If you haven’t already heard, Belize is fast becoming Central America’s hottest adventure travel destination, thanks to its world-class water activities, incredible jungle trekking and sensational new sea kayaking event due to take place this May. If you’re looking for a rewarding adventure destination, that offers the opportunity to take a closer look at a nation’s culture, while still getting your adventure fix, then Belize is the destination for you.
There’s something extra exciting about an adventure that offers the chance to get up close and personal with wildlife you’ve only ever seen on TV before. Belize’s lush rainforests, rivers and lagoons provide the ideal habitat for some unique endemic species, and it’s relatively easy to catch a glimpse. Head on a kayaking adventure to Placencia Lagoon, home to manatees, saltwater crocodiles and dolphins, and you can even snorkel among whale sharks here during the months of March, April and May.
In terms of marine life, you really are spoilt for choice. Snorkelling on the Belize Barrier Reef will bring you face to face with an incredible variety of tropical fish, as well as sea turtles, eels, stingrays, reef and nurse sharks and a dazzling display of colourful coral. Meanwhile, Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve is home to Central America’s only surviving population of jaguars, although you’ll be more likely to spot the tropical birds and iguanas that reside here.
To get as close as possible to the action, stay in a jungle lodge and wake to the sounds of howler monkeys echoing through the rainforest. Bird-watchers will be in heaven with a cacophony of beautiful birds filling the forests with song and showing off their colourful feathers.
There’s ancient history to discover
Being tucked beneath Mexico and just along the coast from Chichen Itza, an ancient Mayan site and one of the new Wonders of the World, you can be sure that the many ancient sites found in Belize are just as breathtaking. Belize was once home to over two million Mayans, who have left behind incredible temples and remnants of their lives that are fascinating to explore. The best part is that many of the ancient sites are found deep in the jungle, and require a rainforest trek or adventure-packed boat ride to reach them.
Embark on an intrepid expedition to Lamanai via a boat ride along the New River, where you can spot plenty of exotic animals. The high temple offers a sensational panoramic view from its summit, while the jaguar temple features a stucco frieze of a jaguar. For the best views in Belize, head to the Xunantunich site, where you can climb el Castillo – the second tallest structure in Belize – and enjoy views all the way to Guatemala.
Even the vast network of caves in Belize offers insight into this fascinating ancient civilisation. Head for a caving expedition to the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, where the glittering calcified remains of a skeleton can be found, surrounded by relics from the Mayans sacrifice rituals.
The culture is incredibly varied, and the locals will treat you like family
The majority of Belizeans were once Creoles, descended from African slaves, making up 75% of the population. Nowadays, due to emigration from neighbouring countries, the population is made up of a big percentage of Latin Americans, as well as Creoles, original Mayan descendants and Garifuna – descendants of shipwrecked slaves and Antilles islanders, who were deported to Central America in the 1730s by the British.
Due to its proximity to the Caribbean, there’s a heavy Caribbean influence in the laid-back way of life here. The relaxed Caribbean vibes of the coast mingle with the adventurous soul of the inland jungle to create a blissed-out yet spirited way of life you can’t help but embrace.
A great opportunity to get an insight into Belizean culture and traditions is by visiting the country during the BTB Love Belize Sea Challenge, taking place from 22 May 2019. It’s a gruelling competition in which teams paddle their way along the coast of Belize, from Punta Gorda in the south all the way up to the border with Mexico. It coincides with Commonwealth Day on Friday 24 May, a major national holiday for Belize, and as the race moves along the coast, it will come alive with music, dancing and cultural festivities as spectators cheer on the competitors and locals turn out in their droves to celebrate with traditional food and activities.
Watch the race pass through Dangriga, home to Garifuna and native Caribs, bringing an eclectic blend of African and Caribbean music and traditions to the area. I can guarantee you’ll find a lively and infectious atmosphere.
With such an mix of cultures, you’re sure to find an eclectic blend of influences in the local cuisine. A melting pot of Latin American, Caribbean, Mayan, British and African influences brings the most mouth-watering array of fares.
For a taste of the ancient civilisation, try the cochinita pibil, a dish originating from the Mayans with marinated pork, slow-roasted to the point of perfection. The Mayans used earth ovens to get their pork nice and tender, but these days it’s wrapped in foil and roasted in a regular oven.
Ceviche is a great option for the seafood-lover and comes from Latin America. Seafood is marinated in lime juice and other ingredients and allowed to sit while the lime juice ‘cooks’ the fish. It’s popular with locals, not to mention delicious!
The Jura Crest Trail is Switzerland’s gentle long-distance trail, linking Lake Geneva and Zurich together as it passes through stunning, history-rich scenery. Here, guidebook author Ali Rowsell delves into the essentials…
What is the Jura Crest Trail?
The Jura Mountains form a sub-alpine range of ancient folded strata extending from the Rhine Valley in the north-east to the Rhône Valley in the south-west for over 220 miles, along the border between France and Switzerland. The range is a rolling showcase of natural features including deep gorges, mountain streams, glistening lakes (including the highest mountain lake in the Jura), tranquil forests, extensive alpine pastures and craggy, exposed cliffs.
The Swiss love to hike, and as a result have set up a comprehensive and extensive network of trails (over 40,000 miles!) throughout the country. In particular, seven designated national long-distance hiking routes have been established, including the Jura Crest Trail. The trail is regarded as the Swiss classic long-distance path, with many waymarkers plotting the route as early as 1905, making it fairly easy to navigate.
Photo: Tamara Fehr
Why should I do it?
The Jura Crest Trail extends for 192 miles of the Jura Mountains, passing through two language regions (German and French), from the small town of Dielsdorf (nine miles from Zurich) to Nyon (16 miles from Geneva), situated on the shores of Lake Geneva.
The day-to-day journey can be a challenge, with up to 20 miles of trails and 1,700m of height gain in one day. With over 13,800m of ascent throughout the 192-mile journey on easy-to-moderate hiking paths, the trail requires a medium level of fitness. When you take in the immense views of the Jura range, the peaks and ridges of the Alps on the horizon, and across the Rhône Valley, the sense of achievement more than compensates for the distance and height gained. Exertion apart, the trail provides an enjoyable and relaxed trek, accessible to most, with many options to descend off the trail to local shops or other amenities.
Photo: Tamara Fehr
The main draw of the Jura is its year-round prospects to explore. Snow can fall throughout the winter, as late as April and as early as October, providing opportunities to snowshoe, ski tour or cross country ski. The spring, summer and early autumnal months offer extensive hiking opportunities with marked paths throughout the region.
A great pleasure of the Jura is derived from the many changes in its character as it moves from the north-east to the south-west. Throughout the Jura, nature reserves and protected areas are enforced to ensure wildlife and flowering plants are safeguarded. The Jura is famous for having up to 950 flowering plant species alongside extensive forests due to its limestone base.
Another delicacy of the Jura, which is found extensively throughout delicatessens in the UK, is Vacherin Mont d’Or, a soft cheese that is baked in the oven and served over boiled potatoes. The cheese is encased in locally felled spruce, to give it a very distinctive flavour.
For geology-lovers, wonders are extensive throughout the Jura, with the Creux du Van, Aiguille de Baulmes, Dent de Vaulion and La Dôle being the most iconic. The Creux du Van sits above the town of Noiraigue, a perfect example of Jura limestone with an impressive 160m-high vertical rock wall amphitheatre within a valley half a mile wide. The Jura Crest Trail passes along the top of the natural auditorium, providing extensive views.
Photo: Tamara Fehr
The Jura not only offers nature, delicacies and extensive trekking, it is steeped in history too. Due to its close proximity with the border of France, the southern Jura was heavily guarded during WWII, of which many defences can still be seen. From ‘toblerone’ tank traps to bunkers hidden high on vantage points, there is plenty to discover. Allied prisoners of war, Jews and smugglers also made use of hidden routes to cross the Jura Mountains through the Grand Risoux forest, into the safety of Switzerland. Museums are located throughout the Jura, such as the Vacherin Le-Pelerin in Les Charbonnières, which offers very detailed information about the local history.
How can I do it?
Transport throughout Switzerland is extremely efficient and reasonably priced. Accessibility is fundamental in providing the day or weekend hiker with ease of travel throughout. There are international airports at either end of the trail and the reliable Swiss railways system (SBB) allows you to travel elsewhere. Geneva Airport can be accessed in less than 20 minutes from the lakeside town of Nyon at the end of Stage 14. Local post-bus routes over mountain passes can be found throughout the 14 stages, enabling ease of travel, shortening the trail and giving more independence to walkers themselves.
Throughout the 14 stages of the Jura Crest Trail, there are many options to choose from, enabling the hiker to select the most appropriate to their needs. With the Jura Crest Trail being fairly close to civilisation, there is always accommodation available either on, or near the trail. Throughout the Jura, Swiss Alpine Club huts are available as cheaper, self-catering options compared to hotels. With a selection of bed and breakfast, camping and hostel accommodation also available, the choice is fairly extensive.
There’s something about the simplicity of camping that helps to offset the stresses of modern-day life, and it’s a great way to get away with family or friends without the burden of costly flights and accommodation. Getting back to nature is what it’s all about, and whether you like the blissful solitude of waking to light streaming through your tent, or like to get the whole family involved, there’s plenty of incredible UK campsites to stay at.
Need some inspiration? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. To do so, we’ve roped in the folks at British brand Regatta Great Outdoors to get their take on the most incredible UK campsites, and the ones you need to be adding to your list this summer.
Of course, when embarking on such adventures, you’ll need reliable kit that won’t break the bank, and that’s exactly what Regatta intends to provide through its extensive camping range. For now though, sit back and get planning…
The views from Cleadale Campsite are just about as spectacular as it gets. If you’re looking for a beautiful, remote little spot that’s verging on wild camping, then this is for you. It may be a bit of a schlep to get there, but there’s always the chance that you’ll spot orcas or dolphins on the ferry over, so while the journey may be long, it’s also pretty magical.
This place is so blissfully off the beaten track that it even inspired JRR Tolkien, as it’s thought some chapters of Lord of the Rings were dreamt up in this very spot. Switch off, get your adventure fix, and explore the beauty of the island at your own pace.
Downshay Farm, Dorset
This perfectly picturesque working farm is ideally situated within hopping distance of the eastern reaches of the spectacular Jurassic Coast and vast swathes of sandy beaches that make up Studland Bay. Step back in time on the old steam locomotive that puffs along, connecting nearby Swanage to Norden, or explore Corfe Castle, perched up on the hill overlooking the campsite.
It’s also the perfect base to explore the spectacular formations of the Jurassic Coast, such as Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Old Harry Rocks. There’s enough toilets and showers to go around, and a hot shower is included in the price, no tokens required.
Hooks House Farm, Yorkshire
Nestled on the North Yorkshire coast, this campsite offers beautiful views of the delightfully-named Robin Hoods Bay, which also marks the eastern end of Wainwright’s coast-to-coast walk. The beach itself is ideal for rock pooling, crabbing and a menagerie of other quintessential summer activities, while a nearby disused railway track makes for a picturesque ramble from Scarborough to Whitby (or vice versa).
The campsite is well maintained and has everything you need for a comfortable stay, including toilets and showers, plus a sink, kettle, microwave, fridge and freezer for your culinary needs. A delightful summer adventure awaits.
This campsite does exactly what it says on the tin and offers sensational views over Looe Bay, a stunning little corner of Cornwall that provides the setting for the perfect British summer holiday. The campsite offers a full range of facilities including showers and toilets, as well as a coin-operated laundry room and free WiFi onsite.
A stunning coastal path can be found just beyond the campsites entrance, leading either to Looe, Polperro and Millendreath Beach in one direction and along to Bodigga Cliff, Seaton and Downderry in the other. You can also access the South West Coast Path from here, meaning you really are spoilt for choice with stunning sea views and top notch hiking.
Bridging the gap between the beautifully unspoilt beaches of North Wales and the soaring peaks of Snowdonia National Park, you’ll find the perfect little spot to pitch your tent at Shell Island campsite. Right on the coast, with uninterrupted views to the sea and with all the campsite facilities you could possibly ever want or need, Shell Island is spread over a whopping 450 acres, meaning you won’t be tripping over somebody else’s guy lines every time you need to go to the loo. Bring the whole family and find your own little corner to make camp, and then lace up your hiking boots and head for the hills.
What to take
Not been camping before, or need to update your gear? Not to worry. Much-loved British outdoor brand Regatta has everything you need for an incredible trip, from tents and camping furniture to waterproofs and wellies.
The Alpine Passes Trail is a wild, challenging and beautiful long distance hike through Switzerland. Kev Reynolds has the details…
What is the Alpine Passes Trail?
The Alpine Passes Trail (APT) is an epic multi-day trek that explores some of Switzerland’s most famous mountain districts. While Via Alpina 1 makes an east to west traverse along the northern edge of the Swiss Alps, the Alpine Passes Trail tackles their south side. Established in 2008, it sets out from Chur in the canton of Graubünden, edges the Lepontine Alps of Ticino, then cuts right across the breathtaking Pennine Alps of Valais, before skirting the big block of the Dents du Midi and ending at St Gingolph on Lake Geneva.
Photo: Matyas Fabian
What a trek this is! The statistics are as impressive as the scenery, with no less than 34 day-stages needed to cross 32 passes, many of which provide stunning views of the greatest collection of 4,000m summits in Western Europe.
Why should I do it?
Well, there has to be a good reason to justify devoting more than a month to one long walk, but in the case of the APT there’s a multitude of reasons. For a start, there’s the sheer variety of landscape, language, culture and architectural styles revealed on the hike, let alone the almost daily thrill of mounting a pass (be it a grassy saddle or a narrow cleft in a rocky ridge) to discover a whole new world unravelling before you. There are remote grasslands and high plateaux speckled with lakes, valleys lush with flowers and loud with the cry of marmots. There are stony deserts, wild and haunting when the mist comes down; there are lung-bursting paths that appear to aim for the sky, and some of the world’s most exciting belvedere trails that teeter above deep-cut valleys. Yet no mountaineering skills are called for, just a good head for heights, bags of energy, and time.
Photo: Ivo Scholz
What about these mountains, then? Well, for the first 10 or 11 days, most of the country is little-known to walkers from outside Switzerland. Full of surprises, the peaks are of comparatively modest height and largely devoid of glaciers, yet passing out of the charming Binntal, the first 4,000m summits make themselves known with the distant Lagginhorn and Weissmies that wall the wonderful Saas Valley. Before reaching these, however, you wander below handsome Monte Leone and cross the Simplon to reach the scattered hamlet of Gspon at the mouth of the Saastal.
From Gspon the APT takes a high-level path to Saas Grund, then it’s up to Saas Fee beneath the soaring Mischabel peaks to tackle the Balfrin panorama trail leading to Grächen in the Mattertal – two days of walking you’ll never forget! Next comes an easy descent to St Niklaus, followed by a long uphill slog through the delightful alp of Jungen, then up and up, and up some more to cross the lofty Augstbordpass, with a swift descent to Gruben in the Turtmanntal. This seemingly forgotten valley is headed by the Weisshorn, but when you’ve crossed the next pass on the itinerary, you join another of those balcony trails of such beauty that it’ll haunt your dreams for years. Almost every step of the way to Zinal gives a view of the Matterhorn, Obergabelhorn and Dent Blanche, the line of big peaks expanding as you draw near.
Photo: Matyas Fabian
The two-day hike from Zinal to Arolla provides beautiful close-up views of more big peaks, and when crossing either Col de Riedmatten or Pas de Chèvres to the next valley, it’s Pigne d’Arolla and Mont Blanc de Cheilon that dominate. After a night spent in a barren mountain basin, the APT tackles its highest pass, the 2,965m Col de Prafleuri, which is one of the most challenging stages – a two-pass day leading to Mauvoisin in the deep Val de Bagnes below the Combin Massif.
For six days the APT reversed the classic Chamonix to Zermatt Walker’s Haute Route all the way from St Niklaus in the Mattertal, but now it takes a different course over the grassy Col de Mille and historic Grand St Bernard Pass, before dropping into the Val Ferret with its alpine meadows and unspoilt villages. At La Fouly it joins the Tour du Mont Blanc to Champex and Trient, then breaks away to skirt the Dents du Midi on the final leg to the border town of St Gingolph on the shores of Lake Geneva.
How can I do it?
This is Switzerland, right? If it’s impossible to devote 34 days (and more) to such a long walk, there are lots of opportunities to divide the APT into suitable chunks with natural cut-off points served by public transport. Few long treks are as adaptable as this.
Where to stay? For much of the way the route travels from hut to hut, but where no mountain huts exist, a stage will end in a village, a romantic old inn, or a historic hospice. Should you wish to backpack, camping is also possible. Depending on conditions, the APT will normally be open for business from late-June until late September. So go for it!
Jordan is fast becoming the Middle East’s capital of adventure, with iconic sites like the ancient city of Petra and the Dead Sea topping bucket lists in 2019. While it’s easy enough to head to Amman, hop on a bus to Petra and back again, a much more off-grid adventure can be found on Jordan’s many hiking trails, from treks through the Valley of the Moon to an immense long-distance trail that spans the whole length of the country. Here, we team up with Intrepid Travel and the Jordan Tourism Board to highlight a few of the best spots to go hiking in Jordan.
While the main draw of this region is the curiously salty waters of the Dead Sea, where tourists flock to float weightlessly on its surface, there are actually some fantastic hiking trails nearby that are often overlooked.
Enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the water as you follow an old shepherd’s trail, which weaves through the hills far from the hubbub of tourism below. This gorgeously quaint landscape comes complete with shepherds herding their flocks; be sure to chat to one or two if you can, to get an insight into their humble way of life.
This is a remote and unexplored area of Jordan that’s best discovered with the help of a guide; Intrepid Travel offer an excellent multi-day tour that includes this region, check it out here.
2. Back Trail Trek to Petra
A list of the best places to go hiking in Jordan could not be complete without a pilgrimage to the ancient site of Petra, the historic city carved into Jordan’s red rock and made famous by Indiana Jones. Everyone should visit Petra at least once in their lifetime.
The only way to get there is on foot, and the majority of people use the front entrance, which is a short trail through the Siq to reach the ruins. A much more adventurous way to do it is by hiking the back trail, which begins at Little Petra and traverses sandy plateaus and desert terrain before the gigantic door of the Monastery looms into view. If you really want to channel those Indiana Jones vibes, this is the way to go.
Those visiting under their own steam should use the Siq entrance to prevent getting lost in the harsh desert, but those on an organised tour can take the far more adventurous route with the help of a guide. See more here.
3. Wadi Rum
Known as the Valley of the Moon thanks to its lunar-like landscapes, Wadi Rum has no shortage of hiking opportunities. So many in fact, that it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one hike. This vast region is best explored with the help of a guide, who can take you on a trek into the desert, pointing out incredible geological formations as you go.
Another option is to stay the night in a Bedouin Camp, traditional desert dwellings with an unlimited array of nearby hiking options. It’s a great way to get a taste of life in the desert and explore this sandy kingdom on foot.
While it is possible to organise your own stay in the desert, many multi-day trips and tours include at least one night in a traditional camp as part of the tour. This saves you from worrying about the logistics of getting to and from the camp, and finding suitable hiking opportunities nearby. See a range of tours with stays in the desert here.
4. Wadi Mujib Canyon Trail
The Wadi Mujib river flows from an elevation of 900m above sea level all the way down to 400m below at the shores of the Dead Sea, and the huge sandstone gorge formed by its fast-flowing waters make for one adventurous hiking destination. Somewhere between hiking and canyoning, the various Mujib trails offer the chance to hike through the gorge and cool off by tackling natural waterslides and rapids en route.
In Jordan’s hot and dry landscapes, the waters of the river provide welcome relief, as well as a little extra adrenaline. If you haven’t tried canyoning before, the Siq Trail is the easiest route with the same stunning canyon views – just make sure you bring along a dry bag for your valuables or you can pop them in a locker at the activity centre before the hike.
This sacred mountain is known as Pisgah in the Bible and is believed to be the place where Moses lived out his final days with a view of the Promised Land he would never enter. Promised Land or not, this little spot certainly does provide exceptional views of the Dead Sea, the West Bank and the Jordan River, reaching as far as Bethlehem and Jerusalem on a clear day. The mountain is easily accessible from Madaba – in fact you can drive almost all the way to the top – but hiking there will give you a better idea of the historic and religious connotations of the area.
At the top, as well as the panoramic vistas, you’ll also find a small visitors centre and cafe, with a little more information on the mountain’s religious significance, as well as a wonderfully sunny terrace to soak up the views with a cold drink.
Of course, one of the best hikes in Jordan has to be the epic long-distance route that spans all the way from Umm Qais, on the northern border, right down to the shores of the Red Sea in the south. It’s over 400 miles in length and takes an average of 40 days to complete, with the route broken down into eight sections for those with less time. It’s a rugged pilgrimage through some of Jordan’s most untouched landscapes, and one that should not be undertaken lightly.
A harsh climate, sparse water opportunities and lack of a way-marked path are just a few of the challenges you’ll face, but as with any long-distance path, the beauty of the fluctuating landscapes and satisfaction upon completing the trail are just reward.
Hiking in Jordan: how to do it
As many of the places to go hiking in Jordan are based in the desert or on remote trails with limited access to water, your best bet is to use an organised tour company such as Intrepid Travel. Doing so will not only mean you don’t need to worry about directions, getting lost in the desert or where your next water stop will be, but it also means you can visit a handful of the hiking destinations listed above in one trip.
For example, the Trek Jordan tour offered by Intrepid Travel is an eight-day hiking tour of Jordan including all the highlights, such as a visit to Petra, trekking and an overnight stay in the Wadi Rum desert, as well as extra excursions such as a visit to the Dead Sea. Click here to see more.
Like you, we live for the times when we can escape the bubble of civilisation and embark on a daring adventure, either at home or abroad. Which is exactly why we decided to launch Adventure Travel magazine 23 years ago.
Since then, we’ve been enlightening readers with a mix of ideas and inspiration for trips and adventures across the world. From the slopes of the mighty Himalayas and stunning summit ridges in the Alps to weekend adventures in the UK, we’ve always had a new dream for you to chase and it shows no sign of slowing up.
The Via Alpina is a classic long-distance trail that takes you through the heart of the Swiss Alps in a series of 20 daily stages. In short, it’s a hiker’s dream, as Kev Reynolds explains…
What is the Via Alpina?
Linking eight Alpine countries, the Via Alpina network of long distance trails measures over 3,100 miles in distance. The Swiss leg, between Vaduz in Liechtenstein and Montreux on Lake Geneva, is the shortest at around 240 miles, but crossing no less than 16 passes with a height gain of more than 20,000m it is certainly one of the finest. It’s both demanding and rewarding in equal measure, and deserves to be on the tick list of all experienced mountain trekkers.
Making a complete east to west traverse of Switzerland, Via Alpina 1 (VA1) – the green route – follows the long-established Alpine Pass Route (APR) for about 98% of its length. Until it was adopted by the international Via Alpina network the APR had no official status, but now benefitting from efficient Swiss way-marking and signage throughout, it is at last gaining the recognition it deserves.
Why should I do it?
The question should be, why not? It’s a fabulous route that leads the walker through some of Europe’s most sublime mountain scenery, from the little known Glarner Alps at one end, to the alps of Lake Geneva at the other, with the spectacular Bernese Alps in the central section, where iconic peaks abound to create a memorable backdrop. Of course, that’s not all that is on offer.
You’ll explore valleys and villages that seldom (if ever) appear in tourist brochures, and you’ll wonder why that should be. You’ll wander across the largest ‘alp’ in Switzerland (Urnerboden), gaze on the most spectacular waterfalls and edge exquisite lakes and mountain tarns while following trails that catch your breath with their magical views. On the early stages you’re likely to see no-one except the occasional farmer or shepherd. But from Adelboden to Kandersteg you’ll be among other hiking enthusiasts to walk in the shadow of giants – mountains such as the Eiger, Titlis, Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn, Mönch and Jungfrau; mountains straight out of dreams.
Every day has a surprise in store. Every stage and every pass is different. Only the challenge remains consistent. But that should be expected of a trek that will demand around 20 days of effort – equal to many a Himalayan trek, and every bit as rewarding to achieve.
Perhaps you’ve trekked the Tour du Mont Blanc and are looking for something a little less familiar, but every bit as spectacular? Perhaps a multi-day trek that brings close contact with some of the finest alpine landscapes, yet avoids glacier crossings or the need for technical skills; a route with a variety of accommodation along the way so there’s no need to shoulder a heavy rucksack? A route with transport options to enable you to escape should the weather turn bad or illness or injury (or just plain weariness) suggests a change of plan? The Via Alpina 1 ticks all the boxes – and more.
How can I do it?
As suggested above, backpacking VA1 is a choice, not a necessity. But should you wish to be self-sufficient, a few official campsites do exist along the way. Most hikers prefer to travel light though, and there’s no shortage of accommodation to make this possible. As well as hotels of all standards in villages en route, there are plenty of rustic mountain inns, farms, huts and youth hostels in more remote locations that offer a simple bed for the night, plus meals. And some of the most memorable experiences of the trek will doubtless result from a night spent in such places.
Having established the fact that you can travel light, the next thing to consider is access; how to get there and back again. Being Switzerland, there’s no problem here. Flights to Zürich or Geneva connect smoothly with the Swiss rail system. Zürich has a direct line to Sargans, from which Vaduz (for the start of the trek) is just a short and well-connected journey away, while Montreux (at the western end) is a single train ride to Geneva airport for a flight home. The route also passes through a number of resorts and villages reliably served by buses, and in several places it’s possible to reduce the effort involved to reach a pass by making use of a cable car.
Now all you have to do is walk! To trek from end to end will take about 20 days of sustained walking, but allow an extra day or two for bad weather interruptions or ‘rest days’.
Short on time?
Not everyone will be inclined – or able – to commit three weeks to a walking holiday, but VA1 is a route that can be conveniently broken into two shorter itineraries, which you can tick off on entirely separate trips.
Trek one: Vaduz to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen (11-12 days) with opportunities to take days off in Engelberg, Meiringen, Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen.
Trek two: Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen to Montreux (8-9 days) with days off in Lauterbrunnen, Kandersteg, Adelboden, Gstaad or Lauenen.
We’re always up for an adventure, and we’re doubly up for an adventure that promotes a good cause at the same time. So, we got together with Walk the Walk, a charity which raises awareness and money for tackling breast cancer through organised specialised hiking events and marathon trips.
The charity hosts a variety of different hiking events and marathons throughout the year, in the UK and further afield, but one that has really caught our eye is the Moonwalk Iceland event taking place on 13-18 June. This incredible event offers the opportunity to tick the land of fire and ice off your bucket list, all while raising money for an excellent cause.
The idea behind Moonwalk Iceland is that among the country’s breathtaking landscapes, you’ll power walk through the night, covering the distance of a marathon, all while basking in the curious glow of the Midnight Sun. Yep, as this event takes place during the summer solstice, you’ll also get to experience the unique phenomenon of a night when the sun never sets.
About Walk the Walk
The charity was born back in 1996, when a handful of intrepid women power walked the New York marathon in their bras in a bid to raise money and awareness for tackling breast cancer, headed up by Nina Barough. In a cruel twist of fate, just two months after the small team raised £25,000 at the New York marathon, Nina herself was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Undeterred by her newfound illness, Nina continued to organise similar events, raising money at the London marathon before beginning treatment in 1997. As word spread, Nina made the decision to set up her own charity to allow more people to participate, and so, Walk the Walk became a registered charity in 1998. Since 2004, HRH Prince Charles has been a patron of the charity.
About Moonwalk Iceland
As one of Walk the Walk’s flagship events, Moonwalk Iceland is an amazing adventure. Not only will you get the chance to walk 26 miles through the other-worldy landscapes of this bucket-list destination, you’ll also get the chance to explore further afield with a day to explore Reykjavik and even a trip to the famous thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon.
Your adventure begins with an intrepid journey to Lake Myvatn in the north-east of Iceland, where you’ll experience a once-in-a-lifetime whale-watching excursion and tour the fascinating bubbling mud pools and volcanic craters of the surrounding geothermal landscapes. You’ll even get a chance to check out the famous Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, and explore Asbyrgi Canyon, before a restful afternoon in preparation for the big night.
Your Moonwalk begins at the nature mineral baths at midnight, and you’ll power walk your way around the spectacular Lake Myvatn as the night-time sun reflects on it’s surface and nature surrounds you. This is certainly a walk to remember.
You’ll cross the finish line the following morning and celebrate with a delicious breakfast, followed by a day of rest, cake and champagne! A final day in Iceland offers the chance to explore the capital city and soak in the mineral waters of the Blue Lagoon, with the option to book extra tours at additional cost.
Sounds incredible. How do I sign up?
You can guarantee your place on the trip by signing up here. Through the Walk for Free scheme, the more sponsor money you raise, the less the cost of the trip will be – even more motivation to raise as much as possible for this incredible cause.
You’ll need to be able to raise a minimum of £600 in order to take part, and there are loads of inventive ideas for raising the cash here. Remember that Moonwalk Iceland takes place in a remote part of the world, with just wildlife for support, so you will need to be confident in your own ability to take part and complete the challenge in the allotted timeframe (10 hours).
All the money you raise will be donated to Walk the Walk, which will then grant the funds to other charities throughout the UK to support research, awareness and treatment for breast cancer.
Founded in Oslo in 1946 and inspired by the majestic fjords and challenging conditions that the Norwegian outdoor world brings, you can rest assured that the brand is confident in it’s ability to create quality kit that performs. Odlo’s products combine effortless Scandinavian styling with hard-wearing materials designed to keep you dry and warm in the most unforgiving of climates.
About the Odlo FLI 2.5-layer jacket
This lightweight, packable waterproof is ideal for your summer adventures, keeping you dry whenever the weather hits. It has a waterproof rating of 20,000mm, meaning it performs in the most torrential of downpours. It’s so lightweight, you’ll hardly notice it in your pack, and the whole jacket can be neatly stowed away in its own pocket when not in use. What’s not to love?
How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this amazing prize, simply answer the question below:
Terms and Conditions
All entries must be received by 23:59 on Friday 31 May. Entries after this time will not be counted.
Entrants must be at least 18 years old.
The prize is non-transferable, non-refundable and there are no cash equivalents.
The winner of the competition will be chosen at random from all those who entered and will be notified within 28 days of the competition closing.
Only one entry per person.
Entry implies acceptance of these terms and conditions.
You can unsubscribe from Adventure Travel and Odlo’s email database at any time by clicking unsubscribe at the bottom of one of our emails.
The organiser reserves the right to cancel this competition, or to change any condition of this competition, without notice.
Acceptance of these terms and conditions is a condition of entry.
This little Central American nation tucked beneath Mexico has long been a hotbed for adventurous travel, thanks to the world-class underwater world found off its palm-fringed Caribbean coastline. Few people know, however, that there is much more to Belize than beaches and clear blue seas. The inland terrain is lush with rainforest and hidden archaeological delights just waiting to be discovered. Aside from snorkelling the reefs, there is a whole host of adventurous things to do in Belize – so we’ve rounded up the best of the best below.
Between the balmy waters of the Caribbean Sea and lush, jungle-lined inland river networks, the kayaking opportunities in Belize will blow your mind. You can even kayak deep into the Mayan caves to discover ancient relics hidden in their depths, a mysterious underworld like no other. Wildlife-lovers should try a paddle down the Sittee River, lined with sumptuous rainforests overflowing with tropical birds and reptiles. You might even spot a crocodile or two!
If sea kayaking is more your thing, you’ll be truly spoilt for choice in Belize. This May, an incredible new sea kayaking event is also due to take place along the whole coast of the country, find out more here.
The mysterious realm of Belize’s inland jungles make for some blow-your-socks-off hiking opportunities. Deep within their tangled interior, you’ll find a huge array of trails suitable for all ages and abilities. A popular trek is the hike to Crystal Cave, which also offers the opportunity to discover the intriguing artefacts found within. The best views are offered on a hike to Xunantunich, a Mayan temple offering sensational vistas all the way to Guatemala.
For exotic flora and fauna, check out the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve, home to spectacular waterfalls and the highest density of jaguars ever recorded (although don’t bank on spotting one! They’ve gotten pretty good at hiding from unsuspecting prey…).
There are a huge range of things to do in Belize for those that prefer their adventures on two-wheels. The best mountain biking can be found in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, where you can hurtle through the jungle on miles of stunning trails. Rising high above the creeks and ravines below, the trails are interspersed with Instagram-worthy swimming holes and waterfalls.
Mopan Valley is another great spot for mountain biking, with rocky trails that wind their way through the dense rainforest, punctuated by Mayan sites and plenty of jungle wildlife.
Zip-lining and Central America go hand in hand thanks to the abundance of wildlife-filled jungles and an all-round adventurous attitude. The country’s longest zip-line can be found in Mayflower Bocawina National Park and makes for one of the most adrenaline-packed things to do in Belize.
Here, you can fly over two and a half miles through the treetops, surrounded by a cacophony of exotic birds – an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
The vast network of underground caves and rivers provides an enticing adventure into their gloomy depths. The most well-known caving expedition can be found at the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, where the glittering calcified remains of a skeleton can be found, surrounded by relics from the Mayans sacrifice rituals. Spooky.
If all that’s a little too Indiana Jones for you, you can also try out tubing, essentially floating down the rivers and through the caves in a big rubber ring, to check out the unusual rock formations and stalactites found within.
Diving and snorkelling
Of course, no list of adventurous things to do in Belize could be complete without a mention of the incredible diving and snorkelling on offer. Not only is Belize home to it’s very own barrier reef (second only in size to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and some would argue superior in terms of marine life), but it also plays host to one of the world’s most intriguing phenomenons – the Great Blue Hole.
This gigantic sink-hole has drawn divers from around the world, ever since Jacques Cousteau himself named it one of the top five dive sites in the world. It’s 318m in diameter and a whopping 124m deep, meaning that an excursion into its watery depths will see you coming face-to-face with incredible dark water fish such as the midnight parrotfish, or even a hammerhead shark.
You won’t be surprised to hear that the Great Blue Hole looks equally as spectacular from above, so why not get that adrenaline pumping on a skydive over the famous site. It’s one of the most exhilarating things to do in Belize, and an incredible way to see the whole country from above.
After several adrenaline-inducing seconds of freefall, your parachute will open, allowing you time to ogle the Blue Hole and extensive barrier reefs in all their glory. What a thrill!