Kauai – Alaka’i Swamp Trail, Hawaii

Stuart at Trail Spotting recommends the Kauai – Alaka’i Swamp Trail 11mi (17.7km). Hard.

… Take a westerly drive around Kauai until you run out of road and you’ll find yourself overlooking the plunging cliffs of Kalalau Valley on the fabled Na Pali Coast.

The only way to explore beyond this point by land is on foot, and the well-maintained Pihea trail leading to the Alaka‘i Swamp trail is an exhilarating way to do so. Hike along cliff edges, through jungle and across misty mountain-top swamps to reach the trail’s end and clifftop views over Wainiha Pali. …


Click through for photos and maps: Trail Spotting

best hikes on Kauai, Hawaii?

Friends just confirmed today they are spending 2wks on Kauai the end of March.

Of course, that got me thinking. …

This is the guidebook my friends are using. It has a pretty good overview of hikes on the island.

Kauai Revealed

The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed

Other resources include this DVD: Hiking Hawaii: Kauai

And these guidebooks:

  • Kauai Trailblazer: Where to Hike, Snorkel, Bike, Paddle, Surf
  • Kaua’I Trails: Walks, Strolls, and Treks on the Garden Island
  • Day Hikes on Kauai, 3rd
  • At first glance, looks to me the best area is Waimea Canyon State Park. Dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” by Mark Twain. It’s close, I think, to the famed Na Pali Coast. (Got to kayak there, too.)

    Na Pali Coast – Wikipedia – Julius Silver

    The most interesting website looks to be Waialeale Basecamp. Their trails page has some extreme off-trail trip reports.

    Mike (volcantrek8) from that site has a flickr page dedicated to hiking photos from Kauai. Some samples:

    Gazing into Olokele Valley – flickr

    Mount Waialeale – flickr

    Leave a comment if you have any advice regarding hikes on this beautiful isle. (I’m looking for cheap airfare next.)

    PNG – Kokoda Trail closed to hikers

    The only way to bring media attention to this great trek, I reckon:

    Papua New Guinea’s historic Kokoda Trail has been closed to tourists until a dispute over a proposed copper mine is resolved, Australian media is reporting.

    Local Koiari landowners have felled a tree across the track near the village of Naoro, 55km from Port Moresby. Villagers say they will stop travellers who try to pass until the PNG government allows the Australian company Frontier Resources to dig up 600m of the track to mine a $US5.9 billion copper and gold deposit.

    The Koiari people have been offered a 5% stake in the mine that could deliver them more than $US100 million over the proposed 10-year life of the mine.

    Australia, who is seeking a world heritage listing for the trail, is lobbying the PNG Government to kill the mine project in favour of the tourism dollar.

    About 5000 tourists travel walk the 96km Kokoda Trail each year. One of the world’s great treks, it links the southern and northern coast of PNG, and was the scene of bitter fighting between Australian soldiers and Japanese troops in 1942.

    Lonely Planet

    related post: Kokoda Trail – Papua New Guinea

    more Kokoda Trail photos – flickr – Nomad Tales

    Lost City hike in Colombia – now safe(er)

    I loved the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) hike when I was there in 1997. But it was somewhat dangerous.

    No worries if you want to do it today. From a recent trip report:

    … Darren and I took an overnight bus to Taganga, a tiny town on the Caribbean coast. We wanted to go on the famed Ciudad Perdida hike, which travelers in Colombia rave about. Ciudad Perdida (¨Lost City¨) is a series of ancient ruins nestled deep in the jungle of the Sierra Nevada mountains, accessible only by foot. You are required to go with a licensed guide, so we signed up with Turcol and ended up in a ragtag group of nine with a people from London, Los Angeles, Seattle, Bogota and France. …

    The trip cost $230 for the six day hike, all food and accommodation (hammocks) included. Every day except the fourth day (which was spent wandering around the ruins) we woke up around 7am, ate breakfast, and hiked until about 2pm through steamy hot jungle and crossed the river many times. In the afternoon we would have lunch and usually jump into a pristine swimming hole. This left us with a LOT of free time. …

    Ciudad Perdida itself was pretty stunning, lots of circular stone ruins set into the green, green jungle. I think we definitely appreciated the effort it took to get there. About forty soldiers patrol the area, and they are all young, friendly and very bored. We heard them shrieking as we climbed the last 1200 steps to reach Ciudad Perdida. When we got to the top we realized what was causing all the commotion – they were taking turns swinging on a vine into the trees, Tarzan style (not paying much attention to their M-16s). Since the last incidence of guerrillas kidnapping tourists in 2003, the government has stationed soldiers there around the clock and it is extremely safe now.

    I loved the fact that we saw almost no other travellers during the entire hike. Generally speaking, the only people we passed were indigenous people living in the area. If Colombia continues becoming safer and safer, this hike is going to explode in popularity.

    Lost in the Jungleperpetualwanderlust

    Lost City Ruins – flickr – Gavin Rough

    Lost City trek – besthike information page

    Lost City Trek – Colombia – now safer

    I loved the Lost City Trek — Ciudad Perdida — when I was there in 1997. It’s a steep climb up a lost jungle city.

    Ten years later the adventure is much safer as Brian Rudert reports:

    Just did the hike in 4 days/3nights

    The trail is safe, very safe – with a large Colombian military contingent at the top. …

    Most tour groups spend 4 or 5 nights along the trail which is a total of 21 kilometers one way with 4 major (steep) descents and 3 descents along with 9 crossings of the Buritaca river before you reach the final 1,300 narrow and steep steps up to the city. The starting point is 340 meters in altitude and the final destination is 1,100 meters.

    The 21 kilometers are broken up with sleeping points at kilometer 8 and 16 with guides preparing your food and mules carrying supplies. However, the mules cannot go beyond kilometer 16 because of the condition of the trail.

    … A fascinating Kogui (local indigenous group) village is at around kilometer 15 and you will see them again further up the trail and in Ciudad Perdida.

    There is a reddish-brown dog with yellow eyes named Niño with no home or owner who goes up and down with different hiking groups (whoever feeds him the best). Niño knows all the best river crossings and will whine when he sees you crossing at the wrong place.

    Colombia is my favourite country in South America mainly due to the friendly people.

    Check out photos from a 2007 trek to get an idea of the unique landscape at the top:



    adman_as more lost city trek photos – flickr

    Lost City Trek information page – besthike.com

    Buttes, Mesas and Tepuis

    The buttes and mesas of the Colorado Plateau remind me of those other “islands in the sky” — the tepuis of South America.

    tepui art – CanyonsWorldwide.com

    I’d really love to climb Roraima in Venezuela:

    • bordering Venezuela, Brazil & Guyana, Roraima is remote
    • it’s in the world’s largest national park — Canaima
    • the highest tepui at 2810m (9219ft)
    • 6-day, 5-night round trip trek to the summit
    • no mountaineering skill or gear needed
    • the impressive Prow of Roraima was not climbed until 1973
    • unique dreamscape at the top: weird rocks, gorges & gardens
    • a full day needed to explore on high
    • many unique species found only atop tepuis
    • inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World
    • same trip visit nearby Angel Falls, world’s highest 979m (3212ft)

    Our Roraima information page.

    Mt. Tahan trek, Malaysia

    I don’t know much about this trek to the the highest point in Peninsular Malaysia, but it sounds great. This country without question is the most underestimated adventure destination in SE Asia.

    The standard route is the Kuala Tahan trail — not recommended from what I can tell.

    Of the other routes, instead hike the Merapoh (Sungai Relau) trail.

    Taman Negara National Park, Pahang, Malaysia
    Moderately Difficult Trek

    … route is through Sg Relau, Merapoh … starts almost at the foot of the mountain. It takes only three days to reach the peak 5 days return, about 44km. (27mi)

    … The starting point for the hike is at the National Park Headquarters itself.

    DIY Hikes & Treks

    Photos on the site give you a good idea of the terrain.

    Guides are manditatory.



    Mount Tahan – Wikipedia

    We’ve not yet added it to our list of the best hikes in the world. Leave a comment below if you think it worthy.

    check out Florida Hikes

    Guidebook author Sandra Friend runs the Florida Hikes website. We’ve linked to it under WEBSITES on the right hand navigation.

    She’s just revamped the site and it looks great.


    Happily, Sandra will be advising besthike.com on the very best hikes in Florida. And will introduce us to other experts in the region.

    She’s is always on the trail in Florida and networks with the SE hiking community. Sandra’s friends with Mike DeWitt of Florida Trail video fame.

    Sandra got a good photo of Mike, exposing the fact that he is no ultralight walker:

    Now here’s a real comparison in pack weight for long distance hikers. To the left, Mike “Smileage” DeWitt, with a pack that many of us gals could crawl into and sleep in, it’s so danged big. He won’t say but I’m guessing it tips the scales past 50 pounds. To the right, the esteemed Nimblewill Nomad and his pack, roughly 12 pounds with water. I split the difference when I’m hiking….

    floridahikes.com » Pack Weight


    Florida Hikes! – website

    Here’s just one of Sandra’s guidebooks:

    Walks, Hikes, and Backpacking Trips in the Southern Florida Peninsula, First Edition

    50 Hikes in South Florida: Walks, Hikes, and Backpacking Trips in the Southern Florida Peninsula, First Edition

    where NOT to hike – Saul, French Guyana

    Two French hikers who got lost in thick jungle in French Guiana survived for seven weeks by consuming turtle meat, big hairy spiders and river water.

    The men were rescued on Thursday, exhausted and dehydrated.

    Loic Pillois and Guilhem Nayral disappeared on 14 February, having set off from the Grand Kanori rapids bound for the village of Saul.

    Guilhem’s brother Gilles said “they ate palm seeds, insects, mygales (big spiders) and two turtles” to survive.

    Mr Pillois, 34, emerged at Saul at 1000 (1300 GMT) on Thursday and told the authorities that his friend Guilhem, 34, was about six hours’ walk away to the south, the French news agency AFP reported.

    Rescuers found him and brought him out by helicopter. One of them, gendarme Martin Andre, said Guilhem was “stretched out on the ground, completely exhausted, very thin, dehydrated”.

    BBC NEWS | Europe | Lost Frenchmen ate jungle spiders

    original map – Lonely Planet

    (via WildrLog)

    trekking in Laos

    Though jungle treks have been popular in northern Thailand for decades, similar adventures in Laos are just starting to get popular.

    Justine Vaisutis, Lonely Planet travel guidebook writer, published a brief article.

    In a pocket of the world renowned for package holidays, shoestring extravagance and faux bling, Laos remains an unadulterated enigma. It’s the ideal asylum for fugitives from urban routine, with the majestic curves of Luang Nam Tha Province offering the best refuge of all.

    Hemmed in by the mighty Mekong to the west and China’s great girth to the north, this province devotes almost a third of its ground cover to the Nam Ha National Protected Area — 550,000 acres of untamed forest.

    The jungle, mountains, waterfalls, rivers and lofty plateaus in this conservation area, coupled with the culture of some 30 ethnic groups, created the ideal canvas for hiking, which in this densely forested region translates to “eco-trekking” — one of those phrases often hijacked by wily sharks with eyes for the tourist trends and appetites for commerce. …

    I’m joined by seven fellow trekkers on my two-day escapade. Our destination is Ban Nam Lai, a small Akha village tucked high in the folds of a mountain. The Akha are woodsmen, and their affinity with the forest is legendary. Our multilingual guides each lead a trek once a month, sharing the vocation with 30 others, a number that ensures the tourist wealth is evenly spread and that no one discards his or her traditional source of income….

    The progress and the crowds are inevitable, but we have a quiet faith that Nam Ha is destined for years of preservation yet.

    Trek though jungles, mountains of Laos

    source – Flickr – Mat Honan

    (via Two-Heel Drive)

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