In the last three years, Leo and I have undertaken a fair few hikes and walks. We’ve been discussing our favourites across the board and have come up with this list. They range in countries, terrain and length – but all of them, we would do again.
Bali is trending with travellers right now and we would be lying if we didn’t admit that we are already planning a return trip. The Campuan Ridge Walk is a popular route for tourists and leads you through the jungle and ends with a view of the rice fields.
The walk starts behind ‘The Warwick Ibah’ which is just outside of town and takes about 2 hours for a round trip.There are other walks you can do if you only want to see the rice fields, but we chose this one for its refreshing and varied views of the forest. We started our journey at around 6.30am, passing lots of locals on their morning run or walk. Don’t start the walk much later than this – it would be too hot. Most travellers stop their walk at the Karsa Kafe which is a beautiful spa and restaurant offering panoramic views of the close-by rice terraces. Make sure to stop in and grab a coconut to re-hydrate you after this fantastic walk.
What can we say about Minyon Falls? Only that every visitor to Byron Bay should check out this marvellous piece of hinterland. You can cheat and see the falls from the lookout, but if you really want to get involved with nature, this 4km one-way scramble down to the base of the falls is well worth it. The route takes you through the rainforest, past several clear creeks and leads you climbing over rocks to get to the base. There’s nothing more awe-inspiring than looking up at the gushing water above you.
We undertook many hikes in Australia; this was one of our first and remains one of the top on our list. The Australian wildlife is really apparent throughout the walk – you can hear all sorts of sounds and we spent the whole time discussing what they could be.
Tip: Make sure to go after it rains so that you can really experience this 100m plunging waterfall.
The Grampians National Park in Victoria is full of interesting hikes. We spent two days exploring this area and loved every minute of it!
There are a few routes that lead to The Pinnacle but we chose the one that starts at Sundial Carpark. It is a medium grade walk so make sure to wear suitable footwear – it features very rocky terrain – large slabs of rock form the pathway as it winds higher up the hill. Throughout the walk there are splendid views of the lake and mountain ranges. Walking to the top of the pinnacle looks pretty scary (and it is for anyone who doesn’t like heights!) but it sure is rewarding.
Karijini National Park is one of the best parks we’ve come across and it remains one of the highlights from our time in Australia. We are so glad we decided to travel Western Australia because otherwise we would have missed this beauty!
Fortescue Falls is an impressive waterfall in Dales Gorge (the park’s only permanent falls) and features a large pool at the bottom – popular for swimming after a day’s hike. The walk down to Fortescue from the carpark is short but is done so by negotiating large steps and narrow pathways. You could either stop here for a dip or continue your walk in either direction. We took the route on the lefthand side (the trail to Circular Pool). This route follows the creek as it snakes along the gorge floor; features some peaceful sunken gardens and is perfect for being at one with nature. When you reach Circular Pool, you’ll find another spot of paradise. If you’re all hot and dripping with sweat by this point, jumping into the pool’s cold waters is sure to take your temperature down – it’s almost too refreshing.
Fern Pool, on the righthand side of Fortescue Falls, is the coldest of the three pools but is the most beautiful. The water is a blue-green oasis! It is very deep here; there aren’t many points where you can touch the ground so be careful if you’re not a confident swimmer. Even though its technically not in the same route as Circular Pool, Fern Pool deserves recognition here because it is a sacred aboriginal spot and radiates tranquility. There are also tiny fish that nibble at your feet when you take the ladder down into the pool. Please note that there is no jumping or shouting here due to its importance. Check this little gem out before or after your long hike!
Tip: We camped in Dales Gorge Campground which is right in the National Park and is easily accessible (make sure to get their early as it will be busy – we actually nabbed ourselves the last tent spot available when we visited!). We recommend staying here so that you’re right in the centre of things.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is deemed as New Zealand’s best one-day hike and it’s not hard to see why. This route has so much variety in terrain, colour and nature that you’d be silly if you didn’t walk away loving it.
The 19.4km route is split up into 6 stages – all challenging in their own way! I did this hike on my own (whilst on my Stray Journeys trip in 2014) but I’ve vowed to go back there with Leo so that I can show him just how wonderful it is. Since this route is so long, it deserves a post of its own – I don’t want to go into too much detail here. What I will do is mention some of the most difficult parts.
If you’ve ever done this hike, you’ll know what I mean when I say the Devil’s Staircase. Ever thought you’d seen too many steps? Try looking at this first. It is not even the amount of steps that is the problem here, it is how steep it is. You climb from 1400 to1600 metres above sea level. I remember desperately convincing myself that I could do this, whilst my legs were aching from the start. The key is to never stop, but to simply go at your own pace. And if that pace is very slow, then so be it. You will want to down a litre of water when you finish this section. The best thing? That you’re not even half way to completing the crossing yet.
The track between Red Crater and Blue Lake is also worth mentioning. This is perhaps the most scenic section as you get to see the emerald lakes, central crater and blue lake. The descent from Red Crater though is testing, in a different way to the the Devil’s Staircase. You have to navigate over loose scoria here which is, I imagine, slightly like walking on the moon. I remember our guide demonstrating the ‘almost-jumping-into-a-ball-pit’ technique yet he fell over in the process. You have to take large strides and dig your feet into the scoria so you don’t fall away with it. It’s very fun to say the least!
Want to know more? Check out the crossing’s website here.
So there you have it. Our favourite hikes. What’s been your most memorable hike? Which countries do you like to explore for their walking trails? We’d love to hear some suggestions.