Most walkers don’t just want to just ‘bag’ a mountain, or race from one valley to the next. Unless they are in search of complete solitude, most walkers enjoy getting off the beaten track on vacation to help them get in touch with the real country and its culture. Not the one laid on for tourists. A lot of walking vacations cater for this craving for cultural exchange, staying in traditional rural accommodation such as ryokans in the mountains of Japan, mountain auberges in the French Alps, or pensions in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey. Or by visiting important cultural sites en route, such as nunneries in Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains or Muslim shrines in Kashmir. As you walk past Laos’ paddy fields, you can stop and learn about the traditional rice farming methods or pause for lunch in an olive grove with local community members as you take on amazing walking trails in Palestine. That is one of the most wonderful things about walking vacations in remote spots. Hosts rarely feel threatened or ‘invaded’ by walkers. Turn up with a coachload of camera slinging tourists, however, and it’s a different story.