10 hikes you must do
From Kokoda to Sydney’s beaches
Thorsborne Trail, Australia Distance/duration: 32km/4–5 days
Appeal: Tropical escape Hinchinbrook Island, off the Far North Queensland coast, is the ideal place to live out any Robinson Crusoe fantasies.
Sprawling across nearly 40,000 hectares, Hinchinbrook feels like the land that time forgot. There are no resorts or roads here and the interior is a mix of dense rainforest and swamp from which six rocky peaks rise sharply to heights of up to 1121 metres.
Vast empty beaches are divine to walk on but it’s best to save swimming for the many rivers and waterfalls en route that are crocodile free.
Sitting in the rock pools above Zoe Falls, with views across the island and out to sea, is a highlight. Walkers need to be self-sufficient and carry all camping gear, but bush campsites have toilets and drinking water is plentiful.
Getting there: Air Niugini flies to Cairns. It’s a 2.5-hour drive south to Cardwell and then a water taxi across to the island.
Mount Fuji, Japan Distance/duration: Various/1–2 days
Appeal: High-altitude volcano Japan’s highest mountain cuts a striking figure, but climbing this conical-shaped volcano is no walk in the park. Its 3776-metre summit
Nothing compares to standing on the edge of a volcanic crater as it shoots streaks of fiery orange lava into the night sky.
can be approached from four sides, with paved roads carrying walkers about half way, but 1400–2400 metres of elevation still need to be gained to reach the top.
Huts provide places to rest or sleep along the way. While the trail is well marked and not technically difficult, altitude can be a challenge and temperatures regularly plummet below zero, even during the summer walking season of July to September.
The reward, though, is stunning views and the camaraderie of climbing with hundreds of other locals and visitors. Timing the climb to reach the summit for sunrise is popular and often provides the clearest views.
Getting there: Air Niugini flies to Tokyo. From there, public transport whisks walkers to the trailhead in about an hour.
Kokoda Trail, PNG Distance/duration: 96km/6–10 days Appeal: World War 2 history
Traversing the rugged Owen Stanley Mountain Range, this walk blends mountainous trails, rich local culture and the dark history of a World War 2 battle. The trail has become a pilgrimage of sorts for Australians whose predecessors fought under tough conditions against Japanese forces to reclaim the village of Kokoda.
Trekkers here walk in their footsteps, tackling steep jungle trails and frequent river crossings. It’s challenging, often with hot and humid conditions by day and cold temperatures at night. Rain often turns the route into a slippery mudfest. While it can be walked independently, going with a tour operator is recommended and nights are spent in tents or guesthouses.
Getting there: Air Niugini flies to Popondetta for a four-hour transfer to the trailhead at Kokoda. Masungi Georeserve, Philippines
Duration: 3–4 hours
Appeal: Karst formations and conservation The name of this conservation reserve derives from the word
masungki, meaning ‘crooked’, and its forest is full of impressive jagged limestone formations.
The reserve, opened in 2015, aims to educate and encourage people to commune with nature.
The Discovery Trail is reasonably energetic, climbing over and through a maze of spectacular rock formations, taking in a cave and the summits of Tatay and Nanay. Occasional rope courses add to the challenge, with highlights including a long rope walkway that doubles as a hammock high in the treetops, and a ‘spider’s web’ viewing Hong Kong Trail, Hong Kong Distance/duration: 50km/3 days
Appeal: Mountain trails, city views
For a destination known for its skyscrapers (9000 of them), shopping and dense population, Hong Kong has a surprising amount of green spaces. Winding in an east-west direction across the length of Hong Kong Island, this route passes through five country parks taking in lush forested trails, white sand bays and striking views over city and sea.
Eight sections range in length from four to 8.5 kilometres. One of the most popular is the Dragon’s Back, which undulates over a mountainous spine, elevating walkers above the treetops and providing spectacular city skyline views. There are no camping options en route, so walkers are required to bus it back to a hotel each night and tuck into some Peking duck and dumplings.
Getting there: Air Niugini flies to Hong Kong. Trailheads can be accessed by bus or transit rail. platform with spectacular views over Laguna de Bay, the Philippines biggest lake. Walking the route at night offers a whole different experience.
Getting there: Air Niugini flies to Manila and the reserve is 90 minutes from the city. Tanlines Philippines can arrange transfers (tanlinesph.com).
Out there ... the author on Australia’s Hinchinbrook Island (above); Japan’s Mount Fuji (opposite page).
The long march ... the Kokoda Trail (left); the Hong Kong Trail (above); a bridge crossing at Masungi Georeserve (below).