Three breathtaking walking holidays

Featuring quiet Yosemite trails, a hike in Cape Verde and a stroll through the Istrian peninsula

Man on top of Taft Point
Taft Point, a viewpoint in Yosemite National Park, California
(Image credit: Matteo Colombo/Getty Images)

1. Unspoiled Yosemite

With its vast forests, thundering waterfalls, “monumental” cliffs and towers of sheer granite, Yosemite National Park is California’s greatest natural spectacle, says Sarah Siese in House & Garden. Its main trails can be very crowded, but avoid them and you can walk here in solitude for days on end. Serious hikers might want to try the High Sierra Loop – a 49-mile trail with catered camps where the places are granted in an annual lottery.

Or, for a more relaxed and luxurious experience, you could stay at Blackberry Inn, a ten-bedroom, “lodge-style” bed and breakfast set in beautiful grounds. Ten minutes’ drive from the Big Oak Flat park entrance, it offers easy access to Tuolumne Grove, where the trees include several giant sequoias, the world’s tallest species.

It’s an ideal base from which to strike out for May Lake, on a “lightly trodden”, 11-mile circuit. The trail there climbs steadily through a “raw and dramatic” landscape, and has spectacular views of the peaks of Mount Hoffmann, Clouds Rest and Half Dome.

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For more information, visit yosemiteexperience.com, travelyosemite.com and blackberry-inn.com.

2. Hiking on a mountainous African island

One of the least visited of the Cape Verde archipelago’s nine inhabited islands, Santo Antão is a spectacular hiking destination, says Imogen Lepere in the Financial Times. Rising sheer from the sea to almost 2,000 metres, its volcanic mountains tower over dizzyingly steep desert canyons and verdant, terraced valleys where the villages are largely inaccessible by road.

Since 2016, it has been gripped by drought, forcing many to emigrate, but a nascent ecotourism industry has also emerged, offering a new source of income. At Aldeia Manga, the island’s first ecolodge, thatched adobe bungalows sit in two acres of lush gardens. And Mamiwata, which opened last month, has a biodynamic vineyard, a kitchen garden, and “sleek” stone cabins overlooking the sea for as little as s100 per night.

From there, you might set out for Cha da Morte, passing “twisted tombstones of lava”; walk through the Ribeira Chã de Igreja, a crack in the earth striped with different minerals; or head for Ponta do Sol, via “gleaming” black beaches where loggerhead turtles lay their eggs.

Archipelago Choice (archipelagochoice.com) has a seven-night trip from £2,300 per person, including flights and guided walks.

3. A relaxing wander through beautiful Istria

Walking holidays needn’t involve huge distances and punishing gradients; and they can be more enjoyable when there is time to “stand and stare”. You can spend eight days strolling gently through the beautiful Istrian peninsula in Croatia on Regent Holidays’ new self-guided Pathways of Istria trip, says Sarah Baxter in The Sunday Telegraph.

After exploring the glorious old Venetian port of Rovinj, guests spend a day on the island of Veliki Brijuni, a national park that is home to Hapsburg pleasure gardens, Roman ruins and deserted pebble beaches. Three days of walking through the forests and vineyards of the peninsula’s interior follow, via ancient villages including Grožnjan (known for its art galleries) and Motovun, perched on the top of a forested hill, and rich in Gothic and Renaissance architecture.

There are stops at tavernas to sample the local wines; a truffle-hunting trip led by a local guide and his dog; and, to conclude, a walk along the pretty coastal promenade to the port of Lovran, with its handsome Austro-Hungarian villas.

The trip costs from £1,765 per person, including flights (regent-holidays.co.uk).

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