Top self guided walking activities

what COMPLEMENTS a walking vacation

Cultural engagement

Most walkers donít just want to just Ďbagí 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 mountain auberges in the French Alps, or pensions in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey. In Franceís Mercantour National Park, you sample food that is heavily influenced by its proximity to Italy, And in Catalonia, you score major brownie points by giving a greeting in Catalan as you cross paths with a local walker. That is one of the most wonderful things about walking vacations in remote spots. Hosts rarely feel threatened or Ďinvadedí by walkers. Turn up with a coachload of camera slinging tourists, however, and itís a different story.

Local food

Hikers like to pack their bags full of energy bars and drinks, but it is worth remembering that buying local food is sometimes the only way that a destination can make money from tourists coming to hike their natural wonders. So you need to shake off that Tupperware full of homemade sandwiches and flask of tea frame of mind, eat local and gorge yourself on the cultural goodies on offer whenever you can.

Wildlife watching

If you want to include wildlife watching as part of your walking vacation, tell your tour operator that this is one of your interests, as they might be able to include extra details in your information pack before you go. That way you wonít miss the likes of the wild goats in Spainís Sierra de Gredos, griffon vultures in the Picos de Europa and dolphins along Irelandís Dingle Way. Or in Croatiaís Northern Velebit National Park there are wolves, lynx, birds of prey and capercaillie. Which people might associate more with Scotland, also a country that will convert you to wildlife watching if you werenít a fan already, with handsome residents such golden eagles and red deer. The secret is to read up on the countryís wildlife before you go, bring binoculars, keep your voice down and your eyes peeled. And donít forget to just stop and listen.

Wild swimming

For hikers who donít like to wander too far from water, self guided walking vacations are great, as there are so many options. Plus you donít have to worry about slowing down a group of walkers with your urge to submerge. On the Amalfi Coast, for example, you need a very fashionable swimsuit at all times, in Croatia you will fall in love with and into the Krka Waterfalls, and in Scotland, you need a sense of adventure, and humour for total Celtic immersion.
Photo credits: [Cultural engagement - auberge: eGuide Travel] [Local food: James Theophane] [Wild swimming: nijaba]
Written by Catherine Mack
Japan self guided trekking vacation, Nakasendo Trail

Japan self guided trekking vacation, Nakasendo Trail

Self-guided walking along Japanís ancient Nakasendo trail

From US $985 5 Days ex flights
Picos inn to inn walking vacation

Picos inn to inn walking vacation

Hike through beautiful mountains staying in rural inns

From £1105 8 Days ex flights
French Alps self guided walking holiday

French Alps self guided walking vacation

Chalet based, self guided walking vacation in the French Alps

From £525 8 Days ex flights
Andalucia self guided walking vacation, Spain

Andalucia self guided walking vacation, Spain

Moderate walking in foothills of Olive and Almond groves

From £350 7 Days ex flights
Catalonia self guided walking vacations, Spain

Catalonia self guided walking vacations, Spain

Self-guided walking vacations in Catalonia

From Ä715 8 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: Thomas Schweighofer]
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