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100 things to do before you die: walks

Thursday, August 24, 2006

1. Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea
In July 1942 Australia was firmly in the sights of a marauding Japanese imperial army and open to invasion. Australian soldiers fought in the steaming jungles of New Guinea and many died along the savage and bloody bush track known only as the Kokoda.

Retired Army Major Charlie Lynn leads 12-day treks along the Kokoda Track. It is 96 kilometres of gruelling physical exertion through rugged mountainous country of rainforest, jungles of fern, thick orchids and mountain streams tumbling into steep valleys. Those who undertake the walk often wonder why they are doing it, but by the end of their journey, know exactly why they did.

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2. Milford Track, New Zealand
Milford Sound on New Zealand's south island is known as the eighth wonder of the world. A walk along the 55-kilometre Milford Track explains why. Guided walks began in 1889. Today, Milford Track Guided Walks is the only company offering them for everyone from hardened trekkers to novices. Their four-day, three-night walks cover around 15 kilometres a day, passing deep lakes, silent fjords, luxuriant forest and sheer canyons carved through the granite.

After breakfast on the last day, you board a boat for a Milford Sound cruise and chances are dolphins and fur seals will be your companions.

3. Cinque Terre, Italy
Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are the five villages making up Cinque Terre on Italy's north-east coast. The small towns and fishing villages have been dug into cliffs and gullies, suspended high above tiny harbours packed with colourful fishing boats. Nestled between the mountains and the sea with access only by foot, train or boat, views from everywhere are breathtaking.

Inhabited since Roman times, walks follow stone paths which have linked the villages since the 15th century. They twist and wind along the rugged coast, through pine forests and vineyards. Seven-day walks allow you time to take it all in and get to know the friendly locals and their marvellous cuisine!

4. Bay of Fires, Tasmania
The Bay of Fires walk in Tasmania's northeast takes around four days and covers 25 kilometres of exceptional scenery. It was designed around the attributes of Mt William National Park and is an active, fully accommodated and guided walk.

Landscape is dramatic and there is plenty of wildlife and birdlife to see as you explore beaches and woodlands. Bay of Fires Lodge is the only building in the wilderness paradise and sits on a hilltop 40 metres above the ocean. Timber and glass pavilions make the most of views and after a hot shower, you sleep in a comfortable bed — very welcome after a long day's walk!

5. Choquequirao Trek, Peru
The last Inca outpost in the province of Cusco on the western flanks of the Vilcabamba range, Choquequirao is accessible only by a tough and demanding trail which climbs and dips almost 1500 metres twice, in a zig-zag pattern. It offers the extremes of glaciers at over 6000 metres and steamy tropical valleys at 1800 metres.

Choquequirao is wedged in dense cloud forest and is comparable in size to Machu Picchu, but far fewer people go there. Porters and sturdy animals carry gear and supplies — trekkers carry a daypack, which means more strength for the walk! Camps are set up and meals prepared for you.

6. The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall is a Chinese fortification built from the third century BC until the beginning of the 17th century. It was to protect various dynasties from raids by Hunnic, Mongol, Turkic and other nomadic tribes coming from Mongolia and Manchuria. It is the longest man-made structure in the world, stretching 6352 kilometres. Along most of its arc it roughly delineates the border between north China and inner Mongolia.

Much of the wall is in disrepair — over a very long time stones have been removed and used in other building projects. Sadly, graffiti is rife as well. Most tourists walk at Bandaling, 65 kilometres north-west of Beijing, an easy day trip, but there are many other sections you can visit, some in better condition than others.

For further information:

1. Adventure Kokoda
Ph: 1300 783 3(03)

2. Milford Track Guided Walk
Ph: 0011 64 3 441 1138
Fax: 0011 64 3 441 1124

3. World Travel Group
Ph: 1300 361 500

4. Bay of Fires Walk
Ph: (03) 6391 9339
Fax: (03) 6391 9338

5. Ultimate Tours Peru
Ph: (02) 9977 1152
Fax: (02) 9977 2011

6. World Expeditions
Ph: 1300 720 000
Fax: (02) 9279 0566


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