May 3, 2012 11:58:48 AM
World’s best slow travel
Vacations are always too short, even if we have the luxury of more than a few weeks a year. So we feel the urge to cram in more sights and activities than is feasible. We spend two days in a city, when two weeks would probably still leave us wanting more. However, there is an alternative. In this excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel, we show you nine ways to slow it down and still get as much, or even more, out of your trip.
Campervan around Australia
One of the most leisurely yet fulfilling adventures you can have is to climb aboard a fully equipped campervan and tootle around the enormous girth of the Australian continent. If you were to hug the coastline as much as possible on your circumnavigation, you would end up tallying more than 14,000km driving beside fantastic beaches, into remote rainforests and through almost all the major cities, setting up your bed and cooking your meals wherever you park. However, the trip simply wouldn’t be complete without also taking a few detours into Australia’s intimidating outback. Obviously, you’ll need a long time to do the whole of Australia. If you time is short, pick one state (or territory).
Cruise the fjords, Chile
The southern coastline of Chile is embellished with a plethora of grand fjords that swallow up travellers and time alike. These glacially eroded inlets provide a deep passage for cruise vessels skirting Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, granting the curious sightseers on board some memorable close-ups of steep-sided cliffs, encroaching glaciers and pristine channels. Popular cruise departure points in southern Chile include Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas, while highlights include the huge fjord in Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael and the magnificent Unesco Biosphere Reserve of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine.
Cycle around Amsterdam, Netherlands
The narrow, canal-threaded and, in some cases, vehiclefree streets of central Amsterdam are ideal for bicycles, a fact that locals cottoned on to long ago. Bike lanes shadow all the main streets and are usually brimming with Amsterdammers pedalling aimlessly around in the fresh air. So don’t hesitate to join them by taking a relaxed cycle from Vondelpark past all of your favourite museums to your favourite brown café.
Moped along the Riviera, France
The Riviera is a gorgeous section of the Côte d’Azur coastline stretching from the town of Toulon in the southwest of France almost all the way to the Italian border. For a luxurious taste of slow travel, jet into the principality of Monaco, hire yourself a moped (think scooter), rev up that powerful 50cc engine, and then meander your way along the coast through glamour-conscious places such as Cannes and Nice, noting how many beautiful people you pass along the way. After you’ve had enough of bodies beautiful, motor west away from the Riviera towards Marseille‘s rough charm and Nîmes’ Roman amphitheatre.
Tramp the Milford Track, New Zealand
The 53.5km Milford Track on New Zealand’s mountainous South Island is regarded as one of the finest walking trails in the world. It’s a four-day adventure that leads from Lake Te Anau up through rainforest to Mackinnon Pass, where you can make a side-trip to the country’s highest waterfall (Sutherland Falls), and then follows a wilderness river north to the edge of the spectacular fjord called Milford Sound. The number of daily walkers allowed on this magnificent trail is limited from November to April, so book well ahead if you’re visiting the Land of the Rings at this time.
Wine cruise down the Canal de Bourgogne, France
The premier French wine-making region of Burgundy is bisected by the 242km Canal de Bourgogne, along with a large number of locks that raise or lower vessels as required. This attractive, slow-flowing watercourse is trafficked by numerous well-stocked barges that will let you stow away on board and indulge in the best wines and produce the region has to offer. Cruise options range from relatively short wine-andcheese tastings to sevenday crewed and fully catered excursions where you get to make strategic side-trips to some of the region’s fabled wineries. (This is a Bluelist suggestion from Marlon Kobacker.)
Dog sled in British Columbia, Canada
What could be more relaxing than having a half-dozen Siberian huskies pull you on a sled along back-country trails through a soft blanket of snow? Nothing, according to the numerous outfits that organise dog sledding excursions in the wilds of British Columbia, although the huskies in question may disagree. Not only do you avoid the whine of a snowmobile or the effort required to point those pesky skis in the right direction, but you also get to learn interesting aspects of this peaceful activity, such as how to mush a team of hardworking canines.
Slow boat down the Mekong, Laos
The Mekong doglegs through Laos on its way south into Cambodia and Vietnam. You can catch basic river ferries at a number of places along its twisting length and drift casually down this mighty watercourse. A favourite stretch for locals and travellers is the superbusy section between the trading town of Huay Xai and the French colonial grandeur of Luang Prabang. You could cut the time spent on the river from two days to as little as six hours by catching one of the héua wái (speedboats), but the point of this trip is to slow down, not speed up. (This is a Bluelist suggestion from Louise182.)
Camel into the Sahara, Morocco
Camel jockeys head to the small village of Merzouga in central Morocco for an opportunity to ride one of the ill-tempered beasts of burden into a part of the Sahara that’s drifted over from Algeria. The excursion involves a sure-footed plod across the Erg Chebbi – erg is an Arabic term for one of the massive sand dunes that the Sahara specialises in. Camel rides are normally arranged around dawn and dusk so that you can appreciate the changing colours of this immense sandscape. But you can also take longer treks that include camping in the desert.
Also read our article on the 10 best boat journeys.
This list came from a previous edition of our adrenaline-inspiring Best in Travel guide.