Is there anything quite as therapeutic as ambling along in the great outdoors, wind whistling, birds tweeting and scenery unfolding around you like a real-life postcard? While coach tours and rail

holidays certainly have their place, there’s only so much you can see through a window pane, which is probably why walking holidays are booming, especially in the mature market. But where do you start when

it comes to selling them? We’ve whittled down the product to find some of the best options, with something to suit every taste – from relaxing rambling holidays in Scotland to a once-in-a-lifetime trek to Everest Base Camp.


CAMINO DE SANTIAGO Few trails are quite as revered as the Camino de Santiago, the 1,000-year-

old network of pilgrimage routes that stretches through France, Portugal and Spain to reach the iconic Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. While the ultra-intrepid can

take on the entire Camino Frances – the central trail, stretching nearly 500 miles – most opt for a snippet. Just You offers one of the most

scenic stretches on its eight-day trip from Bilbao, joining the trail at Puente La Reina, known for its Romanesque architecture and medieval churches, before moving on to the vineyards and villages of La Rioja, the quaint canals of Campos de Castilla

and the stone-built cathedrals and castles that colour northern Spain’s highlands. The highlight, of course, is

reaching Santiago de Compostela and its ornate cathedral, which towers over the city with its Gothic-meets-baroque structures and gold-bedecked interiors. Book it: From £1,549 including accommodation, porterage, some meals, tour manager and flights from Gatwick.


EVEREST BASE CAMP Trekking to Everest base camp might not be the first thing you think of

when it comes to the mature market, but for those who’ve always wanted to make the expedition, and now have the time and money to do so, it’s not too late. World Expeditions offers an epic 21-day trip designed especially for over-55s with a slower-paced itinerary and extra time for acclimatisation, plus comfortable accommodation – think eco-lodges and private campsites with off-the-ground beds and proper pillows – to make it that bit more doable. It might not be suited to

everyone, but active types up for a challenge will find the rewards compelling. Expect day after day of serene ambles (averaging four to eight hours a day, with a couple of rest days in between) through culturally rich villages, soaring pine forests, snowy peaks and icicle-covered glaciers to

reach the illustrious mountain. The climax is a clamber up to the 5,545m-high lookout Kala Pattar, where panoramic views over Everest and the surrounding peaks unfold like something from a film set. Book it: From £1,950 including all meals on the trek, domestic flights, transfers, accommodation, guide, porters and entry fees. International flights are extra.


THE ANDES Just as bucket-list worthy is Peru and its iconic Machu Picchu – but

walking in this legendary region isn’t only about the Inca Trail. Saga has a Walking in the Andes tour that swaps the trail for a train ride through the Sacred Valley, making time to explore Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and Arequipa on foot. Highlights include a visit to Maras and Moray – twinned Inca ruins home to sprawling salt flats – a boat trip to Lake Titicaca’s man-made Uros islands, and a hike around the Colca Canyon, where condors swoop above verdant, terraced slopes. Walks are broken up with

cultural explorations and transfers between regions, so it’s a good option for clients wanting some down time in between the more active parts – as well as those after a bit of history to throw in with the nature explorations. Book it: From £3,399 including B&B accommodation, tour

manager, porterage, some meals, excursions, return flights and transfers.


THE ORKNEYS Walking holidays don’t have to mean heading to the ends of the Earth,

though; the UK is blessed with glorious scenery, and among its most captivating charms are the Orkney Isles, northeast of the Scottish mainland. A wealth of sea and birdlife

makes this rugged archipelago of 70 islands and skerries a hotspot for nature lovers, while historical sites draw those after culture. Highlights include the Stone Age village of Skara Brae, the Neolithic monument of Maes Howe (dating back to around 2800BC) and the Italian Chapel, turned into a place of worship by Italian prisoners during the Second World War. Wilderness Scotland offers the opportunity to explore it all on foot on a gentle week-long walking tour (rated grade two out of nine) taking in all the key sights and mystical sounds, from jagged sea caves to dramatic, craggy cliffs. Accommodation is in a guesthouse and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy produce fresh from the sea. Book it: From £1,735 per person based on two sharing, including six nights’ accommodation, most meals, services of a walking guide and all transport (starting and finishing in Inverness).

21 March 201947

TOP TIP Riviera Travel

has added extra

departures for its new Walk & Discover tours, launched in January

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