Three of the Best Walks in the World?
Unless you’re talking empirical facts, lists can be subjective. So we’re going to let you decide. We’re going to lay out, what we believe, are three of the best walks in the world.
A day walk, a weekend walk and a long walk, and you can be the judge.
Please leave your comments below, and let us know if you agree?
Have you done these walks? Or some you think were better? And why?
Walking is such a personal thing, people seek out and appreciate different elements in their trips. Natural beauty, culture and ancient history, serenity and isolation, unique wildlife, every walk has its own combination of features, and you’ll gravitate to those that feed your soul the most. Or, those you have time for!
So, here are our thoughts. Let’s see if you agree. We’d love to hear from you.
Maybe, the best day walk in the world?
To understand why we think this is one of the best day walks in the world, we have to tell you about a little slice of paradise called Lord Howe Island.
600km out to sea from Port Macquarie, only two hours flight from Sydney or Brisbane, it’s the remnants of a shield volcano that erupted for roughly 500,000 million years, about 7 million years ago.
These figures can be difficult to get your head around, but it means the island has never been part of a continent, all the wildlife and vegetation arrived by sea or air, and it’s old enough for species to have evolved in their own unique way.
So as you climb up Mount Gower, a strenuous eight-hour return trip, you’ll frequently hear your guide saying “This is the only place in the world you can see that”.
And they won’t be talking about anything dangerous, as, believe it or not, there are no snakes or highly venomous insects or plants on Lord Howe. How un-Australian!
At only 11 kilometres from end to end and not even three kilometres at its widest point, you’ll also see the entire island as you ascend the 875 metres to the summit. A crescent moon shape appears below you, with the world’s most southerly barrier reef nestled in its western embrace. Sparkling. Cerulean. Beckoning for you to take a dip when you descend.
Only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at one time, and there’s so much to see and do, you’re hardly going to bump into anyone on your walk. It’s no easy saunter though. There are challenging sections with rope assisted climbs, and you’re not allowed to take on the 14-kilometre round-trip without a licensed guide.
So what makes the walk so special in our eyes?
Is it the breathtaking view you achieve over a UNESCO World Heritage-listed island from the summit? Is it the fact that you have to work quite hard, to gain this perspective? Is it the terrifying drops and cliffs that you skirt, while Providence Petrels twirl around your ears, or is it that you know, deep down in your heart that there’s no place on earth quite like this.
And you’ve just climbed to the top, of paradise.
Possibly, the best weekend walk in the world?
If you live in Sydney, or you’ve ever visited for more than a couple of days, you’ve probably been to the Blue Mountains. Lined up with all the tourists in Katoomba and had your picture taken in front of the impressive sandstone formation, the Three Sisters.
What you probably didn’t know, is that you were standing at the beginning of one the best weekend walks in the world. Well, in our opinion anyway.
You’ll start at the viewing platform, surrounded by throngs of selfie-taking day trippers in thongs, and you’ll put them in your rear view mirror as you descend the 862 steps to actually touch the Three Sisters. Right now, you have your hand on the Great Dividing Range that stretches the entire length of Australia. Well done.
Before you continue on, plunging into the lush forest below, you can look out across Megalong valley and see the blue haze emanating from Australia’s endemic Eucalypts, which is where Blue Mountains name comes from.
Keep your eyes open for Aboriginal Rock Art, as you wind your way into the Jamison valley that, according to Dreamtime tradition was carved out by an epic battle between Mirigan and Garangatch, a half fish and a half reptile.
Total immersion is one of the delights of this walk. Sun filtering through the forest canopy, lizards scarpering off as you approach, the light catching a drop of water balancing on the tip of a fern beside a crystal cascade. Periodic clearings allowing you to glimpse the immensity of the view, and eventually, you’ll end up in Leura for the night.
The next day takes you through the same environment, but also along a path that’s been carved into the side of the escarpment, adventurously leading you towards the spectacular Wentworth Falls.
Worship the spray on a hot day, then complete the final hike up to the edge of the cliff, and your walk is complete.
Two days. Total immersion. An hour or so from Australia’s biggest city.
Very difficult to beat as far as we’re concerned.
Probably, the best long walk in the world?
OK, we’re leaving Australia for this one. And the fact that it’s one of the most popular walks in the world is difficult to dispute. There have been, at least, ten movies made about the El Camino, and a couple of hundred thousand people complete it every year.
Surely no other walk has claimed such a prominent place in popular culture. The question, however, concerns whether it’s the best long walk in the world.
It certainly ticks a lot of boxes, but does it do it for you? Let us know.
Steeped in history and religion
According to scripture St James was the first of Christ’s apostles to be martyred when his head was cut off in Jerusalem. His body was transported to Spain, and then overland to Santiago de Compostela.
The El Camino de Santiago represents a series of routes all joined together, following St James’ final path, and the literal translation is the ‘Way of St James’.
For Christians the attraction is clear, it’s a pilgrimage, although the journey has grown way beyond religion, and many take on it on for a range of personal, often spiritual reasons.
Although there are many routes converging on Santiago de Compostela, they all traverse across the top of Spain, and they all take in the landscapes to found in that part of the world.
The lush green pastures of the Cantabrian coast, the fierce vertical peaks of the Picos de Europa, forests rich with birdlife and rolling meadows filled with olive groves and vineyards.
Your walk is constantly punctuated with tiny villages, most of which add to the beauty of the scene as if they’ve been painted onto the landscape.
And speaking of those little villages and towns, whenever you stop for the night, or lunch, you’ll have the pleasure of tasting a cheese, or a dish that’s been made locally for hundreds of years. You’ll pass through La Rioja, where we’re convinced they keep the best wines for themselves, and lucky visitors, and almost every step along the way there’s cured meats, delightful produce and delicious meals to be had.
Everyone has a story
Finally, and you may or may not like this aspect, it’s a very sociable hike. Everybody is friendly and in our experience, almost everybody has a story to tell.
Why they’re doing the walk. What spurred them on and what’s keeping them going.
There’s a camaraderie to it we haven’t found anywhere else.
And for us, although we like the isolation and wilderness to be found in some other walks, for a walk of this length, we’d rather have some company along the way.
So for a combination of all of the above, but probably, mostly, because of the interesting people you meet on your journey – the El Camino is the best long walk in the world.
But what are your thoughts? Do you agree? We’d love to hear from you below.