There is simply no better way to explore a new destination than by taking a walking trip. The focus is on a measured pace, the best way to smell the roses, take in the scenery, and work up an appetite for regional cuisine. At its best, a group walk with good company can also take on the aspect of a floating cocktail party. A handful of great tour companies specialize in organized walks. Here are new trips from five of them for 2023.
New Zealand North Island Hiking Tour
MT Sobek focuses on the striking North Island of New Zealand on this nine-day trip. It begins with the geothermal features of Rotorua and walking under the tall trees of the prehistoric Whirinaki rainforest. There’s hiking through lava valleys to active volcanoes in Tongariro National Park, hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and on to the thermal wonderland of Waiotapu. Another highlight is wine tasting on Waiheke Island and a visit to the capital of Wellington. The trip is rated Level 3, described as “moderately paced hikes up to five miles, with one 12-mile, on mostly rugged dirt trails. It also includes cultural walking tours, scenic drives, and boat trips.” Priced from $6,495 (per person, based on double occupancy, as are all trips mentioned).
Remote Peaks & Meadows of the Canadian Rockies
Canada’s Rocky Mountains straddle the border of Alberta and British Columbia, famed for their turquoise lakes, glacier-fed rivers, and a wilderness populated by elk, bighorn sheep, bears, and wolves. On this trip from Natural Habitat Adventures, you travel to Banff and the Bow River Valley, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the Athabasca Glacier. What elevates it to another level is three nights in the remote Bugaboos Range on the western edge of the Rockies,, accessing alpine terrain via helicopter, and staying at Bugaboo Lodge, set amongst glaciers and mountain peaks. Another highlight is a glacier walk led by a member of the Interior Salish tribes of British Columbia. This hiking trip is rated easy to moderate, with two to three outings per day, with most hikes occurring at an altitude of 4,500-6,800 feet above sea level. Priced from $9,995.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Backpacking & Summit
This REI Adventures trip brings you to a landscape shaped by fire and ice. It’s four days of backpacking 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 hills of towering basalt flank crystal blue mountain lakes shaped by underwater lava flows. In contrast, Lassen’s backcountry is filled with Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pine. The climb up Cinder Cone provides 360-degree views of Lassen Peak and the Painted Dunes. Then it’s an ascent up Lassen Peak, with a pre-dawn start to witness the sunrise from the top of the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade mountain range. This trip is rated moderate, level 3, with participants carrying their own backpacks weighing 35-40 pounds on distances of 4-7 miles daily over varied terrain. There are three nights of camping on this trip. Priced from $1,249 for REI Members, $1,399 for non-members.
Dolomites to Lake Garda Walking & Hiking Tour
From Alpine peaks to the Italian lakes, this Backroads trip 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 hiking to the base of the Rosengarten and Schlern massifs. There’s a scenic gondola ride up to the Catinaccio mountain range, lunches at rustic mountain huts, and panoramic vistas. Then it’s time to descend to the shores of Lake Garda, to the elegant resort town of Riva del Garda, where spa time, swimming, and lakeside relaxation is in order. The trip is timed for Italy’s fall and spring when the crowds are gone and the weather is sublime. Rated Activity Levels 2-4, this trip is described as “a mix of rugged mountain trails, well-maintained footpaths, and steps, lakeside paths and cobblestone village walkways, plus some rocky sections and steep climbs and descents. The elevation gains and losses can make the routes feel more challenging than the mileage may suggest.” Accommodations are in Premiere Hotels, and the price is from $5,699.
Norway: Bergen and the Fjords
This seven-day journey with Country Walkers is all about taking in the fjords of the country’s west coast and exploring the mountaintops and valleys of the interior. The daily walking 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 not walking, you’ll travel by coach, RIB boat, ferry, gondola, and train—including the celebrated Flam Railway. Take a ferry to the landmark Rosendal Barony, Scandinavia’s smallest castle, set in a landscape of fjords, glaciers, mountains, and waterfalls. Priced from $5,848 for the 7-day tour only and $6,748 for the 10-day Flight + Tour Combo.