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The Great Tasmanian Traverse by the numbers

It’s the biggest adventure you can do in the smallest state of Australia. 

The Great Tasmanian Traverse is one epic adventure, but don't take out word for it, check out these numbers to give you an idea of the challenge that awaits.

The Great Tasmanian Traverse in numbers

 

1617

The height of Tasmania's tallest mountain, Mt Ossa, which features on the Overland Track section

1446

The height of Frenchmans Cap, a side-trip that features on the Franklin River rafting section

407

If you were to drive from the starting point of the trip to the end point, this is how many kilometres it would be

129

The length of the Franklin River in kilometres

65

The length of the Overland Track in kilometres (without side-trips)

39

The number of days that it will take to complete the Great Tasmanian Traverse

23

The amount of trekking days, and nights spent in a tent

18-22

Approximate average weight of the pack, in kilograms, you would need to carry on the trekking section

8

Days it will take to raft the Franklin River

7

Trip grading level out of 10 (challenging, the toughest level before entering mountaineering grading levels)

6-8

Hours a day of activity

5

The number of classic Tasmanian adventures that link together that make up the Great Tasmanian Traverse

2-3

Number of our experienced guides that will join you on each section

1

Tour operator that operates this amazing Tasmanian wilderness experience


On the couch with mountaineer legend Andrew Lock

As the first and only Australian to climb all 14 of the world’s 8000 metre peaks, Andrew Lock has lived more adventure, hardship and near death experiences than most people can imagine.

But why does he do it? Why does anyone take on such a challenge, knowing that they will likely die? We sat down with the mountaineering legend to ask him about his death-defying ascents and what motivates him to keep climbing.

Your CV of ‘firsts’ is pretty impressive, is there one that you are particularly proud of?

Gosh, there were so many really difficult ascents and I’m proud of every climb I undertook, however my first Australian ascent of Annapurna (Annapurna 1) is right up there as one of the best. It is the most dangerous mountain in the world and has a fearsome reputation of one death for every two summits.

On my first attempt, we were avalanched with one dead and three seriously injured.  My second attempt was a mind game, where the mountain threw every hazard at us and most of the team gave up but several of us overcame the dangers and our fear to reach the top. We had to risk assess every single step of the climb, had our hearts in our mouths for two months, and came psychologically shattered.  I was as proud of myself for surviving as I was for actually climbing the mountain.  That was in 2007 and it still hasn’t seen another Australian ascent.  Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend it.

George Mallory climbs mountains "because it’s there" – what or who is your motivation to climb big mountains?  

I suspect we had the same motivation but express it slightly differently. The peaks provide physical and psychological challenges. I want to know if I have the ability and motivation to overcome those challenges.

Of all your ascents, there are sure to be some hairy moments. What was the ‘close call’ that remains most ingrained in your memory?

Unfortunately there were many, but somehow I survived them where many others did not. On one occasion, I fell through a cornice at 8000 metres. I managed to stop myself but was left hanging four vertical kilometres above the glacier below.  Now that makes you hang on!

Then there were the avalanches, crevasse falls, and various other incidents along the way. There’s no doubt I was lucky, time and time again. But I do think that I had a helping hand along the way, perhaps because I was always very respectful of the customs and belief systems in those countries.

Your book, Summit 8000, allows readers to go behind the scenes on your 14 summits of the world’s 8000 metre peaks. Can you give us a teaser as to some of the stories people can read about?

I came onto the 8000 metre climbing scene a few years after Tim McCartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer and I wasn’t a part of a core group of climbing friends like they had. So, for me to climb all those mountains, which took 23 expeditions over 16 years, I had to find partners from around the world or climb solo. Sometimes there was tension and underhandedness by my so called teammates; other times, there was incredible camaraderie with like-minded individuals in the face of exceptional adversity. Always there was great adventure.

For most of my expeditions I climbed without oxygen or Sherpa support and in very small teams of two or three, but I also led commercial teams to the summit of Everest, filmed documentaries for Discovery Channel, climbed in large Army teams, and made solo first Australian ascents.

My climbing partners were generally international as I simply couldn’t find Australians who wanted to climb as regularly as me – in my light-weight style or on the tougher peaks. So, I climbed with some of the very best in the world, including Doug Scott, Voytek Kurtyka and Anatoli Boukreev. My experiences therefore were really diverse.

Overall, the book is a journey of discovery. Firstly, as I found my own inner strength and motivation to keep returning to these mountains where my friends and occasionally teammates perished, and where the mountains themselves sometimes seemed hell bent on stopping me from reaching their summits. Secondly, it is a discovery of the spirituality of the Himalaya and the magnetism that keeps drawing people back, and the wonderful alternative opportunities that life offers if we have the will to both recognise and seize them.

Do you find it hard to adjust back into the “real world” after months of life in harsh and inhospitable environments?

Certainly I used to, but not anymore. After more than 70 expeditions climbing, trekking, touring and adventuring to every continent on earth, I find it quite easy these days. That’s probably because I’m less ‘shocked’ by the cultural changes at each end of the spectrum and also because I love all those cultural experiences.

What food do you most miss while out on big expeditions?

Life can be pretty comfortable on expeditions these days. I confess to taking a coffee plunger to base camp and I always stock up on the local brew. Vegemite is a staple inclusion in my gear list, so with those two things I really don’t miss much.  When I come home I usually gross out on fresh fruit and vegies. And, if the company is right, a glass of Cab Sav... Mmm...

Three most important items in your pack on any expedition?

That’s easy and it hasn’t changed in 20 years:

  1.  My ice axe is my best friend on any climb – with it I can climb up, climb down, self arrest, dig a bivouac, belay other climbers and, most importantly, self rescue!
  2. My Goretex jacket is the first piece of clothing to go into my backpack and I never put it away – it lives in the backpack so that I can’t forget it.
  3. My Swiss Army knife. I never leave home without one (or two).
  4. Coffee plunger. Oh wait, you said three items.

Best place in the world to pitch a tent above 5000 metres?

Anywhere above 5000 metres is spectacular, but Camp 4 on K2’s Abruzzi Ridge at about 7900 metres is unbelievable. Extraordinary views over Broad Peak, the Gasherbrums, Golden Throne and much of the Karakoram range. Exquisite, but savage beauty makes humans pale into insignificance. Of course, it’s also quite chilly so one night is enough.

What is your advice to keen trekkers looking to take the next step into mountaineering?

You must decide if you want to be a climber or a guided client. They are completely different. If you really want to learn to climb, then do it the traditional way. Learn to rock climb (outdoors), do an alpine skills course and build your skills and experience. It takes years. Don’t rush it, enjoy it. If you just want to be guided up a mountain somewhere, that’s fine, but don’t make the mistake afterwards of thinking you are a climber. Keep employing guides unless you want to go through the process of learning to climb self-sufficiently. This is the only way to stay alive.


View current expeditions with Andrew Lock.


The brilliant fagus awaits you in Tasmania's autumn

If there’s one Tasmanian plant that could be called the life of the party, it’s the fagus.

The beautiful fagus has become such a popular part of Tasmanian folklore that there are now fagus crafts and jewellery, fagus helicopter tours, fagus-infused products like gin, and even a fagus festival (at Cradle Mountain, 24 April—8 May).

You might call it the little tree that could.

Also known by its scientific name Nothofagus gunnii, fagus is a compact deciduous alpine beech tree with small oval-shaped leaves. It has grown in Tasmania for 40 million years.

According to Parks and Wildlife Tasmania, fagus is a paleoendemic species of a Gondwanan group, and there are similar species of beech tree in New Zealand and South America. It goes by the name fagus, but it’s also called deciduous beech and “tanglefoot”—because it grows close to the ground and gets tangled up the feet of bushwalkers.

Watch the landscape change colours when you trek the Overland Track in autumn |  <i>Jason Charles Hill</i>

Fagus has been called a "winter-deciduous" plant—in fact, it's one of only a handful of deciduous plants in Australia—so it comes alive with colour in late April and early May. It’s a period that Tasmanians have come to call the “Turning of the Fagus”. Its small crinkly leaves, which look a lot like potato chips, turn bright yellow then orange then red (some even become a rich claret colour), and the plant covers huge swaths of the wilderness making for quite a show. Bushwalkers have been known to come around a corner in Tasmania and be overwhelmed by the beauty the fagus cover.

The best places to see fagus are on the flanks of Cradle Mountain, around Lake St Clair, in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, in Mount Field National Park, and in Southwest National Park. It’s worth a visit to any of these places for one of the great colour displays in Australia.

To be sure Tasmania is home to some stupendous vegetation. The state is also home to some of the most ancient plant species on earth, including King's Holly (estimated to be at least 43,000 years old), the world's tallest flowering tree, the giant ash, and many beautiful small plants such as terrestrial orchids.

And while fagus isn’t as famous as its Tasmanian cousins like the Huon pine or the King Billy pine, it’s far more colorful and will brighten up any journey in the Tasmanian bush, especially one that’s required an all-day, thigh-busting tramp.

From the CEO's desk: Adventure Travel snapshot

Few have seen as much in the adventure travel industry than our very own CEO, Sue Badyari. 

Since she began with World Expeditions, she has successfully navigated Australia’s first adventure travel company through the most testing of times, including numerous conflicts, political unrest, airline collapses, unprecedented natural disasters and now, a global pandemic. 

There are a very few that match her experience - and success - and that’s why we thought you might enjoy reading some of her thoughts on the Covid years, and the year ahead.


With regards to adventure travel, have there been any positives as a result of the pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the adventure travel industry, causing widespread closures and cancellations. 

However, for the World Expeditions Travel Group, we saw opportunities to fulfill some long held ambitions which has created positive changes in the way we work, as well as new products and business divisions. 

The pandemic created a boom in domestic tourism in every market where we have offices. This allowed us to continue our pioneering heritage to develop unique active experiences and even creating entirely new brands. Examples of this has been the establishment of an Eco-Comfort Camp in a third destination (the first two being Nepal and the Larapinta Trail), on the stunningly remote and tranquil Flinders Island off northern Tasmania and the development of Australian Cycle Tours, which now has 38 self-guided and guided cycling holidays across Australia's most inspiring landscapes.

The pandemic also gave us more time to focus on our processes, staff and Thoughtful Travel initiatives. Our organisation is now virtually paperless, our staff are enjoying the balance of working from an office and from home each week, and we’ve launched our Regenerative 2030 program, which sees our ambition to bring a regenerative travel program into each destination we operate in by 2030.

Cycling Myrtle Mountain to Candelo in Bega Shire |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Ebikes on the route of the Southern Highlands Cycle to Robertson |  <i>Kate Baker</i> Experiencing country Victoria by bike |  <i>Ride High Country</i> Crossing a small bridge on the route between Mendooran and Dunedoo |  <i>Michele Eckersley</i>
 

What’s returned strongly from the pandemic?

Domestic travel continues strongly, while overseas, places such as Nepal, Japan, Georgia, Europe and New Zealand are popular for travellers seeking remote wilderness travel where they can connect with nature on a trekking holiday. 

We’re also thrilled to see the Blue Mountains region of NSW, Australia, with all its fantastic canyons and hikes back strongly after the disruptive years of bushfires, floods, and lockdowns.

Which destinations haven’t reopened that you’re most looking forward to seeing?

Turkmenistan is the only country in our offerings that is currently not open. We are looking forward to it reopening so that we are able to offer our Silk Road tours through to Iran and our Five Stans itinerary, which was proving to be one of our most popular Central Asian adventures pre pandemic.

Are there still any hangovers from the pandemic travellers should be aware of?

While they are hugely lessened, there are still some hangovers from the pandemic that include some countries still with restrictions or vaccination certification requirements in place.

Airline schedules to several regions are still limited and therefore airfares can be expensive, particularly if booked with a short lead time.

Travel insurance premiums are high and, for certain market segments, particularly the more mature travellers, some health and safety concerns around travelling overseas still exist.

We believe these contributors are what continue to drive the strong demand in travellers exploring their own backyard. We relish the notion that so many people are enjoying adventures within their own country, particularly in Australia where we are spoilt for choice in our diverse and ancient landscapes which are often more pristine and wild than most popular international destinations.

How has the definition of “adventure” changed from 2020 to now.

Our definition of adventure travel hasn't changed since our first trek in Nepal in 1975, which is an active exploration of the outdoors, preferably in a sustainable and self-sufficient way, that tests your limits and provides personal growth opportunities.

What has changed is a growing appreciation for our style of adventure travel. The Covid bike boom has turned into a cycling holiday boom. Lockdowns and travel restrictions have redefined not only how eager people are to get back to exploring the natural landscapes of our globe with nature based activities, but also how they travel. 

There’s also an increased focus on sustainability, health and safety with many of our travellers.

What was your proudest achievement for 2022?

Winning the Brolga Award for Best Adventure Tourism product in the Northern Territory was a wonderful recognition of our Larapinta Trail operations. 

That's our fourth Brolga for our Larapinta trips, the first three for Ecotourism. 

We’ve put a lot of time and love into creating this unique Australian walking experience along the West MacDonnell Ranges supported by our exclusive Eco-Comfort Camps and an incredible guide team, of which one guide, Anna Dakin, was recognised as the NT guide of the year for 2022.

 

Others include the expansion of our Australian Cycle Tours division with a further 20 new cycling itineraries added last year. 

We’re also extremely proud of the World Expeditions Foundations fundraising efforts, which during COVID to last year raised over $150,000. These funds have supported guides, porters, office staff, cooks and drivers in over 15 countries with grants to support them while there was no income.

It was also fantastic to establish new ground operations in the USA with the acquisition of Adventure Travel West, our range of trekking and cycling programs within the USA.

What’s new that World Expeditions will be doing this year?

We’re excited to be rolling out the completed Eco-Comfort Camp on Flinders Island, which is set in a stunning seaside location off the north of the island and which will support a variety of walking and multi-day adventures. 

Hikers putting up their feet at our coastal Eco-Comfort Camp |  <i>Michael Buggy</i> Large comfortable tents at our coastal Eco-comfort Camp |  <i>Michael Buggy</i> Aerial view of our Eco-Comfort Camp communal tent near Marshall Bay Basecamp at our coastal Eco-Comfort Camp |  <i>Michael Buggy</i>
 

We’re also in the process of having all of our exclusive Everest Eco-Comfort camps renovated and themed, which will further build on our customers enjoyment while trekking through this dramatic region.

We have many new innovative programs that will be announced during the year which take our pioneering ‘off the beaten track’ spirit to new levels. 

And, while we can't let the cat out of the bag just yet, we have a fantastic speaking event planned for later in the year, which will be presented to audiences across the country with an inspiring message about adventuring, the plight of our planet, and how your holiday decisions can help shape the world into a better place. Stay tuned to our enewsletter or socials to be the first to know! 

What are your thoughts on how people should be choosing a destination?

Going remote is always a privilege for the traveller and a real benefit for the community who receive tourism dollars where it is most needed. 

Slow, respectful travel is the best way to travel because it builds cultural bridges, is brilliant for the mind and body, and, engaging with all of our responsible tourism practices, means we’re able to enjoy BIG adventures with a small footprint.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

We were deeply troubled by the impacts that the pandemic had on our partner companies across the globe. 

Its estimated that the adventure travel industry supports around 37 million jobs globally, so that was a lot of people who were without work. What I’m most looking forward to is getting back to what we all love doing in operating life-changing experiences for our travellers and all the crews around the world.

Tell us more about your Regenerative Travel Projects planned?

Regenerative travel is a type of sustainable tourism that goes beyond simply reducing negative impacts, but actively works to restore and improve the natural, cultural and economic outcomes of a region. We’re committed to having regenerative programs operating in every region we operate in by 2030 as announced last year.

Our projects are a collaboration between our travellers, World Expeditions and the project itself in the collection of micro donations from clients and WE donating $5 from every one of its travellers to create income pots that are then distributed to the projects.

 

On the Couch with Victor Saunders: British Mountaineering legend

Victor Saunders is a world-renowned British mountaineer who became a UIAGM mountain guide in 1996 after a career as an architect in London. 

Victor was at the forefront of Himalayan alpine climbing in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, and his first ascents include the North Pillar of Spantik, the first winter ascent of Langtang, the east face of Uzum Brak, the west face of Ushba, Jitchu Drake, and many others.

He has climbed the fabled Seven Summits, made a winter ascent of north face of the Eiger, and he climbed Shield Direct, the first grade VI route on Ben Nevis, in winter.

His other ascents include the Great Trango Towers, Manaslu, and Cho Oyu. He has summitted Everest six times.

Victor Saunders
 

Victor is a renaissance man whose talents include literary work. His first book, Elusive Summits, won the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature in 1990. His latest book is Structured Chaos (2021). An insightful, passionate mountaineer whose depth of knowledge of the Karakoram is unmatched, trekking with Victor is a rare experience and one to be savoured. Victor will lead our K2 and Gondogoro La trek in July 2023.

In this exclusive Q&A session, the mountaineering legend shares with us what draws him to the mountains and how his love affair with mountain regions has evolved.


How would you introduce yourself to our readers in 5 words? 

Still struggling to understand life.

Do you have a life motto. What is it and could you please elaborate on it?

Better to be twenty minutes late in this life than twenty years early in the next. In the mountains as in life, it is better to slow down and take stock of the situation before being too precipitated. 

What has been your most memorable mountaineering expedition so far and why?

The very first expedition in 1980, to Uzum Brakk in Pakistan. The first time is always the brightest and longest lasting. Your eyes and senses are filled with new experiences. You are like a newborn.

Which mountain/destination has long been on your mind, but you haven't had the chance to climb or trek, yet?

I have not yet had a chance to explore the length of Chile. I am keen to see the summit of Llullaillaco (6739m), the highest Inca burial site. I have visited bits of the Atacama Desert and trekked up Ojos de Salado, the second highest summit in South America. I have trekked in the Torres del Paine four thousand kilometres south of Ojos. In between there are a wealth of mountains in this amazing country. If laid across Europe it would stretch from Scandinavia to the Sahara.

What is it that draws you to the mountains and you keep coming back for more?

I don't know. It just happens

What is more important, the road or the destination? Can you please elaborate? 

The destination may be the initial prompt, the cause of the expedition, but the memories are always of the road. So, the process is what it is all about.

What, to you, is the best mountain view in the world? When did you get this view, what was it like? 

The best view is nearly always from the top. It doesn't last long. You have to go down, and not too fast!

You’ve visited Pakistan several times throughout the years. What memories do you have? Is there anything that stands out? 

Pakistan is a big complex country. When I first visited in 1980, there were still vestiges of the colonial past. In forty years, I have seen huge political upheavals and yet, all the time, the mountain people have been unchanged, the same friendly lovely people always.

What makes the Karakoram mountains unique? And what three words would you use to describe them?

Harsh, magnificent, remote.

What are you looking forward to the most from this trip?

Seeing the great granite spires of the lower Baltoro, the ice-covered giants of the upper glacier. These are sights that never tire. And then the descent into the Hushe valley where a mystical interpretation of Islam, Nurbakhsh Sufism, is practiced.

What should trekkers expect on this trek? What will be the biggest highlight of their experience?

The truly magnificent mountains, the arrival at Concordia, the crossing of a high Himalayan pass.

What would be your advice for someone who wants to do this trip? What tip do you have for their fitness/training routine?

A good general background of fitness is required. Long walks of several hours, as regular as possible. Go for endurance rather than strength.

What packing tip do you have for clients booked onto the K2 & Gondogoro La trek with you? 

As well as trekking boots for the pass, bring comfortable trainers for camping, wet river crossings, etc.

What does your role as president of the Alpine Club entail?

I have finished my last year of the presidency and have handed over the baton to Simon Richardson, a brilliant mountaineer who will be an excellent role model. So, in effect, I have no further role.

You published a new book last year, Structured Chaos. Can you give an introduction?

From the preface: "It has taken me a lifetime to realize that all the while, it was people and not places that I valued most. I have now been on more than ninety expeditions accumulating seven years under canvas. I have climbed on all continents, many of the trips bringing big adventures and occasional first ascents. And yet it is not the mountains that remain with me but the friendships.”

5 ways to experience Vietnam

For adventurous travellers seeking an experience in an exotic destination rich in culture, history and geographic splendour, few can resist the lure of Vietnam. Stretching down the southeast coast of Asia, Vietnam is full of magnificent emerald mountains, bustling cities, lush jungles, laid-back river villages and rich historical legacies. With so many experiences to be had, there are plenty of ways to immerse yourself in this spectacular country.

How many, exactly?

We’ve narrowed down the top 5 ways to experience Vietnam. Find out how you can visit the mountains on foot and interact with friendly locals, or visit the highlights of Vietnam by bike and cycle through rural villages. With eco retreats, multi-activity adventures, and more rest assured, whatever your travel style is, there’s an adventure waiting for you.

  1. Trek through Vietnam

Friendly village children in Ha Giang, Vietnam

Vietnam offers excellent trekking opportunities in the north that allow travellers to experience a range of pretty landscapes firsthand – from the cascading rice paddies, soaring limestone mountains and the deep highland valleys. One of the most spectacular regions to trek is the remote region between the Tay Con Linh and the Song Chay mountain ranges. Famous for its picture postcard scenery, minority villages and dramatic mountain trails, there is no shortage of fun to be had in this region. This rugged adventure explores a beautiful part of largely untouched Vietnam offering rustic landscapes with stunning views while exchanging with the communities and staying in homestays along the way.

Experience It!

Trek in the beautiful valleys in Vietnam's remote northwest on the 6-day Ha Giang Hike & Homestays. Departing daily from October to April, this is your chance to experience an area of stunning natural beauty home to diverse ethnic minority hill tribes. Book your space now

  1. Cycle through Vietnam

On the coastal roads from Hue to Hoi An, Vietnam |  <i>Richard I'Anson </i>

Vietnam is one of the leading travel destinations in South East Asia, thanks to its distinctive culture, fascinating history and incredible geography. Its buzzing cities, ancient towns and rural villages are studded with limestone mountains, deep-green countryside, tranquil highlands and palm-fringed beaches. One of the most spectacular ways to discover this diversity is to soak it all in while in the saddle. Exploring the unspoilt charm of this country off the beaten path and on two wheels allows travellers to experience Vietnam’s friendly, welcoming and hospitable culture firsthand. As you cycle by small countryside towns, be prepared to meet curious and friendly locals, where invitations to visit their homes are a frequent occurrence.

Experience It!

Join Vietnam By Bike Tour, a 14-day exploration of the Vietnamese coastline. Beginning in Hanoi, you’ll explore the spectacular Ninh Binh and Halong Bay and pass through ever-changing landscapes along the highlands, beaches and coconut groves before making your way to Ho Chi Minh City. Find out more

  1. Relax in a Vietnamese Eco Retreat

Accommodation views from Topas Ecolodge in Sapa |  <i>Sarah Hunt</i>

If you want to relax in the pristine and untouched environments of Vietnam, then a stay at an eco-lodge is a must. Experience the highlights of northern Vietnam including the ethnic communities, deep valleys and breathtaking mountain scenery. After only a few days soaking up the mountain views of the Hoang Lein National Park, you can be guaranteed you’ll leave refreshed and rejuvenated. The Topas Ecolodge in the Sapa region of Vietnam is largely untouched by the modern ways of life – which means no distractions from the panoramic vistas and exciting day walks available in the area.

Experience It!

Discover North Vietnam's fascinating ethnic minority groups and stunning terraced landscapes on the Sapa Eco Retreat trip with World Expeditions. Learn More

  1. Join a multi-activity adventure

Kayaking on the peaceful waters of Lan Ha Bay |  <i>Julie Hauber</i>

If your idea of the perfect trip is one that challenges your mind and body each day and is jam-packed with adventures, activities and exhilaration, then a multi-activity adventure in Vietnam is a must! Taking active adventures as you travel gives you a real opportunity to experience the diverse landscape of the country. If you can’t choose between exploring national parks on foot, cycling the rural roads or kayaking the tranquil bays, then why not do it all? Vietnam provides the perfect destination where active travellers can have their cake and eat it too!

Experience It!

Join on the Hike, Bike and Kayak Vietnam trip and paddle, cycle and trek around northern Vietnam as you gain a fascinating insight into the diverse cultures of this wonderful country. Find out more

  1. Combine Vietnam with Cambodia by Bike

Exploring the ruins of Angkor Wat by bike is a unique way to discover the UNESCO listed site |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

You are also curious about neighbouring South Asia countries? Combining Vietnam and Cambodia, this cycling adventure brings you from the fast-paced city of Ho Chi Minh City to the famed temple complex of Angkor Wat. Following the quieter roads to the Cu Chi Tunnels, we'll cross through to Cambodia and on to the traditional seaside fishing village of Kep, taking in the lush green countryside and fertile rice fields. Absorb the French-inspired architecture of Phnom Penh before visiting the renowned complex of Angkor – the flat roads around the temples make exploration of the area ideal by bike!

Experience It!

If you want to uncover the varied landscapes and cultural delights of Vietnam and Cambodia, join the Ho Chi Minh to Angkor Wat experience. Take in the sights of Indochina at the handlebar level. Find out more

 

Eight Big Things You Might Not Know About Alaska

In Alaska, everything is big—wait, huge. The mountains are huge, the waterways are huge, the animals are huge, and the spaces are huge. 

And the experiences are enormous. 

Here are eight things you probably didn’t know you could experience in Alaska that’ll make you realise how big Alaska is.

1. The biggest mountains in North America

But Alaska doesn’t just have the biggest individual mountain in North America (6,190-metre Denali), it has 17 of the United States’ highest mountains. 

During your 386-kilimetre drive from Anchorage north, up the George Parks Highway toward Denali National Park, you’ll see a huge white front of mountains (or is that clouds?—wait, it’s both) matching over the horizon towards you. 

That incredible view—reminiscent of the Himalaya Front when traveling north through India—is the biggest, tallest, wildest cluster of peaks in North America.

Native Caribou enjoying the sunshine |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>

2. The biggest national park in North America

As you fly to the tiny mining hamlet of McCarthy (they dug for copper here, not gold) via plane to do a bit of wilderness canoeing, you’ll be flying over portions of the Wrangell–St. Elias National Park, a park filled with animals, lakes, and (what else?) more mountains. 

And ponder this: at 13.2 million acres, Wrangell–St. Elias National Park is the size of Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Switzerland combined!

3. The biggest stretches of unpopulated country in North America

Alaska has very few people. In fact, it’s the least densely populated state in America, with just 1 person per square mile. 

If New York had the same density, there’d be 23 people in Manhattan. While the locals are quite warm and welcoming, you won’t come to Alaska to see people. 

You’re here to see those huge expanses of woodland, tundra and the classic taiga forest.

Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska |  <i>Amanda Mallon</i>
 

4. The biggest biome in the world

And speaking of taiga forest, it’s one of the things you’ll marvel at as you putter around Alaska. 

These forests can be thick and dark with larch, spruce, fir, and pine, or in places where the soil is less rich, the trees can be spindly and much less dense—reminiscent of trees drawn by Dr Suess. The taiga forest stretches across the entire northern hemisphere and scientists have described the taiga as the biggest biome (a geographical area that has similar plants as a result of similar physical environment) on earth.

Kayaking the breathtaking Shoup Bay |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>

5. The biggest shoreline in America

Alaska sits at the junction of three huge bodies of water: the Arctic and Pacific Oceans and the Bering Sea. 

It has more shoreline than all the other US states combined (more than 54,500 kilimetres). Of course, having 2,600 named islands doesn’t hurt. While you’re peddling around Shoup Bay, one of the many arms of Prince William Sound, you’ll be able to take in parts of Alaska’s massive shoreline up close, including the Shoup Glacier.

6. The biggest glacier in North America

And speaking of active glaciers, Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers which along with icefields cover an estimated 10 per cent of the state. 

The largest Alaskan glacier is the Bering. Combined with the icefields that feed it, it is 203 kilometres (126 miles) long and covers an area of more than 5,000 square kilometres (1,900 square miles).

Trekking on Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska |  <i>Sue Badyari</i>
 

7. The biggest numbers of brown bears in North America

There are 32,500 brown bears in Alaska, and at some point during your trip, you will encounter something bear-related. It might only be a paw print in the mud (and those are everywhere), or it might be a full-blown sighting (the author of this piece saw one in the suburbs of Anchorage). 

In Alaska there’s one bear for every 21 people, so keep your eyes peeled and more than likely you’ll spot one. (There’s a 98 per cent chance you’ll see a moose.)

Up close and personal with Grizzly Bear |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>

8. The weirdest geographical records in America

Sitting close to the International Date Line, Alaska is home to both the easternmost (Pochnoi Point on Semisopochnoi Island in the Aleutians) and westernmost (Amatiginak Island in the Aleutians) points in the United States, as well as the northernmost (Point Barrow).


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Kumano Kodo or Nakasendo Way—which Japan walking trail is for you?

When you start to research walking holidays ideas in Japan, you are going to come across the Kumano Kodo and the Nakasendo Way, Japan's most famous hiking trails. 

So, which one should you do?

Similiarities Between The Kumano Kodo and Nakasendo Way

Both the Kumano Kodo and the Nakasendo Way travel through mountainous regions, and they both offer a deep immersion into both the rich culture and splendid natural beauty of rural Japan.

Along both routes you’ll find hot springs (called onsen) and associated facilities like small traditional family-run hotels (ryokan) where you can relax after a day of trekking, as well as shrines that offer insight into Japanese religion.

But there are a few differences to consider when choosing which walk to do in Japan.

The Kumano Kodo - for the more confident walker

The Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes that was created when Buddhism came to Japan during the 6th century.

The classic Kumano Kodo trek, known as the Nakahechi route, traverses the rugged Kii Peninsular from the west to east, starting near the village of Kii Tanabe and ending near Katsuura on the east coast. It’s about 68 kms long, but don't underestimate the challenge based on the length.

The Nakahechi trek isn’t a straightforward walk in the park, so to speak. Much of the trail consists of cobble stones or dirt track with lots of tree roots. These sections can be uneven and difficult to walk on, especially when they are mossy and/or wet.

There are many sections of stone steps, and some of the forests are so dense and dark you’ll need to watch your step closely. In other areas it follows mountain ridges and offers expansive panoramas. While it’s rated 4 (introductory to moderate), the track undulates considerably for much of its length.

Oyunohara shrine's entrance is marked by the largest Torii gate in the world

The Kumano Kodo trail network has UNESCO World Heritage status. And, because of its remote location on the Kii Peninsula, you’ll encounter fewer people. On certain days, you might not see another party. There are, however, “get out” routes along the trail so you can get back to civilisation—e.g., a taxi or bus—easily.

To be sure, the Nakahechi route is really about the great shrines. There are three grand Buddhist/Shinto shrines along the walk: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha. These grand shrines will instill in you a feeling of ancient tradition and beguiling calm as you ponder their construction and the devotion of their pilgrims.

 

The Nakasendo Way - a snapshot into Japan’s past

The Nakasendo Way is less remote and travels from Kyoto to Tokyo through more populated areas of Japan, so it’s often done in smaller sections. In fact, because the Nakasendo Way is so accessible to public transport, many local people use public transit and walk only the most spectacular sections of the trail or short sections they have time for.

The Nakasendo Way is much younger than the Kumano Kodo network. It was established during Japan’s Edo period (1603–1867), built so that 17th century feudal lords, samurai and traders could transport their missives and minions between Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo).

For most of the hike, you’ll walk through beautiful bamboo forests, past stunning waterfalls, and through traditional rural areas. The trail is less demanding than the Nakahechi route, but it still has a few hills you should train for.

Passing through historic postal towns on the Nakasendo Way

The highlights of the Nakasendo Way are the post towns. Post towns are charming wooden villages dotted along the trail that were designed and built to offer royalty, samurai, and traveling merchants places to stay as they journeyed in this region of Japan.

Originally there were 69 post towns built along the 500-kilometre Way. Over the years some have burned down, and some have fallen into disrepair. Many of them have been restored at various times, their dark wood and traditional delicate Japanese design are pleasing to the eye.

Some travellers have likened them to a snapshot into Japan’s past.

Three of the most charming post towns are Narai, Tsumago, Magome, which are also home to museums. All the post towns along the Nakasendo Way offer unique gastronomical experiences.

Whether you pick the Kumano Kodo or the Nakasendo Way for your active adventure, you can rest assured that you’re going to see the best, most beautiful areas in the Land of the Rising Sun.


View Kumano Kodo walking trips

View Nakasendo Way walking trips

Larapinta Trail program crowned 'Best in Adventure Tourism'

We felt confident our Larapinta Trail walks were offering travellers a quality experience in the Red Centre of Australia. Now Northern Territory’s official tourism organisation has confirmed it with our fourth Brolga Award at Tourism NT's 2022 Brolga Awards, this time for 'Best in Adventure Tourism'.

The Adventure Tourism Brolga award recognises our entire Larapinta Trail walking program, from our exclusive Eco-Comfort Camps to our Indigenous-focused activities to wide range of offerings to suit nearly every ability.

“World Expeditions … are a world leader in sustainable walking holidays, offering multiple departures a week with 12 different itineraries on the Larapinta Trail utilising their four, multi award-winning exclusive eco-camps”, noted Tourism NT on their Brolga Awards Facebook page.

Nice words. We'll take 'em.

“Since being the pioneering first commercial operator on the Larapinta Trail in 1995 we have spent the last 27 years developing and improving on our product to ensure it is at a world class standard and is aligned with our ethos of Big adventures, small footprint”, said Michael Buggy, General Manager.

“It has been a privilege to share this beautiful country with so many travellers and we remain committed to respectfully connecting people with Arrente Country via our immersive walking experiences. It is an honour to receive this award and have the continued efforts of our entire team, from our guides in the field to our tireless Sales & Reservations staff, recognised with our fourth Tourism NT Brolga Award”.

The 2022 win builds on our Brolga Award wins in past years. In 2019, 2017, and 2016 our Larapinta Eco-Comfort Camps won the prestigious Brolga Award for “Ecotourism”. Winning the award for “Adventure Tourism” is a notch up from these previous wins as it gives a nod to our entire operation.

In addition, earlier this year one of our senior guides, Anna Dakin, was named Northern Territory’s Top Tour Guide for 2022, helping to make our Larapinta Trail walking program one of the most recognised adventure travel operations in the world.

World Expeditions are the pioneers on Australia's iconic desert trail, operating the first commercial guided small group walking tour on the Larapinta in 1995. Heading into our 28th year on the trail, it's humbling to know that our peers believe that our Larapinta Trail walks are still the best in the business. And we continue to offer the same high level of service on Larapinta walks as we did on day 1. 

“Winning a Brolga Award is the industry’s highest accolade and the recipients represent the best products and services in the Northern Territory,” notes Tourism NT on its website.


Ten Mountain Views With The Wow Factor

Mountains are a genuine attraction to travellers, and typically the more rugged and tall they are the more appealing to the senses. But not all mountain views are created equal.

The Himalaya certainly are tall, but there are other parts of the world where the vertical relief of a mountain within the context of its location make for gobsmacking mountain scenery.

Geographers describe mountain elevations in scientific terms (things like “topographic prominence” and “ultra prominence”), but we prefer to describe how high a summit rises above its surroundings in terms of our own “wow” factor.

You know, giant drops from summit to base.

Here are ten of the most prominent that you can visit on one of our active adventures.

1. Aconcagua, Argentina

The trail towards Aconcagua |  <i>Angel Armesto</i>
 

The tallest peak in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua is nicknamed the Stone Sentinel. When you reach it, you’ll see why. It pokes up above the surrounding landscape by thousands of metres. In fact, it is so tall it is visible from the Pacific Coast 100 kilometres away!  We can take you straight to the top.

2. Denali, USA

Amazing mountain views near Denali National Park |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>
 

Denali hulks above other peaks of the Alaska Range like a big brother. On our Great Alaska Adventure, you’ll get several opportunities to experience a magical view of Denali. You'll also encounter the genuinely wild wildlife and explore the starkly wide expanses of the 49th state.

3. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Spot incredible African wildlife on a game viewing safari
 

Kilimanjaro is of course a massive chunk of the earth’s crust, and one of the prettier sights of East Africa—a mass of white dazzling in the sunshine and floating above the horizon. Early explorers thought the snows of Kilimanjaro were clouds. 

We offer many different routes up “Kili”. But be prepared for the views from the base, in either Tanzania or Kenya. That's where its huge form will impress you the most. 

4. Mont Blanc, France

Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc |  <i>Michele Eckersley</i>
 

While Mont Blanc is not tall in world terms, it’s big, and local climbing guides would suggest the well-loved mountain punches above its weight. We offer several trips to the great white mountain in the heart of Continental Europe, including a mountaineering skills course for those keen to reach the summit, or a chance to circumnavigate Mont Blanc, through France, Italy and Switzerland, with our sister company UTracks.

Mont Blanc is such a dominant piece of mountain topography that its size will "wow" you from various locations.

5. Cuernos del Paine, Chile

Cuernos del Paine in Torres del Paine National Park ,Chile
 

Wedged between the tallest peak in the park, Paine Grande, a hulking giant of a massif itself, and the famous Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine) is a massif that captures everybody's attention when they visit Torres Del Paine National Park.

Technically, the Cuernos del Paine or 'Paine horns' is the collective name given to the set of spiky granite peaks, all of which stand at over 2000 metres high, found along the stunning W trek. 

The spikes have fittingly sharp names: to the north, the Aleta de Tiburón (Shark's Fin), to the east, from north to south, Fortaleza (Fortress), La Espada (The Sword), La Hoja (The Blade), La Máscara (The Mask), Cuerno Norte (North Horn), and Cuerno Principal (Main Horn).

6. Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Ay 4207m, Mauna Kea is the high point on the Big Island of Hawaii, and for many the highest on earth. Some argue that Mauna Kea is the true biggest mountain on earth as much of its bulk lies underwater. 

On our active trip to Hawaii, you’ll get opportunities to see Mauna Kea as well as chances to explore both active and inactive lava flows.

7. Chimborazo, Ecuador

Snow capped views of Chimborazo Volcano |  <i>Heike Krumm</i>
 

Hovering above the Ecuadorean rainforest like a flying saucer, Chimborazo is another contender for the biggest mountain on earth as its summit is the point farthest from the centre of the earth (because of the squashed nature of the globe). 

Edward Whymper of Matterhorn fame made the first climb of this exotic jungle mountain on the earths equator in 1880. 

8. Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

The jagged summit of Mt Kinabalu |  <i>Sabah Tourism</i>
 

At 4,093 metres, Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu is the third tallest island mountain on earth (after Puncak Jaya in New Guinea and Mauna Kea in Hawai’i) and the most dramatic natural feature found on the island of Borneo.

For those that choose to climb Kinabalu, you’ll go from steamy jungles to cool mountain air.

9. K2, Pakistan

In front of K2, the world's second highest peak |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>
 

K2, known as the Savage Mountain because of its toll on climbers, is a striking piece of the earth's crust when you first lay eyes on it. K2 rises so sharply from the surrounding glaciers its form can cause mountaineers to pause and reflect when they're headed up to climb it.

While we don't offer trips to climb it, trekking to K2 basecamp should be a bucket-list hike for any adventurer.

10. Fujiyama (Mt Fuji), Japan

Stunning views of Mt Fuji |  <i>Felipe Romero Beltran</i>
 

As you would expect from the Japanese, Mount Fuji is a beautifully symmetric mountain. 

Rising from sea level in the Japanese prefecture of Shizuoka, Fuji is the seventh tallest island peak in the world and can be appreciated on many of our Japanese adventures. From just about any angle, Fuji offers and impressive chunk of mountain real estate.

 

World's Best Mountains Ranges for Trekking

Individual mountains are a genuine attraction to travelers, and typically the more rugged and tall they are the more appealing to the senses. But oftentimes it’s the range the mountain’s in that makes a trekking route standout as a spectacular adventure.

Ranges like the Cordillera Blanca in Peru, for example, where there are hundreds of shimmering white peaks piercing the deep blue sky. The sheer number of peaks is simply overwhelming, and treks through ranges like the Blanca have a special feel to them— like walking inside a long cathedral rather than standing at one altar.

Here are ten of the best mountain ranges where you can trek and enjoy many peaks, standing shoulder to shoulder and layered upon each other, all at once.

Southern Alps, New Zealand

Trekker on Buchanan peak with Mount Aspiring behind, walking above Matukituki valley, near Lake Wanaka |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>

Enjoy stunning vistas day-in and day-out along a hiking trail not featured in any New Zealand guide book. Shh, it'll be our little secret. From remote lakes and valley systems, secluded ridges to splendour panoramas of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring from high vantage points, the Southern Alps is an exciting blend of adventure and wonder.

From moderately graded to challenging adventures, and even an alpine climbing course, there are plenty of options to explore the dramatic mountain landscape in New Zealand's South. We promise it will take your breath away.

Karakoram Range, Pakistan

 

An eternal favourite with all our experienced trekkers and climbers for it's vast number of tall, dramatic peaks in a relatively close proximity.

There’s an area in the Karakorum near K2 that has so many huge peaks (we’re talking 6,000-, 7,000- and 8,000-metre peaks) that it’s called the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods. But it's the sheer number of big mountains across Pakistan's entire Karakoram mountain range make it one of the great ranges on earth for trekking. 

Everest Region, Nepal

It's the world’s highest peak and one of our most favourite mountains on earth, so we had to add this beauty to the list. Mount Everest, or Chomolungma as it's known on the Tibetan side, entices more people to visit a destination than perhaps any other mountain on earth. There are many trails that take in the famous peak on the Nepalese side, the most famous being the Everest Base Camp trek via Thyangboche monastery, or you could simply drive to the Tibetan side for for uninterrupted views.

View our treks in the Everest region or our High Road to Lhasa, which offer a side trip to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side.

Sierra Nevada, USA

The sun sets on the John Muir Trail in California's High Sierra |  <i>Visit California/Michael Lanza</i>

The Sierra Nevada runs for over 640kms north–south in California and is known for its staggering array of granite peaks, domes, and ridges. 

One of the greatest long distance treks known to humanity is the John Muir Trail, a 344-kilometre jaunt from the spectacular glacier polished walls of Yosemite Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States at 4418m. It crosses a number of 4000m passes and wanders beneath high alpine peaks and traverses beautiful meadows and forested river valleys. Due to the remoteness a full-pack is required to undertake the John Muir Trail.

Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa

Walking in the Drakensberg Ranges on the Drakensberg Traverse trip.

The north east of South Africa is a region blessed with dramatic mountains and world class game, giving you a unique opportunity to combine both. Even more exciting is when you can experience this highland – home to one of the world's best mountains – on foot. In Kruger National Park, go for a real bush and big game experience or do the strenuous ascent of Amphitheatre.

Other hikes in the Drakensberg mountains include the Grotto, Cavern Big 5, Sugarloaf, and remote Cathedral Peak. If you love hiking, the Drakensberg is a must add on your bucket list.

Turkestan Mountain Range, Kyrgyzstan

The towering sheer rock peaks of Asan (4,230m), Usen (4,378m) and Piramidalnyi (5,509m) The verdant valley home of Dzhalgychy camp Ridge between Dzhalgychy and Orto-Chashma gorges
 

Central Asia is hot right now and deep in the heart of the Pamir-Alay mountain system are the towering peaks of Asan (4,230m), Usen (4,378m) and Piramidalnyi (5,509m), set in a backdrop of alpine meadows and picturesque gorges. With its stunning sheer rock formations and the sense of true wilderness, the area is often referred to as Asia's Patagonia - but with much fewer crowds.

Local legend has it that an old man who lived in the mountains had twin sons named Asan and Usen who were raised as warriors and later joined the military. Both were sent to war but neither returned, leaving their father stricken with grief. The father raised his arms to the sky and cried, "Oh Allah, you gave their lives, you then took them away. Return my sons to me and take my life instead." Allah, hearing his prayer, cracked open the ground and towering peaks rose toward the sky. It is believed by locals that the two bastions, standing alongside one another at the beginning of Karavshin River are the twin sons with the snowy white peak of Piramidalnyi in the background is believed to their father watching over his sons for eternity.

You can experience the best of the Turkestan ranges on our Ak-Suu trek which takes you along stunning gorges, through alpine meadows and to the remote and impressive peaks.

Vilcabamba Mountain Range, Peru

A group of trekkers near Salcantay |  <i>Mike Shrimpton</i>

The great Vilcabamba Mountain Range is the last stronghold of the Inca Empire. Here is where you can find the unique and spectacular 'lost' ruins of Choquequirao. When you trek over mountain passes, you will have stunning views of the Pumasillo, Humantay, and Salcantay (the ranges’ highest) peaks. Enjoy ancient cloud forest, abundant wildflowers and of course the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. It's offers an extraordinary alternative to the much busier Inca Trail and is one of the most best and most beautiful mountain ranges to hike in.

Patagonian Andes - Argentina & Chile

A trek in Patagonia will replenish the soul |  <i>Sue Badyari</i>

A climber once described the mountains of Patagonia as something out of a nightmare. Wild spires of granite and ice bursting thousands of metres into the sky. 

Indeed, the region’s sharp granite towers are so steep they literally look like knives placed in a mug with their blades pointing up. 

Yep, they're that exciting to look at. Experience them in both Argentina and Chile on one of our Patagonia treks.

West MacDonnell Ranges, Australia

They aren't the biggest, but they are one of the world's oldest. Tjoritja West MacDonnell National Park stretches for 161 kilometres west of Alice Springs and is home to the famous 223km Larapinta Trail, which begins at the Old Telegraph Station near Alice Springs and ends at Mt Sonder, the NT's third highest peak.

The ancient landscape, sculptured over time by climatic change and made famous by the art of Western Arrernte artist Albert Namatjira is on display in the West MacDonnell Ranges. You can find relics of a bygone tropical forest at many of the cool scenic gorges that act as a refuge for an assortment of plants and animals.

There are many gaps, gorges, rivers, chasms and pits across the West MacDonnell Ranges suitable for hiking, experience them on a Larapinta walk.

Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The Atlas Mountains in North Africa stretch across the top of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia and are renowned for their colours—red and orange rocks and lush greenery—as well as their traditional Berber population. This is a big mountain range, and the possibilities for exploration are endless. Join us in exploring these peaks, and its people, in one of our Moroccan adventures.


Feeling inspired? Browse our complete overview of trekking holidays to some of the world's best mountain peaks or get in touch with one of our travel experts around the world for more information and advice.

Which mountain is still on your bucket list to explore?

On the Couch with Rebecca Stephens: A special relationship with Africa

A few years after she led a trek to Ethiopia’s dramatic Simien Mountains with World Expeditions, Rebecca Stephens MBE prepares to return to Africa for another trek, this time on what she describes as her favourite mountain: Mount Kenya.

In this exclusive Q&A session, the mountaineering legend shares with us what draws her to the mountains and how her love affair with Kenya began.

What is it that draws you to the mountains time after time?

I feel properly alive in the mountains. It’s a combination of things: the aching beauty of the landscape and the big open skies. Then there’s something about using one’s whole body - every muscle, every sense - that awakens us and feeds our physical and mental well-being. 

There’s the thrill of the journey, seeing new vistas, new people, new cultures - and that wonderful connection with the earth, a reminder of our place in nature and our oneness with the universe. 

For me it’s the best tonic in the world, the mountains nourish the soul and I’d feel bereft without them.

I thought, ‘this is happiness, I’ve arrived.’

What has been your most memorable mountaineering expedition so far and why?

There’s perception, and reality. Everest changed my life and I’ll carry the label of first British woman to climb it to my grave.

But my most memorable mountaineering expedition wasn’t 1993 when I climbed it, but 1989 when I discovered it - everything fresh, brightly coloured, exciting, full of anticipation and hope. 

You have a special relationship with Kenya, don’t you?

I’ve had a long-standing love affair with Kenya since my student days when I worked there on a farm.

One of my most vivid memories is sitting in a beautiful garden, squeezing freshly picked lemons for juice to take on safari, whilst looking out at horses grazing in the shade of an acacia tree, and beyond, the vast expanse of the Rift Valley. I thought, ‘this is happiness, I’ve arrived.’

Blessed with stunning weather as we trek the Alpine Zone |  <i>Heike Krumm</i>
The glaciated terrain of Mount Kenya is one of the most spectacular trekking destinations in Africa |  <i>Chris Buykx</i> Descending from Point Lenana |  <i>Heike Krumm</i> Rebecca Stephens at the Lho La

Have you climbed Mount Kenya before? 

I have but on a different route, what was called the Ice Window, way back in 1991.

What magic to stand on the top, at the very pinnacle of a vast obtuse triangular shadow of the mountain cast across the savannah where life itself began.

What makes the Mount Kenya trek so special for you?

Asked what is my most favourite mountain in the world, my answer is Mount Kenya - more so than Everest, Denali or Vinson. It isn’t only the romance of the mountain itself with its rugged summits and beautiful names - Gates of the Mist, Batian, Nelion, Point Lenana - but where the mountain sits.

Much less populated than Kilimanjaro, it's surrounded by pristine moorland and rainforest and the real possibility of seeing game.

Do you have any fitness or training routine that you can recommend for someone who wants to do this trekking adventure? 

The best training is to do what you’ll be doing: namely, climbing hills. The gym might be all that’s accessible if living in the city - stair masters are great - but it is important to put on some boots and clamber up a few hills as well.

I’m lucky to live at the foot of the South Downs and my dog is always happy when I’m off on a trip, she gets a lot more exercise than she would otherwise. [red: find more training tips on our blog]

 

It would be crazy to go to Kenya and not go on safari.

What do you expect will be the highlight of the trekking tour?

I expect every step to have its meaning and joys, but highlights come from unexpected places - a glimpse of an exquisite dawn, a new friendship, the sense of achievement with having reached the summit, the list goes on…

The Mt Kenya trip finishes with a safari. How does this compliment the whole experience in the mountains?

It would be crazy to go to Kenya and not go on safari. There’s always a feeling of accomplishment having completed a trek, and a renewed appreciation of a hot shower and the luxury of clean sheets and a comfortable bed.

On this trip, this will only be heightened by the treat of witnessing Africa’s majestic animals in their natural environment. I can’t wait.

Finally… do you speak a few words of Swahili?

Jambo! Hakuna matata – no worries!  And how can any of us who've climbed in Africa forget, Polepole - slowly…up that hill. I’m going to have to get my phrase book out and brush up before we go!

 
 

Do you want to join Rebecca Stephens on her next trekking adventure to Africa? Mount Kenya and Safari with Rebecca Stephens departs in March 2023. Limited availability. Book your place now or contact us for more information.


 
Food costs on a Nepal trek: are meal inclusions worth it?

The last thing you want to find out after booking and spending thousands of dollars on a holiday is that there is a huge list of things that weren't initially included. One of those kickers is finding out that meals were never part of the deal, and this can prove to be a costly issue for trekkers and hikers.

Here are some key reasons why it’s a good idea to have your food included when heading on a trek.

1. Value for money

Many who book a holiday feel that taking care of their own meals for the journey will end up saving them money in the long run, but is this really the case?

On average, the prices for meals, snacks and drinks in tea houses or lodges across the Himalayas are not as cheap as you may think. Many companies advise that you should budget anywhere from $US650-$US800 for a 13-day trek, often with limited food choices — and many of which are fried. Incidentally, the cost of food has appreciated over the years and no longer comes at bargain prices, so by the end of your trip, you can rack up quite an expensive food bill.

Unlike most companies, however, World Expeditions provide customers with full-service meals on their trek as part of the trip price. On our Nepal treks, a cook and kitchen crew join travellers during their expedition to provide three hearty meals a day. A combination of local and European cuisines ensures travellers are taken on a culinary experience that is varied and delicious, as opposed to a number of lodges and tea houses that offer a standard set menu.

Trekkers can expect cuisines such as the classic Dal Bhat (lentils, beans, rice and vegetable curry), pasta, momos (dumplings) and tasty regional breads. And, when dinner arrives, a generous three-course meal awaits. Yes, that's an entrée, a main, and a dessert — every evening — with plenty to go around, so you can even go for seconds at no extra cost! Not only that, the cooks secretly make a note of trekkers celebrating a special occasion or a birthday to later bring out a surprise cake that'll make you feel right at home.


 

2. Security

The last thing you want on a trip is to lose your wallet and when travelling to destinations, such as Nepal or Bhutan, carrying cash is a necessity with few shops and restaurants accepting card payment options.

By having meals included in your trip price, you eliminate the need to carry significant amounts of cash for food purchases. The convenience of having everything included can definitely lift the weight of responsibility from your shoulders.

3. Food safety and hygiene

By having a trained cook, you can feel confident your food is prepared fresh and under strict hygiene standards, lowering the risk of illness on your holiday.

On trek, produce is purchased from local communities where possible, so you know your meals are prepared with fresh ingredients, while non-perishable foods are often transported ahead of time. Porters and kitchen staff are, however, on hand to help carry food supplies and replenishments during the expedition.

Enjoy local cuisines during your expedition in the Himalaya. Photo: Sally Imber

4. Water

If you had to name a must-have item on a trek, we're sure water would be the top answer. When reaching high altitudes and undergoing strenuous and enduring physical activity, hydration is critical. Research has shown that regularly consuming liquids can help people acclimatise better and, thus, reduce feeling the effects of altitude sickness.

So, when you think about having to continually purchase bottles of water on a hike, it can seriously add up — not just in your pockets but in landfills with single-use plastic bottles. As part of our responsible travel efforts, we avoid daily plastic bottle usage and instead encourage travellers to bring refillable bottles, which we continually replenish with clean drinking water. So, you can rest assured that we take care of you — and the environment.

RELATED: 10 steps to being a sustainable traveller

5. Convenience

An eventful day of trekking and exploring can be tiring, so the last thing you want is to lug around extra supplies. Also, the task of buying, preparing and cooking your own meal may also be far from your mind after a long day on your feet, which is why on all World Expeditions treks in Nepal, a cook and kitchen crew accompany the group so you can sit back, relax and enjoy a freshly cooked meal.

6. Dietary requirements

A key concern for many travellers with specific health and dietary requirements is finding restaurants and food shops that can cater to their needs, especially when heading to remote overseas destinations. For those with any dietary requirements, World Expeditions’ cooks can accommodate most diets, provided that we are notified in advance. Coeliac? No problem! Diabetic? We have you covered. What’s more, meals are balanced and wholesome to provide you with enough energy to take on activities for the day. Healthy appetites build up when travelling, so it’s gratifying knowing that you will be provided with nourishing foods.

7. Dealing with waste

The proper disposal of waste and rubbish is vital when entering natural environments that are already threatened by deforestation, pollution and climate change. Therefore, as part of the ‘Leave No Trace’ campaign, our Himalaya treks are operated on the ethics of minimal impact, which include responsible waste management. When it comes to kitchen food waste, the biodegradable matter is buried away from campsites and streams and placed within deep leaf litter or in village composts. Paper and plastic are safely burned and where possible — such as in Bhutan — litter is taken to the nearest city where it can be recycled. By integrating these practices into our itineraries, our travellers can feel satisfied that their travels have left a positive impact.

 

 

By embarking on a complete trekking experience, which incorporates all meals as part of the trip cost, you can limit your spending once you leave home and focus on catching picturesque sunsets and admiring the majesty of the mountains ahead.

What have your experiences been when it comes to meal inclusions on your trip? Let us know in the comments below.

Thinking of hiking the great Himalayas with all the inclusive benefits? View our treks across Nepal.

Great Himalaya Trail: World's Most Epic Trek in Numbers

The Great Himalaya Trail is often described as a “trekking’s holy grail”.

It is the longest and highest alpine walking track in the world winding through the tallest mountain ranges and most isolated communities from Tibet to Pakistan. World Expeditions was the first company to offer the Nepal section of the Great Himalaya Trail in its entirety.

  Gokyo Lakes Nepal

Available exclusively through World Expeditions, here is the lowdown of what makes The Great Himalaya Trail – The Full Nepal Traverse so special:

1,700

kilometres is the length of the Full Nepal Traverse, from Mount Kanchenjunga in the east to Yari Valley in the west

150

days of walking is what it takes to complete the Full Nepal Traverse

2011

was the year that World Expeditions offered the complete Trail for the first time

6,190

metres above sea level is the highest part of the Trail you will trek

8

peaks of more than 8,000m are what you'll get to see along the way

18

days is what it takes to complete the smallest section of the Great Himalaya Trail; if you do not have 150 days to spare, the Trail can be broken into seven parts, which can be joined separately

13

people have completed the Trail since it was commercially launched in 2011 – that is just one more than the number of people who have walked on the moon (12)

1

tour operator in the world offers this unique experience: The Great Himalaya Trail - The Full Nepal Traverse is available exclusively through adventure holiday specialist World Expeditions

Manaslu, Nepal

The Nepal section of the Great Himalaya Trail offers a kaleidoscope of experiences. The landscape is defined by lush rhododendron and temperate forests, glaciated passes, high arid plateaus scarred by deep canyons, and the largest lake in Nepal, Rara. The people of remote mountain villages of Tamang, Sherpa, and Gurung are very curious and hospitable, and they welcome the very few strangers that have made it to their settlements in the mountains.

The Trail is a fantastic way of sharing the benefit of tourism dollars with isolated mountain communities that currently receive little to no income from this source. Trip gradings for the trail range from 7 to 9 with a duration of 18 to 34 days and of course the ultimate 150-day traverse. So why not set yourself a challenge and experience this challenging and at the same time rewarding trek. Call now for pricing and info!

How To Become A Dual Pilgrim: Camino + Kumano Kodo

Ever heard of the Dual Pilgrim programme? Not many have, but it’s worth exploring—no pun intended!

The Dual Pilgrim programme came about in 2015 when officials in Spain and Japan agreed to “twin” the only two UNESCO-listed pilgrimage routes on earth, the Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan and the Way of St. James (better known as the Camino de Santiago) in Spain.

Recognised by the United Nations as having cultural and natural significance, the two pilgrimage routes offer fascinating and beautiful ways to travel through well-preserved regions in the two nations. The Dual Pilgrim programme was designed to honour and celebrate those who have walked both trails.

HOW TO BECOME A DUAL PILGRIM

To earn a designation as a Dual Pilgrim, you have to walk a significant portion of both routes. You can complete either pilgrimage route first.

For the Camino de Santiago, you need to earn your Compostela (Pilgrims Certificate). That means you must walk at least the last 100 kilometres (Sarria to Santiago) or cycle at least the last 200 kilometres (various options are available) of the Camino de Santiago and that you walk one of four options for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.

Dual Pilgrim Certificate

Three of the four Kumano Kodo options are part of the Nakahechi Route. They include: Takijiri-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~38 km/23 miles), Kumano Nachi Taisha to/from Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~30 km/19 miles) or Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~7 km/4 miles) plus a visit to Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha. Or you can walk the Kohechi Route from Koyasan to Hongu (70 km/43 miles).

The ancient Kumano Kodo Trail network is known for its beauty and the deep dive it offers into Japanese culture. The 11th century trail visits the near perfectly preserved three grand Shinto shrines (Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Kumano Nachi Taisha) of the Kii Mountains, an area sometimes called the land of the gods. You’ll pass through mountaintop villages, enjoy soothing hot springs, and be left in wonder at sacred temples on this trip through authentic rural Japan.

We offer several beautiful walks that take in portions of the Kumano Kodo Trail.

Meanwhile, the Camino de Santiago is a network of pilgrims trails in mostly northern and western Spain that lead to the shrine of the Apostle Saint James the Great, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The various Camino routes pass through quaint Spanish villages and sparkling Spanish countryside.

Our friends at UTracks offer several walking or cycling journeys that take in various portions of the Camino de Santiago.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU BEGIN EITHER PILGRIMAGE

Before you start walking make sure to pick up a Dual Pilgrim Credential, a type of passport for pilgrims.

Dual Pilgrim Credential

WHERE TO GET YOUR DUAL PILGRIM CREDENTIAL

On our trips to both the Spanish Camino and Japanese Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes, you will be provided with your Credential on day 1 of your tour. 

If you are walking independently you can obtain your Credential at a local tourist offices or in some cases whatever accommodation you’re using.

More specifically, in Japan the Credential is available at these seven locations:

1. TANABE Tourist Information Center (next to the JR Kii-Tanabe station);

2. Kumano Hongu Heritage Center (near the Kumano Hongu Taisha, Hongu Town, Tanabe City);

3. Kumano Kodo Kan Pilgrimage Center (next to Takijiri-oji, Nakahechi, Tanabe City);

4. Shingu City Tourist Information Center;

5. Nachi-Katsuura Tourism Association tourist information center (next to JR Kii-Katsuura station);

6. Central Information Center, Koyasan Shukubo Temple Lodging Association (near Senjuin-bashi bus stop); and

7. Koyasan Tourist Information Center.

In Spain the Credential is available at tourist offices at the start of each Camino route. They are also available at the end, at the Turismo de Santiago Information Center (near the Santiago Cathedral). The Dual Pilgrim Credential is free of charge.

Along your chosen journey make sure you get your Credential stamped as a record of your pilgrimage. The stamps are reminiscent of country-entry stamps you get in your passport.

There are two sides to the Credential, one for the Kumano Kodo and one for the Camino.

On the Kumano Kodo Trail, the stamps are found in small wooden stands at temple sites along the walk. If the stamp is missing, ask the temple keeper.

On the Camino de Santiago, you can get your Credential stamped by the innkeepers where you stay.

Dual Pilgrim Badge
 
HOW DO I GET MY DUAL PILGRIM CERTIFICATE & BADGE

At the end of the Camino in Santiago, you share your stamp-filled credential with the tourism office and voila—you get a Compostela (pilgrim’s certificate).

The final stamp for the Kumano Kodo is available in the South Hall at the Kumano Hongu Heritage Centre. Here, you’ll also get your certificate.

Now that you have all the necessary stamps, you can register for “Dual Pilgrim” status. You can register after you have completed the second pilgrimage in either Santiago de Compostela (Spain) or Tanabe City (Japan). You’ll receive a nifty badge as well.

For registered Dual Pilgrims completing the Kumano Kodo Trail, the Kumano Hongu Taisha (shrine) has a short “Dual Pilgrim Taiko Ceremony”. This can be arranged at the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine office. Ceremonies aren’t available on all days.

For Dual Pilgrims that wish to share their experiences, you can ask to be included on the official Dual Pilgrim website.


For more information on either of these special pilgrimages, get in touch with our expert team.

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