Trails worth travers­ing

TH­ESE ARE SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST EPIC HIKES, AC­CORD­ING TO LONELY PLANET

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - CONTENTS - By He­len Cof­fey

The world’s most ex­cit­ing hikes have been re­vealed in a new book from Lonely Planet. In Epic Hikes of the World, the pub­lisher has listed 50 of the best walks as se­lected by travel ex­perts, from ancient trails to month­long treks.

The guide in­cludes prac­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion on the best time of year to at­tempt each hike, how to get there, where to stay and what to eat.

Walks are coded ac­cord­ing to difficulty, tak­ing into ac­count du­ra­tion, lo­cal con­di­tions and pos­si­ble in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

With hik­ing now the num­ber one mosten­joyed ac­tiv­ity for ac­tive trav­ellers, ac­cord­ing to a study from East Carolina Univer­sity and the Ad­ven­ture Travel Trade As­so­ci­a­tion, there’s never been a bet­ter time to lace up your walk­ing boots.

Here are nine of the best picks.

Cape Town’s Three Peaks, South Africa

Climb­ing the trio of peaks that over­look Cape Town — Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak and Ta­ble Moun­tain — is not the most ar­du­ous of hikes (all three added to­gether still fall short of South Africa’s high­est moun­tain), but it’s “a beau­ti­ful way to see one of the most beau­ti­ful cities in the world,” says the Lonely Planet guide.

Hard­core hik­ers can tackle all three peaks in one day, while a less in­tense ver­sion sees walkers com­plete the route over the course of a week­end.

Kil­i­man­jaro, Tan­za­nia

The 5,895 me­tres be­he­moth, Africa’s high­est peak by far, is on many hik­ers’ bucket lists — and with good rea­son.

It’s the world’s big­gest free­stand­ing sum­mit, but is rel­a­tively ac­ces­si­ble: no tech­ni­cal climb­ing skills are re­quired, so even less com­pe­tent scram­blers have the pos­si­bil­ity of reach­ing the sum­mit.

Around 35 per cent of the 30,000 trekkers who at­tempt the climb each year fail to get to the high­est point, Uhuru (Free­dom) Peak. But for the 65 per cent that do man­age it, the re­ward is a phe­nom­e­nal view from the roof of Africa.

Cho­que­quirao, Peru

So many trekkers head to Machu Pic­chu that the ancient In­can trail has had to in­tro­duce a tick­et­ing sys­tem to avoid over­crowd­ing. The hun­dreds of selfie-tak­ing tourists can be eas­ily avoided though, on the path to Cho­que­quirao — it gets just two dozen vis­i­tors each day. This sub­lime “lost city,” just out of sight at the far end of the Apurí­mac Valley, is said to be up to three times the size of Machu Pic­chu, but many vis­i­tors are put off by the prospect of a gru­elling, four-day round-trip.

For those that do bother how­ever, “a level of soli­tude unimag­in­able at most ancient mar­vels” awaits.

The Sky­line Trail, Canada

Tak­ing hik­ers through the heart of the Cana­dian Rock­ies, the Sky­line Trail runs for 44 kilo­me­tres be­tween Maligne Lake and Maligne Canyon, with more than half the trail run­ning above the tree­line. This means se­ri­ous views; the flip­side is that the route is ex­posed to the weather. En­coun­ters with bears are also a con­stant pos­si­bil­ity. But for all that, the trail of­fers gen­tler wildlife spot­ting op­por­tu­ni­ties too, such as mar­mottes and birds of prey.

Shikoku’s sa­cred tem­ples, Ja­pan

This 1,200-year-old Bud­dhist pil­grim­age in Ja­pan means hik­ers fol­low in the foot­steps of the great saint Kōbō­daishi. The route isn’t for the faint-hearted — it takes in 88 tem­ples along a 1,400km jour­ney that will likely take from 30 to 60 days to com­plete. Many pil­grims catch trans­port be­tween the tem­ples th­ese days, but go­ing on foot is the tra­di­tional way to at­tain en­light­en­ment. This epic pil­grim­age has its highs and lows, but it’s all worth it in the end.

The Great Wall of China, China

The Great Wall is no­to­ri­ous for be­ing a vic­tim of over-tourism, but cer­tain sec­tions still of­fer the op­por­tu­nity to stroll in soli­tude. The stretch from Gŭběikōu, a quiet ru­ral vil­lage about 130km from Běi­jīng, to Jīn­shān­līng, takes about two days to com­plete. It in­cludes a seg­ment that’s older than most, dat­ing from the North­ern Qi Dy­nasty, 1,500 years ago. This part of the wall doesn’t get so many vis­i­tors — Lonely Planet’s travel ex­pert writes: “I haven’t seen an­other per­son since I set foot on the old, stone sec­tion. I seem to have the Great Wall all to my­self.”

Lake District, UK

So beau­ti­ful it’s now a UNESCO World Her­itage Site, the Lake District has count­less gor­geous hikes to do. One of the most at­trac­tive to tackle in a day is a cir­cu­lar route start­ing and fin­ish­ing in Gras­mere. It takes two and a half hours to cir­cle the lake, but al­low­ing a full day is rec­om­mended — Wordsworth’s two homes, Dove Cot­tage and Ry­dal Mount are both en route, and wor­thy of a visit.

Il Sen­tiero Degli Dei, Italy

The Sen­tiero Degli Dei — the Path of the Gods — run­ning along Italy’s stylish Amalfi Coast has many charms, in­clud­ing ancient vineyards and un­beat­able sea views from the cliff tops. Be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of mod­ern high­ways, vis­i­tors and lo­cals re­lied on a steep net­work of foot­paths and mule tracks to get around — the Sen­tiero Degli

Dei is the most famed of th­ese old farm­ers’ trails, run­ning for 8km be­tween the ham­lets of Bomer­ano and No­celle, be­fore con­tin­u­ing to the sea­side re­sort of Posi­tano.

The Abel Tas­man Coast Track, New Zealand

One of New Zealand’s great walks, this route fol­lows part of the coast on the South Is­land. Start­ing in Wainui

Bay and fin­ish­ing in Mara­hau, it’s a 60km rambling route through rata forests fring­ing the coast­line of Abel Tas­man Na­tional Park, link­ing a se­ries of idyllic coves. For those who get tired of trav­el­ling on their pins, there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­plore via sea kayak — or sim­ply take a dip.

Il Sen­tiero Degli Dei, Italy

The Lake District in the UK is a UNESCO World Her­itage Site.

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