Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrate World Heritage Day with Walks Worldwide


Did you know that 18 April is UNESCO's World Heritage Day? This special day offers an opportunity to raise awareness about the diversity of our cultural heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it. To celebrate World Heritage Day, why not take the trip of a lifetime and visit a monument or site worthy of World Heritage Status? Here are some ideas – why not discover what makes them so special.

Simien Mountains - Ethiopia
Our new trekking trip in Ethiopia –  The Simien Mountains and Castles – offers you the chance to trek through the incredible beauty of the Simien Mountains National Park, a land of outstanding natural beauty and rare wildlife. Look out for the Gelada baboon, Simien fox and Walia ibex, a wild mountain goat found nowhere else in the world. Witness high plateaus; jagged mountain peaks, plunging gorges and canyons said to rival Colorado’s Grand Canyon.

Ait-Ben-Haddou - Morocco
For a journey through history on foot, discovering unspoiled traditional Berber villages and classic mountain passes off the beaten track, choose our Raiders of the Lost Kasbah trip in Morocco. This walking holiday in the Atlas Mountains is unique to Walks Worldwide, and includes a trek to Ait-Ben-Haddou, backdrop to several Hollywood blockbusters. The Ksar, a group of earthen buildings surrounded by high walls, is a traditional pre-Saharan habitat and Ait-Ben-Haddou is a striking example of the architecture of southern Morocco.

Chitwan National Park - Nepal
For a wildlife and adrenaline-filled adventure, choose our Active Nepal trip. Packed with activity from elephant riding through Chitwan National Park, spotting the Bengal tiger, one-horned rhino and a dazzling array of bird species, to rafting the white waters of the Trisuli river, balance trekking (where you’ll enjoy full Annapurna panoramas) with more thrilling ways  to experience Nepal and the Himalayas. Chitwan National Park is listed as a World Heritage Site because of its particularly rich flora and fauna: it is one of the last refuges of the Bengal tiger and is home to one of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros. The spectacular landscape, covered with lush vegetation and the Himalayas as the backdrop makes the park an area of exceptional natural beauty.

Kilimanjaro - Tanzania
The volcanic massif of Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and one of the largest volcanoes in the world. It stands in splendid isolation encircled by mountain forest – a habitat enjoyed by numerous mammals, many of them endangered, including the African elephant. Walks Worldwide includes two routes to the summit. For a shorter journey via the north take the Rongai Route. The journey begins in equatorial forest, home to the stunning Kilimanjaro Colobus monkey before crossing the lunar desert of the Saddle and reaching the summit of Uhuru Peak, the “Roof of Africa”. For a more remote alternative, try our Kilimanjaro – Shira Route trip: experience a real sense of wilderness as you approach from the west and enjoy unforgettable views, especially of Mount Meru floating on the clouds in the distance.

For the full range of Walks Worldwide trips, please visit the website here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why choose Walks Worldwide for your Himalayan Trekking Adventure

Nepal is one of our favourite destinations, and with over 25 years of combined travelling experience of this spectacular country, it's also one which we know best. The treks in Nepal, winding through the world's highest mountains, are unique in the world.
Our genuine, first-hand knowledge enables us to create your ultimate trip: we offer group, private and tailor-made trips varying in terms of challenge, altitude and route.
We provide outstanding value on our Nepal treks whilst retaining comfort – for example, we choose a 40 minute internal flight instead of a cheap, 10-hour, uncomfortable bus journey. Our Kathmandu hotel base is a former Rana's Palace, complete with swimming pool.

What's more, on the vast majority of our trips you'll stay in simple but comfortable trekking lodges (tea-houses) which provide cheerful, traditional, Nepalese hospitality, instead of 'roughing it' on possibly frozen and bumpy ground.

We only use fully trained, English-speaking, exceptionally experienced, friendly Nepalese guides, meaning that you'll be led by someone who can tell you virtually everything about where you're trekking and ensure you enjoy the trek of a lifetime.

To avoid the hassle of carrying a backpack full of rupees to pay for your trek meals as you go, we now include all meals on treks.

Everest – the holy grail of trekking
Our Everest Lodge Treks are the ultimate classics, the holy grail of trekking. Witness the spectacular view of Everest at dawn and see the tumbling Khumbu Icefall that leads to the South Col on our Everest Base Camp Lodge Trek. Alternatively, escape from the standard trail and enjoy a more challenging and rewarding route to Everest Base Camp, trek to the glittering Gokyo lakes and climb Kala Patar for breathtaking Everest views on our Gokyo Lakes and Everest Lodge Trek.

The iconic Annapurna's
The major trek in the west of Nepal is the Annapurna circuit, beginning near sea level and allowing more time for gentle acclimatisation. The Annapurna circuit allows you to pass through diverse terrain, from jungle to alpine, and experience Tibetan Buddhist culture. Witness majestic high mountain scenery and picturesque landscapes before entering the amazing throne room of mountain gods, the Annapurna Sanctuary, on our Annapurna Sanctuary Lodge trek. For a more exclusive trek, choose Annapurna Panorama Lodge Trek, an ideal introductory trek for hill-walkers, designed to be enjoyed in the company of couple or friends, and ascend Poon Hill for one of the most spectacular mountain sunrise views in the entire Himalaya.

Remote Nepal
A trek through the unspoiled Langtang region offers you excellent views of both the Annapurna region to the west and the Makalu region to the east. Cross open yak pasture and mountain sides to reach the atmospheric Kyangjin Gompa surrounded by giant Himalayan peaks, and an almost unbelievable river of ice ‘flowing' from Langtang Lirung on our Langtang Himal Lodge Trek.
If you are looking for something even more remote and much less travelled, choose one of our Experts' Choice trips. Our The Forbidden Land of Mustang trip offers you the chance to trek through the weird and wonderful desert land of Mustang, across desolate mountain sloped coloured brown, blue, yellow and red, with white painted villages and Tibetan monasteries before exploring the fabled city of Lo Manthang, different from anywhere else in Nepal. Alternatively, explore a sacred land of myths and legends and experience dramatic landscapes and the village of Tokyu, the world's highest permanently inhabited settlement on our trip Dolpo – Land of the Snow Leopard.

Active Nepal
For a real adrenaline-filled adventure, choose our Active Nepal trip from our sister company Adventure Worldwide. Packed with activity from elephant riding through Chitwan National Park, spotting the Bengal tiger, one-horned rhino and a dazzling array of bird species, to rafting the white waters of

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Kyrgyzstan July 2013 Recce

My name is Adam Juniper and I am an expedition leader for Walks Worldwide.  In July 2013 I led a two week recce to Kyrgyzstan, not only one of the world’s greatest trekking destinations, but also one of its best kept secrets. With over 94% of the country mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is a walker’s paradise.

Tien Shan Mountains, KyrgyzstanOur trek was in the Tien Shan Mountains, located in the southeast of the country and bordering China.  The mountains provide arguably the finest trekking in the country.

The 8 day route took us up breathtaking alpine valleys, over high mountain passes and past turquoise lakes that would rival any in Europe.

Beautiful alpine valleys - KyrgyzstanThe valleys were carpeted in a profusion of wild flowers including irises and edelweiss, providing a riot of colours.  The only sound was the distant calls of soaring eagles and the alarm calls of the ever vigilant marmots. 

What made this trip so unique was that we had the trek all to ourselves. The only people we encountered were nomadic herdsmen, who migrate with their horses and yurts, to the high mountain pastures every summer, just as they have done for centuries.

Camping by Lake Issyk-KolOur destination was the secret and remote Ala-Kol Lake, hidden high up in the mountains and rumoured to be one of the most beautiful in Kyrgyzstan. It didn’t disappoint. This turquoise lake surrounded by glaciers and snow capped peaks provided an unforgettable backdrop to our campsite. 

The following day saw us cross the highest point on the route at 3,860m, before descending into yet another breathtaking valley, famous for its hot springs.

Walks Worldwide recceOnly a few hours drive from the trek and sandwiched between the mountains, is the stunning Lake Issyk- Kol, at 170km long and 70km wide, this is the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca. 

Lake Issyk- Kol means hot lake, a combination of her extreme depth (over 700m) and thermal activity.  Swimming in the crystal clear waters of the lake, surrounded by snow capped mountains on either side, provided an unforgettable experience.

What is a recce?
For me a Walks Worldwide recce is for adventurous people who are prepared to travel off the beaten track.  At times a recce can be challenging and things may not always go according to plan, but the shared spirit of adventure forges deep relationships with the group and will leave you with friends and stories that will last a lifetime.

We have just launched our next recce tour for 2014 to Ethiopia. Click here for more details.


Adam JuniperA bit about me

I am passionate about people and travel and have led expeditions to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, India, Borneo, China and Tibet. 

I have also travelled extensively all over the world.  Trip highlights include canoeing 500km down the Yukon River in Canada, sailing across the Atlantic, skiing from Chamonix to Zermatt and a 20 day unsupported expedition in Greenland.

I am a qualified Summer and Winter Mountain Leader and a remote first aider.  I enjoy any sport that gets me into the outdoors, including running, mountain biking, rock climbing and skiing.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Kilimanjaro- How to prepare for the challenge of a lifetime

Like many people who dream of one day climbing Kilimanjaro, at the time I was not an experienced mountaineer, but was a young sportsman who loved a challenge and was seduced by the idea of an outlandish expedition to the roof of Africa. It's just a big hill isn't it?? As naive as this sounds, I knew two things; one that this was something I could physically achieve, and two that this was something I would never forget.

So how to prepare for the Kili challenge
Trekking Kili is serious business! There are a number of things a person should consider when preparing for the trek. Having run marathons, I know that identifying a target, with a date is the best way of focusing preparations. So don't just talk about wanting to go to Tanzania 'one day', do your research (Walks Worldwide recommend and offer the Rongai and Shira routes which spend the maximum amount of time on the mountain to acclimatise and thus have highest summit success), and get signed up!

What makes the trek difficult? The challenging ascents (non technical), the thin air at high altitude, the freezing cold temperatures on Kilimanjaro, oh, and the fact that Uhuru peak is 5895metres above sea level. These challenges can all be managed and the key ingredient to success is determination.

On the trek itself you take it very steady, it's not a race. I was all too aware that 'fit' young men had the lowest success rate on the mountain, often due to lack of preparation and walking too fast. In order to deal with the altitude, you need to walk slowly, drink plenty of water, eat well and acclimatise as much as possible. To deal with the conditions, I would suggest the following items to be most essential; sturdy walking boots (ideally with a vibram sole), warm undergarments, thick gloves and socks (likely more than one pair for the summit), plenty of warm layers and a suitable jacket (waterproof/ski/down).

'Kili'- Imagine the Mountain
What does it look like? How am I going to feel? What is life going to be like on the trek? It becomes more achievable, when you get into the trek...

Trekking & Climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
And this...
Trekking & Climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
becomes this...
Trekking & Climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
and you achieve this!
The early stages of the trek are easygoing. You get into the routine of being on Kilimanjaro, doing your walking for the day, eating the excellent food provided, and enjoying the camaraderie of the experienced guides and the group you walk with. As you work your way up Kili, the sun can still be strong during the day, but the nights get colder, much colder, so wrap up warm!

As you enter the latter stages of the ascent, the altitude symptoms of fatigue, light headaches and loss of appetite, are likely to hit different people at different points. It is important to manage these (walk slowly, keep well hydrated and allow plenty of time for acclimatisation), but also to see yourself overcoming them. The two natural solutions are rest and time to acclimatise, both of which are built into your itinerary.

By the time you are approaching the summit attempt, your body will have made many adaptations to the challenging conditions, and you can start to think about reaching the summit. The final night is a long trek through the cold, which people get through simply by continuing to put one foot in front of the other! As you pass Gillman's point, a monumental feat, and indisputably worthy goal in itself, you still have a couple hours to go. For me, I was exhausted and found that here more than ever, I appreciated the company of my guides and group members. We will get there together!

The Glory of the Experience
I'd achieved it! Now I'd summited Uhuru Peak, I was looking forward to a long list of things: sleep, warmth, a good meal, rest, a proper shower, but I have to say, as the sun came up over the summit, I felt like I had a new body. On the way down we strode down what had been really tough climbs and basked in the increased oxygen. We felt good and celebrated the experience that we would never forget!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Walking smart

For the unitiated, it might seem perfectly straight-forward what to pack for a walking or trekking holiday, well, boots would be an obvious place to start.
 
But its not until several, as Craig Revel Horwood  would say, 'disaaaaaaasters' that one starts to take the whole packing process a lot more seriously.
 
A friend of mine, Mark Knowles, who has trekked all over the world (and is currently in Nepal as I type) gave me the following 'commandments' of things to remember when packing to ensure an incident-free holiday.
 
Spare laces
If you are on a trekking holiday and you break a shoelace and don’t have a replacement, it can cause severe problems as there isn’t usually enough lace left to secure your boot safely, and you might be facing a 5 hour descent....  

Soluble Vitamin C tablets
Always add soluble Vitamin C to your water bottle to keep vitamin levels up. But be warned; as most Vitamin C tabs are effervescent you need to let them fully dissolve before shutting your water bottle tight, otherwise they have a habit of exploding when you open your bottle and getting covered with sticky fluid is one way of attracting insects!

Shemagh or Shish (Arabic style head scarf)
Handy for keeping the sun off your head, sitting on when resting, covering up, drying yourself, additional warmth, swatting flies, improvised sling....  Mark once had to tie one around a person to lead them over ‘interesting’ terrain when they were petrified.

Waterproofs and hat
Absolutely essential wherever you are in the world – waterproofs (good quality, breathable) – keep you dry (obviously), are lightweight and can be handy for additional warmth if required. More importantly they keep the wind out; it is invariably a cold wind that will take your body heat away. And of course a hat can keep the sun out during the daytime and the warmth in at night!

Trekking poles 
Always take at least one trekking pole.  There is the obvious benefit of less impact on the knees, but you can use them to stabilise yourself coming down tricky hills.....test questionable terrain (e.g. just how deep is that puddle?), ward off stray dogs and so on.

Water Purifying Tablets
Depending on the destination, consider water purifying tablets as walkers and travellers overseas tend to lose their energy as a result of dehydration. So, if you need water from a questionable source, it needs to be purified.

Broken in, comfortable & waterproof boots
This might sound obvious but you’d be amazed how many people buy new boots for trips. Mark once saw an extremely disappointed couple on an Everest trek have to return home after two days with severely blistered feet from their new leather boots.

And finally…

Never, ever go anywhere without a torch (spare batteries), compass and a whistle.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why go self-guided?

Kimberly Rogers on the benefits of following your own nose...

Despite the wonders of the internet and the apparent ease of organising your own holiday, there are countless limitations, pitfalls and often unanswered questions when it comes to planning a walking trip overseas.

• Which is the best walking route to take?
• Where are the best places to stay along the way?
• What about luggage transfers?
• Will I have to backpack with a heavy load?

It isn’t always easy for lovers of the outdoors to find reliable advice, but these days nearly everyone is keen to save a few pounds here and there. So it’s no surprise that our self guided holidays are more popular than ever before.

"Your helpful staff took the headaches out of the planning and enabled us to relax and enjoy a fantastic holiday. The walking route was spot-on and it was wonderful to have our luggage waiting for us at each stop."

THE BENEFITS

Choice of routes & departures
The benefits of going self guided can be summed up in one word: independence. Before you set out on your trip, we’ll give you route notes and a local map and then off you go, free to walk at your own pace and free to stop when, where and as often as you like. Free to interact with the locals. Free to enjoy your own style of travel.

Pre-booked accommodation
No need to try and work out where to stay or book several different night stops. We choose appropriate accommodation to suit your walking route and budget and then make all of the necessary arrangements.

Baggage transfers
Why load yourself down and carry everything you’d need for a week or longer? Your main baggage will be transferred for you between each overnight stop. Easy!

Value for money
There are no guide or ‘rep’ costs to add – in fact there’s very little ‘fat’ in a self guided trip.

Flexibility (and cost)
Most of our self guided walking holidays offer daily departures, meaning you can travel when it suits you best. It also means that you can choose to travel on airlines and days of the week which cost less. Flying on a Tuesday, for example, usually costs less than a Friday or Saturday.

Self-satisfying
You walked it and you navigated the route by yourself; you probably chose where to eat, you interacted with local people, and it was your input into the logistics that made the trip. Planning the holiday is all part of the experience – we just take the painful parts away.

5 of the best SELF GUIDED WALKING HOLIDAYS, departing Autumn / Winter 2012


AUSTRIA - Lakes & Alps In Style
For alpine scenic splendour at its very best, Austria’s Lake District Region of Salzkammergut delivers charm on all levels. Relax and unwind each day at 4-star accommodation in picture postcard villages.
8 Days from only £975

BULGARIA - Rila Adventure
For serious mountain walkers this remote Balkan adventure will surely fit the bill. A self guided trek
which takes you high amongst some of the wildest peaks found in the European continent.
8 Days from only £525

SPAIN - Camino ‘The French Way’
Be part of the most famous pilgrimage in the world and undertake one of the truly great travel experiences. Follow in the footsteps of millions as you walk the most popular route to Santiago.
7 Days from only £625

FRANCE - Footsteps of the Cathars
Stroll into the past as you spend your days walking through the lush and beautiful landscape of the Corbières region. Explore the history of the Cathars and their mythical stone castles.
8 Days from only £575

ITALY - Tuscany Classico
Begin your journey in historic Florence and finish in fascinating Siena as you meander through ancient villages, magnificent castles, Chianti vineyards, olive groves and the rolling countryside of Tuscany.
7 Days from only £570

For more details about all of our self-guided walking and trekking holidays - click here

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Petra Rediscovered

200 Year Anniversary - WALK into History

It’s been a few years since I visited Jordan to trailblaze what later became a Walks Worldwide classic – The Bedouin Trail to Petra. The idea was to find a way through the mountains and reach Petra by the back door; there was no known route and support logistics were ‘a challenge’.

At the time, tourism to the site of Petra was in full flow – that was to be expected. But visiting Petra as part of a coach trip is altogether different to trekking for several days in solitude across desert and through wild mountains. Somewhat self-righteously, those of us who took part in this recce believed we had earned the right to Petra’s secrets.

So earlier this year to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of the re-discovery of Petra, I returned to Jordan to see what had changed. Had our secret route to Petra been ruined and become just another tourist trail? The answer was a resounding “No!”. Once we had left the wild and rugged landscapes of Dana National Park we headed for the mountains, and apart from the odd nomadic Bedouin shepherd, we didn’t see anyone.

As for Petra? It was, is and always will be simply magnificent. I am adamant that everyone should go there at least once in their lifetime. For those of you who enjoy walking, a bit of a challenge and a sense of history, I highly recommend the Bedouin trail – it is so much more rewarding to get that “we deserve the right to be here” feeling. A feeling very much still intact for me.

"Petra is, and always will be, simply magnificent. Everyone should go there at least once in their lifetime."

By Mark Knowles
Walks Worldwide Product Manager



Petra & the Valley of the Moon
Traverse a landscape straight out of outer space on this guided trip, which takes you walking through the spectacular desert region of Wadi Rum, nicknamed the ‘Valley of the Moon’ for its remarkable rock formations, gorges and canyons. Camp like the Bedouins and explore the wonder of Petra.
8 days from only £845

The Bedouin Trail to Petra
‘The Inca Trail of the Middle East’, this special trekking route into Petra takes you through some of the most exciting and rugged landscapes in Jordan. Live Bedouinstyle in the wilds and walk spectacular mountain and desert trails before arriving at Petra through the little known ‘back door’.
8 days from only £995


For walking and trekking holidays in Petra and Jordan - Click here