10 hikes you must do

From Kokoda to Syd­ney’s beaches

Paradise - - Contents -

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).

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