There are so many ‘unreachable’ places that only the most explorative of people get to see. However, so many of these hidden treasures are easily accessible by foot. Walking holidays are an amazing opportunity to really get to know a place and culture, with the added bonus of finding little hidden gems that you otherwise wouldn’t have found! Whether it’s a magical forest with wildlife, that unique view from a footpath deep in the hills, a historical site or sense of seclusion in mountains, these can often only be experienced and accessed on foot, away from the roads and towns. Often the effort of reaching otherwise inaccessible places on foot is a rewarding one, as is apparent with the following examples.
Many people flock to the Canary Islands for the sunshine and beaches, enjoying the mild year round climate. However venture deeper into the islands and there are impressive and dramatic sights to be seen, some of which are best explored and accessed by foot. On the island of La Palma, in the Biosphere Reserve of Los Tiles, hikers head into the forest and mountains where you can walk through water tunnels to the springs of ‘Marcos’ and ‘Corderos’. These tunnels have been dug into mountains to carry the water that condenses on pine trees in the forests to the agricultural areas at lower elevations.
One of the most iconic and visited sites in the world, The Grand Canyon is a truly incredible sight to behold. The walls of the canyon tower thousands of feet above the River Colorado below. However, the more adventurous souls who decide to leave the crowded edges of the rim and descend into the canyon are rewarded with a different perspective. Aside from taking a boat down the river or an expensive helicopter ride, hiking down is the only way to get there. Surrounded by the red-rock of the canyon walls as you descend almost one vertical mile down, the mighty Colorado river awaits and where you can enjoy the magnificent palette of colours of the canyon wall, the cool waters of the river and a unique view.
Located above the upper Paro valley in Bhutan, Taktsang Palphug Monastery which is also known as Tiger’s Nest, is a temple built into the rock face 3000ft above the valley floor. Accessible only by path, the climb must be taken on foot or horseback. The steep uphill climb through forest is strenuous, especially at this altitude, but as the path gets ever higher the magic of this trek soon makes up for the effort. As views of the monastery get closer, walkers get a unique perspective of the temple on its dizzying perch and the sense of isolation grows. On the final stretch walkers must ascend 850 steps before finally arriving at the sacred and spiritual site of the temple. The satisfaction of reaching this by foot only adds to the breathtaking views and it would be hard not to be touched by the spirituality of this place, with the sound of chanting monks and the smell of incense filing the air.
Located not far from the town of Monteverde in Costa Rica, the Monteverde Cloud Forest reserve is home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna. The reserve not only has a network of walking trails but also a series of suspension bridges linking these trails allowing walkers to experience walking through the canopies of the forest. It is said that the majority of wildlife is to be found in the upper canopies of the forest, and those on foot may be rewarded with some unique sightings whilst walking over these bridges.
A small island in the Tyrrhenian sea, Stromboli is home to one of three active volcanoes in Italy. Reaching the summit of this volcano by foot is a special experience. Walkers can hike to the summit at approx. 3000ft but only when it isn’t erupting for obvious reasons! Starting off on the black sands of the island beaches the path ascends through vegetation and gets progressively more barren and rocky giving way to grey/black volcanic sands before the craters come into view. Constantly active, the volcano constantly belches clouds of smoke and occasionally shows its power with larger eruptions. A sensory experience not to be missed, the sunset gives way to moonlight and hikers often make the descent in the dark with the help of torches.
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