From New Zealand to Sri Lanka, these new trails will take your breath away.
More than just about any other mode of travel, setting out on a multi-day hike allows you to really get under the skin of a destination, opening up a world of experiences that would otherwise be completely inaccessible. That can mean waking up with a swim at a secret beach or falling asleep to a nocturnal symphony deep in the jungle, taking in sweeping mountain views over a mug of freshly brewed tea or sharing a communal dinner with friendly locals.
And a host of newly constructed trails means there are now more choices than ever. Whether you want to follow the crowds to Australia's highest peak or veer off the beaten path to a rarely-visited island, go back to basics or live it up in luxury, there's a hike that fits the bill. Here are some of the most exciting new walking trails to get you moving in 2024
Kangaroo Island revival
Three years on from the bushfires that devastated Flinders Chase National Park on South Australia's Kangaroo Island, the local flora has regrown so quickly that in some places you can't see more than a few metres beyond the path. The park infrastructure is bouncing back just as rapidly and the five-day, 66-kilometre Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is fully open to independent walkers keen to explore a rugged coastline dotted with captivating rock formations, secluded beaches that can only be reached on foot and dappled eucalypt forests filled with sleepy koalas. parks.sa.gov.au
Spectacular in the Snowies
There are plenty of highs on the four-day, 55-kilometre Snowies Alpine Walk: Australia's highest walking track, campsite, suspension bridge and lake, plus the nation's tallest peak in 2228-metre Mount Kosciuszko. Those lofty elevations mean spectacular views in every direction as you trek across the roof of Australia, while closer at hand you'll find mirror-still glacial lakes, twisted snow gums and high country meadows carpeted in wildflowers. The last of the four stages will be completed this summer and you can tackle it as a self-guided hike or on a guided trip with Australian Walking Expeditions. australianwalkingholidays.com.au
Fiordland of NZ
Peeking out from the bottom of New Zealand's South Island, Fiordland has no shortage of beautiful hikes. But while the Milford and Kepler Tracks often book out in minutes once the season opens, the three-day Hump Ridge Track lets you experience the sub-alpine forest, exposed ridges and beaches without the crowds. And because it connects two backcountry lodges, you can finish each evening with a hot shower then spread out in a king-sized bed, or even lighten your load by having your bags helicoptered to the next stop. The 61-kilometre track is already accessible, but will officially become part of the Great Walks portfolio once upgrades are completed. humpridgetrack.co.nz
Sri Lanka in stages
Some hikes include optional breaks where you can relax and enjoy the views over a cup of tea, but on the recently completed Pekoe Trail it's practically a requirement. Spread over 22 stages that range from 10-18 kilometres, the 300-kilometre trail winds through the island nation's central highlands. Along the way it passes mist-wreathed hills and colonial bungalows, virgin forest filled with leopards and deer, and immaculately kept plantations where you can watch tea pickers plucking leaves from the emerald green bushes. And because each stage begins in a small town, accommodation options include both boutique hotels and community-run guesthouses. thepekoetrailsrilanka.com
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Rwanda's mountain gorillas are one of the world's great conservation stories, but they're far from the only reason to visit this Central African jewel. Nyungwe National Park is a biodiversity hotspot with more than 300 bird species and 13 primate species (including 600 chimpanzees), and the just-opened Cyinzobe Trail takes you deep into one of Africa's oldest rainforests. Over three days, the track meanders for 25 kilometres past waterfalls and wetlands, with nights spent in riverside A-frame cabins that let you fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle. insidenyungwenationalpark.com
While most trips highlight the experience of Australian soldiers during WWII, the new Kokoda Track Cultural Tour is also bringing the local Koairi culture firmly into focus.
Culture on the Kokoda
Crossing some of the most challenging terrain on earth, the gruelling Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea has long drawn hikers looking for a serious personal challenge. But while most trips highlight the experience of Australian soldiers during WWII, the new Kokoda Track Cultural Tour is also bringing the local Koairi culture firmly into focus. The first locally-owned, fully indigenous operator on the track pairs each walker with a porter and gives guests a chance to enjoy traditional meals and meet the locals in the villages they stay in each night, while the fees charged by Indigenous Kokoda Adventures directly support those communities. indigenouskokodaadventures.com
Bass Strait beauty
Picture a series of electric-blue bays ringed by glittering white sand and boulders covered in bright orange lichen, plump wombats waddling through the undergrowth and blue gum forests leading up to mountaintop lookouts. Flinders Island in the middle of the Bass Strait has all of Tasmania's greatest hits, but with fewer than 10,000 visitors a year it's never crowded, even at the height of summer. And thanks to a new "eco-comfort camp" nestled into the bush beside the ocean, you can remain immersed in nature while relaxing after each day's walking on the six-day Flinders Island Walking Adventure with Tasmanian Expeditions. tasmanianexpeditions.com.au
Royal English route
Sporting a new name since Charles's coronation, the ambitious King Charles III England Coastal Path will soon span the entire coastline of England - all 4345 kilometres of it - through a combination of existing paths and newly built trails. The full length will be walkable by the end of 2024, but if you can't wait that long, some of the most recently opened sections include a 40-kilometre stretch in Kent that follows a series of imposing chalk cliffs looking across the channel to France and a 61-kilometre section on Northumberland that passes several imposing castles including the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. nationaltrail.co.uk