Our resident walking and trekking expert, Walking Programme Manager Caroline Philips, worked as a guide before joining our Product team to plan the exciting adventures on two feet that we sell today. Here she tells us about her favourite places to walk in Asia.
I discovered my love for walking and Asia at the same time,
on an extended overland trip from the towering skyscrapers of frenetic Hong Kong Island all the way to the tranquil deserts of Rajasthan. I’ve been lucky to go back many times since, both leading trips and on my own travels. Many of my most memorable moments and rewarding encounters with the local people have been when I was out and about walking. I’m a firm believer that by exploring ‘on foot’, whether it be on a full-on trek, countryside ramble or urban walk, you will discover your destination in much greater depth. I guess that’s one of the reasons I love my job creating walking and trekking adventures for Explore!
The Nepal Himalaya
The highest mountain range on the planet – they’ve got to be in this list! Whether taking on a major challenge such as the Annapurna Sanctuary trek
or a more leisurely trek in the foothills
it’s hard to beat the sheer joy of breathing in the crisp mountain air and taking in jaw-dropping views of snow-capped peaks and terraced green valleys. Another pleasure of trekking in Nepal is spending time getting to know the incredibly open and hospitable people of the Himalaya that you meet on the footpaths linking its remote mountain villages.
Among the temples of Angkor in Cambodia
As a travel icon the temples of Angkor
have a lot to live up to and they didn’t disappoint me. The fact that they cover a largely forested area of over 400 square kilometres says it all – you need to get out on foot to explore them properly! Hiking through the steamy jungle, stumbling across the ruined temples, and bumping into saffron-robed monks along the way; you can definitely have your very own Indiana Jones experience.
Through the rice paddies and hill tribe villages of Vietnam
Emerald green rice terraces, hump-backed limestone hills and stilt-house villages are the fairy tale, timeless backdrop to many a hike in Vietnam
. From observing a field being ploughed by water-buffalo to encountering hill tribe families in colourful traditional clothes on their way to market, there’s always something interesting to see. If you’re lucky, you may be invited into a local house for a green tea or even some of the local rice wine.
Rajasthan’s Aravalli Hills
The ancient, rocky and forest-clad Aravalli Hills snake their way across the plains of Rajasthan
. Taking to the trail here you can discover magnificent forts such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kumbhalgarh, hilltop temples, tribal villages and wildlife such as chinkara, monkeys and many different species of birds. I find there’s something incredibly evocative about the early morning and late afternoon light in Rajasthan – the soft hues magnifying the pink and ochre hues of its desert landscapes. Watching the sunset over the Aravallis from a boat on Udaipur’s Lake Pichola is highly recommended!
The highlands of Sri Lanka
A sea of green slopes, interspersed with the occasional shadow of a silver oak tree; tea plantations are just one of the many landscapes I encountered walking in the highlands of Sri Lanka
. If you visit Sri Lanka during the December and May pilgrimage season, you should definitely make a pre-dawn ascent of Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada as its known locally), a conical mountain some 2,243 metres high. It’s a sacred mountain believed to have a giant footprint of the Buddha, Shiva or Adam (depending on your religious persuasion) near its summit. Joining the throngs of pilgrims on the ascent and watching the sunrise across the countryside below is a moving experience that stays with you for a lifetime.