A walking holiday entails much more than just healthy trekking. Get the atlas out and pin the following walking destinations you definitely don’t want to miss out on.
Kaas Plateau, Maharashtra
Give the traditional excursions a miss and walk through Kaas Plateau – 1,000 hectares of heavenly beauty filled with more than 850 species of flowers and other plants. Situated approximately 25 kilometres off Satara District in Maharashtra, you can spend hours together at this picturesque location – with family and friends – or make it a romantic rendezvous and stare awestruck at the pink, purple, yellow, red and blue carpets in full bloom. As the sun sets behind the lush green Sahyadris and the plateau is bathed orange-red, sit back and let the magic of nature take over. Rejuvenation and peace are guaranteed!
Getting there: Satara is well-connected by railway as well as roadway. Board a bus or train to Mumbai or Pune and travel to Satara from there. Once there, local transportation will take you right up to the plateau.
Best time to visit: August-October
Point to note: Policies to keep the beauty of the place intact would mean only a fixed number of visitors can go to Kaas each day.
Goecha La, Sikkim
A nature trail like no other, trekking the Goecha La mountain pass is said to be ethereally romantic. Why so? In an eight-day long trek, you pass through thick, evergreen forests, walk along the enchanted path through the Tshoka rhododendron forests, waddle through the vast Dzongri and Thansing meadows, stop by to see your reflection stare back in the blue waters of the Samiti Lake and gaze at the looming presence of the Kanchenjunga and Pandim mountain peaks… do you need more reasons? You also come in close contact and learn extensively about the three major ethnic groups in Sikkim – the Lepchas, the Bhutias and the Nepalis as you trek upwards.
Getting there: Board a flight to Kolkata and then proceed to Gangtok by train from New Jalpaiguri. Once there, a bus or car will take you to Yuksom – the base camp for the trek.
Explore: Seat yourself in an uphill café at Tshoka and taste the local malt beer Tumba that is served in bamboo cups. For those willing to risk their taste buds, the local Yak cheese should be on your must-eat list.
Point to note: You need to make an entry at the police station before you begin trekking. For this, you will need a photo identity proof with three photocopies. Also, you need to pay the permit fees at the forest check post that roughly comes up to Rs. 700 per person.
Lava and Neora Valley, West Bengal
One of the most soothing ‘birding miles’ in India, the Lava-Algarah Road is a perfect must-walk-to place. Winding paths stretch for miles as you discover the sheer joy of spotting rare birds and the peaceful silence is broken only by the chirping of the birds and the click of the cameras as you capture these winged beauties. From Lava, you can extend your walk to the adjoining biodiversity hotspot Neora Valley National Park as well as to the bird-rich foothill area of Duars.
The birdwatching checklist: Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Blue-fronted Robin, Emerald Cuckoo, Short-billed Minivets, Green Magpie and Barred Cuckoo Dove.
Getting there: From Kolkata, you can board a bus or a train to Kalimpong that is an 8-10 hour journey. Lava is accessible from Kalimpong (35 km east) and from the Damdim Road which connects to Siliguri.
Best time to visit: April-October
4. Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, Jammu & Kashmir
Deep ravines, outcroppings, forested slopes, alpine pastures spread across 141 sq km… don’t these make for a heavenly walk? However, do not let the breathtaking splendour of the wild cherry, apricot, pear, plum, peach and apple trees in full bloom take your attention away from catching sight of some rare, exotic birds.
The birdwatching checklist: Himalayan Monal, Cheer Pheasant, Koklass Pheasant, Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier), Himalayan Griffon, Golden Eagle, Red-billed Chough, Yellow-billed Chough, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Streaked Laughingthrush, Tickell’s Thrush, Spectacled Finch, Orange Bullfinch.
Getting there: The Dachigam National Park is 22 km away from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu & Kashmir. Srinagar has an airport and is well connected by road too.
Here are some international destinations that will give you an equal amount of wanderlust!
Cross the fairy tale Grindelwald valley as you take in the impressive presence of the Bernese Oberland range – including the notorious Eiger and fearsome Shreckhorn peaks. Finish the walk with a round of beer at the Faulhorn hut or Berghotel as it is known, that is impossibly perched
at 8,800 feet on its namesake peak.
A poet’s delight, walk past the Dingle Peninsula’s stone cottages, discover ancient Iron Age ruins on the western tip of the peninsula, follow a path through the moss-carpeted forests in Killarney National Park and stroll along County Kerry’s spectacular sand dunes.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Walk through the region that links the ‘five villages’ of the Cinque Terre as you cross terraced slopes of the Riviera di Levante and stroll through hamlets with
pastel-coloured buildings. Along this Mediterranean coastal path, indulge in some Italian pesto made from locally grown basil and Sciacchetrà – a crisp,
fragrant white wine, harvested from Cinque Terre’s terraced vineyards.
The Paris River Tour
Take a stroll through pretty Parisian parks, learn how the city has different bridges for different occasions and round off your day in style as you tour the river Seine path and explore the inspiring short stretch from the king’s private cathedral of Sainte Chapelle to the Palace of the Louvre.