Holidays for me are far more about getting out and exploring than they are about kicking back and relaxing. Over the years, my style of travel has become increasingly about the great outdoors – and trekking. There’s no better feeling than being surrounded by nature, whether it’s mountain, jungle, desert or anywhere in between.
As much as I love a beautiful beach holiday, if I haven’t been hitting at least 15,000 steps a day then have I really been on holiday?
Here are 5 amazing trekking destinations – some destinations you have probably thought of for trekking and some that may surprise you! Where you would add to the list?
It probably comes as no surprise when I say that China is diverse, but you really can take your pick of landscapes. Not only that, but whether you are looking for a luxury holiday to China or if you’re planning on backpacking, there really is something for everyone here; on my last trip to China I stayed in hostels and some cost as little as £2 a night!
The landscapes in China range from grasslands and deserts to lakes and rivers, mountains plus more than 14,000km of coastline to explore. That brings a lot of trekking opportunities.
The Great Wall of China, one of the New 7 Wonders of The World, is an iconic to say the least. It runs across the northern part of the country from east to west. You can access many sites of the wall easily from the city of Beijing and it makes a good base for heading to less touristy parts of the wall. Jinshanling, 125km from Beijing, is a perfect spot to explore the Great Wall. Although this area has some of the steepest sections of wall to trek on, you’ll be duly rewarded with the beautiful views.
The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago, most famous for its wildlife – and Darwin connection, of course. It is teeming with plant and animal species that are found nowhere else in the world. Tourism on these islands is carefully regulated in order to preserve the beauty of the place.
The unique landscapes and nature makes the Galápagos Islands a dream trekking destination, with lava trails, the world´s second largest volcano caldera and lush cloud forest to get you started. As for wildlife along the way, you can see creatures such as flightless cormorants, sea lions, marine iguanas and giant tortoises on this island. You can visit the Puerto Ayora located on the Santa Cruz Island to see the Charles Darwin Research Station and Tortuga Bay for rich wildlife.
Cuba may be famous for its sugar white beaches, Spanish colonial architecture, salsa music and 1950 era cars, but it also has lush valleys, mountains and spectacular views to be discovered. The Viñales Valley is a popular for trekking and if you are short on time, it may be worthwhile to take a tour to make sure you don’t miss anything. The area’s fascinating landscape of tobacco fields and limestone boulders make it unmissable.
There’s also the Topes de Collantes National Park, which offers views of the Caribbean sea as you trek, with ancient caves to explore and crystal clear pools to cool off in along the way. Can you tell why Cuba is high on my travel wish list right now?
It might sound like I’m getting really far from the beaten track now, but Kyrgyzstan has a lot to offer to travellers – especially if you’re interested in trekking. It’s also considered central Asia’s most easily accessible country since travellers aren’t burdened with the same level of bureaucracy as many neighbouring countries.
I’m currently planning a trip there for a few months time and have a lot of trekking planned! Issyk-kul lake has countless hiking opportunities in and around its shores, while the higher altitude Song-kul is perfect for taking on a longer trek to reach its waters (around 3 days). The Tian Shan range is also full of trekking possibilities through alpine landscapes, with many starting from Karakol. Depending on the area you choose, you can camp or stay with nomadic families along the way.
Oman is not only one of my favourite countries I’ve visited, it’s home to some of the best treks I’ve done. Don’t be put off my its position in the Middle East; Oman is a welcoming, stable country and I felt completely safe travelling independently there.
Jebel Shams, or the Arabian Grand Canyon as it’s often known, is breathtaking. The balcony walk gives you stunning views and takes you to the fascinating ruins of a small village, high up on the canyon wall. JebelAkhdar is a similarly breathtaking trekking location. Trekking through JebelAkhdar takes you through villages, along farming terraces and, occasionally, adopts dry falaj (irrigation water channels) as the path – though you should only walk in the falaj where they are labelled as part of a route.
Closer to Muscat, the hike and swim at Wadi Shab is a quintessential Oman experience. You begin by crossing the river by boat then hike through the dry riverbed (wadi) at the bottom of the gorge. Eventually, the path turns into water and this is where you’ll need to leave your shoes and begin the swimming section. After around 15 minutes, you’ll need to swim through a narrow crack to be rewarded with the hidden cave and waterfall! Although it was by far the busiest hiking spot I encountered in Oman, it pays to get there early in the day as there were still pockets of time when we had the surrounding gorge to ourselves.
What’s the best trekking destination you’ve visited? Share your recommendations in the comments below!