There’s simply no better way to explore a new destination than to take a stroll. Moderate pace, the scent of roses, enjoyment of the landscape and an appetite for regional cuisine are in the foreground. A group walk in good company can at best also take on the aspect of a floating cocktail party. A handful of great tour operators specialize in organized hikes. Here are new trips from five of them for 2023.
Hike on the North Island of New Zealand
MT Sobek focuses on New Zealand’s striking North Island on this nine-day voyage. It begins with Rotorua’s geothermal features and a walk beneath the tall trees of the prehistoric Whirinaki Rainforest. There are hikes through lava valleys to active volcanoes in Tongariro National Park, hikes on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and on to the thermal wonderland of Waiotapu. Another highlight is the wine tasting on Waiheke Island and a visit to the capital Wellington. The trip is rated Level 3 and is described as “moderately fast hikes up to five miles, with a 12-mile, on mostly rugged dirt roads. It also includes cultural walking tours, scenic drives and boat trips.” Price from $6,495 (per person, based on double occupancy, like all trips mentioned).
Remote peaks and meadows of the Canadian Rocky Mountains
Canada’s Rocky Mountains lie on the border of Alberta and British Columbia, famous for their turquoise lakes, glacier-fed rivers and a wilderness populated by moose, bighorn sheep, bear and wolves. On this Natural Habitat Adventures trip, you’ll 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 Rocky Mountains, access to alpine terrain by helicopter and staying at Bugaboo Lodge amidst glaciers and mountain peaks. Another highlight is a glacier hike led by a member of the Interior Salish tribe of British Columbia. This hike is rated easy to moderate with two to three trips per day, with most hikes taking place at an elevation of 4,500 to 6,800 feet above sea level. Price from $9,995.
Hiking in Lassen Volcanic National Park and peaks
This journey from REI Adventures takes you to a landscape shaped by fire and ice. It’s a four-day backpacking tour of Lassen Volcanic National Park’s lava beds, Painted Dunes, and Cinder Cone, and includes a summit of Lassen Peak. You’ll journey through the unique terrain of Cinder Cone and the Fantastic Lava Beds, where hills of towering basalt flank crystal blue mountain lakes sculpted by underwater lava flows. In contrast, Lassen’s 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 a climb up Lassen Peak, with a dawn start to catch the sunrise from the top of the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade mountain range. This trip is rated as Moderate, Level 3, with participants carrying their own 35-40 pound backpacks for distances of 4-7 miles daily over varied terrain. There are three nights of camping on this trip. Prices start at $1,249 for REI members, $1,399 for non-members.
Hiking and hiking tour 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 the Mediterranean Lake Garda. It begins in the rugged Dolomites with hikes to the foot of the Catinaccio and Sciliar massifs. There’s a scenic gondola ride to the Catinaccio Mountains, lunches in rustic mountain huts, and panoramic views. 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 are the order of the day. The trip is scheduled for Italy’s fall and spring, when the crowds are gone and the weather is glorious. Rated at activity levels 2-4, this trip is described as “a mix of rugged mountain trails, well maintained footpaths and steps, lakeside trails and cobblestone village lanes, as well as some rocky sections and steep climbs and descents. The elevation gains and losses can make the courses feel more challenging than the mileage would suggest.” Accommodation is at Premiere Hotels and price is $5,699.
Norway: Bergen and the Fjords
This seven-day trip with Country Walkers is all about exploring the fjords of the country’s west coast and exploring the mountain peaks and valleys inland. The daily walk is 4-6 miles including the historic Vindhella section of the King’s Road footpath, a path leading to the preserved Borgund Stave Church. When you’re not walking, travel by bus, RIB boat, ferry, gondola and train – including the famous Flam Railway. Take a ferry to landmark Rosendal Barony, Scandinavia’s smallest castle nestled 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 10-day flight + tour combo.