Hiking the Drakensberg, South Africa

The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles). Some of the best hiking in Africa.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. One of the best hiking videos I can recall. Ever.

Harmen Hoek:

In March 2022 I solo hiked for 8-days in the Drakensberg mountains on the border of South Africa and Lesotho.

My route started in Cathedral Peak in uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

I hiked up to the escarpment via Organ Pipes Pass where I headed north towards the Mnweni area. I got down the escarpment via Rockeries Pass for resupplies and back up (bushwacking) via Fangs Pass.

North at the top of Tugela Falls in the Amphitheater of Royal Natal National Park I met up with my dad to spend one last night up the escarpment.

We got down via the infamous Sentinel Ladder.

Favorite hike in the world. The weather, terrain, views, people and remoteness make this hike really unique. Also the most challenging hike to date.

#10 – Overland Track, Australia

Tasmania’s Overland Track is one of our top 10 hikes in the world.

Why?

Our favourite multi-day tramp in Australia. 😎

  • surreal, unique Tasmanian vistas
  • pretty lakes, tarns and waterfalls
  • exiting by ferry, it’s minimum 62km (38.5mi) carrying a pack plus many possible sidetrips without a pack. Elevation Gain: +4,793 ft / 1,461 m
  • Elevation Loss: -5,160 ft / 1,573 m
  • 8000-9000 walkers / year
  • 60 walkers start / day in high season
  • Oct 1 – May 31 Overland Track Pass reservations online
  • access by public transportation
  • easy-moderate hiking IF the weather cooperates
  • add challenging sidetrip peak scrambles if the weather is good
  • Nov – early May best months
  • possible to hike year round (snow travel during the winter)

World → AustalasiaAustralia → Overland

Overland_Tassie_location_map
Gorgeous graphic via Warwick Sprawson

Click PLAY or watch a 1 minute preview on YouTube. 

For details click over to our Overland Track information page.

#7 –  Otter Trail, South Africa

The Otter Trail is one of our top 10 hikes in the world.

Why?

Lush forests, rugged shorelines, river crossings, waterfalls and fragrant fynbos make this adventure at the southern tip of Africa unique. It’s strenuous, with lots of ups and downs …

  • non-stop superb hiking
  • one of our top 10 coastal hikes in the world
  • Storms River Mouth to Nature’s Valley
  • 42km
  • 5 days, 4 nights
  • huts or tenting
  • permits are difficult to get as only 12 hikers start each day. December and Easter holidays are highest demand.
  • Recommended to book 12 months in advance. (Because folks book so early, it’s often possible to get a last minute cancellation spot.)

World → AustralasiaNew Zealand → Tongariro Circuit

CNN
... one way to cross the Bloekrantz
River crossings are a challenge.

Click PLAY or watch a 1 minute preview on YouTube.

For details click over to our Otter Trail Information page.

Surviving Vancouver Island Wilderness – ALONE TV

Alone (TV series) … follows the self-documented daily struggles of 10 individuals (seven paired teams in season 4) as they survive alone in the wilderness for as long as possible using a limited amount of survival equipment. …

They may “tap out” at any time, or be removed due to failing a medical check-in. The contestant who remains the longest wins a grand prize of $500,000. …

Seasons 1, 2 and 4 were shot on Vancouver Island.

The first season premiered 2015.

They were dropped on Quatsino Sound in Northern Vancouver Island, Canada, only accessible by boat or float plane.

As I hike and cycle a lot on the Island, I was keen to see how mere mortals could live off the land in a remote rain forest.

Starting a fire was the first big challenge. EVERYTHING is wet all the time.

Food was the long term challenge.

Lucas was by far the most skilled in season 1. He built a boat, yurt and even a musical instrument.

But Lucas didn’t take home the $500K first prize. That went to the contestant that was psychologically strongest. I do believe he could have lasted weeks longer — though he lost over 60 pounds.


The 10 people selected for season 2 were better prepared. The challenge was the same — remote, wet Vancouver Island. Though the weather was better.

The final four all found ways to last a long time. But as winter approached, the food supply dwindled.

Nicole was one of my favourites. Marine biologist. Expert in intertidal zone ecosystem. Knows what plants to eat. What plants not to eat.

She had the luxury of letting a big salmon go free one day. Wow.

I was cheering Jose, as well, a Spaniard who had adopted the ways of the North American indigenous peoples. His kayak is amazing.

In the end, missing loved ones at home was the final reason to tap out.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.


Season 4 had seven teams of family members competing against one another.

Same geographical location.

Personally, I found the pairs stories less interesting. Did not finish the season.

Hiking the Faroe Islands

If Iceland seems too tame for you, consider hiking the Faroe Islands, an autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark.

I’m hoping to get there myself next summer. 

Click PLAY or get a glimpse via Rannvá Joensen on YouTube.   (4K)

 

Some of the best hikes include:

  • Lake Sørvágsvatn, Bøsdalafossur Waterfall
  • Kallur Lighthouse, island of Kalsoy
  • Slættaratindur (882m)
  • Mykines Lighthouse
  • Draganir (Sea Stacks)

Here’s a hiking map of the islands.

It’s included in an excellent free hiking guide (PDF).

I’m planning to arrive by ferry from Denmark on my touring bicycle.

Dreaming …

Vermont’s Long Trail

I met Alan Wechsler on the John Muir Trail this past summer. I hiked in parallel with his group, finishing the same day at Whitney Portal.

Alan convinced me to put Vermont’s Long Trail in autumn on my personal life list. He suggested I follow the changing of the leaves starting late September and hiking south.

272 miles (437 km). 70 backcountry campsites.

Details.

Alan is a writer and photographer based in the Northeast. He recently spent a year section-hiking the Long Trail in various seasons. His 73-page narrative describes the challenge and history of the trail, along with the people he met along the way, and is generously illustrated with his photos. Download the e-book here:

 

19 Days on the JOHN MUIR TRAIL

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

INTRODUCTION

The John Muir Trail in California is our #2 hike in the world.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Though I’d hiked almost every segment over the years, this was my first time hiking over 200 miles continually.

There are hundreds of excellent JMT Trip Reports online. For example, I enjoyed Jai’s joyful photo journal from Aug 11-30, 2021.

Rather than post a detailed day-by-day account, here I’ll simply recount some of my own HIGHLIGHTS.

If this page is too long 😀 … watch highlights of my trip in less than 5 minutes.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

FIRE & DROUGHT

Jai’s group finished one day before Forest Fire closures were announced.

We were lucky too. Aug 7 – 24, 2021. No closures. Haziest day was Aug 23rd near Whitney.

Climate change will — in future — increasingly make thru hikes of the John Muir Trail more difficult.

LIGHTNING

The other big worry on the JMT is afternoon lightning. This season Nicholas Torchia, 37-years-old, died after trying to take cover by leaning against a tree while hiking close to the John Muir Trail.

FRIENDS

For this adventure, I was happy to have my old hiking buddies Brian and Rocco join me for the first week.

Hiking with friends is more fun. But logistics more complicated.

Under my failed leadership in the past, we are known as the Backcountry Bunglers. AND we managed to bungle logistics again — though the hiking itself was superb.

We had Pacific Crest Trail 500+ mile permits rather than JMT permits. PCT are much easier to get. BUT require that you start exactly the day and trailhead on the permit. Also, you have to carry a print copy. Lessons learned.

Thousand Island Lake

Near Reds Meadows we made the short detour to Rainbow Falls.

And Devil’s Postpile.

TREES

Rocco is a student of flora and fauna. He particularly enjoyed the many kinds of beautiful (and weird) trees.

FOOD

When in town we felt obliged to CARBO LOAD in advance of our freeze dried future.

One of our favourite restaurants was Breakfast Club in Mammoth.

On the trail my dinners were mostly based on ramen, instant mashed potatoes and instant stuffing. REAL bacon pieces were one of my treats as were Jelly Belly.

FEET

Critical to a successful hike is footwear and foot management.

What worked best for me in the California dry heat was trail runners and Injiji toe socks. In fact, I left my usual Merrell Moabs in Mammoth after the first 5 days.

I cleaned and cooled my feet as often as possible during the day.

Mid-day I’d stop for about an hour to use solar power to recharge my devices.

CAMPSITES

In the Sierra Nevada there are plenty of opportunities to wild camp. Set up your tent anywhere not too close to water. … Unless it’s posted.

Late afternoon we had set up our tents … before noticing this sign.

It’s EASY to find fantastic places to tent. Actually.

SIDE TRIPS

Many on the JMT stick to the trail, unwilling to miss even a single official step. Not me.

I took 4 side trips:

  • Reds – Thousand Island lake on the PCT
  • southern Red Cone from Lower Crater Meadow junction
  • Goodale Trail to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) because the boat wasn’t running
  • Mt Whitney
southern Red Cone

VERMILLION VALLEY RESORT (VVR)

On past hikes I’d never made the famed side trip to VVR.

On arrival, the new owners welcome you warmly and offer a free cold beer.

I’m really glad I did VVR this time, taking a ZERO miles recovery day. I met more people there than the rest of the days combined. Found myself at the same table with PhD students and veteran thru hikers.

I stayed for the Saturday night all-you-can-eat barbecue. $26.

Due to drought and low snow fall the previous winter, governments had held back water from Lake Thomas Edison. When this happens, the ferry can’t shuttle hikers to VVR. It’s a half day extra walking.

For me it was well worth the side trip.

Lake Thomas Edison – DRY in 2021

I skipped the Ranch.

SUNSET, NIGHT SKY & SUNRISE

Highlights for one and all. Yet I’m disappointed I didn’t take more photos. I should have woken up more often to see the Milky Way.

PASSES

The story of the southern JMT is climbing a high pass every day.

I enjoyed it. By Seldon I was feeling fit. My feet were great. In fact, I was in the BEST physical shape for hiking at the end of 19 days. It would have seemed EASY to hike back north.

MUIR PASS

Weather was good — but cold and windy when I reached famed Muir Pass hut.

PEAKFINDER APP

Navigation is easy on the John Muir trail with most of the popular hiking apps.

I used Guthook and the free Maps.me app.

Another I really appreciated is the free PeakFinder app. You must download the regional data when online as there’s very little service on the JMT.

FIN DOME

Of many, many impressive peaks en route — including Whitney — my favourite was Fin Dome.

Fin Dome and Arrowhead lake

BOOKS & WHITNEY

The south gets higher and bleaker. I re-read DUNE on this section as it was appropriate to the environment. Hiking alone I was able to finish quite a few audio books, in fact.

Here’s the final push to the top of Whitney.

I was briefly the highest person in the lower 48.

Since the weather was good, I decided to have dinner atop the peak. Stay for sunset. It was very hazy.

A highlight, however, was walking down to Trail Camp on the far side of the mountain by headlamp and moonlight. My only night hiking of the trip.

Next morning I was up for dawn to enjoy my final morning on the John Muir Trail.

Whitney massif at dawn from Trail Camp

Finally down at Portal, we celebrated with the traditional burger and fries. Relived highlights with hikers whom I’d been walking with in parallel for many days.

A wonderful trip.

Arctic Circle Trail, Greenland

… At just over 100 miles long, and taking 7 to 10 days to complete, the Arctic Circle Trail crosses the largest ice-free patch of West Greenland.

This splendid backpacking route, lying 25-30 miles north of the Arctic Circle runs from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut – both with airport access.

a summer walk, ideally from mid-June to mid-September, when the tundra is bursting with life; during the long winter, snow and ice, short days and bitter cold are the norm …

Cicerone

Bo Normander posted an excellent trip report from 2017:

GUIDE TO THE ARCTIC CIRCLE TRAIL IN GREENLAND

Lisa Germany (from Australia) posted her trip report.

Or you can listen to an interview where she describes Greenland and the ACT in detail.

Exploring Central Asia – Safe, Easy, and Filled With Adventure! The 10Adventures Podcast

Names like Samarkand and Bukhara invoke images of ancient Silk Road travellers and beautiful Islamic architecture, which are only a few of the amazing reasons to travel to Central Asia. On this week’s episode of the 10Adventures Podcast, Richard is joined once again by Karin, who just recently returned from an epic tour of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. One of the reasons why people often look back on their travels with fond memories is that they find a certain place over-delivers on their expectations. With a rich atmosphere, storied history, and beautiful landscapes, Karin found that these three Central Asian countries not only delivered an amazing experience along the ancient Silk Road, but that they were friendly, easy, and safe to explore!
  1. Exploring Central Asia – Safe, Easy, and Filled With Adventure!
  2. Cycling the circumference of the US
  3. Turning Your Life Around With Adventure
  4. Unveiling the Mystery of Travel Through Iraq in 2022
  5. Tumblehome: One Woman’s Solo Canoeing Journeys in Algonquin

documentary – Surviving the Outback

Michael Atkinson places himself in the historic predicament of two stranded German aviators in 1932 to see if the his skills as a survival instructor, pilot and adventurer will allow him to escape to the nearest civilization.

It is a gripping film.

I learned a lot about surviving in the harsh Australian coastal wilderness.

The most remarkable feature of this documentary is its mode of filming. It is not performed by any film crew that follows his journey. It is single-handedly managed by Mike through drones and cameras so it preserves the natural element. The breathtaking pictures of the ocean, varied shades of the waters, flora and fauna of marine sea and the natural cliffs along the coast paint an excellent landscape for the viewers. It manages to take one to an unexplored world …

 Watch the hour long documentary FREE on TubiTV.

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