Travel is all about new experiences and thrills. But these secret pathways around the world give a whole new dimension to your travel experience. From heart-stopping adventure to the exploratory and bizarre, these walks test your endurance and navigating skills as you soak in the most incredible views. Not always easy to access or well known, but they are high on interest quotient and fun. So let’s take a look at some of these hidden walkways from far-flung corners of the earth.
1. Caminito del Rey, Malaga, Spain
Interest level: Extreme adventure, walkway through slot canyon, 3.3 ft wide walk – 330 ft high above El Chorro river.
How to reach: Travel by train, bus or hire car to the villages, Ardales and Alora, that serve as the approaches.
This walkway in Malaga gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “cliff-hanging”! The century old El Caminitio del Ray (The King’s little pathway, in English) literally clings to the steep sides of the walls of the Gaitanes gorge. Originally build by the King Alfonso XIII, who took the first walk here in 1912, this was meant to facilitate workers of hydroelectric power plants. Today, parts of the 2.9km pathway are reinforced with steel for adventure tourists who like to do dangerous! So the next time you visit Spain, make sure to make a pit stop at Malaga for some unforgettable gorge views and steep pathway hiking.
Watch a quick video about what to expect here.
2. Danum Valley Canopy Walkway, Malaysia
Interest level: treetop walks, canopy walkway, ecotourism, adrenalin rush, rainforest, bird-watching
How to reach: daily flights from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, from where your tour operator transfers you to site / accommodation.
If adrenalin rush is what you seek, then the Danum Valley Canopy Walkway will thrill you. Close to the Poring Hot Springs, the Canopy Walkway is a 75 metre long suspension bridge connecting tree tops, at a height of 41-43 metres. Expect the walkway to swing as you walk, but the sight of birds and tree crowns at your eye-level more than makes up for the jittery feel. Get up-close with the Borneo rainforest canopy and birds, look down into the lush jungle below from the many viewing tree platforms, and take the tree top walk of your lifetime. Although the young British royalty have also taken this walk, this is not for the faint-hearted!
3. Walk of Faith, Tianmen Mountain, China
Interest level: adrenalin rush, extreme adventure
Best time to visit: April to October
How to reach: 8 km from Zhangjiajie city
Tianmen mountain in China is a beautiful mountain with stunning views. It hosts the world’s longest cable car ride, a cliff-hanging walkway, an open chairlift and a glass skywalk. What’s more, you can combine all of the above as you take the staircase to heaven!
Take the 30 minute aerial tramway ride over near-vertical cliffs to scale the mountain. Opt for the 1.6 km long glass skywalk – the Walk of Faith for a chilling walk in the sky. Enjoy the thrill of top-down views through the glassed walkway to the bottom of the sheer cliff. The latest addition of 2016 is another glass skywalk called the ‘Coiled Dragon Cliff Glass Walkway’. Both walkways are at an altitude of 4,600 feet, and 5 feet wide, although you are more likely to be clinging on to the cliff face!
4. Shanghai Tunnels, Portland, U.S.A.
Interest level: exploratory, historical, adventure, paranormal, ghost-stories, the bizarre
Portland’s Shanghai tunnels are much more than a historical guided tour of Portland city. It is an adventurous excursion into the underground catacomb of tunnels under the China Town – as much eerie as an exciting peep into the sinister past of the city. Take the Underground Portland Walking Tour and walk through subterranean downtown that was once the conduit for offloading stock from ships. Walk through dark passages and learn about Portland’s seedy history. The Way Beyond Bizarre Tour offers you more detailed glimpses with ghost-hunters and clairvoyant consultants for a truly paranormal experience. These tours are rated PG 13 for their no-holds-barred excursion.
The Cascade Geographic Society is a tunnel historian’s tour – with a Ghost Tour and Heritage Tour to choose from. All tours begin with strolls before descending below street level into the underground legends of Shanghai Tunnels.
5. Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture, Paris
Interest level: exploratory hiking, historical/cultural walks, railway history
How to access: from various points in the city
Little known to tourists is the 32 km track of Petite Ceinture railway network. It was once a circular network of steam trains servicing the walled city of Paris. With long tunnels and bridges, passing through the city or bottom of a ravine, this once abandoned railroad has been rejuvenated in recent times. Most of the railroad however is a biodiversity hotspot, with abandoned stations, dead-ends and unexpected access points to keep you excited. The 1878 station at Gare de Charonne is now converted to a café, a rock-and-roll music haunt with a difference. For flora, fauna, graffiti or a slice of history, explore this railroad the next time you are in Paris! Make sure to check out which sections of the pathway are legal. And take along powerful flashlights.
6. Petra, Jordan
Interest level: extensive walking / hiking, archaeological site, classical architecture, Biblical history, slot canyon / geology
Best time to visit: March to May / September to November when temperatures are pleasant. early morning (6 am)
Walking through Petra is a pilgrimage through the Abraham Path, taking you back to the seat of the Nabataen civilization. Carved of rose-coloured stone in the 3rd century BC, the site is in a region of remote wilderness, shifting landscapes and an eco-rich Wadi Dana. The pathway through the 1.2 km Siq, is the most incredible, reminding you of scenes from the movie Indiana Jones. The walk is through an impressive 80m high red sandstone slot canyon that is actually the gateway to Petra archaeological site. This sculptured passageway is more like a narrow fissure carved in the rocks, the highlight of your Petra experience. Explore the site and admire the classical grand facades of stone structures.
7. Titlis Cliff Walk, Switzerland
Interest levels: mountains, photography, adventure, glaciers.
How to reach: take the cable car from Engelberg town, 45 minutes from Lucerne.
To experience the thrill of a walkway high up in the Alps, take a walk across the Titlis Cliff Walk, the highest elevation suspension bridge, at 10,000 ft. It spans a 330 ft length, suspended 1600 ft above the Titlis glacier.
The route itself is very beautiful and exciting at the same time. The cable car from Engelberg takes you to the mountain summit in three stages, the final one being a revolving Rotair cable car!
Walk through an underground ice tunnel, the Glacier Cave, a 150-metre-long walkway that branches out in several directions descending 65 ft below through the core of the glacier. Take the scary Titlis Cliff Walk high above the sheer abyss. Feast on magnificent glacier views and take an automated snap of yourself on the swaying bridge. Walk across to the Ice Flyer chair lift station, and experience more thrills flying across the glacier and seeing it up-close.