Hiking holidays are no longer the domain of khaki-clad bush warriors sloshing down freeze dried dinners and unpalatable instant coffee. Tents and sleeping bags have been ditched in favour of king-sized beds with plump duvets. Degustation dinners are de-rigeur as is a Little Black Dress (LBD). Luxury hiking or more precisely gliking, as in glam hiking, is a hot holiday trend for active travellers. Check out flights with Skyscanner to start your luxury hiking holiday.
1. Cape to Cape Track
Taking in some of Western Australia’s most scenic coastlines, as well as the famous vineyards of the Margaret River region, the Cape to Cape Track ticks all the boxes for a luxury hiking adventure. The trail winds through Leeuwin-Naturliste National Park withf kauri trees and coastal bushlands coloured with wildflowers. Then there are those less than subtle dazzling white-sand beaches of southwest WA screaming ‘look at me’.
Walk a part of the Cape to Cape Track on a day trip or indulge in a decadent 8-day leisurely stroll with Walk into Luxury taking care of all logistics.
Where: Between Cape Naturaliste & Cape Leeuwin, West Australia
Closest Airport: Perth
Terrain: Undulating forest trails, rural dirt roads
Luxe bed: Smiths Beach Resort
Pack a LBD for: Fine dining at Lamonts Restaurant
More Info: Walk into Luxury
The Cape to Cape Track passes through ancient karri forests. Photo courtesy of Walk into Luxury
2. Scenic Rim Trail
A four-day walk by Spicers Retreats through the Scenic Rim high country southwest of Brisbane, Spicers Canopy (glamping at its best) is basecamp for Days 1 to 3. Surrounded by World Heritage listed national parks, the trail winds through the gentle foothills of the Great Dividing Range. Fully guided and escorted, personal service and gourmet food are almost as important as the hike itself. Almost.
Hikers pass through cattle grazing farmlands, across rocky creeks, along ridges and escarpments. The final day has a challenging ascent, with a little bit of scrambling required. The reward is stunning views across the landscape traversed the past three days. Waiters stand ready at the summit with chilled champagne and delicate morsels at Spicers Peak Lodge, the final destination.
Where: Scenic Rim south east Queensland
Closest Airport: Brisbane
Distance: 36 km
Terrain: Rocky creek crossings, rolling farmland & a final steep ascent
Luxe Bed: Spicers Peak Lodge
Pack a LBD for: Degustation Dinner at The Peak restaurant, Spicers Peak Lodge
More info: Scenic Rim Trail
Spicers Peak Lodge is the final destination of the Scenic Rim Walk. Image credit: Travel Boating Lifestyle
3. Queen Charlotte Track
The Queen Charlotte Track stretches between Queen Charlotte and Keneperu Sounds at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. The scenery is hands down the hero of this trail. Lush coastal forest, historical landmarks (both Maori & European), skyline ridges as well as gorgeous coves and bays that appear at every twist and turn of the trail.
Where: Marlborough Sound, New Zealand
Closest Airport: Picton
Distance: 70 km
Terrain: Firm packed gravel trail, undulating hills from sea level to 400m
Luxe bed: Bay of Many Coves
Pack a LBD for: Romantic dining under the stars on the Bay of Many Coves jetty
More info: Queen Charlotte Track
Hiking the Queen Charlotte Track. Image credit: Travel Boating Lifestyle
4. Abel Tasman Track
An easy hike with few physical challenges beyond a leisurely stroll, the Abel Tasman Track is a terrific introduction to fully guided multi-day hiking. It helps too that the seascapes and landscapes are typically stunning. Pioneering trekking (or tramping as they like to say in NZ) family the Wilsons have taken away much of the pain of hiking holidays and added a healthy dose of pleasure. Water taxi’s transport luggage between their two beachfront lodges over a three or five day adventure. The region is renowned for endless sunshine and calm coastal waters making sea-kayaking an enticing alternative for rest days.
Where: South Island, New Zealand
Closest Airport: Nelson
Distance: 51 km
Terrain: Firm packed trails, undulating hills from sea level to 200m
Luxe bed: Historic Meadowbank Homestead
Pack a LBD for: Barefoot sunset drinks on the beach
More Info: Wilsons Abel Tasman
Hiking the Abel Tasman National Park. Image credit: Travel Boating Lifestyle
5. Mt Batur Volcano
Hiking on an active volcano adds an element of dare-devilish adrenalin to what would otherwise be a straightforward day hike in the centre of a caldera. A pre-dawn start is recommended to witness sacred Mt Batur along with Bali’s most revered (and highest) mountain, Mt Agung at sunrise. At 1717m above sea level, it’s not a hike for the unfit, even though the actual distance is small. The jury is undecided when the next eruption may be likely, though it was only 15 years ago that Mt Batur last rumbled.
Where: Bali, Indonesia
Closest Airport: Denpasar
Distance: Approx. 10 km
Terrain: Steep ascent
Luxe Bed: Viceroy Bali, Ubud
Pack a LBD for: Sundowners on the terrace overlooking Petanu Valley
More info: Bali Trekking Tour
Cool off after a volcano hike in an infinity pool overlooking the valley. Photo courtesy of Viceroy Bali Hotel
6, Gulmarg, Himalayas
The Himalayas are the big kahuna of hiking trails with Everest Base Camp the longed-for poster child that almost every hiker wants to claim. But you can hike the Himalayas without ascending to such lung-busting heights. A winter ski resort at the top of the world in the Pir Panjal mountains, Gulmarg morphs into a hikers dream domain come spring and summer. A network of hiking trails is spread across peaks and valleys, ducking and weaving past mosques, temples and village squares. A guided hike to Khilanmarg Valley is an enchanting walk when spring flowers are in bloom or the more adventurous can trek through snow-clad mountains to serene Alpather Lake.
The world’s highest golf course is here too if you like to add a small ball challenge with a hike around the fairways.
Where: Gulmarg, India
Closest Airport: Delhi
Terrain: Valley floor trails through to mountainous peaks
Luxe bed: Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa
Pack a LBD for: elegant dining with a mountain backdrop
More info: Incredible India
Himalayan Mountains are not all about snow & ice. Photo courtesy of Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa
7. Hike with polar bears
There is only place in the world where it’s safe for hikers to walk amongst polar bears, on their land, on their terms. In late autumn (September) polar bears regroup on the shore of Hudson Bay in anticipation of returning to their seal hunting grounds as the bay freezes over.
This is the perfect time for hikers to hit the tundra and get up close and personal with top of the food chain predators on an Arctic Safari. It sounds a little scary, and admittedly the first time you stare into a polar bear’s eyes with nothing between you but a patch of grass, the heart does race. Two guides equipped with extensive knowledge of bears behaviour (along with an array of protective equipment) soon puts hikers at ease. It’s probably one of the most extraordinary experience a hiker will ever encounter.
Where: Hudson Bay, Canada
Closest Airport: Winnipeg
Distance: Varies, dependent upon polar bear habitat
Terrain: Flat tundra (waterproof gum boots required)
Luxe bed: Seal River Heritage Lodge
Pack a LBD for: Not necessary – even in autumn it’s way too cold for a sassy LBD!
More Info: Churchill Wild
Hiking with polar bears from Seal River Lodge. Image credit: Travel Boating Lifestyle
8. KAT Walk
A seriously challenging hike thanks to the intimidating Kitzbuhel Alps and a trail profile that has more ups and downs than a yoyo, the KAT Walk is quintessential Austrian. The trail can be tackled as a day trip or week-long self-guided mountain adventure with luggage porterage taken care of. With the burden of a heavy pack, alleviated hikers can load up their day packs with cameras and spare batteries. Mountain vistas rarely grow boring as they change moods with the sun’s transit casting shadows and light into their deep crevaces.
Brush up on your international language skills, prepare yourself for altitude exertion and lace up your boots for a mountain adventure you won’t forget.
Where: Tirol, Austria
Closest Airport: Innsbruck
Terrain: mountainous elevation to 1,996 metres
Luxe bed: Das Central Hotel
Pack a LBD for: Culinary adventures in one of Austria’s finest hotels favoured by gourmands
More Info: KAT Walk
The KAT Walk passes through some of Austria’s most stunning country. Photo courtesy of KAT Walk