to Time magazine, there has not been a fatal attack on a netted beach in Queensland since nets were introduced in the 1960s.

*“Unprovoked bites”—incidents in which a bite on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark.

**“Provoked bites”—when a human initiates interaction with a shark in some way, including harassing or trying to touch sharks, bites on spearfishers, bites on people attempting to feed sharks, bites occurring while unhooking or removing a shark from a fishing net and so forth.

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3. Myth - Most Australian Spiders (Which Are Everywhere) Could Kill Me

Reality

This myth is truly off the mark. There are an estimated 10,000 species of spider in Australia, but two species get all the credit for being scary: the redback and the funnel web. However, encounters with those species are few and far between.

According to University of Newcastle researcher Dr. Geoffry Isbister, “In Australia and the USA, bee and wasp stings account for many more deaths than spider bites. A recent review from Australia identified 45 deaths from bee and wasp stings during a 20-year period (1979–98). During the same period there were no deaths from spider bites. In fact, only 26 deaths from spiders have been recorded in Australia in the past century.”

Another study, undertaken by Dr. Ronelle Welton of the University of Melbourne and her colleagues, looked at records from hospital admissions and coroners from 2000 to 2013. The study found horses were responsible for 74 reported deaths between 2000 and 2013, while bees and other stinging insects were blamed for 27 deaths. Snakes were responsible for 27 fatalities. Not a single death was linked to spiders.

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4. Myth - Crocodiles Can Catch Me Even if I’m Running

Reality

Wrong! Crocodiles running at their top speeds have been recorded in various research efforts and according to researchers, “They top out at about 12 mph [19 kph] on land, and they can only do it for a really short period of time—for maybe 20 or 25 metres”, noted crocodile scholar Evon Hekkala of Fordham University.

A very fast human walker can reach speeds of about 18 or 19 kilometres per hour on land. So, even a fast crocodile cannot keep up with the much faster human. 

However, in the water it’s a different story. Crocodiles have been recorded moving as fast as 32 kilometres per hour in the water. Humans are much slower in water, obviously.

There are a few basic rules to keep yourself safe if you travel to croc country:

• Never swim in water where crocodiles may live even if there is no warning sign. Only swim in designated safe swimming areas.

• Obey all crocodile warning signs—they are there for your safety and protection.

• Always keep a watch for crocodiles. They will see you before you see them.

• Never provoke, harass, or interfere with crocodiles, even small ones.

• Never feed crocodiles—it is illegal and dangerous.

• Be extra vigilant around water at night and during the breeding season from September to April.

4a. Myth - Crocodiles Are Dumb

Reality

Researchers have found that crocodiles have complex social systems and can be trained like a dog. Using a clicking device, researchers trained crocodiles to come when they need veterinary treatment and food.

Salt water crocodile swimming in the Yellow Water Lagoon |  <i>Holly Van De Beek</i>
 

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5. Myth - If We Swim in the Ocean We Will Be Killed by Box Jellyfish

Reality

There are about 50 species of box jellyfish. And yes, one species of box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) has the most toxic venom of all the creatures on Earth. They do live in waters off Australia’s northern coasts—typically north of Geraldton, Western Australia and Bundaberg in Queensland (majority of visitors to Australia visit destinations south of these places). And they are present in the water more during October to May. People have died in northern waters due to box jellyfish stings, but deaths are uncommon.

When a box jellyfish’s tentacles drag across skin, fish scales, or other types of living surfaces, the venom-filled stinging cells are automatically activated. When the same tentacles are dragged across synthetic materials, the activation doesn’t occur. So, the best way to avoid being stung by a box jellyfish is to dress for it. Lycra and neoprene (wetsuit material) can protect swimmers from being stung should you encounter a box jellyfish. These suits are called ‘stinger’ suits.

Prevention is always better than the sure. Avoid areas where box jellyfish are known to be. Talk to locals, watch for warning signs. Swim only at beaches where there are lifeguards who might be able to help you if you are stung. Wear shoes. And consider bringing medical emergency materials just in case—notably a bottle of vinegar.

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6. Myth - Magpies Will Peck out My Eyes

Reality

Magpies do swoop and can injure humans. A five-month-old girl died when her mother fell while being swooped in 2021 and a cyclist crashed his bike and died while being swooped in 2019, but only in rare instances have magpies actually hurt someone.

The reason for swooping? In a study, researchers from Griffith University studied the behaviour of 10 aggressive (male-female) pairs of magpies with the behaviour of 10 non-aggressive pairs of magpies under three hypotheses: territoriality, brood-defence, and testosterone. The birds studied were in southeast Queensland.

“Behavioural observations strongly supported the contention that attacks on humans resemble brood-defence and did not support an association with territoriality”, the researchers wrote. In other words, it’s because the birds have chicks in a nearby nest. Since nesting sites for magpies are apparently a rare commodity, they are often used over and over again for years. So, defending that nest is part of the job for parent birds.

The best thing to do if you encounter a swooping magpie is to walk slowly away from the area. Magpies have been found to more readily attack you if you move quickly because they perceive a fast-moving creature as a greater threat. That’s why cyclists and runners are more often targeted.

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7. Myth - If the Box Jellyfish Doesn’t Kill Me a Blue-ringed Octopus Will

Reality

Despite their lethality and their often proximity to humans, blue-ringed octopus bites are extremely rare. According to a report in Clinical Toxicology, only three deaths have ever been reported worldwide, two in Australia and one in Singapore.

Blue-ringed octopuses are highly venomous, and a bite has enough venom to kill 20 people or more within minutes, but the blue-ringed octopus is one of the smallest threats humans face in the ocean.

One problem with blue-ringed octopuses is that they tend to live in tidal pools where children often search for tidal creatures like small fish and crabs. But, although they live in the neighbourhood, so to speak, blue-ringed octopuses are shy, retiring creatures and they are reportedly not particularly aggressive. Bites can occur when the octopus feel threatened.

The best way to avoid them is to avoid putting fingers and toes into small niches and holes in rocks where they like to hide. Blue-ringed octopuses are extremely small—just a few inches in size—and they like to keep hidden.

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8. Myth - Drop Bears Will Attack From Above

Reality

One myth that seems to get a lot of play is that of the mysterious “drop bear”. In one telling, drop bears are a carnivorous sub-species of koala bears that hang out in native Australian trees and attack humans by dropping onto their heads. They then haul their catch back up the tree and eat it there.

There is no such thing as a drop bear.

These supposed dangerous animals are described by the Australian Museum thus: “Around the size of a leopard or very large dog with coarse orange fur with some darker mottled patterning (as seen in most koalas). The creature is told as a heavily built animal with powerful forearms for climbing and holding on to prey. It lacks canines, using broad powerful premolars as biting tools instead”.

The museum states that drop bears can grow as big as 120 kilos and as long as 130 centimetres. And research has shown they only attack foreign tourists. One researcher described the drop bear habitat as “primarily … in the nightmares of tourists in Australia”.

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Kangaroos, wombats, koalas - these are the animals you are most likely to encounter on our Australian adventure trips. Don't let the myths hold you back from exploring some of our greatest wilderness regions.

Best Places To Experience Japan’s Cherry Blossoms

Spring is special in Japan. Very special. It’s cherry blossom season.

Indeed, cherry blossom (aka sakura) season is so special in Japan that the Japanese plan events around the blooming and can be seen out eating, drinking, and celebrating under the spectacular blooms.

The nation’s meteorological department has a special service dedicated to predicting the first blooms, and there are daily reports on the news as to where blooms are occurring. Television news in Japan follows the bloom as it moves north up the archipelago.

The push for information is for good reason. Cherry blossoms have a great variance in when they pop.

Japan’s more than 6,500 islands stretch for more than 3,000 kilometres along the east coast of Asia in a northeast to southwest sweep. Because of the wide latitudes, cherry trees blossom in the south in January while trees on Hokkaido, the northernmost island, don’t bloom until May.

Added to that is the simple fact that there are hundreds of species of ornamental cherry trees, each with its own blooming schedule. Typically, late March and early April are the periods that most travellers visit Japan for hanami (aka cherry blossom watching) in Japan.

Here are some recommended spots for hanami.

Cherry Blossom in Kyoto

Kyoto is a beautiful and distinctively Japanese city that has the feel of an open-air museum. With its traditional Japanese temples, teahouses, shrines, geisha, streets, and parks dotted with cherry trees, Kyoto is a must-visit if you want to include the sakura in your holiday.

Places we can recommend to experience hanami are: Maruyama Park with its giant weeping cherry tree; Philospher’s Path, Heian Shrine (in case you arrive after the peak blossoming period), Arashiyama district, and Nara Park with its “natural treasure” of sika deer. 

Mount Yoshino & Cherry Trees

When you join one of our spring departures for the Backroads of Japan trip, a highlight will be the hike out of Yoshino. You’ll follow a trail that weaves through mountains thick with cherry trees, then in full bloom, and take in the beauty of the area from wayside shrines and panoramic mountain passes. 

Mt Fuij in Spring

The Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko) area makes for a great backdrop to enjoy two of Japan’s most famous icons: Mount Fuji and the cherry blossom season. Some of our most popular adventure holidays in Japan take in this experience—and during day hikes in the area, you are likely to have plenty of photo opportunities. 

Osaka & Sakura

Just outside of Osaka you find Himeji Castle. As is the case with almost all ancient castles in Japan, Himeji Castle is surrounded by cherry trees. Visiting Himeji Castle requires only a short trip from the city centre (less than 1 hour) and it’s possible to visit the castle during your free time on our Backroads of Japan trip.

Best Places to See the Cherry Blossom in Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen is an urban oasis in Tokyo and generally regarded as one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era. Built as an imperial garden (only 40 years later it opened to the public), it boasts a certain special grandeur. With the traditional Japanese architecture, bridges and lakes this may well be the picture perfect sakura setting. 

With a hanami tradition of over 400 years, Ueno Park is one of Japan’s oldest public parks. Join Tokyo residents in celebrating the cherry blossom season before or after your visit to one of the many museums that are housed inside the park. 

Nachi Waterfalls in Spring

If you walk the Kumano Kodo, Japan's famous pilgrimage trail, you’ll enjoy sakura in the forests. You’ll experience the spectacular Nachi-no Otaki falls, the tallest waterfall in Japan (133 metres high and 13 metres wide), and as you reach the ancient wooden Buddhist Seiganto-ji (temple) you’ll go through a small gate and come upon flowering cherry trees and the brightly colored Kumaon Nachi Taisha, one of the three grand shrines of Kumano. 

Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle is one of the seven rare Japanese castles from the Edo period, and it’s surrounded by cherry trees. It sits in Hirosaki’s spacious Castle Park, where you’ll get to see some well-preserved Samurai houses and Zenringai. 

The area boasts 33 Zen temples, reminders of Hirosaki’s historic significance as castle town. It’s a fantastic place to take in the cherry blossoms, and we have set aside for a free day to do just this on our Japan Northern Explorer trip. 

The cherry blossom season brings with it a wealth of colour and an atmosphere that is very uplifting. Both day and at night, the streets of Japan are filled with hanami parties where the Japanese enjoy refreshments and conversation under the cherry trees. 

Sakura season is one of the best times of the year to visit Japan.


Want to plan a visit during cherry blossom season? Talk to our team to find out about this year’s blossoming period and to help you choose the right trip in Japan for you


Larapinta Guide Anna Dakin Wins NT's Top Guide Award

We often mention how our guides are the best in the business and apparently the judges for Northern Territory’s Top Tour Guide award agree.

Our very own Anna Dakin has been crowned the Northern Territory’s Top Tour Guide for 2022 and will represent the Northern Territory at the upcoming 2022 Australian Top Tourism Awards.

Based in Alice Springs but originally from the UK, Anna believes it was her passion for the landscape of Central Australia that cemented her win.

‘I really like to go the extra mile and learn all of the nitty gritty facts about specific areas of interest to me, which are mainly culture and geology and astronomy,' she said. 'It was that passion in learning the information and sharing. I love doing what I’m doing. I couldn’t be happier.’

Certainly, her happiness comes bursting out when you meet her. And why not? She has been guiding the Larapinta Trail for five years, and still finds joy in every step. She began guiding the classic Central Australia walk for us in 2019. She’s walked the Larapinta Trail dozens of times and never tires of the walking or the scenery

‘What I find special about the Larapinta Trail is there is an ancient energy in the landscape here that I think is really profoundly linked to the local culture, the Arrernte culture,' she said. 'And the more you’re here the more you kind of tune into it. I reckon there’s a strong presence of the ancestors in this landscape.’

Our guides will bring the small details of the Larapinta Trail to life

Anna, who grew up in northeast England, is quite at home in the Red Centre of Australia. She studied art in London, and in 2012 decided to visit the Northern Territory on a camping trip. In 2014, she walked the Larapinta Trail. She was immediately hooked. 

She then started bringing artist friends out to to the Red Centre and showing them the landscape. Oftentimes armed with art supplies, Anna and her friends would head off into the bush and indulge their passion for the environment and their art. The event-based group became known as The Artist Expedition Society. Eventually, Anna moved back to Australia and started working as a guide.

She is now a senior guide with World Expeditions. She’s in the process of writing a book about the environment for artists and designers, explaining aspects of the flora and geology that might not seem obvious to a casual observer.

She still paints (watercolours), but in the past year or so she’s gotten into sound recordings.

‘There’s a relationship between walking and time-based experiences and sound-based art,’ she notes. ‘There’s something about listening to sound in the moment versus listening to it in an isolated environment later. There’s part of the experience that’s captured in sound that’s not captured in other media.’

In one project several years ago, Anna travelled to Iceland during the winter. There, she and a friend wandered around at night capturing sounds.

‘It was so surreal because the Icelandic landscape is very different to other landscapes,’ she said. ‘It’s kind of bubbling, it’s alive with geysers and steam and other things that make noise. It was a really interesting way to experience a place. And then to try and translate that into an experience for other people was pretty cool as well.’

Anna plans to capture things about the Central Australian environment in art for people who don’t have the opportunity to experience this place firsthand. Ultimately, she hopes to do some big installation and exhibition art projects using space and sound.

 

Astronomy is another of Anna’s passions. She loves teaching people about the stars when she guides trips and she often holds mini workshops, too, in which attendees paint at night without the use of artificial light—'Paint the Light by Moonlight,' she calls them.

‘It’s great because there’s no light pollution in central Australia and it’s almost always cloudless,’ she said.

The Larapinta still excites Anna, but she’s also excited about a trip she has created herself, Culture and Art of Central Australia with Anna Dakin, which begins with a visit to the famous Desert Mob art fair in Alice Springs.

‘After the Desert Mob market we’ll head out and visit a couple of remote art centers, including Hermannsburg, the community which is the birthplace of Indigenous artist Albert Namitjira, and we’ll go to Papunya, where contemporary dot painting originated,’ she said.

'It’s going to be really cool,' she added.

Indeed—it sounds really cool.


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