TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

HIKING TRAILS AROUND THE WORLD: SMH TRAVELLER

LAUGAVEGURINN, ICELAND
This four-day, 80-kilometre trek starts at Skógar in the south and heads north to Landmannalaugar, passing waterfalls, volcanoes and glaciers en route. Within the first two hours, in fact, you’ll pass 20 waterfalls, as well as the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, whose ash clouds closed airports throughout Europe for six days in 2010. Laugavegurrin translates to ‘hot springs route’, and as you step over the Laugahraun lava field or check out the Storihver hot spring, you’ll no doubt see why. After you’ve reached a bleak mountain pass set between two glaciers, you’ll trek into the valley of Thórsmörk, which was visited by J.R.R. Tolkien before he penned The Hobbit and supposedly inspired his descriptions of Middle Earth. Camp or stay in pre-booked huts, available from June to September. See  visiticeland.com

EDGE OF THE WORLD, SAUDI ARABIA
About 90 kilometres north-east of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s entire limestone Tuwaiq escarpment – which runs 700 kilometres from the central Najd region to the Empty Quarter further south – offers unforgettable views of the Mars-like valley below. But hiking to the ‘Edge of the World’ viewpoint is particularly special. Its stone pillars jut out into the canyon, making for completely uninterrupted views of the landscape, which you can enjoy while eagles wheel overhead. This escarpment used to be at the bottom of the ocean 50 million years ago, so keep an eye out for fossils too. One thing you won’t find on this plateau is a skerrick of shade, so the best (aka coolest) times for hiking are the autumn and winter months, from October to March. There are also no fences or warning signs, so avoid getting too close to the rocky edges, and best leave the kids at home for this one. See sauditourism.sa/en

SASLAYA NATIONAL PARK, NICARAGUA
There are no fancy lodges or glamping setups on this six-day jungle trek through Nicaragua’s largest national park. Instead, intrepid adventurers will be sleeping in hammocks and cooking on camp stoves under the lush rainforest canopy, en route to climbing the park’s highest volcanic peak. At the heart of the Bosawas UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve, which is the largest piece of intact rainforest north of Amazonia and makes up about 15 percent of Nicaragua’s total land area, Saslaya’s muddy trails are filled with exotic flora and fauna, including jaguars, monkeys and macaws. Prepare to be challenged and amazed, in equal measures. See matagalpatours.com

WADI DANA, JORDAN
After a killer one-hour descent, this 16-kilometre day hike leads you through Jordan’s biggest nature reserve, the Dana Biosphere, which protects rare wildlife like the sand cat and Syrian wolf. As you weave through spectacular sandstone gorges along a disused road and Bedouin grazing paths there’s a good chance you’ll glimpse the Nubian ibex, this being one of the best places in the country to do so. It may be too much of a challenge to walk both directions in one day; luckily there’s the 26-room solar-powered Feynan Ecolodge at the bottom where you can spend the night, otherwise you can arrange a car to escort you back out. Either way, you’re likely to have the trail all to yourself. See crooked-compass.com

URIQUE-BATOPILAS, MEXICO
This three-day hike into Mexico’s Copper Canyon, which is actually a complex of six major canyons that are deeper than the Grand Canyon, leads you 1500 metres from the tropical canyon floor to its pine and hardwood forested rim where you’ll get otherworldly canyon views. Starting at Urique, the deepest of the canyons, you’ll cross babbling creeks and pass scattered farm plots and villages belonging to the native Tarahumara Indians, then give your calves a thrashing getting to the Batopilas River. Visit in late autumn (October to November) or early spring (March to April) when it’s not too hot, and beware both bandits and getting lost on the unmarked trails. See visitmexico.com

RAINBOW MOUNTAIN, PERU
There is an option to get to these ridiculously pretty mountains, striped with blues, yellows, pinks and purples from mineral deposits, in a single day. But that option would involve rising at 3am, enduring two three-hour bus trips, plus a few hours trekking to get there and back. Better to make a bit of a pilgrimage out of it by doing the five day Ausangate trek, which takes you past glaciers, llama- and alpaca-filled pampas, traditional weaving villages and pristine high-altitude lakes, and over a challenging 5300-metre pass, as you make your way towards the rainbow mountains. You’ll stay at sustainable lodges along the way, and be supported by a knowledgable guide and oxygen-carrying horses. Plus, you’ll likely only see a few other trekkers the whole five days you’re there. See crooked-compass.com; How to reach the incredible mountain of rainbows

 

THIS STORY FIRST APPEARED AT TRAVELLER.COM.AU HERE

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