Forget the Inca Trail and the Camino de Santiago – sometimes you want to lace up your boots for somewhere new. So, whether it’s high-altitude beauty in Bhutan or trails fit for a Viking, here are four lesser-known hiking destinations that should be top of your list.
With its mountains, glaciers and iconic fjords, Norway guarantees get-away-from-it-all feelings and truly spectacular scenery.
Spring and summer are ideal for outdoor adventures here. Ålesund will give you easy access to some of Norway’s best hiking trails, including famous summits like Mount Saksa in the Sunnmøre Alps. Those who fancy a gentler approach can meander around the area’s rolling hills or hop on the ferry to explore nearby Sykkylven. If you fancy hanging up your boots for the day, head to Ålesund’s port town for Art Deco architecture, or to Alnes, a pretty fishing village with a protected lighthouse.
Rest weary legs at Storfjord Hotel, a secluded retreat overlooking the fjord that combines traditional Scandi style with stunning views.
Though it’s known for its beaches and wellness retreats, Bali is also a great destination for keen hikers. Leave your beach towel behind and wind your way through lush rainforests, with only monkeys and tropical birds for company.
It’s best to hike in Bali between May and September, the country’s dry season. But that doesn’t mean you won’t work up a sweat. Mount Batur – an active volcano – is one for the bucket list, with breath-taking views over Lake Batur (especially at sunrise). As is another volcano, Mount Catur, with a starting point at the eerie Gua Japeng caves. Campuhan Ridge, a paved walk near Ubud village, will give you a much more relaxed time. While Munduk jungle offers a choice of 12 beautiful trails past Hindu temples and thundering waterfalls.
Stay close to the action at Viceroy Bali, a luxury hilltop retreat in the foothills of Ubud with a spa, infinity pool and stunning views of Petanu Valley.
3. For heady scents in the desert: Morocco
Sweeping sands. Ancient kasbahs. Nights spent under star-filled skies. Morocco has lured intrepid travellers for centuries.
But if you’re not quite up to scaling Mount Toubkal, swap it for a few days’ trekking in the M’Goun Valley – or ‘Valley of Roses.’ Carved out of the red-pink stone of the M’Goun Massif, it erupts every spring into a riot of colour. If you come in early May, plan your trip around the three-day Festival of Roses, when the honeyed scent of thousands of Damask roses fills the air.
Take your potpourri back to Dar Ahlam, a traditional kasbah on the edge of the Moroccan desert.
Booking a trek to mystical Bhutan involves a little more than the usual effort. But its location on the edge of the eastern Himalayas certainly makes it worth it. Far-reaching plains give way to magnificent snow-capped peaks. Monasteries (dzongs) perch halfway up cliffs like eyries. And life is infused with the power of ancient Buddhist tradition.
Head to Phobjikha Valley for an introduction to the country’s stunning natural beauty. The Longtey Hike can be done easily in a day, taking you through copses of bamboo towards Gangtey Gompa, a 17th-century monastery. Or there’s the Gangtey Nature Trail, which descends to a traditional Bhutanese village and may, in winter, give you a glimpse of the country’s famous black-necked cranes.
Soak it all in from Gangtey Lodge, a magical Bhutanese hideaway – simply get in touch with our destination specialist, who will apply for your Bhutan tourist visa for you. For more information, read our full Bhutan itinerary here.