There’s simply no better way to explore a new destination than by taking a walk. The emphasis is on a measured pace, the best way to smell the roses, admire the scenery and work up an appetite for regional cuisine. At best, a group walk in good company can also look like a floating cocktail. A handful of large travel agencies specialize in organized walks. Here are the new trips of five of them for 2023.
Hiking in New Zealand’s North Island
MT Sobek focuses on New Zealand’s awe-inspiring North Island on this nine-day trip. It starts with the geothermal features of Rotorua and walking under the tall trees of the prehistoric rainforest of Whirinaki. There are hikes through lava valleys to the active volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike and the thermal wonderland of Waiotapu. Another highlight is wine tasting on Waiheke Island and a visit to the capital city of Wellington. The trip is graded at Level 3, described as “moderately paced hikes up to five miles, including one 12 miles, on mostly rugged dirt trails. It also includes cultural walking tours, scenic drives and boat trips.” From $6,495 (per person, double occupancy, like all trips mentioned).
Remote peaks and prairies of the Canadian Rockies
Canada’s Rocky Mountains straddle the border of Alberta and British Columbia, famous for their turquoise lakes, glacier-fed rivers and wilderness populated by elk, bighorn sheep, bears and wolves. During this trip of Adventures in the natural habitat, you travel to Banff and the Bow River Valley, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and the Athabasca Glacier. What elevates it to another level are three nights in the remote Bugaboos Range at the western end of the Rockies, access to alpine terrain by helicopter, and a stay at Bugaboo Lodge, set amid glaciers and mountain peaks. Another highlight is a glacier walk led by a member of BC’s Interior Salish tribes. This hike is rated easy to moderate, with two to three outings per day, with most hikes taking place at an elevation of 4,500 to 6,800 feet above sea level. Prices start at $9,995 .
Hike and summit in Lassen Volcanic National Park
This REI Adventures journey takes you through a landscape shaped by fire and ice. This is a four day hike through the lava beds, painted dunes and cinder cone of Lassen Volcanic National Park, and it includes a summit of Lassen Peak. You travel through the unique terrain of Cinder Cone and the Fantastic Lava Beds, where towering basalt hills flank crystal blue mountain lakes shaped by underwater lava flows. In contrast, the Lassen backcountry is filled with Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pine. Climbing Cinder Cone offers 360 degree views of Lassen Peak and the Painted Dunes. Then it’s an ascent to Lassen Peak, with a pre-dawn departure to watch the sunrise from the summit of the Cascade Mountain Range’s southernmost active volcano. This trip is rated Moderate, Level 3, with participants carrying their own backpacks weighing 35-40 pounds for distances of 4-7 miles per day over varying terrain. There are three nights of camping on this trip. Prices start at $1,249 for REI members, $1,399 for non-members.
Walking tour and hike from the Dolomites to Lake Garda
From Alpine peaks to Italian lakes, this Country roads voyage offers the best of Northern Italy, from the German-speaking villages of South Tyrol to the Mediterranean-style Lake Garda. It begins in the rugged Dolomites, with a hike to the foot of the Rosengarten and Schlern massifs. There’s a scenic gondola ride up the Catinaccio mountain range, lunches in rustic mountain huts, and panoramic views. Then it’s time to descend to the shores of Lake Garda, to the elegant resort of Riva del Garda, where spa time, swimming and lakeside relaxation are in order. The trip is timed for Italy’s fall and spring, when the crowds are gone and the weather is glorious. Rated activity levels 2-4, this trip is described as “a mix of rugged mountain trails, well-maintained paths and stairs, lakeside trails and cobbled village lanes, plus sections rocky terrain and steep ascents and descents.Elevation gains and losses may make the routes more difficult than the mileage suggests.Accommodation is at Premiere hotels and price is from $5,699.
Norway: Bergen and the Fjords
This seven-day trip with Country Walkers is to admire the fjords of the west coast of the country and explore the mountain peaks and valleys of the interior. The daily walk is 4-6 miles, which includes the historic Vindhella section of the King’s Road hiking trail, a path that leads to the preserved Borgund Stave Church. When you’re not walking, you’ll travel by coach, RIB, ferry, gondola, and train, including the famous Flam Railway. Take a ferry to the iconic Rosendal Barony, Scandinavia’s smallest castle, set in a landscape of fjords, glaciers, mountains and waterfalls. Prices start at $5,848 for the 7-day tour only and $6,748 for the flight + 10-day tour combined.