Trail tourism is here to stay – from the ever-popular Inca Trail to the much-awaited Transcaucasian Trail
Multiple benefits for both travellers and destinations alike
Broader choice with shorter and longer options, the opportunity to complete a trail in sections and self-guided itineraries in parts of the world that a few years ago was unheard of
From shorter treks such as the ever-popular Inca Trail or the still-in-development Transcaucasian Trail, trail tourism is taking off, with seasoned trekkers and keen novices alike drawn to the idea of completing an iconic trail, either in sections or ‘in one go.’
The benefits are multiple: for hikers, it offers a sense of accomplishment while doing an activity that they love and provides ample opportunities to enjoy authentic experiences and immerse in the local culture. From a destination’s point of view, it widens its appeal, generates more extended visitor stays and provides an additional source of income to the local industry, often at emerging or lesser-known areas.
Nathalie Gauthier, North American Manager for World Expeditions, which has been offering trekking holidays for 45 years, said:
“Although the concept of trail tourism is not new, recognising that it is a fast-growing sector of tourism development is a more recent development. An increasing number of tourism boards around the world are embracing the idea and actively promote hiking routes as part of their drive to attract new tourists and encourage repeat visitors to the destination.
We have introduced self-guided itineraries in parts of the world that a few years ago were unheard of, such as Patagonia, Japan and Everest. We offer the opportunity to complete an iconic trail in sections, for example, the Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal, and we provide shorter and longer options in popular trails such as the Larapinta Trail in Australia. Of course, we keep taking the paths less travelled, having added new itineraries from Kyrgyzstan to the far south of Chile.”
Below are some of the most iconic trails around the world – and how you can get a taste of them…
In development since 2015, once completed, the Transcaucasian Trail will extend more than 3,000km/1,850 miles in length in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, connecting more than 20 National Parks and protected areas. The Caucasus is among the most inaccessible mountains in the world due to a lack of reliable and detailed recent data. Anticipated by hiking enthusiasts as the next big thing in trekking, World Expeditions became earlier this year, the first operator to offer the option to trek selected sections of the trail in both Armenia and Georgia, the only two countries adequately mapped so far.
- Transcaucasian Trail Hike with World Expeditions departs May-September; Armenia section: 8 days, Georgia section: 10 days
Although the two sections are offered as separate itineraries, the dates have been chosen so keen hikers can complete the Armenia segment first and then continue the trail in Georgia
The Great Himalaya Trail
Winding between the largest mountains and remotest communities on the planet, the Great Himalaya Trail will ultimately connect five Asian countries (Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan). At the moment, only the Nepal section (1,700km/1,000 miles) is available to traverse, as it is the only part that has been walked and mapped thoroughly, taking five months to complete. A real exploratory experience, it takes in spectacular vistas of all of Nepal’s 8,000m/26,000ft peaks, while allowing trekkers to experience remote cultures in hidden corners of the country.
- The Great Himalaya Trail – The Full Nepal Traverse with World Expeditions (150 days) departs 24 February
Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes
A series of ancient pilgrimage routes that crisscross the mountainous Kii Hantō, Japan’s largest peninsula, Kumano Kodo leads to the sacred site of Kumano Sanzan, the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano. The trails date back to more than 1,000 years, with people from all levels of society who have made the pilgrimage after undertaking rigorous religious rites of worship. Despite the increasing popularity of pilgrim trails, Kumano Kodo remains off the radar for most international visitors: approx. Two hundred thousand people walk the trail each year, but most of them are Japanese.
- Kumano Kodo Coast to Coast Hike with World Expeditions (10 days) departs March-November
Great Walks of Australia
The ‘Great Walks of Australia’ are ideal for anyone seeking a softer, yet immersive, activity-based holiday combined with high-quality accommodation. A collection of the finest walking experiences in Australia, the initiative features a dozen guided walks through some of the most exciting parts of one of the most geographically diverse countries on Earth. The walks are selected to cover a vast array of landscapes, from the iconic outback scenery of the Larapinta Trail to pink granite mountains, verdant coastal forests, remote seaside villages and pure white-sand beaches.
- Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort, A Great Walk of Australia, with World Expeditions (6 days) departs April-September
The concept of crossing Jordan on foot is not new: as the centre of the King’s Highway, a trade route stretching from Egypt to Aqaba and on to Damascus, ancient paths have cut across the land that today constitutes the kingdom of Jordan for thousands of years. The recently completed Jordan Trail is a continuous 400-mile path crossing the entire country through diverse landscapes and terrain. From striking cliffs and rugged ‘wadis’ to archaeological monuments that showcase an illustrious past, the trail takes you from the forested Ajlun Reserve in the North to the Red Sea in the South.
- Jordan Trail Highlights with World Expeditions (10 days) departs March-November
Pacific Crest Trail
A symbol of the American West, the Pacific Crest Trail is the oldest National Scenic Trail in the USA (along with the Appalachian Trail in the eastern part of the country). It links the US borders from Mexico in the south to Canada in the north through the states of California, Oregon and Washington over 4280km/2,659 miles, although you can take in its beauty in sections such as the John Muir Trail. The trail travels deep into National Forests and protected wilderness, providing commanding vistas of volcanic peaks, revealing the beauty of the desert and unfolding the glaciated expanses of the Sierra Nevada.
- John Muir Trail with World Expeditions (23 days) departs July-September
For more information and bookings, please visit https://worldexpeditions.com or call 1-800-567-2216
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