Thursday, March 5, 2015

The New Star Treks

If you think you've ticked off the must-trek destinations, think again – Tim Shepley reveals five alternative highs that offer new thrills for experienced walkers.
"The peaks of Torres del Paine are unlike any other summits I’ve seen. What’s more, they’re not even like each other. The twisted Cuernos (‘Horns’) del Paine appear to have been ripped, gouged and torn from the granite by giant talons; the vertiginous walls of the Valle Franc├ęs were seemingly scooped out of the very rock; while the three Torres (‘Towers’) themselves rise like broken teeth from the jaw of the massif. Each is gobsmacking; each quite different.
Like so many avid walkers, I’ve long had a bucket list of treks to complete – Everest Base Camp, for example, and Kilimanjaro. But gawping up at those otherworldly towers in Chilean Patagonia, I understood clearly that there’s more to a hiking life than the headline acts. Sure, there’s nothing quite like catching your first dawn glimpse of Machu Picchu at the Sun Gate – but Latin America’s other great treks offer moments of wonder every bit as epic, if less well known. Maybe you’ve accomplished your first set of ambitions; perhaps you just can’t seem to make the timing work for that dream trek. Either way, Walks Worldwide has a panoply of alternative trips in Asia, Africa and Latin America to get your heart racing and your feet itching."
Tim Shepley 
Walks Worldwide Manager 

Done Everest Base Camp?

Now try this... 

 Forbidden Land of Mustang
 It’s barely two decades since the fabled ‘Kingdom of Lo’ cautiously opened its borders to foreigners; even today, the trails through this region north of the Annapurnas are accessible only to guided trekking groups. This is a world apart, a land almost more Tibetan than Tibet, high, arid and mystical. Our 19-day tour affords stunning views of 8,000+m peaks as we pass picturesque white-painted villages, Tibetan monasteries, stupas and prayer walls to reach the fabled walled city of Lo Manthang. 

If neck-craning peaks are your cup of tea, try the region of West Bengal near the old British hills station of Darjeeling – the classic Singalila Ridge Trek skirts the Nepalese border in the shadow of the world’s third-highest mountain, 8,586m Kangchenjunga. In clear weather, an array of 8,000+m peaks (including Everest) can be admired from the path.

Trekked The Inca Trail?

Now try this... 

Those jagged peaks of Torres del Paine are just one of a series of natural wonders on this epic exploration to the end of the earth. Gawp at the spectacular crags of Mount Fitz Roy, watch vast icebergs calve from Perito Merino Glacier, taste the legendary W trek in Torres del Paine National Park, and explore the world’s southernmost city, Ushaia, on the ‘Land of Fire’ -– Tierra del Fuego.

Conquered Kilimanjaro?

Now try this...

Kili stands alone in Africa – literally and figuratively – but for varied trekking, the High Atlas are hard to beat. Our 8-day itinerary isn’t a straight up-and-back slog, but rather a rewarding approach via the less-trodden trails to the peak’s north, adding cultural context to those 360-degree panoramas from the roof of North Africa, 4,167m Jebel Toubkal.

Wild, remote, dotted with fearsome-looking gelada baboons and long-horned walia ibex, the Simien Mountains offer trekking unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Visit the castles of the ‘Camelot of Africa’, Gondar, before traversing to 4430m. Bwhait Peak, the third highest mountain in Ethiopia. 

For Information on all of the above trips and many other wonderful expeditions - click here, or alternatively you can give us a call on 01962 737565 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Trekking in Nepal

Walks Worldwide Manager, Tim, speaks about his experiences trekking in Nepal. 

"I have been very lucky to walk in some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, but for me the true walking mecca will always be the Nepal Himalayas and specifically Everest Base Camp. I have trekked there on 2 separate occasions and it never fails to take my breath away (in more ways than one).

After an arrival in Kathmandu, and introductions with the group are complete, discussions quickly turn to the excitement of what is to come. Before the walking even begins the trip starts with the hair-raising and often gravity defying flight to Lukla, once we all arrive in tact the trip begins!

You start to climb firstly you reach the town of  Namche Bazaar,  from here you walk with the greatest panorama you can imagine, past picture perfect tea houses and small villages and  picture perfect monastery at Tengboche , after 8 beautiful days you eventually reach the mind blowing goal of Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar. Not many people realise  you can’t actually see Mt Everest summit from Everest Base Camp However your view  from the summit of Kala Patar takes in not only the iconic view of Everest and 4 other 8000m peaks.

The walk back down to Lukla seems more of a gentle stroll after the toils of the last 2 weeks, and with a final hair-raising flight Kathmandu and civilization awaits."

Walks Worldwide offer 2 classic itineraries in the region, the classic tea house trek to Gokyo Lakes and Everest and Everest Base Camp itinerary. 

The alternative Inca Trail

Our walking specialist, Dan, took on The Lares Inca Trail recently. Here's his story:

 "I was fortunate to join our Lares Inca Trail trek in December. With permits for the classic route selling out quicker and earlier than ever before, I've found that this alternative trail is becoming more and more popular.

The Lares Trail is not only a challenging trek at altitude but also a cultural journey through the Sacred Valley.

The trek explores the less visited and uncrowded Lares region in the north of Cusco (we only saw two other trekkers on the entire trail). The region has some great high mountain passes (max 4,400m) and offers an insight into the local culture. We saw large herds of alpacas and llamas along the route. We also came across weavers in traditional colourful dress. We started to notice that we were a bit of a tourist attraction with the locals who kept appearing from nowhere to get a glimpse of our group!

We finished the trip at the incredible archaeological site of Machu Picchu. This incredible journey really does leave you feeling like you've experienced an authentic slice of Peru."

If you'd like to visit Peru and take on the Lares Inca Trail, call us on 01962 737565 or find our more information on our website

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Walking in Patagonia

You saw the Top Gear boys race through the exciting mountains of Patagonia, but Walks Worldwide Specialist, and trekking expert, Matthew Bennett prefers to take the slower route. Recently returned from our group tour the Ultimate Patagonia Adventure, Matt is keen to share his experiences. 

"Embarking on the Ultimate Patagonia Adventure was the fulfilment of a dream; to trek in one of the most beautiful areas of the world on an epic journey to the end of the earth!"

"The scenery was spellbinding. Beautiful panoramas surrounded us, made up of stunning lakes, untouched snowy peaks and towering spires, which gave the place a truly magical feel."

What makes this the Ultimate Patagonia Adventure...

Dedicated tour leaders supported by specialist local guides in each National Park 

"Could not have wished for better guides! They were all so knowledgeable, helpful and friendly from start to finish, always remaining professional and fun... such a bonus!" 

All the big hitters of Patagonia included                                                  
"This trip goes far beyond the bucket list, featuring highlights such as: Cerro Fitzroy, Perito Moreno Glacier, granite towers of Torres Del Paine, Lake Pehoe and the Beagle Channel."  

Amazing cuisine  

"Now here is something to write home about! Argentina and Chile have some of the finest food in the world. Just some of the highlights were the excellent red wine from Mendoza, the beef steaks in El Chalten, fresh Salmon in Puerto Natales and a wonderful lamb BBQ at the Estancia in Rio Grande!" 

Diverse landscapes with glaciers galore!

"As well as Perito Moreno Glacier, we also had the opportunity to visit and even trek on Viedma Glacier in Argentina and spend a day walking to the Grey Lake and Glacier on the famous W route of Torres Del Paine."

"On the Argentinian side of Patagonia, the humidity is blocked by the Andes, so the landscape is semi arid. Whereas on the Chilean side the humidity comes off the pacific Ocean, giving a much greener landscape. Further down in Ushuia, the landscape resembles some of the beauty spots of the northern hemisphere" 

"This was far more than a walking holiday. The trip was a fantastic experience which few other destinations could live up to!"

Ultimate Patagonia Adventure: 17 day trip, from £2,249 (Land Only) or 19 day trip, £3,999 (Flight Inclusive). A detailed itinerary, specific dates and prices can be found here.

Find out more about this amazing adventure online or call Matt on 01962 737 565.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Burmese Days

We've launched our first trip to Burma/Myanmar: Burmese Days. Walks Worldwide Manager, Tim Shepley would like to share his experiences of travelling around this astoundingly beautiful country. 

"Like most people who visit Myanmar, my first impressions were based on the old British capital of Yangon (formally Rangoon). While the official capital has been moved to Naypyidaw, Yangon remains the largest and most important city, it seems a world away from other major SE Asia capitals such as Singapore or Bangkok, almost stuck in a time warp. It is often said that you are not in Paris if you can’t see the Eiffel Tower, the same could certainly be said for Yangon and the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda.

My next stop was the last royal capital of Mandalay, while central Mandalay features the rebuilt Mandalay palace the real highlight of this area are the beautiful ancient capitals such as Ava and Mingun on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.

Bagan takes your breath away like few other places on earth, similar in many ways to the Ankor temples of Cambodia, Bagan features over 2,200 temples spread out over a vast plain, it also offers one of the greatest places to watch a sunrise and sunset that I have ever seen.

My personal highlight of the trip was the trek from Kalaw, a British hill station, to Inle Lake, this 3-day hike through local villages, sleeping in local monasteries really allowed you to get up close to some of the friendliest people I have met on all my travels. The walk concluded on the banks of the magnificent Inle lake.

Myanmar is truly is a special destination; it is quickly opening up and tourism is growing a phenomenal pace. I loved my Burmese Days, and with this magnificent itinerary I am sure you will too."

Burmese Days: 16 day trip, from £2,250 land only. A detailed itinerary, specific dates and prices can be found here.

Find out more about this intriguing itinerary online or call Tim on 01962 737 565.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Best Time to Travel Guide | Book before it's too late!

Autumn: Escape from the UK’s blustery Autumn and step into another culture. The monsoon season is ending in Nepal ensuring it’s the perfect time to trek in the Himalayas once again – why not head for Everest Base Camp or an Annapurna Panorama Lodge Trek

Morocco is a great destination for these months, just before the winter snow drops – what about the Toubkal Ascent or the private guided option of Lords of the Atlas, from our Superior Collection? 

Don’t forget Europe! With temperatures a little cooler, it’s a great chance to get some good walks in without the pressure of the heat! Walk the Best of the Lycian Way in Turkey, head for The Accursed Mountains in Albania or tackle the Summits and Ridges of Bulgaria.

When and where do you want to go? What about...
September: Turkey - Best of the Lycian Way (Anytime)
October: Nepal - Everest Base Camp Lodge Trek (11th and 25th October)
November: Jordan - Bedouin trail to Petra (9th November)

WinterWinter walking – think frosty picturesque scenes, the crunch of the snow beneath your feet and the bright blue skies of a clear Winter’s day. However, if you aren't a fan of the cold, head for India - The Spice Trails of Kerala is perfect for a more tropical getaway or Patagonia to reach the ‘end of the earth’. 

If you'd like to find your Winter wonderland in Finland with our Call of the Wild departures. Husky dogs, Reindeer, remote wilderness cabins and Finnish saunas. Winter walking doesn't have to involve a snowy setting. 

Nepal is still a great option for this time of the year – it’s warmer in the valleys and expect crystal clear skies and the best mountain views at high altitudes so why not try Everest and Annapurna In Style? It’s never really Winter at the equator so Kilimanjaro is popular in these months too. Also Morocco is fab for some Winter walking - Winter Toubkal Climb. 

Spend New Years Eve in Jordan on our Petra and the Valley of the Moon departure. Or climb Fansipan in Vietnam in February 2015.

Fancy a trip in...
December: Tanzania - Kilimanjaro Summit (18th December)
January: Patagonia - Ultimate Patagonia Adventure (17th and 31st January)
February: India - The Spice Trails of Kerala (7th February)

Spring: The days are getting longer and the temperatures are warming. Some of the best places to trek in spring are the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the Himalayas in Nepal. Fancy something a bit different? 

Trekking to Petra in Jordan is great this time of year due to lower temperatures and dry conditions making it perfect to sleep beneath the stars in the desert. 

Europe’s trails tend to remain snowbound during most of Spring, however southern Europe is perfect for walks a little closer to home; try Troodos and the Akamas in Cyprus, Best of the Lycian Way in Turkey or Undiscovered Portugal. 

Vietnam is lovely this time of year so why not summit Fansipan; the highest mountain in Indochina.

Still can't decide, how about these?
March: Morocco - Raiders of the Lost Kasbah (14th, 21st 28th March)
April: Peru - Classic Inca Trail (14th April)
May: Spain - Andalucia Along the GR7 (Anytime)

Don't forget, we have multiple departures a month to all kinds of destinations so if you're stuck just give us a call on 01962 737565. 

For our full range of destinations and walking holidays head to our website

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Guide to High Altitude Trekking

Finally summiting the majestic mountains in Nepal and Tanzania that you’ve spent days tackling, can be the most incredible feeling in the world. However, if it has involved walking at higher altitudes you may have experienced some level of discomfort as a result of altitude sickness. So what is it and how do you deal with it? We offer our experiences below. 

What is altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness, or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) as it's known, is the body's reaction to reduced air pressure and lower concentration of oxygen when at higher altitudes. Mild symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness and exhaustion.

When does it happen?
It can happen from 2,500m above sea level, however symptoms are more likely to be noticeable when travelling at altitudes of 3,600m and above. The height at which AMS develops can vary greatly between individuals and it is important to let your tour guide know if you start to feel unwell. The more serious condition of High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE) can develop if AMS is ignored.

Who does it affect?
Anyone can be affected, no matter how young or old or how experienced. Unfortunately being physically fit offers no guarantee of protection against AMS either.

How to prepare for it?
There isn’t an easy way to prepare for altitude sickness. Climb slowly, take rest days, keep hydrated and no alcohol are sensible precautions. However, the best thing you can do whilst trekking is to be aware of the onset of AMS and not ignore it.

Walks Worldwide trips are planned so that there is plenty of time for acclimatisation. We also offer trekking at different levels so that you can decide how strenuous you want to trek.

What should you do if you have symptoms?
With mild symptoms, the general consensus is that you should refrain from going any higher for 24-48 hours and drink plenty of fluids. For more severe cases, you should immediately descend to a lower level and seek medical advice.

For more comprehensive advice we recommend you visit the NHS website here.

Trekking is our passion and many of us at Walks Worldwide have experienced trekking at high altitude so dealing with its affects is something we are very familiar with. Here are some of our experiences.

Tim Shepley, Business Development Manager

How has altitude affected you? “I had a very positive experience while trekking in Tibet and Nepal, I did everything they advise you to do. However, on a different trip, I crossed the border from Salta in Argentina on a jeep tour across Uyuni salt Flats and onto Potosi, this was an altitude rise from 1500m to 4000 in 3 days. Although I was doing limited physical activity I lost my appetite, struggled to sleep and had chronic headaches for a few days. My symptoms eased as I reduced altitude and eventually when I arrived in La Paz at 3500m I started to recover.”

What advice can you share? “Climb slowly, never try to do too much too quickly and keep hydrated”

Steve Nagle, Sales Consultant

How has altitude affected you“I have trekked Kilimanjaro (5580m) and Langtang and Lakes in Nepal (up to 4600m). I am very fit for my age, having done endurance events, and run competitively every weekend. For me, above 3500m is about the time I first feel the effects - usually slight fatigue and minor headaches.”

Any tips for high altitude trekking? “Seek medical advice from your GP before leaving and take the correct kit – especially good gloves – the top of Kilimanjaro gets pretty cold!”

Adam Hickman, Schools Worldwide General Manager and Winter Mountain Leader

How has altitude affected you“I have worked as a professional mountain leader for the past 10 years and have been lucky enough to lead trekking groups in many of the great ranges around the world. My first experience at altitude was quite an unpleasant one, as a young fit climber I thought I was indestructible and broke all the rules in terms of acclimatisation. As a consequence I felt very unwell and nearly ended up with serious complications. Since then I have grown a bit older and wiser and learned to follow the advice above. These days I always make sure I plan routes which include a gradual acclimatisation.”

What advice can you share?  “I would advise people to take their time and listen to their body! People are often apprehensive about going to high altitude for the first time however by following a few simple rules and ensuring you allow enough time for acclimatisation it shouldn't be an issue. The human body is wonderful at adapting to a changing environment, it is important to remember however that everybody adapts at different speeds so it is worth considering this when planning to trek at altitude for the first time."

We hope our experiences above have helped reassure you that AMS can be managed and the possibility of discomfort should not deter you for experiencing some of the most exhilarating journeys the world has to offer. 

Please visit your GP or travel clinic if you have any concerns.

If you'd like to speak to one of the Walks Worldwide team, please call 01962 737565 or view our walks here.