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Inspirational travel stories and offers to help you plan your trip.
Big toe was born for adventure – and his four comrades too! Follow your feet for scenic amblings and life-changing ramblings, it’s time for your best journey yet.
Mt Kilimanjaro – Tanzania
Coloured flags mark the summit, but it’s your weary legs and raspy breath that mark the head-spinning altitude. As Africa’s highest mountain and the highest free-standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro kisses the roof of the world.
You can trek this beast over the course of one week and you’ll need a good level of fitness and an unwavering determination to succeed. The terrain is steep with pathways weaving between boulders and overhangs; the route, in parts, scaled by slopes of shale. Your efforts will be rewarded with breath taking panoramas of craters, ice-fields and distant Kenyan plains. For altitude sickness, drink steaming ginger tea, a welcome sight before a pre-dawn tramp, when frozen volcanic dusk makes the mountain easier to climb. And then at 19,340ft you arrive at Uhuru Peak – Kilimanjaro’s highest point. You’ve made it. The feeling is beyond euphoric.
Sapa Hill tribe trek
With dream scenery plucked straight from a fantasy, the deep terraces that tumble down Sapa’s lush hillside are neatly packed with rice paddies and an obligatory mystical fog. Having arrived on an eight-hour train from Hanoi, this is where hikers embark on one of Sapa’s many hilltribe treks. For the adventurer who endeavours to combine hiking with culture, the relatively easy five-day itinerary includes one night in Sapa and one night with a local tribe family.
By day you’ll traverse gravel tracks and muddy trails, flanked on all sides by lush highland, grazing buffalo and many of Vietnam’s 53 minority groups that inhabit the landscape. You’ll immerse yourself in traditional village life, learning about Vietnam’s many diverse cultures and participating in their daily rituals. It’s a full two-days of rolling hills and trickling streams, walking beneath humid clouds and a billowing mist, before you return, by train, to Hanoi.
Machu Picchu – Peru
Entering the Inca sun gate at the very moment sun emerges from behind the Andes is not only spine-tingling, it also makes the 4-day hard slog undoubtedly worth it.
A land that time forgot, the 550-year old citadel surrenders to a warm orange glow. You’ll have spent the past 43km in relative pain, your thigh muscles screaming as you traverse misty mountains, humid forests and craggy pathways, but you’ll also have spent it amidst sacred Incan history, camping nightly and rising before the clouds clear.
A physically exerting trek, this is a tough terrain but the rewards are monumental. Each year there are a restricted number of visas so book in advance and acclimatise to Machu Picchu’s gruelling 14,000 feet altitude by spending an additional few days in Cuzco – chewing on Coca leaves to ease any altitude sickness.
Pathways of the Amalfi Coast
Sure, you can explore the Amalfi coastline by Ferrari or Vespa, but wheels don’t build your buns into steel. A self-guided Amalfi walking tour will do that.
For the physically fit you’ll walk up to five hours per day, in the blistering Italian sun, exploring 40km of dramatic coastline that’ll take you through granite cliffs and twisting paths; plunging hillside and zig-zagging mountain steps.
Look out for basking lizards, discrete shrines and valley hidden villages, as well as time-worn convents and tiny pebbled beaches with pontoons. From Limoncello-starts in Amalfi, you’ll pass shacks selling refreshments and trucks creaking under a mountain of melons, which after navigating steep hillside and sheer rocky drops, you’ll gladly receive.