Our new walking brochure has just hit doorsteps around the country, packed with a selection of brand-new trips from Ghana to Italy’s Prosecco region. Each of our new trips was carefully crafted by one of our Walking Product Managers, working closely with our expert local partners. Here are the stories behind our new trips.
Caroline Philips, Walking Programme Manager, has put together a selection of guided walking trips, from easy hikes in Indonesia to iconic treks through Nepal.
The first three of the new trips I’ve developed allow the traveller to discover the highlights of a fascinating country while also enjoying Easy or Moderate graded walks. I’m a passionate believer that exploring a place ‘on foot’ is the best way to really get to know its people and fully immerse yourself in its culture. Walking gets you away from the tourist hot spots, hiking along village to village footpaths, encounters with local people are natural and often less commercialised. Walking can take you to ancient sites or small temples that travellers relying on motorised transport can’t reach and will never see. On foot you can also still visit the classic ‘must see’ sights but on a different path to the crowds with a fresh perspective. I also believe the simple act of walking bonds you with the landscapes you encounter, from deserts to mountain, forests to coast, in a way that travel on wheels never can.
Rajasthan Village Trails
I’ve always wanted to create a walking trip in Rajasthan, I spent an extended time here as a backpacker and fell in love with its colourful cities with their exotic forts and places and tranquil desert landscapes lit by the soft amber light of a winter morning. But it’s in the villages that you’ll encounter a way of life little changed for centuries and discover what I consider the true heart of India. This trip is all about cultural immersion – we discover the bazaars and artisan workshops of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur on carefully planned heritage walks and trek between tribal villages in the ancient Aravalli Hills. I think the potential of Rajasthan as a walking destination has been overlooked – no one else in the UK market is offering a trip like this!
On Foot in Java and Bali
Indonesia’s been selling really well for Explore recently and even though the flights aren’t cheap, local prices are extremely attractive so the overall trip costs are great value for money. It was a logical choice for a trip that includes bucket list highlights alongside walks. I’ve opted to include the islands of Java and Bali in this Easy-graded trip. The larger island of Java has incredible volcanic scenery on the Dieng Plateau and around Mount Bromo and we’ll walk in both areas. We also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Buddhist site of Bromo. On Bali, we walk through the paddies between villages including a ‘herb walk’ on which stop to taste edible leaves, to suck the nectar out of the red flowers of the ’closed hibiscus’ tree and to drink fresh young coconut juice.
On Foot in Armenia
Following adventurer Levison Wood’s excellent recent TV series on the Caucasus, it’s sure to prove a 2018 hotspot for those looking to trek somewhere a little bit different. Price wise it’s the same as much closer-to-home and less exotic European destinations. Armenia offers treks through spectacular natural wildernesses and landscapes, unspoilt mountain villages with biblical views of the Ararat Mountains and visits to fascinating medieval monasteries. From the twisted rock formations of the Garni Gorge to high altitude Lake Sevan and the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Geghard Monastery, this beautiful country won't fail to impress. By keeping the walks Easy to Moderate grades, this is a trip for anyone who wants to discover Armenia’s cultural treasures as well as enjoy some mighty fine walks.
Hiking in the Caucasus
The lightbulb moment for this trip was the budget airline Wizz Air’s introduction of direct and excellent value flights from London Luton to Kutaisi – Georgia’s third largest city. Kutaisi is the gateway to the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains to the north and Georgia’s remote Svaneti region. The proud and hospitable people of Svaneti speak their own language and live in remote villages with distinctive medieval stone watchtowers. You can enjoy a week of Moderate-graded walking for less than £1,000 including flights.
Walking Lake Garda and the Prosecco Hills
Italy is one of Explore’s top selling walking destinations and I’m always looking for new parts of it to walk in. As there’s a bit of a buzz about Prosecco these days and we didn’t have a walking offering in the beautiful Veneto region where it’s from it was an obvious choice for a new trip. The trip is twin centre: flying into Verona staying at the northern, most beautiful, end of Lake Garda and in Bassano Del Grappa (where grappa is from).
Annapurna Luxury Lodge Trek
Our sales of trekking holidays to Nepal have been steadily increasing since the devastating 2015 earthquakes so it seemed like a great time to introduce another trip to complement our portfolio. I’ve chosen a ‘luxury’ trek to differentiate from our other trips and give our customers the chance to stay in the renowned Ker & Downey lodges, the most comfortable in the Annapurna. Each lodge has been carefully positioned to enjoy spectacular Himalayan views; their traditionally decorated rooms have comfortable beds and en suite bathrooms with hot running water.
Walking Product Manager Vicky Garnett has created a mix of group trips across Europe, North America and Africa.
Walking in the Eastern Algarve
Portugal has seen a rapid growth in popularity, and the country has so much potential for fantastic walking trips. This trip explores a different, less visited area of the Algarve. Suitable for all, the trip is graded as Easy, with relaxed walking and day trips from our base in the historic beautiful town of Tavira, combining scenic coastal and inland countryside walks.
Walking in Lanzarote
The Canary Islands are an increasing popular destination, especially for a winter escape to some warmth and sunshine. When looking at adding another island to our walking repertoire in the region, Lanzarote was the obvious choice, and if also graded slightly easier than other trips in the Canaries – Easy to Moderate. The island offers some spectacularly scenic walking not seen anywhere else from rugged coastlines to whitewashed villages and idyllic coves to lunar landscapes amid the dramatic volcanic scenery.
Hiking in the Polish Carpathians
This new trip in Poland is extremely good value, offering a week walking in the mountains of Poland, visiting both the Tatras Mountain range in the south and the outer Carpathian Mountains in Babia Gora National Park. Explore the dramatic peaks and valleys, lakes and highlander folk culture of this stunning country. This is a brand-new destination for the walking holidays market, as most of our competitors only offer the southern area from Zakopane.
Walking in Newfoundland
This new trip visits an area of Canada that is on the edge of the wilderness. Newfoundland Island is less visited and more traditional than the mainland with fantastic walking. There are a multitude of stunning famous coastal trails to explore with spectacular views around each corner and isolated communities to discover. This is also one for wildlife fans, with the chance to see puffins and abundant birdlife and to take a Zodiac trip to see whales and icebergs. Again, we’re the only tour operator to offer walking in this destination.
Slovakia – In Search of Bears
Bear watching at its best. This is a unique short break to Slovakia, combining some great mountain trekking in the Tatras Mountains with a search for bears in pristine wilderness. We have been working with a local partner dedicated to conservation and the national park to devise routes and have been given unique access into areas of the national park which are normally off-limits to tourists. The group size is limited to six and we trek accompanied by an expert ranger maximise the amount of time on foot, increasing the chances of observing bears in their natural habitat.
On Foot in Ghana
No other tour operator offers walking in this destination. This trip offers an unusual opportunity to enjoy walking whilst discovering the vibrant culture of West Africa – all in a week off work. Explore the hidden nature of Ghana on foot and discover the culture of one of Africa’s most fascinating yet underrated countries with the opportunity to experience the intriguing and ancient tradition of voodoo.