Top of Yosemite Falls. (Photo: iStockphoto)
There’s no better way to explore a new destination than on your own two feet. Here, T+L’s hiking guide for your next great adventure.
Yosemite National Park, California
On the Yosemite Walking & Hiking tour from Backroads, stroll beneath a 1,800-year-old giant sequoia in the park’s Mariposa Grove and stay in the 123-room Ahwahnee hotel, a National Historic Landmark, before hiking to the roaring Lower Yosemite Falls alongside two naturalist guides. Six days from $2,998. ++ (see bottom for levels of difficulty)
Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming
Off the Beaten Path creates bespoke trips that combine the ragged peaks and pristine lakes of Glacier National Park with the abundant wildlife of Yellowstone. This spring the outfitter is partnering with Airstream 2 Go to provide top-of-the-line trailers as part of custom itineraries in the Rocky Mountains. Nine days from $2,900. ++
Appalachian Trail, Massachusetts and New Hampshire
Loop from Boston to New Hampshire’s Mount Washington during prime leaf-peeping season with G Adventures’ new Autumn Along the Appalachian Trail. The 27-mile route starts in Franconia State Park and continues to the scenic Arethusa Falls Trail. Six days from $1,599. +++
The Draw: Located in the Pennine Alps, on the border between Italy and Switzerland, the area around this 14,692-foot-high mountain is known for its rich village life.
The Trip: REI Adventures leads a trek between Grindelwald and Zermatt that will have you hiking up to 11 miles a day and exploring medieval hamlets along the way. Nine days from $4,775. ++++
The Draw: This valley in Switzerland’s easternmost corner is known for wildflower meadows, Bronze Age ruins, glaciated peaks, and charming inns.
The Trip: An inn-to-inn tour with Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures stops at cozy wood-paneled chalets and 17th-century houses. Seven days from $3,740. ++
The Draw: Gastronomy rules in northern Italy’s Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site with dramatic limestone formations, crumbling castles, and Austrian-influenced cuisine.
The Trip: On an itinerary from Whole Journeys, the new travel arm of Whole Foods Market, you’ll visit a farm where cheese and yogurt are made and hike past ancient shingle-roofed farmhouses. Seven days from $4,595. ++
Patagonia Made Easy
It can take up to two days to reach South America’s wild southern frontier from North America. If you’ve got limited time, Chile’s northern Patagonia is the easiest way into the region. Gray & Co. (from $1,200 per person per day; ++) has customized itineraries: take the two-hour flight from Santiago to Puerto Montt, where the six-villa Cliffs Preserve will be your base for expeditions to spot palm-size monito del monte monkeys and to visit the active Osorno Volcano.
Have a few more days? A two-hour drive (plus a 30-minute ferry ride) south is tranquil Chiloé Island, filled with UNESCO-designated churches and untouched nature preserves. Stay at the new Refugia, where all 12 rooms have views of Chiloé’s inland sea.
Classic Inca Trail
Mountain Travel Sobek (four days from $3,995; +++) tackles the most famous road to Machu Picchu in four days; for a glamping experience, Austin-Lehman Adventures (10 days from $3,898; +++) offers portable showers and even a massage therapist. Book early with your outfitter: the government issues only 500 trail passes daily.
Africa: Walking Safaris
Zambia: In the home of the walking safari, veteran Zambian outfitter Robin Pope Safaris offers a mobile camping trek through a remote part of South Luangwa National Park. You’ll spend days tracking lions or observing buffalo along the Mupamadzi River bank, and evenings at a roving camp with walk-in tents and Mara campfires. Eight days from $4,388. +
Tanzania: Ker & Downey’s Tanzania Walking Safari focuses on elephant- and giraffe-spotting in private concessions adjacent to Tarangire National Park and on Rubondo Island in Lake Victoria; you’ll also visit northwestern Serengeti National Park. A team will escort you to each of the three destinations, where you’ll stay at top-notch lodges and tents with en suite bathrooms. 10 days from $10,165. +
Africa’s highest peak (19,340 feet) is attainable—choose the pace that’s right for you.
I Just Want to Get to the Top: Machame Trail
The Mount Kilimanjaro climb from Micato Safaris takes the Machame trail (the fastest and most straightforward route), ascending 14,000 feet over the course of a week. You need to be in good shape, but afternoon tea and fireside chairs keep things comfortable. Also in your party? A guide, a chef, porters to carry your gear, and waitstaff. Seven days from $4,750. ++++
I’ve Got Time, and Lots of It: Lemosho Trail
If you have the vacation days to spare, take the 11-day Lemosho route, which gently ascends to the summit at a relaxed pace, making it easier to acclimate. Alpine Ascents pairs this route with a visit to Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. 16 days from $6,600. +++
The world’s highest mountain range is the spiritual heart of many cultures, all of which offer unique on-the-ground experiences.
Cultural Immersion: India
A one-hour flight north of New Delhi, the arid Ladakh region is filled with villages and Buddhist monasteries. Shakti Himalaya runs six homestays with large, comfortable beds and a private staff; guests use them as a base for visiting nearby communities and sites on foot. Eight days from $4,290. ++
Physical Challenge: Nepal
Snow-cloaked peaks rise out of deep valleys and narrow gorges in the Nepalese and Tibetan stretches of the Himalayas. Epic Tomato runs a trek on Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit and along the less-visited Nar Phu Valley, before crossing into Tibet. 15 days from $7,880. ++++
Level of Difficulty
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