There are so many amazing off the beaten track hikes around the world, two articles weren’t enough to list them all! After our Africa and the Americas piece and the Asia/Pacific instalment, welcome to Off the Beaten Track Hikes around the world – the final instalment of this series, with trails from Asia, Saudi Arabia, Australia and New Zealand.
Hike to The Edge of the World in Saudi Arabia
By Layla – Blue Abaya
This amazing place deemed “Edge of the World” is part of a natural limestone escarpment which runs 700km from the central Najd region of Saudi Arabia down to the Empty Quarter further south. The Edge of the World, which can be accessed with a 4X4 from the capital Riyadh, is on a part of this escarpment where the edge reaches far out from the plateau itself, creating a kind of peninsula.
Hiking all the way to this edge is an arduous and dangerous (for one woman even fatal!) task, so great caution is advised. Once you reach the Edge, it really does feel as if standing at the ‘Edge of the World’; there’s literally nothing around you, just a vast empty plain that seemingly goes on for ever and ever on the horizon. The view down is chilling!
The ‘Edge’ as locals call it, can be explored from the bottom of the escarpment upwards as well, this hike is only recommended for experienced persons and highly discouraged to attempt the climb during the hot summer months. A trip to the Edge of the World is worth it even for those not planning on doing the actual hike, the scenery from the car park alone is spectacular enough to amaze even the most experienced traveler. Definitely one of the most memorable sunsets you will ever witness!
For more info, imagery, directions to the Edge of the World, you can check the Blue Abaya guide here!
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Hike the Great Ocean Road
By Jules and Christine – Don’t Forget to Move
When you think Melbourne, Australia you might not automatically think of hiking! Instead, images of stellar coastline, beautiful beaches and cosmopolitan lifestyles are usually what spring to mind. But take a drive only an hour out of the city and you’ll quickly find that the whole state of Victoria offers some excellent off the beaten track hikes.
While a lot of Victoria’s rugged bushland is quite flat, there are some amazing hikes and trails that can be enjoyed by anyone, from the inexperienced weekender to the Bear Grylls type of explorer. Some of our favorite hikes can be found around an hour southwest of Melbourne along the famous Great Ocean Road, where jagged coastline meets dense bushland. Park at the iconic surf spot Bells Beach and then hit the trail.
The coastal tracks wind around the cliffs, climbing up and down as they follow the beach coves. Along the way keep your eyes peeled for native Australian wildlife like kangaroos, echidnas and wombats that call the bush home. But don’t deviate off the track too much, especially in summer, that’s when we get snakes! If you’re really up for an adventure pack your tent and head off for a few days. There are plenty of spots to camp along the way and the kangaroos love the company!
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Mount Gwanaksan in Seoul, Korea
By Taylor Ahlstrom – Wanderlust Logs
When thinking about great hiking destinations, Korea isn’t a country that pops into most people’s minds. Which is unfortunate, because of the wealth of great hikes covering all levels of ability.
One of the best of those hikes can be found right in the center of the capital city. Gwanaksan rises 629 meters overlooking central Seoul and Seoul National University. The mountain offers a wide range of hiking trails and a river that is perfect for picnicking.
Unfortunately, as hiking is one of the most popular activities in Korea, you will be hard pressed to find an empty mountain anywhere during peak times. However, there are always less populated trails if you look hard enough.
Following the ridge to the radar tower and coming down the northwest side of Gwanaksan are several more advanced trails, at times requiring ropes and chains to help propel you down smooth rock faces over sheer drops.
And unlike the easier trails heading up from the main entrance, you will more than likely have this one all to yourself. Don’t forget to pack some soju and kimbap for the summit!
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Fox Glacier Valley Walk, New Zealand
By Natasha Amar – The Boho Chica
New Zealand is very popular with hikers, a firm favorite on their bucket lists and for good reason. The country has an incredibly beautiful and diverse landscape like nowhere else. The Westland Tai Poutini National Park in Glacier Country is home to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. While Franz Josef gets much of the attention of tourists, due to its superior amenities and fancier accommodation options, Fox Glacier Village remains true to its name with limited accommodation and a handful of restaurants. Drawn to its quieter feel, we spent a few days in the village exploring the area around Fox Glacier.
With our Guided Glacier Walking tour being cancelled due to unfavorable weather, we decided to do the Fox Glacier Valley Walk. Our friendly driver Murray suggested that we save a few bucks and hike by ourselves to the terminal face of the glacier. He dropped us off at the car park, about 3.5km from Fox Village.
From here, it took about 45 minutes to reach the terminal face, walking at a moderate pace. The path was well-marked with certain areas to be avoided roped off. Rock fall, icefall and sudden glacial river surges are common with weather conditions changing rapidly and all instructions and warning signs must be adhered to seriously.
The terrain was rocky with occasional glacial streams to cross over; waterproof hiking boots are highly recommended. The path over glacial moraines (piles of rock that were accumulated as the glacier descended rapidly) wound through the valley to the terminal face from where we could see the snout of the glacier and the Fox River gushing beneath the ice. A barrier prevented access to the terminal face as the river can quickly rise by a few meters without warning, but the view of the glacier was remarkable nonetheless.
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Trekking from Kathmandu to Lukla, Nepal
By Alex Bradbeer – Finding the Freedom
Most people who begin an Everest base camp trek would fly into Lukla and continue from there to the top. This is a mistake. When I made this trip I chose the option of the 7-day trek in from Shivalaya, a village that can be reached by a death-defying bus ride from Kathmandu.
This trek will take you through scenery that can barely be described with words. Lush green valleys with grey-blue rivers will surround you. This trek is not for beginners. Expect 12-hour days of steep hills and jagged rocks. If your fitness is up to par you are rewarded with the beauty that this trail holds.
You pass from village to village walking along side Sherpas carrying hundreds of pounds of weight on their backs. When the day is done you spend the night local teahouses.
The main trail from Lukla to Everest Base Camp is a well-beaten path. By adding in this extra 7 days at the start you will be away from almost everyone. There was days that I didn’t see another trekker. The guesthouses are friendlier, the prices are lower, the weather is better, and the experience as a whole is more authentic. Add to that the bonus of not having to fly into the world’s most dangerous airport.
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Trekking the Australian Outback
By Amanda Markham – Travel Outback Australia
You probably won’t believe me, but outback Australia is a hiker’s dream.
I know… You thought outback Australia was dry, flat, red dirt desert.
Not only is the outback home to some of the highest mountains in Australia, it’s full of high quality, world class hikes. I’m going to share two with you.
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is one of the outback’s most famous short walks. It’s home to some of the best-remembered scenes from the movie, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
This 6km/3.7mi walk takes you though stunning ‘beehive’ domes, sheer canyon rock walls and a hidden oasis called ’The Garden of Eden’. You’ll need at least 3 hours to do the walk, a hat and at least 2 litres of water.
The Larapinta Trail
Stretching for 223km/138mi from the outback’s capital, Alice Springs west to Mt Sonder, the Larapinta Trail can be done as a classic thru-hike, as a section hike (12 sections), or as any number of shorter walks.
The trail takes you through sites sacred to the Arrernte people, and will wow you with constantly changing mountains, waterholes, gorges and vantage points.
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