January is shakeup time. The party’s over and reality bites. You can, however, turn that bite into bliss by planning an escape into nature. Swap carousing at New Year with exploring new horizons or spend the winter getting into training for a trek of a lifetime, such as Basecamp Everest or Mount Aconcagua. Whether you choose to push your personal boundaries in January, or just emerge gently out of your cosy cocoon into the likes of Portugal or Puglia, start the year as you mean to continue. Being sustainable, staying open to what the world has to offer and keeping things natural. We hope that these places to travel in January will inspire you to do so.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal
If you want to train throughout the winter with a view to experiencing a total high in January, Everest Base Camp is as high as most of us will go on the world’s highest summit at 8,848m. In Nepali, Everest is called Sagarmatha, meaning “Peak of heaven” and you pass through some ethereal landscapes en route to Base Camp, at a not-to-be-sniffed-at elevation of 5,364m. This is not the most popular time to trek to Everest Basecamp, as the temperatures are cold. However, the skies are usually very clear and mountain views at their best. Nights are very cold, with temperatures down to -15C to -20C at the highest altitudes, but daytimes are pleasant and sunny.
Aconcagua is actually the highest trekking peak in the world (6,960m), as you don’t need technical climbing skills, and it is also considered one of the planet’s most spectacular treks. Walk for 18 days with a small group, guided by a team of mountain experts on a seriously strenuous but extraordinary January journey. Located in the Principal Cordillera of the Andes, close to the border with Chile, you trek on what’s called the Normal Route, although there is nothing banal about this beauty. The tour is available between November and February, and on the upper slopes, temperatures can drop to -20C or more, with a wind chill factor. So you will want to get some serious winter trekking gear on your Christmas list.
La Palma, Spain
Otherwise known as La Isla Bonita, if walking trails through deep gorges, laurel forests and dramatic seascapes are your thing, make January a beautiful one. And with temperatures staying pretty stable and sultry all year round, rarely going below 18C, you’ll be walking on sunshine. Our La Palma walking holiday is categorised as moderate to strenuous, so if you’re seeking a new year reawakening of your muscles, this one will get the heart rate going. Walk in the heart of the island’s Caldera de Taburiente National Park, seeking out a multicoloured waterfall, walking along the caldera’s ridge, and climbing up ancient lava flows. This is what we call the perfect dry January.
Sintra and Cascais, Portugal
Lisbon is a treat at the best of times, and New Year’s Eve is no exception, with music and fireworks galore at Terreiro do Paco, overlooking the Tagus River. Given that the capital is only 23km and a quick train journey from the colourful and colossal Pena Palace at Sintra and surrounding mountains, you could mark the new year in the most joyous way, on our Sintra to Cascais walking holiday. Temperatures aren’t soaring in January, but you’ll feel like you are on cloud nine when you spend eight days walking through Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, trekking up to its iconic castles and palaces, and down through vineyards and pine forests to the coast. With plenty of stops to raise a toast of Portuguese fine wine to having more wild moments like this throughout the year.
Sierra de Grazalema, Andalucía, Spain
If you want to get off the beaten path, then Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is a January gem. Start your journey in Málaga and then hit the limestone peaks, deep gorges, and lush valleys of Andalucía at its most adventurous. The main village of the area is also called Grazalema, just one of many traditional towns known as pueblos blancos with their white-washed houses, narrow cobblestone streets and village squares. This is where you stay on your first night, after which you have a week to enjoy being tranquilo on the trails, your bags being transported from one posada to the next.
Cycling the Camino Frances, Spain
Although our walking holidays along the Camino Frances are only bookable for travel between March and November, you can cycle the whole trail all year round. And given that this is the busiest of all the Camino routes, this is a great time to have much of it to yourself. So, if you like to mark the beginning of the new year in a contemplative and meditative way, this might be a perfect option for you. The pilgrimage takes 17 days, but you could always start it over the Christmas holidays. It starts in the Navarre region of northern Spain, heads west over some spectacular cycling routes, including Pyrenean passes, La Rioja wine region and an array of ancient towns such as León. The heavens may open from time to time, but what’s a pilgrimage without a downfall? Please note that bookings during the winter are on special request and so please contact us for more details.
Matera to Lecce, Puglia, Italy
This eight day walking holiday between Matera and Lecce in Puglia pulls off a perfect duet of both cultural and natural heritage. Walk between the two UNESCO towns of Matera and Alberobello, with their respective ancient rock churches and trulli stone houses, and then leave buildings and bustle behind to saunter through the coastal idyll of Dune Costiere Regional Natural Park. You will certainly blow away the Christmas cobwebs at the end of this tour, arriving at Cape of Otranto, Italy’s easternmost point, where the currents of the Adriatic and Ionian seas come together.
We hope that this blog has given you good reason to knock January blues on the head and go in search of coastal or sky ones instead. If you like the idea of combining New Year in a famous city with a walking holiday afterwards, you may enjoy our blog Walking breaks to combine with city breaks. And if you are planning to spend the winter getting ready for one of our more strenuous trekking holidays, read our How to prepare for a hiking trip blog. For any other enquiries about our other January adventure holidays, or any other month of the year, please don’t hesitate to contact us.