There is simply no better way to discover a new destination than by taking a walking tour. The focus is on a measured pace, the best way to smell the roses, take in the scenery and get 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 major tour companies specialize in organized hikes. Here are new trips from five of them for 2023.
New Zealand’s North Island Walking Tour
MT Sobek focuses on New Zealand’s striking North Island on this nine-day journey. It starts with the geothermal features of Rotorua and walking under the tall trees of the prehistoric Whirinaki rainforest. You can hike through lava valleys to active volcanoes in Tongariro National Park, hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and on to the Waiotapu thermal wonderland. Another highlight is a wine tasting on Waiheke Island and a visit to the capital Wellington. The trip is Level 3 rated, described as “moderate walks up to five miles, with a 12-mile, on mostly rough dirt trails. It also includes cultural walking tours, scenic drives and boat trips.” Priced from $6,495 (per person, based on double occupancy, like all trips mentioned).
Remote peaks and meadows of the Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rocky Mountains lie on the border of Alberta and British Columbia, famed for their turquoise lakes, glacier-fed rivers, and a wilderness inhabited by moose, bighorn sheep, bears, and wolves. On this trip from Natural Habitat Adventures you will travel to Banff and the Bow River Valley, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and the Athabasca Glacier. What takes it to another level are three nights in the remote Bugaboos Range on the western edge of the Rockies, access to alpine terrain by helicopter, and a stay at Bugaboo Lodge, nestled between glaciers and mountain peaks. Another highlight is a glacier hike led by a member of the Interior Salish tribes of British Columbia. This hiking tour is rated as easy to moderate, with two to three trips per day, with most of the hikes taking place at elevations of 4,500-6,800 feet above sea level. Priced from $9,995.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Backpacking & Summit
This REI Adventures journey takes you to a landscape formed 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 will travel through the unique terrain of Cinder Cone and the Fantastic Lava Beds, where hills of towering basalt flank crystal blue mountain lakes formed by underwater lava flows. The hinterland of Lassen, on the other hand, is filled with Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pine. The climb to Cinder Cone offers 360-degree views of Lassen Peak and the Painted Dunes. Then it’s an ascent of Lassen Peak, with an early sunrise to witness the sunrise from the top of the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Mountains. This trip is rated as moderate, level 3, with participants carrying their own backpacks weighing 35-40 pounds for distances of 4-7 miles per day over varied terrain. There are three nights of camping on this trip. Priced from $1,249 for REI members, $1,399 for non-members.
Hiking and trekking from the Dolomites to Lake Garda
From the Alpine peaks to the Italian Lakes, this Backroads trip offers the best of Northern Italy, from the German-speaking villages of South Tyrol to Mediterranean Lake Garda. It starts in the rugged Dolomites, with hikes to the foot of the Rosengarten and Schlern massifs. There’s a scenic gondola ride to the Catinaccio Mountains, lunches in rustic mountain huts, and panoramic vistas. 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 lake relaxation are in order. The trip is scheduled for Italy’s fall and spring, when the crowds are gone and the weather is sublime. With activity levels 2-4, this trip is described as “a mix of rugged mountain trails, well-maintained footpaths and steps, lake trails and cobbled village trails, plus some rocky sections and steep climbs and descents. The elevation changes and elevation changes can make the routes more challenging than the mileage suggests.” Accommodations are in Premiere Hotels and the price is from $5,699.
Norway: Bergen and the Fjords
This seven-day trip with Country Walkers is all about admiring the fjords of the country’s west coast and exploring the mountain peaks and valleys of the interior. The daily walk is 4-6 miles, including the historic Vindhella section of the King’s Road walking trail, a trail that leads to the preserved Borgund Stave Church. If you’re not walking, you’ll travel by bus, RIB boat, ferry, gondola and train, including the famous Flam Railway. Take the ferry to historic 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.