January is a great time of year to be blogging about Hiking, with many of our users making New Year’s Resolutions to live healthier, lose weight and get fitter. Well the good news is it does not have to be hell sweating out the excesses of Xmas down at the Gym, or cutting down on drinking and eating all the things you enjoy! Hiking is a fantastic way of helping to achieve these great aims. It's pretty much accessible to all ages with a reasonable level of fitness, it’s an activity you can enjoy with your friends and family, and it’s a great way of exploring some incredible locations, and often it's free. And for the adrenalin junkies among you, there are some pretty epic and hairy hikes to scare the pants off most mere mortals!
And in addition to the usual easy to access local short walks and hikes, more and more specialist companies are setting up offering specialist hiking holidays in areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Here's some great suggestions!
Top 10 Hiking Activities for 2012
This is one for the extreme activity junkies, and definitely not one for those without a head for heights. Amazingly the Mount Huashan Trail, in Shaanxi Province of China is known as a Tourist Walking Trail, but as you can see from the amazing photos the sheer drops running alongside this 'walk' are pretty extreme! A just over 2km its not a long walk, but with parts of the trail like the famous 'Changkong Zhandao' on the South Peak, where you cross a 30cm wide path made from planks of wood, running along the surface of a vertical cliff (yes thats the image at the top of this blog!), and others sections where you use foot holes carved into the rock, while clinging to the chains, its a hardcore pretty 'walk'.
The Kings Walk in El Chorro, Andalucia, Spain is also known as the World's Most Dangerous Path. A bit of a cheat this one, as you currently need to do a spot of climbing to enjoy this extreme path. It was closed to the general public a few years ago after a number of unfortunate deaths. With grants now in place to have it totally rebuilt and re-opened to the general public in the next few years it will soon be another great walk. In the meantime several tour operators will take you along the Kings Walk, a very badly maintained concrete walk, which is just steel rails in places, perched hundreds of feet above the gorge. A stunning place to visit. This one currently involves some abseiling!
For those that want to experience some snow, what better way than to take a multi-day hiking tour through a winter wonderland in Finland. Snowshoes on and crunch your way through some amazing snow white forest and over the frozen lakes of the wild taiga region of Kainuu in eastern Finland.
An incredible hike, after 4 hours walking and about 3km in length, you arrived some 350m higher at the incredible Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) - not a great place for those with Vertigo. The Pulpit Rock has incredible views and a sheer drop of hundreds of metres at its edge!
This sounds like luxury and fun, which of course it is but it can also be very challenging with options ranging from a 1 day moderate heli hike up to the fully monty "Trek Over 7 Glaciers from Jungfraujoch to Grimsel". What a great way to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Swiss Alps while hiking on glaciere.
The famous Corsican GR20 is a network of around 200km varied walks through a wide range of awesome landscapes. On the GR20 routed hikers come across a wide diversity of local flowers, birds and animals - you may even encouter a mouflon if you're lucky!
A nice easy one this one, although the mid summer heat and humidity can be a little stifling! With fun and informative hand held GPS equipment to tell you where to go, and what you are looking at, as you make you way round the lovely island of Key West, at the end of the Florida Keys. Which is also at the very southern tip of Mainland USA!
Take the opportunity to visit 6 national parks in the stunning country of Croatia on a guided 8 day hiking holiday. The parks included on this trip are Plitvice lakes, Krka waterfalls (get in the falls and take a dip! - see pic), Kornati, Brijuni Island, Risnjak and, Paklenica
How about a hike where you start in one continent and end up in another, well this could be the one for you. Southern Spain is one of the few places in Europe where you can do a day trip to another continent - Europe to Africa. This trip takes you by water, the short (15km) trip across the straits of Gibraltar from Spain to Morocco, where you will enjoy a day hiking in the The Jebel Musa (Pillars of Hercules), while enjoying spectacular views back across the med to Europe.
For those wanting a quick and spectacular hiking fix. What better way to see Sydney than by climbing its iconic 134m tall bridge. From the top you can relax and enjoy amazing views over Sydney harbour and the Opera House.
A gentler pace, with a different interest group this one is a gentle 4 day 65km hike following in the footsteps of Jesus, through the landscapes of Galilee in Israel, taking in Nazereth. A great one for those with 'the faith'.
Take a look at hundreds of great hiking adventures and make your choice. Get out and enjoy some good for you hiking fun in 2012!