Iconic walks to add to your bucket list

Some of the most spectacular places on this planet are best experienced on foot

June 2020 • Jules Verne

Iconic walks to add to your bucket list

Whether it’s getting up close to ancient ruins, wildlife treks through the jungle or discovering hidden temples, exploring the world whilst walking is a favoured activity for many. We have chosen some of our favourite iconic walks from around the world, which we hope will help inspire your next Jules Verne tour!

Bhutan - Tiger's Nest Monastery

Laura Kelly, Head of Commercial - A visit to Bhutan is incomplete without seeing the most iconic and sacred Buddhist site - Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Precariously perched on a cliff at 900 metres it is quite extraordinary, stunning in its beauty and location. The trail is a wide, uphill dirt track, mainly through coniferous forest. It can be uneven underfoot in places, and in some parts a little steep, but you'll have splendid views over the valleys as you climb through hillsides adorned with prayer flags. At the midway point the trail levels out, you can take a break at the cafeteria enjoy the views and spin the prayer wheels. This walk takes under two hours and you will be rewarded with the most beautiful view of the monastery. Some people elect not to make the final climb. For those that continue, the second half is a little easier and the terrain is more varied with a great view of the monastery from the next viewpoint. Then a short walk down a stone staircase, across a prayer flag-covered bridge and a final push for the last 700 step climb to the monastery itself. Read more here >>

Bhutan & The Himalayas
Three Kingdoms

Italy - Pompeii

Debbie O'Neill, Head of Customer Experience - My trip to Pompeii was the highlight of my first visit to the Amalfi Coast. I recall that it went by in a flash and I was surprised by its size – you could easily spend all day here. Comfortable shoes are a must as there are so many streets, alleyways & beautiful green spaces to explore. Every inch is fascinating and we had a wonderful guide who brought this ancient city and Roman society to life for us.

Amalfi, Pompeii & Sorrento

Greece - Acropolis

Marissa Dubovaya, Product Coordinator - Exploring Athens, I couldn’t believe how transfixed I was by this glorious construction - this ancient citadel on a rocky outcrop, demanding my attention no matter where I was in the city. The magnificent Acropolis of Athens, probably the most important ancient site in the Western world, is just as striking under the blue sky, as at night when beautifully illuminated. The wide pathways of the small inclined walk, with some steps, allow you to reach the ancient complex at ease. Once inside you can almost glide through antiquity, with breathtaking views as you discover important sanctuaries and temples; the Parthenon dedicated to the goddess Athena, or visualise performances in the Theatre of Dionysus. Standing sentinel over the city, the Acropolis is the most accurate reflection of the glory, power and richness of Athens at its greatest peak, a defining image of wondrous ancient Greece.

Classical Tour of Greece
Ancient Greece of the Olympics

Sri Lanka - Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Francis Torrilla, Managing Director - A strenuous, but not difficult, climb up ‘Lion Rock’ is well worth it  even if only to see the frescoes halfway up, and of course the spectacular views from the top. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes as it can get warm and steady shoes are needed to tackle all the 1200 steps. Many head as far as the Lions’ Paws, the original gateway to the palace, about three-quarters of the way. From here the climb is vertical stairs, a big improvement on the ropes and wobbly platforms in the 1980s! The vista on a clear day is unbelievable - you can make out the ruined city plan below and the rainforest that seems to go on forever.

Grand Tour of Sri Lanka

Morocco Atlas Mountains Walk

Samantha Roberts, Sales Manager - The Atlas Mountains Walk was the highlight of my trip to Morocco last July. We rose early to meet our excellent local guide, who grew up in the village of Imlil, and climbed up through the crop terraces to view the waterfalls and dwellings below. The largest mountain in North Africa, Mount Toubkal, stared down on us while we crossed rivers, wandered through settlements and climbed down steep forest paths, marvelling at the natural beauty and tranquillity the mountain path has to offer.

Secret Morocco

Croatia Dubrovnik Walls

Danielle Smith, Personal Travel Expert - Close your eyes and imagine a castle in a children’s picture book. Slowly open your eyes and that is what you shall see in Dubrovnik. When walking the castle walls you are not only inevitably aware of the rich history of the city which was under attack, but also how majestic the city must have looked from the ships entering the port. You can explore Dubrovnik by cable car for magnificent views of the Old Town, or explore by foot visiting the beautifully preserved Gothic and Renaissance palaces. The Ancient City Walls of Dubrovnik can be challenging to explore with steep narrow steps and it will take approximately two hours of walking. 

 

The Coast of Explorers and Emperors

Uganda Gorilla Trek

Laura Kelly, Head of Commercial - Trekking to locate your gorilla family in the primaeval forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park will normally take 1-3 hours (each way). You’ll be one of eight trekkers with a Wildlife Ranger and two armed rangers (to fend off rogue forest elephants). Every trek differs depending on the location of the gorilla family and the varied terrain you will come across. We started our walk in single file through the forest above farmland and plantations, but soon the skyline opened to reveal the velveteen forest and mountain slopes. The trek was not particularly gruelling, but in parts, we had to use our hands to hoist ourselves over the slippery slopes. Our trekkers listened for movements and directed us off the path through the forest. Coming face-to-face with a majestic mountain gorilla in its natural habitat is an unparalleled, magical wildlife experience. Their proximity, silent power and grace, their majesty in the forest, a truly spine-tingling and intimate encounter - the Gorilla experience is just pure magic! Read more here >>

Gentle Giants

India - Palitana Jain Temples

David Deane, Head of Product - Of all the fascinating wildlife and culture of Gujarat, the highlight is surely the Palitana Jain temples. Some devotees walk up the well-maintained 3,800 steps daily! It’s a steady and tiring climb, but it’s the only way to see the world’s largest temple complex (thousands built over 900 years) and the most sacred pilgrimage site of the Jain religion. My guide hired a Doli carrier (!) but I walked up - an unforgettable experience! There are slightly fewer steps down the other side, making it easy to walk, but it does strain the back of the legs, so some hill (or stair) training is recommended.

Glories of Gujarat

Jordan - Petra

Debbie Heffernan, Senior Personal Travel Expert - To travel to Petra is to travel back in time. Its most iconic site, the Treasury, is just incredible - it offers not just this famous façade but so much more. The colour of the local stone has earned the city the signature the ‘Rose City’ which can be seen in all its splendour as you travel to the entrance of this ancient site, through a narrow gorge of approximately 1km, called the Siq. The changing light falls on the rock face to illuminate this most fascinating geological site of beautifully layered sandstone. Renowned for its rock-cut architecture, we were able to learn so much of the city's history from our fantastic local guide, but nothing will prepare you for your first visit. You will marvel at the Nabatean architecture and the hundreds-of-steps that are so worth the climb to secure views over this lost city and the arid desert landscapes, as far as the eye can see. Indeed an iconic walk from which to experience the beauty that is Petra. 

Discover Jordan
From Jerusalem to Petra
Highlights of Jordan
Treasures of Petra

Italy - Agrigento Temples

Marion Mensah, Product Executive - Last year I visited Sicily on one of our top seller tours ‘Treasures of Sicily’. Visiting the Acropolis in Athens gave me a taste of the Greek way of life, but you wouldn’t believe that the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento offered me an unexpected similar experience. Indeed this archaeological UNESCO Heritage Site is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece. Located along a rocky crest below modern-day Agrigento, you need a couple of hours to for the mostly level walk to the 8 temples - I felt I was going back in time to the old Greek days. As it can be hot in Sicily, walking shoes and plenty of water are necessary.

Treasures & Secrets of Sicily
Treasures of Sicily

Peru - Machu Picchu

David Deane, Head of Product - Early this year I walked up through the Machu Picchu site with a Jules Verne group. The train and bus up was a great preamble, then the first 15 minutes was a steady walk uphill, along a path with no view (but we had to keep going!). It was, however, all worth it for the amazing view over the site at the top. The rest was ‘downhill’ all the way, with plenty of pauses for photos and guide explanations. We spent about 3 hours at the site, and took a quick break at café and restrooms at the entrance/exit!

Lost World of the Incas
Grand Tour of South America
Highlights of Colombia & Peru

Croatia - Plitvice Lakes National Park

Thomas Rast, Product Manager - I was fortunate enough to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park in the quieter months when it looked magical after a light dusting of snow. The pine woods provided a beautiful backdrop to the cascading waters and there are several walking routes according to the season. There are 16 spell-binding lakes, from emerald green to turquoise to deep blue, and 90 waterfalls. I walked through a mesmerising limestone canyon of the lower lakes and crossed the largest lake, Kozjak, by electric boat which afforded a peaceful view of the cascading falls. The paths are a combination of gravel, steps and boardwalks, some of which are easy walking and others which are a bit more challenging requiring stout footwear and good balance. 

Secret Wonders of Croatia

Egypt - Decorated Tombs

David Deane, Head of Product - The famous pharaonic tombs in the Valley of the Kings are quite easily accessed with just a short walk and about 20 minutes in each tomb, walking on sloping wooden walkways or steps. Some of the more remote but equally rewarding tombs of the Nile Valley are perhaps, surprisingly, built in the hills. This means that a 20-minute unsheltered walk up steps is required to visit the tombs at Beni Hassan, Amarna and Aswan. You can spend a few minutes walking inside a selection of smaller noble tombs covered with depictions of everyday life from cultivation and wildlife to gymnastics (!) – you will probably be the only visitors!

The 600-Mile Nile 
Secret Nile
The Original Nile Cruise

Cambodia - Temples of Angkor

Debbie Heffernan, Senior Personal Travel Expert - Once protected by dense jungle, Angkor Wat ‘a city of Temples’ is the world’s largest religious complex. Start at the South Gate of Angkor Thom, home to the famous Bayon temple with its enormous stone faces and then Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. Then head on to Ta Phrom ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ - spellbinding and almost swallowed by the jungle. Its ruins are interwoven with branches and roots. Without doubt the highlight is the exploration of Angkor Wat. It is a spectacular temple on a scale quite unexpected, highly decorated and surrounded by a moat. You can remain on the ground level and still enjoy the grandeur and magic of the temple. To get to the upper levels there are very steep, narrow steps but the climb gives you tremendous views. Temple hopping is great fun as you are driven from one to another by tuk-tuk. Mainly flat, the terrain can be uneven underfoot, often comprised of dirt paths and at Ta Phrom you will definitely be clambering over fallen ruins and between structures. Interestingly, whilst it is more of an archaeological site, it is still a functioning temple. The entire complex is brilliantly intricate and well-preserved - its sheer beauty and historical significance make a visit so worthwhile.

Treasures of Indochina 
Grand Tour of Indochina
Highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia

China - The Great Wall of China

Marion Mensah, Product Executive - The Great Wall of China, one of the greatest wonders of the world and a UNESCO site, was on my bucket list for many years. I went to China in November, when it was really cold (about 2 degrees), but this was the best time to visit the Great Wall as it was less crowded. The clear blue sky also allowed me to take pictures of the wall going all the way through to the horizon! The Great Wall of China is one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken. Some parts are well preserved allowing you to walk on the wall, giving you incredible views. Imagine how the invaders felt when they were met by such a huge wall! The wall is estimated to be more than 21,000 km in length, so comfortable walking shoes are necessary, but you can walk as far as you wish. To go up and down at Mutianyu, you can take a cable car, and for the adventurous, you can go down by cart railway! I can still remember the incredible feeling I had walking on the wall surrounded by steep mountains and great scenery. An experience I would definitely love to live again.


Discover China

Costa Rica - Sky Walk, Monteverde

Prini Holmes-Reilly, Head of Marketing - As I look back on my most memorable trips, Costa Rica has to be one of my all-time favourites! Amongst the many highlights and awe-inspiring experiences, one of them was the sky walk in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The winding, uphill trail leading to the bridges is a moderate walk, but steep in some parts and well-maintained, displaying a variety of plants and flowers. Once at the higher part of the forest, you’re back in day light and ‘in the clouds’, the six suspension bridges each up to 70m high are eary and misty, but here is where you have the opportunity to spot plentiful monkeys, sloths and a variety of birds, a truly thrilling experience. The views, sounds and atmosphere of the forest is unforgettable. The walk is two to three hours but for those more adventurous, you can zip line your way through the canopy! Don’t forget to take a rain mac, insect repellent and good walking shoes!

Central America's Garden of Eden
Central America's Garden of Eden - Birdwatchers

Please ask to speak to the relevant person for details of one of these legendary walks.