The end of the year is almost here, and for those with kids, it’s time to heave a sigh of post-exam relief and turn your attention to more pleasant things like the family holiday. How about heading out into the open and soak in some sun, sea or snow? You don’t have to go far to do that.
Walk Japan has just launched the Oita Hot Spring Trail, a fully guided six day walking tour of Kysuhu through the Oita Prefecture, the mecca of onsen hotsprings. Imagine walking through mountain valleys, the foot of Mount Kuju, onto a plateau, cycling past farmhouses and fields, and reaching the sea. In the midst of that, soak in the view and in onsens, dine on fabulous meals and experience the country’s culture. Accommodation is in traditional Japanese inns with onsen baths. The trail is suitable for those ” who can walk at a gentle pace for three to four hours in comfort.” The tour is capped at 12 people, and costs JPY316,000 per person. Meeting point is in Fukuoka.
Another new Walk Japan trail is the stunning Hokkaido Snow Tour (above), a full guided eight-day, seven-night snowshoe-clad adventure of east Hokkaido. Dress warm for the landscape is peppered with powder fine snow, from empty vistas to frozen lakes and mountain views. You head to pretty remote lanscapes , starting at the fishing port of Kushiro, then “over frozen seas where fishermen huddle around ice holes; through snowy landscapes past remote farmsteads, and along cliff-tops”. You may see deer, tancho red-crested cranes and other wildlife. Every evening, stay in traditional inns, some with onsen, and dine on meals made with local ingredients literally for a local flavour. At eighth day bring you to Utoro, a small, onsen hot spring resort town on the coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the tour ends. Priced from JPY498,000 per person, it includes breakfast, dinner and three lunches, snowshoe rental and baggage transfers.
See history, wildlife and adventure on a luxury 11-day Tigers, Temples and The Taj trip with private tour specialist Jacada Travel. Explore Delhi for a couple of days, then head to remote luxury lodge in Bandhavgarh National Park (above)and go on safaris in this 400 square kilometres worth of wilderness with the highest density of tigers in the world. It’s also home to leopards, sloth bears, dhole (Asian wild dog), gaur Indian bison, spotted deer, etc. The trip later includes boat rides on the River Ganges and sunset and sunrise at the Taj Mahal. Not cheap, this lengthy trip – which packs in a lot — starts at around $8000 per person (minus international flights). But it includes lots of pampering , private transfers and a guide throughout.
Blend a lazy resort holiday with open-jeep touring off the beaten track in Hoi An. Stay at the Anantara Hoi An Resort and head off on day tours with Active Adventure Tours to explore the area’s heritage sights and nature. How about a tour to My Son? At sunrise, the open jeep tour takes you to My Son on a less travelled route past rice paddies and the Thu Bon River delta region, first to a village market to soak in country life, then to My Son itself, the former capital of the ancient Champa Kingdom and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Breakfast is served there, then you’re free to pole around the ruins with a local guide, and take in a traditional dance. The return journey to the resort promises ” small country lanes and pretty hamlets”.
If you’re even more adventurous, do the full day trip to Hai Van Pass (above). Take in a 1,000-year-old Cham tower, head up Bo Bo Hill, an important site in the American War, drive up Hai Van Pass to see its haunting landscape, then head to a pristine stretch of coastline for a picnic lunch and a paddle in the sea. The return journey gives you a good look at traditional fishing village life there. The tours promise “creative itineraries [that] investigate beyond the confines of a guidebook creative itineraries”, ” remote terrain and hidden havens, unseen by the masses”. Sounds exciting.
(Photos courtesy of Walk Japan and Anantara)