Many of us hikers yearn for the water and find nothing better than strolling coastal shores or wandering alongside a river bubbling away on its journey.
There are all kinds of river walks all over our beautiful planet, but some are really, really special and we’ve searched hard to bring you the worlds best river walking routes, in our humble opinion.
The Ganges, India
The Ganges is one of the most famous rivers in the world and offers a wealth of walking opportunities. It has been the holy river of Hinduism for a very long time and is an extremely sacred place for the people of India.
For most of its course it is a wide and sluggish stream flowing through one of the most fertile and densely populated regions in the world. At 1560 miles it is relatively short compared with other rivers of the world but is extremely significant. Rising in the Himalayas and emptying into the Bay of Bengal its basin supports hundreds of millions of people.
For Hindus, the River Ganges is sacred and embodied by the goddess Ganga who is often depicted as a beautiful woman with a white crown.
Because of the purifying nature of the river, Hindus believe that any rituals performed at the banks of the Ganges or in its water will bring fortune and wash away impurity and this is why so many Hindus flock to the river.
The banks of the River Ganges host hundreds of Hindu festivals and celebrations each year. On the 10th of the month of Jyestha (falling between the end of May and the beginning of June on the Gregorian calendar), there are celebrations for the descent of the sacred river to earth from heaven. On this day, a dip in the holy river while invoking the Goddess is said to purify sins and wipe away physical ailments.
The Kumbh Mela is another sacred ritual and Hindu festival during which pilgrims to the Ganges bathe themselves in the sacred waters. The official festival occurs in the same place once every 12 years, although a Kumbh Mela celebration can be found annually somewhere along the river. It is considered to be the world’s largest peaceful gathering and is featured on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
A walk along the Ganges will be an incredible experience – go with an open mind and a yearning to learn about diffrent cultures and you will be delighted.
The Amazon, South Amercia
The Amazon river is the greatest river of South America and the largest drainage system in the world in terms of the volume of its flow and the area of its basin.
The total length of the river is at least 4,000 miles (the equivalent of the distance from New York City to Rome, incredible right?) with the largest portion of its basin located in Brazil.
It is estimated that about one-fifth of all the water that runs off Earth’s surface is carried by the Amazon and this immense volume of fresh water dilutes the ocean’s saltiness for more than 100 miles from shore.
Teaming a river cruise with a hike is one of the very best ways to experience the Amazon river at its finest. Travel deep into some of the Amazon’s largest protected reserves and experience different ecosystems and wildlife.
There are many incredible experiences to be had along the Amazon for the adventurers out there, including jungle walks into the rainforest, Pirahna fishing in the river, local community visits, swimming with the pink river dolphins, canopy bridge walking and even swimming in the river.
The River Nile
The River Nile is around 4160 miles in length and is the longest river in Africa and infact in the world. 22% of the Nile’s course runs through Egypt which creates a fertile green valley across the desert. In ancient times the ancient Egyptians lived and farmed along the Nile, using the soil to produce food for themselves and their animals.
The river actually passes through 11 countries; Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.
Lake Victoria, Africa’s biggest lake, is generally thought of as the source of the River Nile and on the northern edge of the lake water pours over a waterfall, known as Ripon Falls, into a narrow opening which some people believe is the beginning of the River Nile.
There are countless opportunities for walking along the Nile all with varying terrains and all with incredible views of the African landscapes. Some areas are more safe than others and all hikes along the Nile need to be really well pre-planned out. Generally local people will be hugely welcoming of you to their part of the earth but politics im some African countries are unpredictable and you certainly don’t want to run into trouble.
Cruising down the Nile can be a welcome addition to any hike – for centuries travellers have sailed stretches of the world’s longest river, finding the unexpected sights of river life every bit as thrilling as the tombs and temples you might see by foot.
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