Hiking

Best international hiking and biking trips 2022

The Ingalls Storfjord Hotel

“People wish to be settled”, wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, but “it is only insofar as they are unstable that there is hope for them”. We have long recognized this truth. Witness the historic pilgrimage routes, from the Camino de Santiago in Spain to Kumano Kodo in Japan, which attract multitudes. The award-winning film of 2020 nomadland portrays the traveling life as both liberating and also, paradoxically, grounded. Which is not lost on travel providers. They used the two years of confinement to design or carry out new trips off the beaten track, guided, tested and with choice places to stay along the way. Think of these journeys as modern pilgrimages; their creators certainly see them that way. Knut Flakk, founder of Norwegian adventure company 62 Nord, describes a highlight of 62 Nord’s new bike tour, when a helicopter (let’s be clear: this is high-end nomadism) takes you and your bikes, deep in a fjord: “It’s almost as if the cliffs on either side open up like gates welcoming you into a heavenly valley. And from there you start your ascent to Trollstigen. You can almost hear the trumpets.


Fjords by bike in Norway

norwegian bike 62 north fjord country adventure travel
62 Nord’s bike trips take you deep into Norway’s glacier-carved fjord country.

Courtesy of 62 North.

The Norwegian fjords are usually discovered from the deck of a cruise ship. Now family owned 62 North has imagined a slow travel alternative that takes you by bike to the heart of Norway’s fjord country and rural life. The trips, which begin in June, last six days and are led by former professional riders. They promise landscapes, hills and cuisine to rival rides in the Spanish Pyrenees or the French Alps. There are four-light climbs, like the nearly vertical 2,750ft one up Trollstigen, Scandinavia’s most spectacular, with 18 switchbacks. And there are long, easy descents to the sea, flanked by cliffs and forests. RIB boats and high-speed helicopters transfer riders to stage starts each morning, and there are pit stops at farms and cafes during the 40 miles. At night: seafood feasts and log saunas Hotel Storfjord (see main image, above) and Hotel Union Oyea newly refurbished 19th century retreat long loved by royals and writers including Arthur Conan Doyle.


Follow a Guru in Bhutan

six senses thimphu bhutan, trans trail bhutan, luxury lodge wellness
The Six Senses Hotel in Thimphu, Bhutan, one of the possible stops along the 250 mile Trans-Bhutan trial. You can approach it in segments and choose difficulty levels.

Frederic Lagrange

the Trans-Bhutan Trail, a 250-mile pilgrimage route that runs the length of this Buddhist kingdom, isn’t new, but it just reopened in March (after more than six decades of neglect) with aspirations of earning ubertrek status – the Camino de Santiago of the Himalayas. Nearly 1,000 workers rebuilt 18 bridges and 10,000 stairways along the road, which connects well-known valleys like Paro to more remote areas like Bumthang, where the legendary holy Guru Rinpoche brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Mountain bikers are also welcome – you might even spot the king, an avid cyclist, speeding around Thimphu. It will take you about a month to cover the entire route, which includes 400 historical and cultural sites backed by forests and snow-capped Himalayan peaks, or you can tackle it in sections. Itineraries range from a challenging two-week traverse of the western part of the 150-mile trail, with overnight homestays, to a gentle 17-mile week exploring valleys such as Punakha and Phobjikha from luxury bases as Gangtey Lodge, COMO Uma Paroand Six senses Punakha.


Sri Lanka Tea Country Hike

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Sri Lanka’s new 90-mile Tea Trail offers views like this.

Miguel Cunat

The traditional trekking goal in Sri Lanka is the 7,359ft high Adam’s Peak, shrouded in legends. The 90 miles that has just opened tea trailthrough the island’s famous tea country, imagined during pandemic walks by Miguel Cuñat de Sri Lanka in style, is mostly low-lying and gently sloping (except for an 8.7-mile stretch called the Devil’s Staircase). The trail passes through 24 tea plantations, 80 villages, and wildlife-rich hotspots like Horton Plains National Park, and it funnels money into local communities. Each of its 22 sections takes an average of four to six hours to complete; you can put together as many as you like or dedicate three weeks to the whole course. Overnight stays are at top tea estates, including butler bungalows from Ceylon Tea Trails (Castles Relay). Unlike the trekking hotspots of New Zealand or Nepal, the rural parts of Sri Lanka are densely populated. “You encounter humanity and local cultures every step of the way,” Cuñat says.


Walk with wildlife in Zambia

luwi lodge time tide walking safari, south luangwa national park zambia
Luwi Lodge, one of four rustic-chic stops on Time+Tide’s long walking safari in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

Courtesy of Time + Tide Walking Safari

As well as Victoria Falls, Zambia is home to the walking safari – you and yours in the bush, single file behind an expert guide with a gun. The philosophy of movement at nature’s pace was dreamed up by Norman Carr, a visionary conservationist who pioneered walking safaris in the 1950s in Zambia’s game-rich South Luangwa National Park and has trained the best guides in the region. The idea was to allow for more immediate, visceral and illuminating encounters with wildlife. Now under the Time + Tide Safaris umbrella, Carr’s original four isolated bush camps in South Luangwa, including the four Nsolo cabins and five riverside tents of Mchenja, have been connected as a walking circuit with startling experiences being made. road (like performances by the Seka Performance Group, a talented theater troupe drawn from the surrounding villages). Hikes between camps range from five to nine miles, take about two hours, and pass through ancient ebony groves, open grasslands, and dry riverbeds. The whole circuit can take seven days. (If you’re particularly feeling the call of the wild, the team can arrange an extra night under the stars.)

DOCTOR’S ORDERS
To ensure optimal performance, power your adventures with feedback from Lumen, a gadget that uses breath analysis to prescribe an optimal intake of carbohydrates and fats in your diet on the go, lumen.me. And wear a Shout health tracking to monitor energy levels and recovery, whoop.com.

The new Finnish Suunto 5 Peak The sports watch has built-in GPS and turn-by-turn navigation to keep you on track, suunto.com. And it syncs with the Strava app—so you can try for bragging rights as the king or queen of the mountain by setting new speed records on bike rides, strava.com.

This story appears in the April 2022 issue of City & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW

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