This festive holiday season, go on treks that combine keeping fit with getting pampered.
Snow Country, Japan
This fully guided snowshoeing tour traverses a region that receives some of the heaviest snowfall anywhere on Earth: Japan’s central Alps region, known as Snow Country. Only accessible with snowshoes, this downy landscape of metres-deep pristine powder snow offers vast vistas; secluded, almost magical, shrines; and remote winter scenery where the only other footprints you see will almost certainly be left by the local wildlife. Accommodation is provided by charming village inns with top-class local cuisine and onsen (hot spring) baths. This seven-day tour that starts in Tokyo and finishes in Nagano is suitable for anyone who is a reasonably strong, regular walker.
This self-guided, six-day hike organised by Walk Into Luxury tours offers the best sections of Australia’s famed Cape to Cape Track, along with snazzy boutique stays and plenty of opportunities to indulge in the Margaret River region’s outstanding food and wine offerings. Settle into a four-course wine-pairing lunch at the elegant Voyager Estate and a private in-villa chef experience. The hike, rated moderately difficult, covers 57km. There is also a one-day Cape to Cape taster hike, a 70km seven-day version, and a 41km four-day private programme for families with accommodation in a family-friendly beachside resort.
The Shakti Walking Experience is ideal for travellers looking for seclusion and peace. The high-altitude desert of Ladakh, with its rugged peaks and deep turquoise lakes, is known as India’s “little Tibet” and it has one of the world’s best preserved Tantric Buddhist societies. On this 16-day trek, guests will go on silent walks led by mindfulness gurus and a 3km hike to mountain caves chaperoned by a monk. The walk, fully guided and with porters, goes from village to village, with accommodation at traditional homestays complete with a private chef. The homestays provide serious comfort without compromising on authenticity, with pashmina blankets, fluffy duvets and cosy fireplaces complemented by traditional artefacts and Indian artwork.
This 13-day trip covers some of Chile’s most dramatic landscapes, including the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on Earth, and the jagged rock teeth of Torres del Paine national park. It also includes days in Santiago and the Central Valley Winelands. In San Pedro de Atacama, explore the Valley of the Moon and the geyser fields at El Tatio on foot, and watch flamingos congregate in the Altiplano lakes. Follow one of the 50 hiking routes in Torres del Paine to crystalline lakes and imposing granite peaks. The trip, which offers nights in some of the country’s most spectacular hotels, can be fully tailored to suit individual preferences and abilities.
For walkers looking for a health boost without too much of a challenge, the spectacular Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa in Italy is offering the Health and Hike programme. The wellness package includes a day’s hiking to otherwise unvisitable areas of the spectacular Amalfi coastline, along with tailored treatments in the award-winning spa in the vaults of the converted 17th century monastery. The hike, suitable for keen walkers of all abilities, is led by a local expert guide and follows the little-known route called Valle delle Ferriere, or Ironworks Valley. It begins at the Piazza Duomo in Amalfi and ends at the “green heart” of the coast.