‘In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks’. The Scottish-American naturalist John Muir – a leading figure in the establishment of National Parks movement in the US – knew well that one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world is on foot. Whether exploring the jungles of Java, following mountain trails to Himalayan temples, or navigating the red-rock canyons of the American West, hiking can be the best way to see the world afresh and capture those blink-and-miss-it moments of wonder.
Into the jungle
For those keen to explore nature in the raw, hiking through pristine jungle is the best way to come face to face with flora and fauna, whether rambling among the banyans of a Balinese river valley or finding a waterfall buried in the forests of Vietnam.
Cascades and coastlines
Hugged by rugged hills, the meditative outpost of Amanoi in picturesque Vinh Hy Bay is a gateway to the manifold natural splendours of Núi Chúa National Park. From here, guests can set out on family-friendly rambles to picnic on secret beaches like Temple Cove; explore the spellbinding rock formations of Bai Da; or attempt more ambitious treks. The most rewarding – and demanding – is the four-hour hike from Da Han village through farmland and forest to bathe at Ba Tang, a dramatic three-tiered waterfall, and one of the region’s most well-hidden treasures.
An alternative history of Angkor Wat
As much as the tendrils of the strangler fig threaten to pull apart the temple stones, the jungles of Angkor have also protected and preserved the last great remnant of the Khmer Empire across the centuries, shielding the ruins from sun and monsoon. Amansara’s expert guide provides a fresh perspective on Angkor Wat, shifting the focus from the mysteries of the archaeological site to the secrets of the forest that shroud it. Follow hidden trails through the lost city and discover the medicinal herbs, rare fruits and indigenous wildlife of the Cambodian jungle – shaded by ancient trees that seemingly stretch into the sky.
Climbing Mount Abang
Surrounded by rice terraces and tropical forest, Amandari is the starting point for countless treks, ranging from gently inspiring to vigorous and challenging. Take an early-morning jungle wander and trace the river route along the path of the Ayung valley, passing ancient banyan trees and Bongkasa village; or embark on a guided ascent up Bali’s third-highest mountain. At 2,150m, the magnificent Mount Abang takes around 2.5 hours to climb, rewarding the effort with spectacular views across East Bali, the volcanic peaks of Mounts Batur and Agung, and the cloud-crowned stillness of Lake Batur.
Walking has been the pursuit of the faithful since the first pilgrim set forth in search of spiritual reward. Today, some of the most impressive temples and monasteries await like secrets atop mountains, promising soul-stirring panoramas from the summit.
Transformative Himalayan hikes
The Himalayas are truly a hiker’s paradise, and the five lodges of Amankora each offer a range of routes for guests to discover the hidden beauties of Bhutan – from gentle forest jaunts and nature trails to day-long adventures, and for the dedicated trekker, multi-day excursions camping overnight in the hills. Travelling by foot, hikers can discover cliff-hugging monasteries and meditation retreats, remote villages and ancient ruins, as well as the abundant wildlife of the mountain country’s emerald-green forests, alive with langurs and wild cats, and glacial valleys, where yak graze.
The shrines and the sea
The view of Ago Bay – the ‘Bay of Pearls’ – from the villas of Amanemu is undeniably beautiful, but it takes on another level of magnificence when viewed from the heights of the Yokohama Observatory on the trail to Hazako mountain. Emerging from the forest canopy, this vantage point looks out over the serpentine curves of the bay as it meanders to the sea, dotted with islets and oyster rafts. To see things from another perspective, hike the forest path through Ise Jingu, following the stupa-lined route to the Kongōshō-ji temple, and take in views of Ise Bay and Mount Fuji from the mountaintop.
Heart-stopping valley views in Java
When, in the early 1820s, the Indonesian national hero Prince Diponegoro sought spiritual wisdom in his fight against Dutch colonial rule, legend has it he retreated to the caves of the Menorah Hills, just above the site of Amanjiwo. Guests following in his footsteps will understand why – the views over the lush valley below to the mountains of Central Java are revelatory. For another awe-infused panorama, take the two-hour trek to the Nine Buildings of Gedong Songo at dawn. From this temple complex on the slopes of Gunung Ungaran, an endless line of volcanic peaks stretches into the horizon.
Hiking with altitude
There are places where walking is anything but sedate; jagged mountains and sheer gorges where every turn of the path brings a breath-stealing rush of adrenaline. For adventurous hikers, Aman opens doors to some of the world’s most astonishing landscapes.
Rocky Mountain rambling
With two of the biggest and most dramatic wildernesses in the US close by – the two million acres of Yellowstone and the wildlife-rich Grand Teton National Parks – Amangani makes an exceptional base for roaming the Rockies and exploring the wilds of Wyoming. In summer, Aman guides lead guests on treks through either park, uncovering geological wonders and wildlife riches en route. Winter is snowshoe season, and trails through the Teton, Gros Ventre and Wind River Ranges can be arranged, either independently or with a guide to interpret animal tracks and reveal the secrets of mountain ecology.
Trail of the Tiger
An 11-mile gorge carved deep into the earth between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain, ending beside Lijiang Old Town, the Unesco-listed Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the most astonishing natural features in Yunnan, if not all of China. Easily reached from Amandayan, the high-altitude hiking trail winds its way past vertiginous drops, jagged rocky outcrops, waterfalls and the churning rapids of the Jingsha River, making it as much a magnet for thrill-seekers as those in search of natural beauty.
Land of the canyon
The perimeter of Amangiri encompasses around 600 acres of the Colorado Plateau, an otherworldly desert landscape of slot canyons and dramatic domes of red rock. Specially selected for their understanding of and affinity with this unique region, Aman’s team of guides lead tailored backcountry hikes and canyoning expeditions, taking in Native American rock art, astounding geological formations and fossils locked in limestone. High above the canyon floors, venture off-trail and navigate the via ferrata, scrambling up and along the rock face via cables, embedded rungs and suspension bridges.