Overdone it this Christmas? Then get travelling! Here’s my pick of the best places for hiking off those unwanted festive calories.
Best Places to Walk Off that Christmas Excess
New Zealand was made for tramping. This relatively small country punches well above its weight in terms of scenery and there’s no better way to enjoy it than on one of the nation’s many walking trails or long distance footpaths. The ultimate hike is Te Araroa. Translating as “The Long Pathway” its splendid 1864 miles from Cape Reinga to Bluff pack in sandy beaches, verdant forests, snow-capped peaks and Alpine lakes. It takes around four months to complete, but by all means dip in and out to suit your travel plans.
The long thin one in South America has some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet and perhaps best of all is the Torres del Paine National Park. The W circuit, so named for its shape, can be completed in around four to five days, but there are myriad short hikes too. From the craggy Cuernos del Paine to the famous Towers themselves, in good weather you’ll be guaranteed breathtaking scenery along the way.
Forget Disney or the bright lights of Broadway, if you get out of the city, the USA has some wonderful walks. Utah’s blessed with not one but five spectacular National Parks. Walk among the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, the landscape-stretching vistas in Canyonlands, the gravity-defying Arches, Zion‘s stunning river valley hikes or the rocks of overlooked Capitol Reef. Whichever you opt for, your walks will be set against some of the most interesting geographical features in North America.
Mongolia’s Terelj National Park is an easy ride from the country’s capital, Ulan Bator, but it’s a world away from the noisy and crowded city. Highlights include interesting rock formations such as Turtle Rock and the nearby Ariyabal Temple where monks perform meditation rituals. But the real joy of Terelj is not to seek out the sights but just to walk the meadow and riverside paths through a landscape dotted with nomads’ gers.
Some of Southern Africa’s most dramatic scenery can be found in Namibia and there are plenty of opportunities for guided or unguided calorie-burning walks. Seasoned hikers will appreciate the multi-day treks on offer to explore Fish River Canyon, but these are best left to the cooler months between May and September. If an easier stroll is all you need, then you’re best to head for Sossusvlei. Known for its famous dunes and the ghostlike trees of Dead Vlei (Camel Thorn Trees), there’s something to suit every level of fitness.