The world’s most beau­ti­ful hikes

As the weather cools, it’s time to strap on your hik­ing shoes and take to the trails—but not the well-trod­den paths of Hong Kong. Plan your next hol­i­day to one of these beau­ti­ful des­ti­na­tions be­fore it gets too cold to make your way to the top. By Sophia

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Mount Rin­jani, In­done­sia

To­tal Jour­ney: 3-5 days, from Se­naru to Sem­balun Lawang

Dif­fi­culty:

Loom­ing over Lom­bok is­land, Mount Rin­jani is In­done­sia’s sec­ond largest vol­cano— and it’s still very much alive. Hire a lo­cal vil­lager as your guide from the trekking cen­ters at the Se­naru en­trance to keep you safe on the un­fa­mil­iar tracks. While the mid­dle reaches of the moun­tain are lush with green canopies, the land grows more rocky and des­o­late the higher you go. When you reach the vol­cano’s crater, climb to the rim and the turquoise lake is right be­low you, fringed by a chain of smok­ing moun­tains. Head­ing to the sum­mit is op­tional, but do so and you’ll be re­warded with a fun dash down the ash fields to the hot springs at Aiq Kalak for a mas­sage un­der the crash­ing water­fall.

Don’t miss… the pink beaches of Lom­bok, which get their color from crushed co­ral.

You can find one at Tan­jung Ring­git on the east side of the is­land.

$17,440 en­trance fee. Mount Rin­jani, Sem­balun Lawang, Sem­balun, East Lom­bok Re­gency, West Nusa Teng­gara, In­done­sia.

An­na­purna Cir­cuit, Nepal

To­tal Jour­ney: 17-21 days, from Be­sisa­har to Naya­pul

Dif­fi­culty:

Ex­plor­ing the Hi­malayas is a rite of pas­sage for die-hard hik­ers, and the for­mi­da­ble An­na­purna Cir­cuit is among the old­est and most beau­ti­ful trails of the range. The trek is fa­mous not only for the di­ver­sity of its land­scapes, from snow-capped peaks to the world’s deep­est canyon at Kali Gan­daki Gorge, but also for its in­ti­mate con­nec­tion with Nepalese cul­ture. Look out for the lines of col­or­ful prayer flags, be­lieved by Bud­dhists to send good for­tune to the world via the wind. The cli­max of the trek is the cross­ing of the Thorong La Pass, which leads you to the high­est point of the jour­ney, at 5,416 me­ters.

Don’t miss… Nepalese dal bhat, con­sist­ing of lentil soup and steamed rice, for a mighty dose of carbs and pro­tein to fuel your hike. As a lo­cal say­ing goes, “Dal bhat power, 24 hours.”

Start at var­i­ous en­trance points in Be­sisa­har, Nepal.

Snow­man Trek, Bhutan

To­tal Jour­ney: 19-24 days, from Paro to Lu­nana

Dif­fi­culty:

No­to­ri­ous for be­ing the tough­est high-al­ti­tude trek in Bhutan, the Snow­man Trek isn’t for rook­ies. For those up to the chal­lenge, the trail, which weaves its way into the heart of the Hi­malayas, takes you past a hand­ful of Bud­dhist monas­ter­ies and tiny vil­lages. Ex­pect to run into grif­fon vul­tures, Hi­malayan blue sheep (named for the sheen of their wool) and, if you’re lucky, some very ami­able vil­lagers as you trudge through the pine forests and yak herders’ en­camp­ments. You’ll be walk­ing among wisps of clouds for most of the jour­ney, stay­ing at an al­ti­tude of more than 4,000 me­ters for a large por­tion of the hike.

Don’t miss... Tak­t­sang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, perched on a cliff side and con­sid­ered to be the holi­est site in Bhutan. Start at Gu­nit­sawa Vil­lage,

Paro Val­ley, Bhutan.

Ku­mano Kodo Pil­grim­age, Ja­pan

To­tal Jour­ney: 1 day, from Tak­i­jiri-oji to Ku­mano Nachi Taisha

Dif­fi­culty:

The paths that criss­cross the south­ern Kan­sai re­gion, bet­ter known as the Ku­mano Kodo Pil­grim­age, have been trod­den by trav­el­ers scur­ry­ing between the area’s three sa­cred Ku­mano shrines for over 1,000 years. There’s no fear of get­ting lost here—English roads signs all over the well-beaten Naka­hechi route will keep you on track. Pop into the Ku­mano Hongu Taisha grand shrine (8am-5pm daily, free) to ask for bless­ings, or sim­ply to ad­mire the tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­ture. Walk an­other 30 min­utes and you’ll find your­self at the foot of Dai­mon Zaka, a bam­boo-lined cob­ble­stone stair­case with a pair of root-en­twined “hus­band and wife” cedar trees at the end. Rent a ki­mono at the Dai­mon­zaka-chaya tea­house nearby ($150-250 from 392-4 Nachisan, Nachi Kat­suura, Hi­gashimuro, Wakayama) and take a lazy stroll to the holy Nachi Falls, just as Ja­panese no­bles did back in the 11th cen­tury.

Don’t miss… The UNESCO World Her­itage on­sen, Tsub­oyu, a hum­ble cabin by the creeks that is steeped in folk­lore and le­gends. You can even have the whole bath to your­self for half an hour ($60). Start at Tak­i­jiri-oji, Tan­abe, Wakayama Pre­fec­ture, Ja­pan.

Mount Rin­jani

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