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Best long-distance trails & treks around the world

Plan for a longer holiday, put your mind onto 'airplane mode' and seek out these remote places only accessible by foot at a more relaxed pace to truly connect with the wilderness.

It's all about travelling less and seeing more. Seeing more of the beautiful wildlife, admiring natural landscapes few others ever will, interacting with local communities who rarely see westerners and setting yourself on a path of self discovery and personal achievement, all while leaving a small environmental footprint on your BIG trekking adventure.

Experience more of the destination within a destination on these world-class long-distance walking holidays which will see you switching off and reinvigorating yourself in some of the world's most remote and sublime wilderness locations.

Bhutan Snowman Trek

Undertaken by only a handful of trekkers each season, it’s our most challenging Bhutan trek.

How long is it? Around 250km
Duration of trek: 27 days
Difficulty: Graded 8 – Exploratory trekking. Designed for experienced adventurers seeking a challenge.
Start and end point: Paro

IMG_9115 |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i> IMG_9169 |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i> IMG_8531 |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>
 

What makes it special? Crossing 11 passes over 4500 metres in some of the most isolated regions of Bhutan. You’ll absorb magnificent mountain views, explore hidden valleys and bask in the serenity of high-altitude lakes. You may even encounter fresh tracks from the elusive snow leopard like our 2019 trekkers!

When to go:
October. This is an ideal time to appreciate Bhutan’s autumnal colours and experience sublime mountain views. A number of cultural and religious events occur during October, including the special Jomolhari festival.

Transcaucasian Trail

Be one of the first to experience the recently opened Transcaucasian trail brimming with history and scenic brilliance.

How long is it? Once completed, it will extend more than 3,000km in length through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, connecting more than 20 national parks and protected areas.
Duration of trek: While the full route is still being developed, you can trek sections of the trail in Armenia and Georgia over 18 days, the only two countries adequately mapped so far.
Difficulty: Graded 5 – Moderate. Designed for those with reasonable fitness and health and who have a relatively active lifestyle.

Hikers enjoying the lower Caucasus. Enjoy fantastic, fresh meals during along the Transcaucasian Trail |  <i>Breanna Wilson</i> Traces of medieval architecture remain throughout the country |  <i>Julie Haber</i> Wilderness hiking along paths less trodden, Transcaucasian Trail, Armenia |  <i>Breanna Wilson</i> A local lady makes lavash, a flatbread eaten throughout the South Caucasus |  <i>Breanna Wilson</i> Views over the Georgian town of Kazbegi to Mt Kazbek in Caucasus region Hiking to Ushguli in the Svaneti Valley |  <i>Julie Haber</i> The beautiful architecture of Old Tbilisi
 

What makes it special? The Caucasus is among the most inaccessible mountains in the world and the newly opened trail is anticipated by hiking enthusiasts as the next big thing in trekking. Delight in the scenic panoramas of mountains, rivers and glaciers that await you in Georgia, or head to historic Armenia along the Caucasian Silk route exploring ancient monasteries and stunning mountain landscapes.

When to go: May to September

Ultimate K2 Trek

The Karakoram range of Pakistan offers celestial isolation amid a constant backdrop of towering peaks and breathtaking glacial landscapes.

Duration of trek: 25 days
Start and end point: Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan region
Difficulty: Graded 8 – Exploratory trekking & entry level mountaineering. Designed for experienced trekkers comfortable travelling in adverse weather conditions, preferably at altitude. Expect remote and poorly defined trails and challenging moraine walking.

 

What makes it special? Find yourself surrounded by the highest concentration of 8,000-metre peaks on the planet. From the "Throne Room of the Mountain Gods" to the Baltoro glacier (one of the longest glaciers in the world outside the polar regions), it's not hard to see why Pakistan's Karakoram ranges have captured the imagination of trekkers and mountaineers for decades.

Glacial stream on Concordia |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i> Excited to be on the Vigne Glacier |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i> Enjoying the well earned views in Pakistan's Karakoram mountains |  <i>Michael Grimwade</i> Cloudy sunrise over Pakistan's Karakoram |  <i>Michael Grimwade</i> Early morning colours high up near K2 Base Camp |  <i>Michael Grimwade</i> Taking time out to enjoy the magical Karakoram views |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>
 

In addition to trekking to the base of the world’s second highest peak (8611m), the legendary Gondogoro Pass promises one of the most dramatic mountain vistas anywhere on Earth. Our K2 trekking expedition is one of the finest high altitude scenic treks on offer with few travellers in sight.

When to go: June

Nepal’s Great Himalaya Trail

From east to west, encounter some of the wildest and most remote mountain environments imaginable.

How long is it? Winding between the largest mountains and remotest communities on the planet, the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) will ultimately connect five Asian countries (Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan) spanning 4500km.

Duration of trek: 5 months to complete the full Nepal traverse, or trek sections ranging from 18 to 34 days.
Start point: Kanchengjunga, Nepal's far east | End point: Yari Valley, Nepal's far west
Difficulty: Graded 9 – Intermediate Mountaineering Expedition. Designed for experienced multi-day trekkers who have hiked at altitude. Basic mountaineering skills are recommended as is a love for the outdoors and perhaps most importantly, a positive attitude.

Trekking the early stages of Nepal's Great Himalaya Trail |  <i>Ken Harris</i>

What makes it special? A true exploratory experience, it takes in spectacular vistas of all of Nepal’s 8,000-metre peaks, whilst giving trekkers the opportunity to experience remote cultures in hidden corners of the country and spreading the benefits of tourism in isolated communities.

 

When to go: The full GHT departs in February and concludes in July.

Larapinta Trail

One of Australia’s ‘Great Walks’, the Larapinta Trail is one of the world's most remarkable desert walks.

How long is it? 223km
Duration of trek: 14 days from end to end. Broken up into 12 sections, you can also choose to trek certain sections ranging from 3 days to 12 days, guided or self-guided.
Start point: Old Telegraph Station, Alice Springs | End point: Mt Sonder
Difficulty:
Graded 6 – Moderate to Challenging. Designed for seasoned walkers who can manage to walk around 6 to 12 hours a day. On some days, you’ll be walking up to 30kms.

What makes it special? Follow the spine of the West MacDonnel Ranges to trek over remote ridges and canyons, cool off in beautiful waterholes, walk through beautiful river red gums and marvel at vividly-coloured mineral ochre pits.

 

One of the biggest surprises about trekking across Australia’s Red Centre is the diversity of its terrain and the wildlife you’ll encounter. From endless desert plains to colourful palettes of yellow, purple, red and blue wildflowers, the area is home to more than 767 species of flora and over 180 unique species of birds.

Considered a highlight is the exhilarating trek up Mt Sonder (1380m) – one of the highest peaks west of the Great Dividing Range – where you are greeted with an unforgettable sunrise.

When to go: The trekking season runs between April and September when walking conditions are most favourable with clearer skies and splendid stargazing opportunities. Hit the trail in April, May or September to witness wildflowers in full bloom, or enjoy cooler and more favourable temperatures between June to August.

John Muir Trail

Considered one of the finest hikes in North America, this iconic US trail traverses the stunning Sierra mountain range from Mt Whitney to Yosemite.

How long is it? Around 340km
Duration of trek: 23 days
Difficulty: Graded 7 – Challenging. Designed for experienced adventurers who have completed multi-day hikes with a full pack (up to 20kgs). Days can involve up to 10 hours of exercise (hiking around 10-24 km per day) in very remote and rugged terrain.
Start point: Cottonwood Lakes, California | End point: Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, California

Ultimate camp scenery, just over Donohue Pass, California |  <i>Ken Harris</i> John Muir Trail, California |  <i>Ken Harris</i> Striking, high altitude scenery of the John Muir Trail |  <i>Ken Harris</i> Native flora on the John Muir Trail, California |  <i>Ken Harris</i> The Sierra Nevada's's densely-forest valleys |  <i>Ken Harris</i> Pristine landscapes of the high Sierra, USA |  <i>Ken Harris</i> Picturesque rest stop along the JMT |  <i>Ken Harris</i>
 

What makes it special? Cross 3000 and 4000-metre mountain passes, walking among alpine peaks, glacier-gouged canyons, forested valleys and crystal-clear lakes. Sections of the trail will see you venturing far off the beaten track and over the course of the trip, you will have gained over 12000 metres in ascents (averaging about 600m per day) – an epic yet rewarding challenge to add to your trekking wishlist.

When to go: July to September

Jordan Trail

Cross Jordan on foot along this recently established trail dubbed the ‘Inca Trail of the Middle East’.

How long is it? 650km and a 40-day trekking route crossing the entire country. You can experience a taster of some of the best parts of the Jordan Trail on our highlights trek.
Duration of highlights trek: 10 days
Difficulty: Graded 5 – Moderate. Designed for walkers who are comfortable trekking in warm conditions and up and down hills. Expect up to 6-9 hours of walking a day at a steady pace, often on unmarked trails.
Start point and end point: Amman

What makes it special? Let dramatic desert landscapes, striking cliffs and rugged ‘wadis’ unfold on this cross-country trek. The full trail stretches from Egypt to Aqaba and on to Damascus, incorporating ancient paths to archaeological monuments, including the Red Rose City of Petra and historical ruins of Jerash and Ajlun, which showcase the Kingdom’s illustrious past.

Wadi Rum's desert landscape at sunrise |  <i>Richard I'Anson</i>

Those short on time can experience some of the best and lesser known parts of the Jordan Trail on the highlights tour – from the forested Ajlun Reserve in the north to the crystal waters of the Red Sea in the south. The hike up Jabal Um Ad Dami, Jordan’s highest peak, is a climatic way to end the trek with majestic summit views of Wadi Rum’s Mars-like landscapes across to Saudi Arabia.

When to go: March to June, September to November

Canada's East Coast Trail

Explore the outermost reaches of North America on one of the world's top coastal hikes.

How long is it? Around 336km
Duration of highlights trek: 10 days hiking almost 89km
Difficulty: Graded 5 – Moderate. Designed for walkers who have a good level of fitness. A bonus if you enjoy exploring rugged coastlines.
Start and end point of highlights self-guided trek: St. John's, Newfoundland

 

What makes it special? Enjoy ocean splendours from the shore while traversing towering cliffs and headlands, sea stacks, coves, and deep fjords. Canada's East Coast Trail is a series of 25 wilderness paths along Newfoundland's dramatic and rugged Avalon Peninsula; ranked the world's top coastal destination in 2016 by National Geographic.

Along the way, enjoy picturesque bay-side communities, abandoned settlements, ecological reserves, and a special lighthouse picnic. There is also a real possibility of spotting whales, puffins, moose, or even icebergs. Discover this exciting part of Canada on foot on one of our many walks that take in sections of the East Coast Trail.

When to go: June to October

Australia's Great Tasmanian Traverse

An epic adventure walking, rafting, flying and sailing across Tasmania from north to south – this is the ultimate bucket list adventure Down Under.

How long is it? Approximately 300km
Duration of adventure: 39 days
Difficulty: Graded 7 – Challenging. Designed for healthy and fit adventurers. All adrenaline-seekers apply! Treks may involve carrying a full pack between 18 and 22kg. Be prepared for potential variable weather conditions.
Start point: Launceston | End point: Hobart


What makes it special?
Okay, it's not purely a walk but it is definitely worthy of this list. The traverse combines four of Tasmania's greatest multi-day treks (which reach the summit of its highest and most iconic peaks) and a thrilling rafting experience on the iconic Franklin River, rated by many as the world's greatest wilderness rafting trip. Explore Australia's island state from the quiet rural communities of the north to the wild and isolated reaches of the south, completing the Coast to Cradle Trail, Overland Track, Frenchman's Cap Trek, Franklin River Rafting and South Coast Track.

Encapsulating the pristine scenery that Tassie is so well known for, the five-week expedition takes in Australia's wilderness frontiers which cross remote parts that have remained untouched for centuries.


When to go:
Departs February

Larapinta trek wins Brolga's ecotourism award for third time

World Expeditions were awarded for the third time since 2016 for its ongoing commitment to provide an outstanding trekking experience, at minimal impact on the environment, on its iconic Larapinta Trail walk in Australia's Red Centre.

Our most popular Larapinta Trail walking experience, Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort, has scored a BIG win in sustainability receiving the ‘Best Ecotourism Product’ at Northern Territory Tourism’s 2019 prestigious Brolga Awards.

This is the third time the Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort has won the coveted Brolga Award, having previously been named 'Best Ecotourism Product' in 2016 and 2017.

The category recognises outstanding ecologically sustainable tourism products, with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.

“Sustainability has been at the heart of our operations since we pioneered the trek back in 1995,” says Michael Buggy, the General Manager of World Expeditions’ domestic brand, Australian Walking Holidays who operates our iconic Larapinta treks.

The Larapinta campsites offer stylish and comfortable facilities in an outback wilderness |  <i>Caroline Crick</i> Our guides taking time out on the Larapinta Trail |  <i>Oscar Bedford</i> Guides prepare fresh meals each day Trekkers relaxing on the porch of their campsites |  <i>Shaana McNaught</i> The Larapinta Semi-Permanent camps have a stunning lounge with great views over the Ranges |  <i>Chris Buykx</i> Walker enjoying view from Counts Point |  <i>Andrew Bain</i>
 

Our four architecturally designed, semi-permanent campsite facilities incorporate sustainable technologies such as water-free toilets, solar lighting systems and a hybrid grey water disposal system designed for the arid environment.

“It’s been a huge commitment to deliver the standard of accommodation we do in a remote area, while remaining focused on complete sustainability and we acknowledge the support of NT Parks and Wildlife and the Indigenous Land Council in receiving this Award,” says Michael.

World Expeditions launched a series of architect-designed, semi-permanent campsites on the Larapinta Trail in Australia’s Red Centre in 2013; a new, fourth campsite began operations earlier this year.

In additional to the camps use of sustainable technologies, the sites deliver previously unavailable levels of comfort to walkers in a climate known for its temperature extremes. Colours, building materials and the overall style blend in with the surrounding environment aesthetically, while the structures are designed to allow the land to recover during the off-season, maintaining the idyllic natural setting of these wilderness sites.

 

As well as the Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort, there are more than 10 Larapinta walking options (shorter, longer, escorted, self-guided, as well as geared for families and dedicated women’s departures) currently available on the trail.

The award comes at an auspicious time with all World Expeditions trips becoming 100% carbon offset and will directly support renewable energy and reforestation projects across the world.

It's such thrilling news with 2020 marking our 25th year on the Larapinta Trail.

India's West Bengal: a cultural heritage that sets it apart

Forlorn palaces cling defiantly to their once-glorious pasts, and the half-ruined mosques and mildew-covered tombstones of East India Company employees are reminders of an era when Murshidabad was as large and rich as London. Now paddy fields and mango orchards have consumed most of what was once the flourishing capital of Bengal.

About 10 years ago, I composed a bucket list of places I wanted to visit in India after three decades of traversing all corners of the subcontinent. Murshidabad was always near the top of my list and I wasn’t disappointed.

Cossimbazar Rajbari in India's West Bengal |  <i>John Zubrzycki</i>The Cossimbazar Rajbari is a fine example of European and Indian architecture

Getting to Murshidabad is an entertaining journey in itself. The Hazarduari Express leaves Kolkata at the civilized hour of 6.50am. Baul singers, whose devotional songs reflect their blend of Hindu, Buddhist and Sufi beliefs, move between the carriages along with hawkers selling toys, snacks and colourful pieces of cloth. Chai sellers strain their brew through tannin-stained muslin sieves. My breakfast is two cups of their syrupy concoction and some freshly roasted peanuts.

Murshidabad’s story is one of conquest and commerce. It’s capture in 1757 by Robert Clive laid the foundations for British rule in India. Its silk merchants were among the richest traders in the world. When Clive plundered the Nawab of Murshidabad’s treasury, there was so much gold and silver in its vaults he expressed surprise at his own ‘moderation’ for not taking more than he did.

This is West Bengal at its best. Green and serene. A bend on a narrow road that winds its way through mango groves and paddy fields suddenly reveals an overgrown graveyard, a 17th-century mosque or the palatial mansion of one of a Jain trader.

With the exception of Kolkata and the tea-scented hill station of Darjeeling, West Bengal has been left off the itineraries of foreign travelers and tour companies. I’ve never understood why. There are no monuments rivalling the Taj Mahal and its mostly flat riverine topography means there are no forts to dominate the horizon. What it does have is a rich cultural heritage that sets it apart from the rest of India.

The Bauls, those itinerant mystic minstrels who entertained me on the train to Murshidabad, are based around Santiniketan. The name of the town means 'abode of peace' and it was here that Nobel laureate, poet and artist Rabindranath Tagore founded the Visva Bharati university, where today many of the classes are conducted in the open air under vast spreading banyan trees.

Bengal’s temple architecture is also unique. A scarcity of stone means that the temples are covered in beautifully sculptured terracotta plaques, while the structures themselves are intriguing mix of styles reflecting influences from Bengal, Orissa and the Mughal period.

There are a few of these temples scattered around Murshidabad as well as a Dutch cemetery and a beautifully restored Armenian church giving the town a strong multicultural mix.

Interior of the Katra Mosque, Murshidabad |  <i>John Zubrzycki</i> Armenian church in Murshidabad |  <i>John Zubrzycki</i> Wasif Manzil, Murshidabad |  <i>John Zubrzycki</i>

For me, Murshidabad’s most magnificent building is also its most neglected, the 18th-century Sripur Palace. It was once the home of Krishna Kanta Nandy, who was rewarded with vast landholdings for saving the life Warren Hastings, the future governor of Bengal.

From the outside, the palace looked so forlorn I expected an empty shell. Instead, I discovered a majestic courtyard framed by a hundred pillars topped with lotus motifs and joined by exquisite carved archways brought all the way from Benares.

A wide balcony from the second storey looks down on an overgrown courtyard. Anywhere else this would be a major tourist attraction; instead, its wealthy Kolkata-based owners are happy for it to rot in the tropical heat and humidity because they have never forgiven the government for taking away their ancestral lands.

Interior of the Sripur Palace |  <i>John Zubrzycki</i>The interior of the Sripur Palace

Sripur Palace’s days are clearly numbered, making it another reason why Murshidabad should be near the top of every traveller’s list to explore.

Words by historian, writer and former diplomat in India, John Zubrzycki. Join him in November 2020 where he will be escorting a special West Bengal tour.

About the writer

John Zubrzycki worked in India as a diplomat, consultant and foreign correspondent and has spent years searching out its hidden gems. He is a best-selling author and has written three books on India, the latest being a history of its magical traditions. He also writes feature articles for Australian and Indian news outlets. He has more than 40 years of travel experience in India and considers the northeastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to be his favourite part of the subcontinent.

As Seen in The Sunday Times: A Cycling Trip Through Jordan
When journalist James Stewart was on his cycling trip in Jordan, one of the first things he wrote back to us was commenting on the great guide and lovely team. Initially having expected a hard-core trip with seasoned cyclists on a mission to outdo each other, the group was actually very well matched. 
 
In his article he describes the Jordan away from air-conditioned coaches, instead, being a place for off-road adventures. Check out some of his tweets from while he was travelling below or read the entire article in The Sunday Times (published on 31 March 2019*). 
 
That's the other reason I was intrigued by this trip - it schedules time for sights.
 
*You may be asked to register before being able to read the online article. 
 
Jordan By Bike scenery Jordan By Bike day walk Ancient ruins and cliffs of Petra |  <i>Rachel Imber</i>  Local man in Petra, Jordan |  <i>Rachel Imber</i> Cyclist on the Jordan By Bike trip Sunset in the Wadi Rum, Jordan |  <i>Gordon Steer</i> The fabled Treasury at Petra |  <i>Jordan Tourism Board</i> Enjoy magnificent sunsets when visiting Jordan's Wadi Rum |  <i>Richard I'Anson</i> A donkey at Petra |  <i>Rachel Imber</i>
 
 
Overtourism: how to avoid contributing to it

While the word 'overtourism' has only recently been coined, even shortlisted in Oxford Dictionary’s 2018 Word of the Year, it’s a term that has put how we travel and where we choose to travel in the spotlight.

Travel writers in recent years have made the most of the social media driven concepts of the ‘Top 10 Best Places’, or the ‘Absolute Bucket List of Must-See Destinations’, ultimately driving tourists in their droves to just a handful of iconic landscapes, cities, cultural attractions or monuments. To top it off, the ‘selfie’ epidemic and travellers’ insidious desire to capture and share the most “Instagrammable” destinations, attractions and experiences has further narrowed demand.

Such influences have over-stimulated tourism to particular destinations, causing ‘overtourism’ which, according to the Oxford Dictionary definition, has negatively affected local environments and historical sites, as well as reducing quality of life for residents.

Japanese locals at Kinkakuji |  <i>Felipe Romero Beltran</i>

Tourist numbers have been growing exponentially for decades, fuelled by cheap flights and the world’s burgeoning middle class. This has seen 1.3 billion of us travelling in 2017 – a staggering jump from 25 million in 1950, and the number of tourists worldwide per year is tipped to reach 1.7 billion by 2030.

Impact of overtourism

The European summer saw overtourism in Barcelona reach a tipping point, with residents joining mass protests for its government to better manage the influx of travellers as a result of unsustainable tourist numbers. Services were no longer available for locals, but instead catered for tourists and short-term holiday apartments, making it difficult for residents to find a place to call home.

Ultimately, the concern is that such tourist hotspots were losing their identity – and what attracted the tourists there in the first place. The problem is being felt in other European countries, such as Venice and parts of Croatia, as well as Thailand, Indonesia and Australia’s iconic Uluru.

While people may gravitate towards “bucket list” destinations, a better and pleasurable way to travel is to seek out lesser-known places and unique and alternative ways to explore those destination.

The ideal approach is to travel more responsibly, being more socially conscious of one's impact when entering fragile environments, and being more aware of the footprint left behind when engaging with different cultures and visiting their homeland.

Whose responsibility is overtourism anyhow?

Governments need to take control to regulate and better manage tourist numbers to ensure that their tourism industry is sustainable – bringing benefit to people today without compromising the future.

Peru’s government has stepped in to protect Machu Picchu by limiting the number of permits issued each day. In 2017, the small island nation of Palau became the first country modify its immigration policy and made it compulsory for all tourists to sign an eco-pledge called the ‘Palau Pledge’.

School group exploring Machu Picchu in Peru |  <i>Drew Collins</i>To protect Machu Picchu, Peruvian authorities issue 500 permits each day to walk the classic Inca Trail

There are numerous other regulatory mechanisms that governments and the industry can adopt to ensure tourist numbers are sustainable and at an individual level, we can each control our own footprint and avoid contributing to the problem.

5 ways to alleviate the pressure of overtourism

Travelling sustainably and being a part of the solution is to be mindful of the impact you have on the environments and cultures you come into contact with when you travel. Here are five ways to counter overtourism and embrace a more Thoughtful Travel experience.

•    Head off the beaten track. Steering "off the map" and away from well-trodden trails is a style of tourism World Expeditions has advocated since its inaugural Nepal trek in 1975. Choosing an adventure that goes beyond the crowds and into a more remote area will help counter overtourism and give travellers a better opportunity to forge greater connections with local people and their ways of life.

Thinking of heading to Vietnam's famous Sapa valley? Head to the country's remote north of Ha Giang instead with equally spectacular rice terrace views that escape the crowds and encourage more intimate local encounters. Check out 10 more "out there" treks that will take you on a truly remote wilderness adventure.

Enjoying the view after a day on the trail in western Nepal |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

•    Travel to popular destinations in the off-season. Popular attractions and destinations crowded with visitors negatively affects the experience for travellers and locals alike. If you plan to head to a place you know is popular, head there during its off-peak period which will see significantly less tourist numbers with a better chance of more meaningful encounters and enjoying the beauty of nature with fewer crowds.

It will also save you the big bucks on airfares and accommodation, and you'll benefit from more availability when it comes to getting permits for activities such as mountain gorilla and chimp jungle trekking in Uganda or visiting iconic sites such as Machu Picchu.

•    Explore popular destinations differently. A destination's popularity can come at a price, so it's worthwhile seeking out unique ways to enjoy it. Spend less time in city centres and extend your travels into rural communities, head to popular attractions either earlier in the day or later in the day to skip the crowds, or venture on more remote adventures that avoid busier trails, or which go beyond the classic routes.

Stunning turquoise waters of Tilicho LakeVenture off in the Annapurnas and marvel at the turquoise waters of Tilicho Lake

Some suggestions include: camping by remote sections of China's Great Wall hosted by local families, exploring the other impressive Inca ruins with rare views of Machu Picchu, or trekking north of the classic Annapurna Circuit to more wilder zones with unforgettable camping views of the striking Tilicho Lake.⁣⁣ Want more ideas? Here are ways to see UNESCO's newest World Heritage sites differently.

•    Smaller is better. Avoid big tour groups and larger cruise ships which have a larger environmental impact. When travelling in small groups, there’s more likelihood of animal encounters, more intimate experiences with locals and it makes it easier to control waste management, especially in remote regions.

With the chance to meet like-minded people, a small group of no more than 16 people provides opportunities for personal and immersive interactions, while your guide and support staff are attentive to your safety and comfort. It also means your group can access services and sightseeing attractions more easily than mass groups and enjoy small, local restaurants, cafes and accommodations. Read the 5 benefits of small group tours.

Pilgrims with traveller at Shah-i-Zinda, avenue of mausoleums, Samarkand |  <i>Richard I'Anson</i>

•    Opt for alternative destinations. Choose to travel to beautiful, lesser-known destinations whose economies need assistance. Turkmenistan, Bhutan, Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, Belize, Mongolia, Guyana and Tajikistan are among some of the most least visited countries around the world, according to IndexMundi. By avoiding popular sites and attractions this will help take the pressure off delicate environments already overwhelmed by travellers. View this list of 10 lesser-known hiking trails that avoid the crowds.

Engaging with villagers that rarely encounter trekkers |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

•    Book with an ethical tour operator that focus on responsible and sustainable adventures. When selecting travel arrangements, ensure that the company you choose employs local staff and provides safe and fair working conditions. Consider whether it selects small, locally-owned accommodation which are eco-friendly. How does it support local communities? World Expeditions' sustainable travel practices and commitment to supporting local communities at every level of the operation continues to underpin the way in which innovative and sustainable adventure itineraries are created. Plus, travel knowing that your trip is 100% carbon offset.

When visiting environments rich in wildlife and home to fragile and pristine ecosystems the importance of travelling responsibility is vital.

Remember you are holidaying in someone else’s home, be respectful and mindful of this at all times; think about ways to contribute to the local economy, which encourage communities to preserve their traditions, and experience local cafes, restaurants, grocers and markets, avoiding multinational or even national chains.

It’s all about visiting destinations more thoughtfully and leaving a positive influence in the special places visited, protecting what is delicate and minimising the impact of our presence.

Climbing Bolivia’s Mountains with Mountaineer Simon Yates

A new action-packed expedition in Bolivia’s mountains – the perfect mix of challenge and exploration

Long-standing World Expeditions trip leader Simon Yates will return to South America in 2020, on a new thrilling expedition that will aim to conquer five peaks in the breath-taking High Andes of Bolivia, amongst which are three above 6,000m. 

The new itinerary in Bolivia provides the perfect mix of challenge and exploration with five great climbing objectives – including the highest volcano in the country, the perennially snow-covered peak of Sajama (6542m), which is situated in the northern Cordillera Occidental. Following a sound acclimatisation schedule and two full days of alpine skills instruction, the group will commence climbing.
 

Summit five peaks in the breath-taking High Andes on this Bolivia expedition

Enjoying an al fresco lunch with the scenic Condoriri Valley as a backdrop |  <i>Anthony Bohm</i>
 
Despite being technically graded as ‘Intermediate Mountaineering Expedition’, the trip can also be joined by beginners with an excellent level of fitness and experience trekking at altitude (as a minimum).

Simon Yates first visited the country in 2012, when he led the inaugural departure of the Summits of Bolivia trip and has been keen to go back ever since.

About his upcoming Bolivia expedition, he said: 

I found Bolivia very special on my previous trip and I am really looking forward to the ascent of Sajama, which as well as being Bolivia's highest volcano, is also its highest peak.

In addition to the Cordillera Real, Bolivia has many high volcanoes, which is what makes this itinerary a trip like no other. In just three weeks you get the chance to climb three 6,000m volcanoes. This truly is an action-packed expedition!

Best known for his harrowing expedition in the Andes as documented in the award-winning ‘Touching the Void’ book, Simon Yates is one of the most accomplished mountaineers of his time. He has been at the forefront of exploratory mountaineering for over three decades and has successfully guided groups to the summits of peaks across the world, from Nepal (Ama Dablam, 6,856m) and Kyrgyzstan (Peak Lenin, 7,134m) to Alaska (Denali, 6,145m) and Argentina (Aconcagua, 6,960m).
 

Triple Peaks of Bolivia with Simon Yates 

Exclusive with World Expeditions. 20 days. 14 June – 3 July 2020. The trip includes accommodation, most meals, internal transfers, safety and climbing equipment and permits. Trip joins and concludes in La Paz.
                              
In addition to the new itinerary with Simon Yates, choose from more than 30 mountaineering expeditions, from Mont Blanc in the Alps to Aoraki/Mount Cook in New Zealand.
 
Buy tickets for Simon Yates in London
Cocktails at 10am in the High Andes

When I first embarked on this journey, never did I think I would be sitting in a bar at 10 o’clock in the morning with a cocktail in hand and nothing to do but watch the world go by.

The last 20 days have been go, go, go, taking in and exploring all that Peru has to offer, all the must do experiences that many have on their adventure lists. The iconic sights of the Peruvian tick list as many would see it, squeezed into less than three weeks.

Sitting here with a Chilcano in hand, is like taking a huge sigh of relief. Originally not on my Peruvian tick list, but added on recommendation, here I am now reflecting on the journey so far and enjoying a fabulous cocktail to boot.

A stop at La Raya 4335 metres, the highest point on the Cusco to Puno Train |  <i>Natalie Tambolash</i>

This particular day started when we were transferred to Wanchaq Station in Cusco and boarded the Titicaca train bound for Puno at 6.40am. When I first learnt of this train journey, all I knew was that it travelled through the High Andes. It was an alternative to travelling on the local bus and was deemed “fabulous” and “a highlight” by those that had gone before me. It lived to these expectations and so much more.

As I sit here, I feel like I am in a Michelin star restaurant on wheels with ever changing spectacular scenery going past the window. The service is impeccable from the moment we first arrive at the station in Cusco to the time we depart the train at the other end in Puno some 10 hours later.

Main meal is served. Fresh, local Peruvian cuisine |  <i>Natalie Tambolash</i>

Everyone on-board provides you with the most attentive service from remembering your food allergies, to what coffee you like, to taking orders for several tables at a time without writing anything down. Just like a fine-dining restaurant.

The bar car at the back of the train |  <i>Natalie Tambolash</i>

On-board, the carriages are bright, spacious and plush, exuding that little bit of romantic luxury and transporting you to another era. What I would imagine of the Andean Explorer.

There is a bar carriage where drinks and snacks are served (the best banana chips and crisp corn kernels you will possibly taste) and where at 10am and again in the afternoon, there is dancing, singing and fabulous entertainment by local dancers and a great local Peruvian fusion band (think Peruvian flute music combined with classic rock).

Morning entertainment on the train |  <i>Natalie Tambolash</i> Orient Express Andean Explorer train travels from Cusco to Puno |  <i>Tambo Treks</i> The bar car at the back of the train |  <i>Natalie Tambolash</i>
 

There is also a viewing carriage at the back of the train where you can park up as you please to take in the spectacular scenery of the High Andes.

The journey also comes with a complete meal service which yes, will rival most top restaurants of the world, serving up a delicious entrée, main and dessert. Even the fussiest eaters of our group were well impressed.

All this was topped off with an afternoon tea service complete with petit fours and delicious tea.

Along the way the scenery out the window was nothing short of spectacular. Up here in the High Andes, the mountains are so close, you feel you can reach out and touch them.

The train rolled through local farms and villages where everyday life was on display, and made a stop at the highest point on our journey at 4335 metres at La Raya where everyone took the opportunity to stretch their legs, take in the crisp clean air and see what was on display at the local market.

The colours of the landscape changed at every bend, from fresh greens in the valley, to white peaks of the Andes ranges, to pink and yellow hues of the Peruvian farms.

What I didn’t expect to see on this journey of luxury and relaxation was chaos. But rolling into the city of Juliaca provided just that - along with a multitude of laughs and photo opportunities.

Andean boy and his little friend in La Raya |  <i>Natalie Tambolash</i>

It seems that the train line rolls right through the busy Juliaca market and right through the middle of stalls that sell everything you could possibly think of - from books, to car parts, to buckets and everything in between.

Then you head through the busy main streets and over what probably is the Juliaca bakery, with its fresh bread in baskets lying on the train tracks as our train hurtles across the top of it. It is the thing of TV documentaries, yet here we are having a laugh in the midst of it, not quite believing our eyes but also thinking, only in Peru.

Sunrise on Lake Titicaca |  <i>Nigel Leadbitter</i>

As dusk settles in, we round the banks of the famous Lake Titicaca, seeing outlines of boats permanently moored with the low waters of the lake, and the setting sun casting shadows across the reed islands.

With our journey drawing to a close in Puno, on the edge of Lake Titicaca, you realise that what started off as a long ten-hour day, has ended in the best way: living in the moment high up in the Andes.

Words by Natalie Tambolash who travelled from west to east across Peru. You can add this train journey to your Peru itinerary or opt for a train upgrade from Cusco to Puno.

Morocco to France: On the couch with Mary Moody, gardening guru and author

Author, gardener, botanist, grandmother, journalist, speaker, traveller and tour guide. From her line-up of titles, you can guess that Mary Moody loves to keep herself busy. And despite having her life turned upside with the loss of her beloved husband and half-sister, she’s managed to break new ground pursuing a life of adventure.

We chat with the Mary on her love of travel and the best ways to experience Morocco and France. Mary has exciting tours lined up for 2020, including an impressive Ladakh trek, a botanical journey through Central Mongolia, an introduction to Morocco's culture and Atlas mountain scenery, and a culinary and walking Camino experience in France.

You have a natural passion and affinity with the locals wherever you travel. What is your secret to getting to know the locals?

I find connecting with children opens the way to establishing an affinity. I always carry picture books with photographs of Australian animals and stop whenever I see groups of children - sit down in the dirt and share with them. The wonder in their eyes – their joyful response – is magic. Their parents are always just as fascinated.

Often leading trips with a botanical perspective, what has been your most unusual botanical discovery?

In Yunnan, in southwest China, we were hunting for the famed but rather shy blue poppy (Meconopsis sp.). We heard that a documentary film crew from the UK were also looking for it and this intensified our efforts. I am thrilled to say we spotted it first!

What's a tip travellers can do to make the most of their trip?

I tell my group to relax and go with the flow and let go of 'pampered' expectations. It's healthy for us to occasionally step a little outside our comfort zone and to challenge ourselves. I believe trekking not just physical – our mental strength is what will get us into the camp site every afternoon. I also tell them to stop and look around as often as possible – it's not a race and if you try and be the first to arrive in camp you probably have seen very little along the way.

You’ve travelled and led intergenerational trips – bringing your grandson on a Nepal trek. What's different about this style of travel?

Often children in the first world countries have sedentary and over-protected lives. Taking them into another culture, walking with them in the mountains and seeing their horizons open, is just amazing. It's a life-changing experience and it also helps grandparents and their grandchildren to forge a special bond that would be difficult to achieve in any other setting.

You’ve lived in France for extended periods of time doing some writing – when did you first discover your passion for travel and experiencing other cultures?

My love of adventure travel was actually inspired by World Expeditions who invited me to escort botanical treks in the Himalayas during the period when I was a presenter on Gardening Australia. I was so drawn to the spectacular beauty and the alpine flora of these mountains that I have returned dozens of times, and never tire of sharing this joy with others.

What do you love most about showing people around the southern corner of France?

Rural France is glorious, and the region where I take my tour is like stepping back in time – with medieval villages and historic chateaux. This region of France is largely unspoiled because it has never been overdeveloped. So, you get a real sense of history and the continuity of people’s lives.

I like to explore history and culture with some gentle walks between villages and some outstanding private gardens. It goes without saying that the food and wine are superb, and [on my tour] we sample the very best of regional cuisine.

What historic site is a must-visit in France?

The pilgrimage township, Rocamadour. Wandering through this small yet beautiful cliff top village is amazing – carved into a rock face above the river Lot. Eleanor of Aquitaine made pilgrimages there in the 11th century and it’s considered to be one of France’s top sites to visit. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Have you always loved walking? What are your top tips for getting the most out of walking trips?

Good shoes are always important; and I tell people to just take their time walking and soak up all the sights and sounds around them.

On my Morocco trip, I believe we will see much more of the country on foot than in a vehicle. The day walks are not difficult (like a trek can sometimes be). We will stay in villages and walk through glorious countryside, seeing how the locals live.

What is it about Morocco that excites you the most?

Everything excites me about Morocco, which is so close to France where I spend quite a bit of my time. When I took a trip there, I was blown away by the history, architecture, gardens and mountains.

The trip I designed with World Expeditions is based on my favourite destinations from that visit, and I know others will love it as much as I did.

The markets are endlessly fascinating; a labyrinth of stalls with everything from ceramics and brassware to rugs, fabrics and clothing. The food, of course, is absolutely delicious and I even discovered some local wines (from Meknes) that were outstanding. A feast for the senses.

Morocco is home to some incredibly beautiful and elaborate Islamic gardens, some of which you will be visiting on your trip. What is so special about these gardens and what kind of plants will you be looking out for?

Interestingly enough, Islamic gardens are as much about their design as about the plants. Often based around a courtyard with a central fountain, the gardens have fantastic mosaics and plants that can withstand the hot, dry climate. I particularly love the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech which was inspiration of Yves Saint Laurent. It’s extraordinary!

You’ve led trips to Nepal, Morocco, China, Mongolia, India and France – do you have a favourite destination?

Like so many people, I fell in love with Himalayas at first sight. That was in northern India trekking in the Harki Dun Valley which is superb. To me, all the countries that run along these ranges are incredible (I haven't been to Tibet or Pakistan but would love to).

Your latest book, The Accidental Tour Guide, is part memoir/part travel adventure on love, loss and discovery. Why do you think it is important for people to write their personal or family memoir?

So many people have led fascinating lives and have a great story to tell. I really enjoy giving them the skills and the confidence to get their own story or their family memoir onto the page because it’s such a satisfying process. And people just love reading other people’s life stories, so I can also help them find a way to get their stories out into the world.

But writing can be daunting when there is so much to deal with – should I tell the whole truth? What will other people think? Are there legal implications?

It took me five years to gather the courage to write The Accidental Tour Guide.

Working through all these issues and developing positive strategies to keep the momentum going is important, and I teach such techniques at my writing workshops.

Traveller stories: the world's southernmost hike

The trail was rough, yet pristine. It was rigorous, yet rewarding and I was able to connect with nature in an entirely new way.

The Dientes Circuit on Navarino Island or Dientes de Navarino was a hike that was on the top of my must-do adventures, a route that leads travelers to some of the most remote and magical spots of Chilean Patagonia.

I was staying in the town of Puerto Williams (the southernmost town on earth), which is not far from Dientes de Navarino. The town offered many adventure activities, such as kayaking, biking, horseback riding and, of course, trekking.

The Dientes de Navarino circuit was four days long and is recommended for hikers who are physically fit and mentally strong. Fair warning: it's possible to experience vertigo on this hike and therefore it’s important that trekkers come fully prepared and up for a challenge.

Beautiful lake views on the Dientes Circuit on Navarino Island |  <i>EcoCamp Patagonia</i>

But it was such a wonderful and fulfulling challenge for me. The adventure began in a forest full of Nothofagus, native trees of the region. They stood tall and proud around me as I marvelled at their beauty.

We walked through the forest at a brisk pace, travelling uphill towards Cerro La Bandera. At the top, we were welcomed by a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the Beagle Channel, Puerto Williams and Argentina's Ushuaia.

We spent some time taking in this fabulous scenery before pushing on to Laguna el Salto, where we made camp next to a beautiful waterfall.

The next morning, we began our climb to the top of another hill and a viewpoint of the Cape Horn archipelago. We passed by Paso Australia and Paso Los Dientes, finally arriving at Laguna Escondida where we camped for our second night. This overnight stay was a beautiful back to nature experience, surrounded by ñire trees and a stunning view of Cerro Gabriel.

Vibrant colours trekking Los Dientes de Navarino circuit in Patagonia |  <i>EcoCamp Patagonia</i>

The following two days were the most challenging, but also the most rewarding. We travelled to Paso Ventarron, a spot with strong winds and navy blue lagoons. We also hiked to the front of the Lindenmayer Mounts, ending at Lake Martillo where we camped for the last night for a well-deserved rest.

On our final day, we reached a steep slope which we descended from with the help of our guides. To my relief, I managed to get down without any problems.

After a long and challenging journey, we finally made it back to our driver, who greeted us with enthusiasm and a refreshing beer.

This adventure was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something I will never forget. I was surrounded by all types of special creatures and plant life, such as condors, magellanic woodpeckers, beavers, lichens, miniature forests of mosses and liverworts.

Trekking the pristine Los Dientes de Navarino circuit in Patagonia |  <i>EcoCamp Patagonia</i>

It’s crazy how small you feel when surrounded by such an enormous piece of paradise. I highly recommend this trek for any fellow nature lovers and trekkers out there, it was a fantastic and refreshing experience, both physically and mentally!

From its jagged summits to its mysterious lagoons and mossy pathways, Dientes de Navarino is one trek that just can’t be missed.

Words by Keila who travelled on the Dientes Circuit on Navarino Island.

#SaveTheAmazon: Amazon Forest Appeal

We all need the Amazon. Now it needs you. Donate to this appeal to protect the forest, its wildlife and local communities affected.

Fires are raging through the Amazon rainforest, primarily in the Brazilian Amazon, gripped by its most vigorous fire season since 2010. The media images we are seeing are devastating, showing the extent of the fires and the subsequent smoke which is impacting Brazil and its neighbours.

NASA reports that, “while drought has played a large role in exacerbating fires in the past, the timing and location of fire detections early in the 2019 dry season are more consistent with land clearing than with regional drought.” Studies show that the rainforest is at tipping point, with large fragmented sections at risk of transforming into a drier ecosystem which could result in the severe loss of species, the acceleration of climate change and spell disaster for the indigenous populations who call the forest home.

Home to a million people and three times as many wildlife, the Amazon is also the largest piece of rainforest in the world.

Often referred to as ‘the lungs of the earth’, scientists warn that the extent of this year’s Amazon forest fires will make the Paris climate target more difficult to achieve as tree cover loss from forests is estimated to account for nearly 10% of global carbon emissions, while trees are also said to provide more than 20% of climate solutions. Trees not only absorb carbon dioxide, they also then lock carbon away.

How you can help

Want to support those working to arrest the damage? Donate to the World Expeditions Foundation’s Amazon Forest Appeal and 100% of your donation will be directed to Earth Alliance to be distributed to local partners and indigenous communities working to protect the forest and its wildlife and to mitigate fire and its effects on local communities.

Earth Alliance is an environmental foundation created by climate change crusader Leonardo DiCaprio and his philanthropic friends.

Travel advisory information

The scale of the region is so large that the areas where we operate our jungle trips are not affected by the fires and there is no risk to our travellers or our traveller’s experience on any of our trips in Peru or Ecuador. We will continue to monitor the situation and contingency plans will be enacted if required.

As always, the safety of our travellers is our foremost priority and one we will not compromise on. We will continue to support the preservation of this vital wilderness and those who live and work in it.

Published 30 August 2019.

Why you should go to Uganda now

Uganda is home to the largest population of mountain gorillas in the world and the only way to see them is to trek through their natural habitat of densely packed, mystical cloud forests.

More and more international travellers and wildlife aficionados are shifting their focus to Uganda, where the more affordable permits reportedly can sell out often months in advance. But if you plan to track gorillas and chimpanzees in the wild, you'll want to book sooner rather than later with permit prices set to increase up to US$150 in 2020.

In addition, a series of new developments are set to put the ‘Pearl of Africa’ on the tourist map, so you'll want to visit Uganda before the crowds arrive.

Permit price increases: what you need to know

Gorilla and Chimp permit fees in Uganda will increase from July 1, 2020, so if you plan your gorilla and chimpanzee jungle trek before this date you will save US$150. The Uganda Wildlife Authority recently released cost changes to Gorilla permits from US$600 to US$700 per person, in both Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park, and Chimpanzee permits to be increased from US$150 to US$200 in Kibale National Park.

However, Gorilla and Chimp permits often sell out four to six months in advance, so the earlier you book the greater chance you will be able to travel on your chosen day.

Why Uganda? What about Rwanda?

With the gorilla permits in Rwanda now costing US$1,500 per person, Uganda remains competitively priced with permits more than 50% cheaper than its neighbour. So, it's no surprise that travellers are heading to Uganda, blessed with volcanic mountains, lush valleys, vast lakes and a wealth of flora and fauna – including half of the world's mountain gorilla population.

Kitendara Lake Uganda

Beat the crowds

Best known for its gorilla tracking safaris, Uganda is a well-established wildlife haven and a series of new developments is set to put the ‘Pearl of Africa’ on the tourist map. Plans were unveiled for a new war museum that will explore its long history of conflicts and Uganda Airlines, the former national carrier, is set to commence operations at the end of August 2019.

While construction of a brand new international airport in the western region is currently underway, a new highway opened in June 2018 linking Entebbe airport with Lake Victoria; all of which should further add to its credentials as a tourist-friendly destination.

Before the crowds start building up in Uganda, here are some of the best ways to experience this landlocked country.

Top Uganda experiences

The whirlwind experience

If you're stretched for time, a short fly-in safari is a memorable way to access the elusive Mountain Gorillas in their natural environment via return scenic flights over western Uganda.

Regulations allow only one hour with mountain gorillas and a close encounter with these shy primates is one of life’s bucket list experiences!

A family of gorilla's in Bwindi National Park |  <i>Ian Williams</i>

After the scenic flight, you'll trek through the wilds of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest but be prepared for rain, mud and giant stinging nettles. Long trousers, gloves and a waterproof jacket are a must. View trip >

For animal lovers

In addition to heading to the forest to track mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in their natural habitat, Uganda's diverse ecosystem offers plenty of options when it comes to encountering wildlife.

Search for the famous tree-climbing lions in the scenic savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park, the country’s most visited national park. Why not cruise along the tropical Kazinga Channel teeming with one of the world’s largest concentration of hippos, or enjoy some of the best bird watching in Africa with over 1,000 different species? View safari >


For adventurers

The Rwenzori Mountains, or the ‘Mountains of the Moon’, are located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Isolated, rarely visited, often enveloped in clouds and permanently snow-capped, they are in an extremely humid area that contains no less than five different vegetation zones.

From tropical rainforest through alpine valleys to glaciers, reaching Margherita Peak (5,109m) is known for its demanding ascent and a very early start – but you will be rewarded as you watch the sun peeping over the horizon from Africa’s third highest mountain!  View trek >

If you're up for a triple summit challenge, join renowned mountaineer Tim Macartney-Snape on a exploratory trek in the Rwenzori Mountains through giant lobelia forests along the remote Kilembe Trail, before roping up and using crampons on glacial landscapes. Post-trip, you can also include an optional Gorilla wildlife safari extension. View expedition >

Giant Groundsels and Lobelia Giants in Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains |  <i>Juniors Bildarchiv GmbH</i> High in the Afro alpine zone of the Rwenzori National Park |  <i>Morgan Trimble</i> Rwenzori peaks Uganda
 

Experience all the highlights

After a tour that has it all? Our Best of Uganda adventure encompasses some of the country's most memorable wildlife encounters. From a jungle trek to see mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in the evergreen Kibale National Park to cruising along the Nile, it's easy to agree with Winston Churchill's description of Uganda as the "Pearl of Africa". The journey to the foot of the Murchison Falls will be a story to tell as Africa’s longest river squeezes through a seven-metre gap at the top with enormous Nile Crocodiles basking at the bottom!

A pair of hippopotamus enjoy the afternoon sun on the banks of the Kazinga Channel in Uganda. Photo: Udo Orgas

For those with a bit more time to explore, go on our adventure that encompasses the highlights of east Africa. From Tanzania’s world famous Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park to the renowned Masai Mara National Reserve and Amboseli National Park in Kenya, you'll witness an endless series of spectacular wild animal sightings. View all Uganda adventures >

What other African destinations are on your travel radar?

Information last updated 28 August 2019.

Lukla update: Flight changes when heading to the Everest region

Flights between Kathmandu and Lukla have been suspended for international travellers, but fear not, we have you covered on how to get to Lukla with ease.

To reach Lukla, the gateway to the Everest trekking region, flights are now departing from and arriving at Ramechap airport, rather than Kathmandu airport. The new routing, which was introduced to reduce congestion at Kathmandu airport, is in place during October, November and December 2019, with authorities assessing whether to continue from January 2020.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal issued the following statement:

Due to increment in traffic congestion at TIA (Tribhuvan International Airport) and increasing number of Lukla flights from TIA, an arrangement was made to operate all Lukla flights from Ramechap airport in this summer season which was accomplished successfully.

During tourist season, Lukla is the busiest airport among STOL airfields operated from Kathmandu. Therefore, to avoid traffic congestion and minimize the load of TIA and to ease other international operation from TlA, all airlines operating in Lukla sector are required to operate from Ramechap airport henceforth you are required to manage all formalities in this regard.

Who is affected?

This change affects all travel companies operating tours in Nepal, and we assure you we have explored a range of alternatives, including utilizing helicopters, which has been discounted due to exorbitant costs and availability limitations.

While there is one operational flight from Kathmandu to Lukla each day, it is reserved for Nepali locals, and airlines are restricted from selling tickets to agents or to individuals who are not Nepali citizens.

It’s not all bad news

Some operators have varied their itineraries to have clients depart Kathmandu by vehicle at 2am, to reach Ramechap in time for the first morning flights to Lukla. World Expeditions has rejected this option because it makes for a very long first day of trekking. Instead, we are taking trekkers to Ramechap for an overnight stay in our comfortable and conveniently located campsite in order to take the first morning flights to Lukla.

Ramechap tent set-up |  <i>Angela Parajo</i>

Although there are afternoon flights to Lukla from Ramechap, these are unreliable because there is a higher chance of these flights being cancelled due to weather conditions.

We have revised our Everest itineraries in the wake of these circumstances.

Our modified itinerary:

Day 1 – Arrival in Kathmandu. Free day.

Day 2 – Overland drive to Ramechap (approximately 5 hours). You can do some last-minute gear shopping or enjoy some leisure time in the morning at Kathmandu after breakfast before we hit the road. En route we will stop for lunch and arrive at our campsite by late afternoon.

Our private Ramechap campsite is equipped with up to 30 tents, dining tents and bathroom facilities with Western-style toilets and hand basins. Our trekkers enjoy full-board camping with a hearty, three-course evening meal cooked by our trained team at the campsite, with tea and breakfast the following day.

Ramechap campsite |  <i>Angela Parajo</i> DSC_0090 DSC_0087 DSC_0092 DSC_0086

Day 3 – Early morning flight to Lukla (2800m). Our campsite is directly opposite the runway, so you’ll have first flights to Lukla! You will then commence your trek to Ghat (2530m), the walk being approximately 2-3 hours.

World Expeditions believes the option of staying in Ramechap is vastly better than departing Kathmandu at 2am, driving approximately 5 hours to Ramechap, flying to Lukla and then commencing trekking.

Getting a reasonable night’s sleep and being able to travel on the earliest flights from Ramechap provides the best start to the trekking day.

At the end of your trek, you will fly from Lukla to Ramechap and drive directly to Kathmandu on the same day. The rest of the afternoon will be at your leisure, offering an opportunity to do any additional sightseeing and shopping.

Published 28 August 2019.

What we're doing about the plastic problem

Have you heard the great news? Nepal has stepped up in banning single-use plastics in the Everest region, which will take effect in January 2020 in the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu province. All plastic drinking bottles and plastics of less than 30 microns in width will be banned in the area. 

With plastic packaging accounting for about half of the plastic waste in the world, here's how we are leading the way in eliminating its use on our treks.

Fast facts: How big is our plastic problem?

  Humans buy around 1 million plastic bottles per minute.
  Half a million straws are used in the world every day.
  It is estimated that almost 10 million plastic bags are consumed worldwide per minute.
  79% of all the plastics ever produced have now been discarded. Only 21% of plastics are still in active use.
  Each year, about 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean, with reports warning that there will be more plastic than marine life in the oceans by 2050.
  By 2050, an estimated 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic.
  Because plastic is long lasting and durable, most do not biodegrade; only certain types of plastic waste can be recycled. Plastic waste is therefore either destroyed, converted to fuel or energy via incineration or pyrolysis, disposed of in waste management systems or discarded where it ends up in the natural environment.
  Single-use-plastics frequently do not make it to a landfill.

Worst plastic offenders

1. Plastic bags

2. Coffee cups and lids

3. Straws

4. Single-use bottles

Other offenders: balloons and their sticks and ribbons, chip and snack packets, food containers, plastic cutlery and sanitary products.

What can we do about it?

Making the switch from plastic to sustainable alternatives, as well as making responsible travel choices – such as bringing along a refillable water bottle, can make a positive investment in the future of our environment. Read these eight ways to avoid plastic when you travel.

Travel sustainably: how World Expeditions is eliminating plastic

Leading the way in responsible travel, our latest green initiatives in Nepal allow travellers to avoid the use of disposable and single-use plastic throughout their Nepal trip. The Kathmandu hotel we use has a water dispenser with potable water available to World Expeditions travellers to refill their reusable bottles, so that travellers aren't contributing to the plastic problem in the poor, landlocked country.

“While water on the treks has been boiled and provided to trekkers for many years, we are delighted to totally eliminate the need for plastic bottles from the moment the client arrives at the hotel.”

“Providing our clients with access to potable water throughout their Nepal experience is the final step in giving our clients the confidence to know that they are travelling green in Nepal,” says World Expeditions Responsible Travel Manager, Donna Lawrence.

In addition to phasing out single-use plastic bottles, our Nepali kitchen crew are trained to minimise plastic waste in trek kitchens, which is especially important in remote regions, when responsible disposal becomes more difficult.  We minimize the use of plastic by buying fresh produce from local farmers whenever possible, which has the dual benefit of creating income for subsistence communities and reducing the need of packaging and excess plastic.

Our credentials in eco tourism in Nepal are unrivalled:  We're proud to follow the seven principles of  Leave No Trace on all our treks and we're the founding partner of the 10 Pieces environmental initiative, which encourages trekkers to pick up 10 pieces of plastic or paper (or more!) to help reduce the litter problem through their collective effort.

Looking for more inspiration?

Download our free Thoughtful Traveller ebook and learn how you can be a responsible traveller.  Read our latest initiatives in Nepal where we've gone plastic-free!

Do you choose a travel company based on their sustainable practices? Let us know in the comments below.


Sources: Cleaseas.org, Earthday.org, Report from Science Advances, 2018 Outlook report from UN Environment.

Walking the Inca Trail FAQs

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has been coined in many guidebooks as the ‘best short trek in the world’ and with a bit of training, almost anyone can walk the Inca Trail, but only with a permit.

Specialising in high quality treks along the Inca Trail and to Machu Picchu for over three decades, here’s everything you need to know about hiking the Inca Trail, with bonus tips from our adventure experts.

Jump to a section:
How difficult is it to walk the Inca Trail? What is the terrain like?
How can I prepare for the trek?
How many hours a day do you walk?
How can I avoid altitude sickness?
Can I walk the Inca Trail myself? How can I get a permit?
Why do I need a permit?
What if I can't get a permit?
Can I visit the Sun Gate without having to hike the Inca Trail?
How can I avoid the crowds?
I want to visit Machu Picchu but want to try a different trek to the classic Inca Trail. What are some alternatives?
When is the best time to walk the Inca Trail?
What climates can I expect?
What gear should I bring with me?
How much time can I spend at the Machu Picchu sanctuary?
What can I do at the Machu Picchu sanctuary?
What can’t be brought into the Machu Picchu sanctuary?
What will I eat along the trail?
What is the accommodation like?
How does World Expeditions do the Inca Trail differently?
Which trail should I choose?

How difficult is it to walk the Inca Trail? What is the terrain like?

It’s not our most challenging trek, but you will be walking over hilly and rugged terrain with lots of stairs. Expect some long, steep ascents too. Most of the walking is on fairly well-defined tracks, including some remarkable sections of ancient Inca stone "highways". There are some river crossings but no sections where scrambling is involved. It is recommended that you stay on the stone path at all times and keep well away from the edge.

With the help of porters carrying your personal gear, you’ll only need to worry about carrying a day pack of around 5-8kg including your water, camera and clothing layers.

How can I prepare for the Inca Trail trek?

The more training you do beforehand, the more you will enjoy your trek. We recommend 30 minutes of cardio activities 3-4 times a week in the 2-3 months leading up to your departure. Take every opportunity to walk up and down stairs or hills for leg strengthening and aerobic fitness.

Inca Trail Peru Sharing the view with a new friend. Image: Bette Andrews

How many hours a day do you walk on the Inca Trail?

The trekking day very much depends on the condition of the trails, the weather and the fitness of the group but expect to walk for 6-7 hours a day.

The morning's walk usually lasts from about 8 am to 12.30 pm and allows for numerous rest and photo stops. After a post lunch siesta, we set off for the afternoon's hike – usually 2-3 hours to the camp.

How can I avoid altitude sickness on the Inca Trail?

Altitude is also an important factor to consider, with the highest point of the trail at 4200 metres. The effects of altitude sickness can vary for different individuals, but some key things to keep in mind is to take it easy and ascend slowly.

Staff tip: Have plenty of fluids – hydration is so important when acclimatising.

Our itinerary is very well paced to ensure you acclimatise safely – so ideal for first timers, where you’ll walk through impressive Inca sites of the Sacred Valley before undertaking the Inca Trail trek.

Can I walk the Inca Trail myself? How can I get a permit?

No, you need a permit to walk the Inca Trail. Only approved tour operators, like World Expeditions, can obtain a permit.

Joining a small group to travel with a licensed operator means you can experience the comfort, seamless organisation and security of an active holiday. World Expeditions have all necessities taken care of, including hearty meals prepared by trained cooks, quality two-person tents erected in scenic wilderness, a lighter pack thanks to our team of porters, as well as use of a sleeping bag, thermarest and fibre-filled jacket.

Not to mention, having an expert bilingual guide adds to the experience as they share the history about the Incan empire and sites you visit, with their own tales of fascinating cultural and travel experiences.

Why do I need an Inca Trail permit?

Machu Picchu stands much the same as it did hundreds of years ago due to its superior architecture and carefully managed conservation programs. To protect Machu Picchu from the impact of its popularity, Peruvian authorities have implemented entry restrictions where only 500 permits are issued each day to walk the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu.

By the time permits are issued to porters, guides and other support staff, this leaves a limited amount of permits available for trekkers. Permits always sell out in high season, so it is highly recommended to book months in advance to secure a permit.

What if I can't get an Inca Trail permit?

If you miss out on a permit, World Expeditions has developed several brilliant Inca Trail alternatives to ensure you can experience the magic of trekking through the Andes and the Sacred Valley of the Incas to behold the wondrous Machu Picchu as the finale.

Travellers can still book on our Inca Trail itineraries but if Inca Permits are sold out already, we offer the Salcantay trek instead at no additional cost on many of our Inca Trail trips.


 

Can I visit the Sun Gate without having to hike the Inca Trail?

Yes, everyone who has an entrance ticket for Machu Picchu can walk up to the Inti Punku 'Sun Gate', which is approximately a 45-minute walk.

Staff tip: It’s important to note that to make it to the Sun Gate for the sunrise you must first have to catch a bus, queue to get into Machu Picchu and then walk about 45 minutes.

How can I avoid the crowds on the Inca Trail?

The increasing popularity of the Inca Trail does mean it is frequently visited by trekkers but on our Inca Trail Explorer trek, you stay at quieter and scenic wilderness grounds. So, you can relax and enjoy fully supported camping away from the Inca crowds.

I want to visit Machu Picchu but want to try a different trek to the classic Inca Trail. What are some alternatives?

The classic Inca Trail is a quintessential Peruvian trek, however, hiking this iconic route is not the only way to get to Machu Picchu.

There are other treks you can hike that are no less spectacular, including the alternate Salcantay trek, with a scenic train journey to Machu Picchu town after the trek; or choose the Salcantay Base Camp trek which joins the classic Inca Trail on the final day.

A particular staff favourite is the Inca Rivers Trek from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu that take you to rare and incredible views of Machu Picchu. This is a more remote trek, which is moderate to challenging, but offers a more varied trail away from the crowds to other spectacular Inca Ruin sites, such as Choquequirao, through the sublime Vilcabamba mountain range and between two sacred Inca Rivers.

Panoramic view of the 'lost' Inca ruins of Choquequirao |  <i>Yuri Zvezdny</i>

When is the best time to walk the Inca Trail?

The main trekking season in Peru lasts from late April to mid-October. This is the dry but 'cold' period, with the best mountain views and all passes open.

What climates can I expect on the Inca Trail?

Variance in latitude, elevation and local winds all factor into the wide range of climates experienced in the central Sierra/Andean mountain region. Average temperatures in the Sierra vary little between seasons, but there is dramatic daily variance. While the average daily temperature may only vary a few degrees Celsius between January and July, the diurnal (daily) temperature range is often huge. You can expect daytime temperatures in the highlands to be in the range of 10-25°C (50-77 °F), falling as low as -10 °C (14°F) at night.

What gear should I bring with me on the Inca Trail?

Essential trekking gear include merino socks (add in some extras), an anti-blister kit, warm clothes, waterproofs, worn-in boots, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera and trekking poles.

We provide a comprehensive gear list as part our traveller’s pre-departure kit and gear such as sleeping mats, sleeping bags and a fibre-filled jacket are available for use for trekkers.

How much time can I spend at the Machu Picchu sanctuary?

There are three time slots in which patrons can enter Machu Picchu for a maximum of four hours and must follow one of three predetermined routes. Admission is not allowed after 4pm. Additionally, all visitors must always be accompanied by a guide.

To ensure you get the most of your Machu Picchu experience regardless of these restrictions, most of our Inca Trail trips include an extra visit to Machu Picchu, with an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes, to fully appreciate this new world wonder.

Staff tip: The early morning is one of the best times to savour the views and atmosphere of Machu Picchu. The mystical morning light over the enigmatic sites are spectacular. Try and catch the sunrise at the sanctuary, you won’t regret the early wakeup call!

What can I do at the Machu Picchu sanctuary?

On many of our Inca Trail trips, travellers are treated to a unique second visit to Machu Picchu, which includes a tour by a local guide in this colossal sanctuary. Your guide will take you through the different sectors, bringing alive the history and stories of these ancient and iconic ruins. You’ll feel like you’re taking a step back in time as you soak up the astonishing views, expert knowledge, and impressive ruins.

For the more adventurous, you can climb one of the two mountains in the Machu Picchu sanctuary by purchasing a Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain permit and forego the guided tour of Machu Picchu. Both climbs are a minimum of three hours return and are very steep, with many small and narrow steps, and can be slippery and are very exposed with vertiginous drops.

What can’t be brought into the Machu Picchu sanctuary?

The following items are prohibited in Machu Picchu: drones, selfie sticks, tripod for cameras, walking stick without rubber tip, backpacks that exceeds 40cm x 35cm x 20cm, aerosol spray, sharp objects, banners or posters.

As of December 2018, single-use plastic bottles and any other single-use plastics (bags, cups, straws, etc) are prohibited in the sanctuary, on the Inca Trail and all other protected natural areas in Peru. This regulation was established by the Ministry of Environment, following the Sustainable Tourism Regulation which aims to conserve these protected natural areas. Please ensure to bring your reusable water bottle on all our Peru trips.

Water refill stations have been installed in areas near Machu Picchu and other national parks. Your guide will brief you where you can refill your water bottles with drinking water.

What will I eat along the Inca Trail?

We provide a full service while on trek, including three hearty meals a day. Typically, you can expect breakfast to consist of muesli or cereal, eggs, local breads and pancakes and hot drinks.

Chef in Lima

Lunch will generally be vegetables, salads, bread, cheese pasta style dishes, tinned fish and meats and are normally eaten picnic style. Dinner is always three courses and includes soup, seasonal vegetables, meat, rice or pasta and bread with some local specialities also in the mix. All evening meals are followed by desserts and hot beverages, of course!

Our cooks are trained to provide excellent food for vegetarians and anyone who has a limited diet including those who are lactose or gluten intolerant.

What is the accommodation like on the Inca Trail trek?

In cities or large towns, you will be accommodated in three to four-star properties that are centrally located, atmospheric and commodious. In smaller towns and villages hotel options are often limited with more basic accommodation used, however you can be assured of clean, comfortable and well-located lodgings.

Blue skies over camp along the Inca Trail in Peru

During the trekking section, enjoy our fully supported camping experience in quality two person tents with plenty of personal space and storage for your luggage. Our team are on hand to ensure your comfort and safety with a dining tent, separate cooking tent and where appropriate, toilet tent erected.

How does World Expeditions do the Inca Trail differently?

 • The Classic Inca Trail trek ensures you are well acclimatised to the altitude with day walks through impressive Inca sites of the Sacred Valley before the Inca Trail trek. With at least 2 or more days of acclimatisation built into all our itineraries before the start of the Inca Trail, the high passes and altitude experience on the trek will be easier to conquer.

 • Enjoy fully supported camping with gear included! Each trekker is equipped with a kit bag which include a sleeping bag, inflatable sleeping mat and fibre filled jacket.

 • To appreciate the majestic ruins of Machu Picchu, an extra visit to the famous sanctuary is also included.

 
 • We tread lightly and thoughfully in the places we visit for minimal environmental impact. We have a zero-litter policy, utilise eco toilet system at our campsites, and have innovative schemes to reduce waste on trek, including our 10 Pieces waste collection program.

 • You can travel to less frequented campsites on our Inca Trail Explorer trek.

Which Inca Trail trip should I choose?

Jungle trails, cloud forests and panoramic views of Andean peaks will inspire you as you follow in the footsteps of the Incas on your way to Machu Picchu. The only question now is, which trip should you take? View our complete list of Inca Trail and Machu Picchu adventures >

Information last updated on 21 August 2019.

K2 trek in photos: Baltoro Glacier, Concordia & Gondogoro La

Home to the highest concentration of 8000-metre peaks on the planet, the Karakoram ranges have captured the imagination of trekkers and mountaineers for decades.

Having recently completed our K2 exploratory trek, mountaineering guide Soren Kruse Ledet shared spectacular shots from his expedition in Pakistan.

Baltoro glacier |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>

His group traversed the Baltoro glacier, crossed the famed Gondogoro La (5585m), admired an amphitheatre of 8000 and 7000-metre peaks, and trekked to the base of the world's second highest mountain, K2, which stands at an impressive 8611 metres.

Campsite in the Karakoram mountain ranges |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>

Soren was the best leader you could ever expect to have. Simply outstanding," said fellow trekker Pat from Australia. "Staff and porters did an amazing job and couldn't have been more helpful. Organisation was first class.

Trekking through the Karakoram mountain ranges |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>

Karakoram mountain ranges |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>

Travelling with an experienced mountaineer like Soren, and hearing the stories they have to tell, whilst in this environment adds additional richness to the experience," said Michael from Australia.

"Fantastic destination, itinerary and logistical support make this truly one of the great experiences of a lifetime. Speaking to other trekkers in the area it was obvious that World Expeditions is a great company to travel with if you want to achieve your goals in this region, avoid unwanted surprises and have unavoidable logistical challenges managed effectively with minimal disruption to the trip.

Wildlife in the Karakoram ranges |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>

From the "Throne Room of the Mountain Gods" to the Baltoro glacier, it's not hard to see why this is considered of the finest high altitude scenic treks on offer anywhere in the world. Trekking through this rugged and wild region of Pakistan, nestled between China and India, truly offers a challenging and rewarding experience like no other.

Trekkers dining with a mountainous backdrop |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>

Karakoram mountain ranges |  <i>Soren Kruse Ledet</i>

Photos by Soren Kruse Ledet.

Feeling inspired? View our K2 and Karakoram expeditions >

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