Travel often begins with a mad flurry to sort out transport, book accommodation, then a flight somewhere far away. We strap into our narrow, mid-air seats and watch the world turn under us. When we get to our destination, too often we sit in a bus and watch a city go by. We become spectators instead of participants. The only way to be involved while travelling is to get amongst it – get on your feet, and walk – thru the cows and mad traffic of Calcutta, past the song of the azan in the dusty, twisted streets of Marrakech, into the swirling moped traffic of Hanoi. The best adventure walks of the world, however, are in the great outdoors, with the sky above and good earth beneath, where the pleasure is in the undertaking of the journey, not the destination itself.
The Inca Trail, Peru
Hiking the Inca Trail is more than just a walk in cloud forest – there is a spirituality in the smooth stones that make the path and a serenity in the abandoned ruins we visit along the way. Fog often fills the valleys and at night, the stars seem close enough to touch. At ruined sanctuaries along the way, my Peruvian guide, Carlos, scatters offerings of coca leaves to Pachamama, the Earth Goddess. Arriving at Machu Picchu after four days of hiking, just as the sun rises is a sublime experience – much more meaningful because hikers walk in the footsteps of those who made the Inca Trail itself.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal
Reaching Everest Base Camp is the ultimate walk of adventure walks – what could be more exciting than to be that close to touching the roof of the world? Base Camp is Nepal’s most iconic trek, and worth it for the views alone. Then there are the picturesque prayer flags, isolated monasteries, smiling Sherpas – not to mention the bragging rights! A trek to Everest Base Camp isn’t to be undertaken lightly; a reliable tour agent such as My Adventure Store, who specialise in (yes you guessed it!) adventure experiences, can make all the difference between success and failure.
Overland Track, Australia
Over 60km of combined boardwalk and trail, the Overland Track is one of the world’s most beautiful nature hikes. Located in Tasmania, Australia, the Overland takes hikers through the stunning landscapes of Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park for six full days. Glacier valleys, old forests, fragrant eucalypt, buttongrass heath and alpine fields set the stage for curious pademelons, snuffling wombats and calling currawongs. Day hikes in Cradle Mountain provide a taster of the full experience of this iconic Australian adventure walk.
Camino de Santiago, Spain
Perfect for history and culture buffs, the Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St James, is a pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the saint are buried. Medieval pilgrims walked the Way for months in order to seek penance, redemption or forgiveness. They slept in churches or safe houses along the way, granted protection from thieves and bandits by their devotion and the scallop shell they wore, the symbol of St James. Modern hikers now retrace the Way by walking, cycling or on horse (yes, really!) and sleeping modern pilgrim hotels, or albergues. The sleeping arrangements may have changed, but they still display scallop shells as they walk past the old Romanesque buildings of old churches along the Way.