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There are plenty of superb walking options in Italy, from the high Alps to volcanic Mount Etna on Sicily, a mountain chain runs down the length of the country. Limestone spires create a stunning backdrop for walking in the classic Dolomites. You can explore the vineyards and charming medieval hilltop villages of Tuscany, along with the historic cities of Florence and Siena. The Garfagnana Valley is a hidden gem of northern Tuscany, nestled between the ‘marble’ Alpi Apuane mountains and the Apennines, and within easy striking distance of the celebrated ‘Cinque Terre’ coastal path. Discover the beautiful coastline of the Amalfi region on day walks from a welcoming agriturismo hotel base. The island of Sardinia is a relatively untouched gem with a surprisingly dramatic mountainous interior and wonderful beaches. Sicily offers great walks on Mount Etna – Europe’s largest volcano at 3300m – and the Aeolian Islands of Lipari and Stromboli.
Spain is Europe’s second most mountainous country, boasting a rich cultural background which provides the visitor with a great variety of walking experiences. The Canary Islands offer walking amid dramatic volcanic landscapes, lush semi-tropical vegetation and summer sun as well as the highest peak in Spain (El Teide, Tenerife, 3718m). Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountain range can be explored on foot along historical merchant routes with a stay in an ancient monastery. The Pyrenees form a formidable barrier – arguably the most impressive and certainly largest range on the peninsula – shared between France, Spain and Andorra. The Picos de Europa is a real hidden gem, a dramatic limestone massif found in the heart of the Cantabrian range in Spain’s northern ‘green’ coast. The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrims’ trail following St. James’ Way to Santiago de Compostela, making its way across the north of Spain. Andalucía is one of the largest regions with a number of important mountain ranges and countless reminders of a rich Moorish legacy – most famously the Alhambra of Granada.
Croatia is a looker. It may be foolish to generalise but within minutes of arriving at this Balkan beauty you'll be blown away by her sheer grace and charm.
Trekking in the Annapurna Region with Explore
With several peaks over 7,000 metres and with the soaring silhouette of Annapurna I rising to 8,091 metres, the Annapurna massif is regarded as one of the most spectacular mountain regions of the world. You can choose between relatively easy walks through the fertile foothills and more demanding, high altitude treks, such as the classic Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary routes.
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Get active with Explore walking holidays
- Get outdoors and get really close to the natural environment, locals and the flora and fauna of an area.
- Travel with a small group of like-minded companions – ideal for those looking for singles walking holidays!
- Wide range of destinations - from the UK to Chile!
- From 'leisurely' to' tough' – choose a walking activity level to suit you
The Walking Holiday Experts
We're a company of walkers here at Explore. We love to get out on foot and see the world up close and we know many of you do too!
We have used all our local knowledge and expertise this year to bring to you a range of new walking and trekking holidays that really tick all the boxes and push all the boundaries. This includes the next big thing in Nepal – the Manaslu Circuit, and a challenging ascent of Mt Damavand in Iran!
Am I fit enough?
Assessing your personal fitness is quite subjective, but we've made it as easy as possible to choose your level by giving each trip a ‘trek grade'. Grades range from Easy to Moderate to Strenuous and Tough. We've assessed each trek on the number of hours walking each day and the amount of ascent and descent, also taking into account factors like the terrain, altitude and likely weather conditions. What if I'm too slow for the group?
It really isn't a problem. On lots of trips (like Kilimanjaro, Nepal or the Inca Trail) you can walk at your own pace nearly all the time, as we have enough guides to escort walkers of all speeds. On other treks where there aren't extra local guides our leaders are trained to manage the pace of the group carefully, to suit all walking speeds. Occasionally for safety reasons the leader might pull the group together (eg. in bad weather or on a tricky section of the trail) but in general the group can string out and everyone finds their own comfortable walking pace.
What's the best way to get fit for a trek?
The best way to train for a trek is to spend plenty of time beforehand simply walking. Ideally try to walk similar distances and ascents to those you'll experience on the trek itself. Aerobic training at the gym helps too, but there's no substitute for simply walking for several hours at a stretch. It's also a good opportunity to check out all your trekking equipment, clothing and footwear – to make sure it's all comfortable and works OK.
What do I need to carry?
On nearly all our treks your luggage is transported for you from one overnight stop to the next (by vehicle, porter, mule, even camel) so all you need to carry is what you need during the day, for example water bottle, camera, extra clothing, sun-cream and a small personal first aid kit. We recommend a 15 to 25 litre day pack for most of our trips and a slightly larger pack for the handful of treks where you need to carry gear for an overnight stay.
How can I prepare for trekking at altitude?
There's no other way to prepare for altitude than to acclimatise slowly. Our trek itineraries have been carefully planned to allow for gradual acclimatisation once we climb above 3,000 metres. Altitude sickness can affect the fittest trekkers just as easily as the less fit. Once on trek the main recommendation is to keep your fluid intake up and stay hydrated. As a precaution on our highest treks we carry emergency oxygen cylinders and a Portable Altitude Chamber (PAC).
What equipment do I need?
You'll need to check the trip notes for each trip individually to see what specific equipment we recommend. The equipment list will vary according to the likely weather conditions, the trekking terrain and whether you're camping or not.
What about sleeping bags, mattresses and pillows?
On some treks they are provided and on others they're not: please see individual trip notes for details. If using your own sleeping bag we suggest you play safe and bring a warmer bag than you think you need: better to be too warm than too cold. A sleeping bag liner adds warmth too. The most effective mattresses are self-inflating air mattresses (Thermarest or similar) and a lightweight self-inflating pillow can also help you sleep more comfortably.
Do I need trekking poles?
This is very much a personal preference. Some people swear by them, especially on treks with long ascents and descents, others find they get in the way and prefer to manage without. If you have weak hips, knees or ankles they are an effective way to reduce the strain.
What kind of boots do I need?
Again, this depends very much on the trip. In warm weather and on easy terrain you can get away with walking shoes but more often you'll need good quality leather or Goretex walking boots with decent grip and secure ankle support. Your boots must be fully waterproof and at higher altitudes we recommend leather boots with trekking gaiters for crossing snowfields. Please see individual trip notes for details.
What clothing do you recommend?
The rule of thumb is to use several thin layers rather than just one or two thick layers. This allows you to peel layers off or put them on depending on the weather and the time of day. For your base-layer choose a fabric that ‘wicks' moisture away from your skin and dries quickly. Your outer layer should be fully wind and rain proof, even if you're trekking in a normally dry climate. Again, you'll find more detailed information about what clothing to wear on individual trip notes.
What's the best clothing and equipment for hot weather?
A hat with wide brim and neck protection; lightweight shirt made with an effective ‘wicking' and quick-drying fabric; shorts; high UV sunglasses; high factor sun-cream and – most importantly of all - plenty of water. Check individual trip notes for more specific information.
What's the best clothing and equipment for cold weather?
Several thin layers are more effective than just one or two thick layers. A windproof outer layer is essential to combat wind-chill. Choose a thermal base-layer, and fabrics that wick sweat away from your skin to avoid getting wet and cold. You need to protect your hands and feet with high quality thermal gloves and socks, also a hat to protect your head and a balaclava to protect your face.
Will I need to purify my drinking water?
The answer to this question depends where you are and which trek you're doing. On most walks and treks you can replenish your bottle from clean water supplies along the way. On some remote treks the trek crew boil up water to purify it, on others we recommend using purification tablets or filter units. See the individual trip notes.
What about a first aid kit?
Your tour leader will carry a comprehensive first aid kit. This is intended for emergencies only, so you'll need a small personal kit of your own to deal with any cuts, scrapes or blisters you may pick up along the way. The more remote your trek the more comprehensive your personal first aid kit should be - our partner Nomad Travel stock a few different options, all available with 15% discount for Explore customers www.nomadtravel.co.uk/explore
How should I avoid blisters?
You should aim to deal with blisters pre-emptively, ie. before they become a problem. Use Compeed or zinc oxide tape to prevent any rubbing or sore areas of your foot developing a blister. A well worn in pair of boots shouldn't cause blisters, but this cannot always be guaranteed, especially in hot weather. We recommend changing your walking socks often, and wearing a thin inner sock to wick moisture away from your foot.
Will I be able to re-charge camera batteries?
On a hotel based trip this is no problem, but what if you're in a remote or mountainous area? Every trek is different so please check the relevant trip notes for details. In remote parts of the Himalayas for example you can still re-charge batteries from village electricity supplies, for a small charge. Remember that your camera batteries run down more quickly in the extreme cold. It's a good idea to carry one or two spare batteries just in case.
On camping based treks will I need to put up my own tent?
On most camping based treks we have a camp crew who set up the tents for us and also take care of the cooking and clearing up. However on some trips this isn't practical and you should be prepared to put up and take down your own tent. We'll let you know in the relevant trip notes if there's any participation required.
Where and how can I wash on a camping base trek?
It really depends which trek you're doing. On some there are campsites with showers but more often you will be in the wild and water may be limited. Sometimes you'll have a bowl of water for washing each morning and evening, other times not even that – see individual trip notes for details. A lightweight travel towel is useful, also a good supply of wet wipes and hand sanitiser.
Where can I buy equipment and clothing?
We suggest Nomad Travel for their comprehensive range of clothing and equipment for walkers and trekkers. For advice you can email Nomad or call them on 0845 260 0044. If you live close to any of Nomad's eight stores you may prefer to visit them in person and try out the equipment or clothing beforehand. As an Explore customer you can get 15% off equipment and clothing with Nomad.
Take a look at our full range of Walking and Trekking Holidays
See the best of the Camino de Santiago with Explore
Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims from all over Europe who, since the 9th century, have been making their way to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela.
There are a number of different routes that converge on Santiago and the most popular is called ‘El Camino Frances’; starting at the Roncesvalles pass in the heart of the Pyrenees this classic trail traverses Northern Spain, taking in superb scenery and cultural gems along the way before reaching Santiago itself.
Visit the historical towns of Burgos, Leon and Astorga, important pilgrim centres in their own right reflected by some of Europe’s finest architecture. Journey along the age-old Camino, meeting fellow pilgrims, sampling local delicacies, passing isolated villages and ancient forests of oak and chestnut towards the journey’s end Santiago de Compostela, where you can visit the magnificent Cathedral.
The Camino de Santiago is featured in film called 'The Way', written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen. Find out about their involvement in creating a tour for Explore customers. The Way
Home to Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and the notorious Eiger, the Alps stretch through France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and as far east as Slovenia. Thousands of fairy-tale, snow-capped peaks, huge glaciers, hidden valleys and high passes make this outstanding walking country.
Best of the Alps with Explore
Whether you are a seasoned trekker or a casual walker the options in the Alps are more or less endless. Each of our tours have been carefully researched and developed with many years of feedback from our customers, trek leaders and local partners.
The Alps: choices
With Explore you can pick a trekking grade to match your fitness level, find a trip with the right level of comfort, or go for a trip where walking is just one of the activities available. You can choose a centre-based holiday or go for a point-to-point walking route where your luggage is moved on between nightstops by vehicle.
Whatever you choose, the Alps rarely disappoint: a warm welcome, excellent food and wine, pure mountain air, and hiking through some of Europe’s most majestic landscapes – it’s an intoxicating mix and many Explore customers come back time and again.
Trek the Alps with Explore:
- Fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs)
- Trek leaders with extensive Alpine experience
- Range of treks to suit all abilities
- Choose between point-to-point or centre-based trekking
- Family run Alpine chalets and small hotels
- Our local partners live and work in the heart of the Alps
- Many meals included and picnics provided on all trekking days
- Transfers to and from airports included
For some trekkers nothing beats the sense of triumph and achievement in reaching a summit! From modest peaks like Mount Snowdon in Wales or Pico Turquino in Cuba, to the snow-covered summits of mountains like Morocco's Mount Toubkal or Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, we have a great selection of peak bagging treks. If you want to stand on top of a mountain, or even reach the highest point in a country or continent, try one of the treks listed below. Click through to each tour to see what peaks you'll be reaching and exactly how high they are.
Turkey is a walkers’ paradise – especially from March to May and September to November when the temperatures are a bit cooler. In spring, the hills and coast blossom into life with colourful flowers lining the trails while in autumn the trees are heavily laden with fruit – grapes, apples and pomegranates - and the markets full of fresh vegetables. For those hankering after more of a challenge, why not climb Mount Ararat, legendary resting place of Noah’s Ark. This is a great option if you want to go trekking in the summer.
Explore offers a number of walking tours in Turkey, plus the nearby Walking in Northern Cyprus (one of Europe's sunniest spots!) In Turkey itself, try walking in the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia or, alternatively, following the famous Lycian Way along Turkey’s southern coast.