To celebrate International Day of Friendship on 30th July, we wanted to reveal the best walking and cycling trips for camaraderie. While scenery, culture, food and the trails and routes themselves are always to be relished, there is nothing like meeting up with like-minded people and sharing your experience on the trail. While walking peaceful trails in Japan or cycling the backroads of Vermont, you may not see another soul, there are some trips where coming into contact with your fellow adventurer is all part of the joyful experience of the trip. Here are the trips where bonds will be formed and future adventures planned -
1) The West Highland Way, Scotland
The West Highland Way is a great achievement. Give yourselves a cheer.
The West Highland Way embodies the friendly spirit of Scotland. The way the route is structured, you tend to bump into the same people on the route most days and even more often in the various pubs and restaurants in the little villages where you spend the night. There are a few places on the route like the Drovers Inn and the Kingshouse Hotel that are perfect for sitting by the fire, chatting about adventures over a few whiskies.
2) Tour du Mont Blanc (Huts), France
Together, enjoying the Tour du Mont Blanc.
The connections formed in Alpine Huts are very special ones. While you will meet many people on the Tour du Mont Blanc trail, it is in the evening where the bonding truly begins. After days spent exploring the Alps, immersed in the glaciers and rugged spires of the Mont Blanc region, walkers congregate in the Alpine huts in the evening and form fast friendships over food and drink. Swapping tales of the day's adventure often leads to new walking partners the following days and even adventures planned for years to come.
3) C2C - Coast to Coast Cycle, England
Stopping for a chat on the C2C
The C2C is the UK's most popular long distance cycling trip and is a catalyst for friendship. Cyclists have an understanding of each other's needs and you will find yourself being helped out by fellow cyclists on the route, from help with any little breakdowns to people taking the lead to give you a little break from the wind. The favour can always be repaid when you inevitably bump into each other in the many excellent local bars, restaurants and tea rooms along the route.
4) Camino de Santiago
Posing with the pilgrim statues on the Camino de Santiago
Is this the granddaddy of all social trips? The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage undertaken for a variety of reasons. For some it is just a beautiful walk, for others, it is a spiritual journey, a great undertaking to think through their lives, their problems or to celebrate overcoming great tragedy. For these reasons, it makes for a trip where people bond very closely with each other. The Camino de Santiago sees you walking with people over the course of a month (or we can break it down to less) which encourages people to share their stories, hopes, dreams and fears. It is most certainly an emotional journey, but even if you start it alone, you will end it with a list of email addresses as long as your arm.
5) Dolomites Alta Via 1
Stopping to check directions on the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites
Walking in the Dolomites provides an experience much like that on the Tour du Mont Blanc. The Refugios which house tired, but exhilarated walkers every evening are places where friendships are made. Being surrounded by people who have the same mindset will always produce great conversation, starting with the day's events and spiralling out to set the world to rights. The way the light plays on the rocks in the Dolomites also provides a great opportunity to share the natural beauty with your fellow walkers as people gather to watch the sun set on the Dolomites various faces and peaks.
6) Danube Bike & Boat
Bike and Boat trips on the Danube mean sharing a floating hotel, which is a great way to meet people, particularly when your days are spent discovering the most popular long-distance cycling route in Europe. Such are the plethora of highlights of cycling between Passau and Budapest, the evening's conversation will focus on the natural and manmade wonders which have filled your day. Your meals are eaten in a delightful restaurant and the conversation spills out onto the deck as you pass along to the the next stretch of your adventure.
7) Everest Base Camp
Group of Friends walking to Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp is an epic trip that certainly inspires friendship. How can you not form bonds when the achievement at the end is reaching the base camp for the highest mountain in the world? On this trip, however, it is not just the other people walking the route you form a bond with. The incredibly friendly and helpful Sherpas and guides that aid you along the route are some of the nicest people you will meet. From carrying your packs, highlighting the history and geology of the route and even helping you with Altitude sickness should it occur, these guys are a joy to be around and people you will never forget.
8) Loire River Cycle Path
Dad and daughter enjoying the vineyards.
Cycling the Loire Valley River Path provides some of the most delightful, no-stress pedalling in Europe. It's quiet pathways and back roads have a constant flow of cyclists and with some iconic picnic spots by the Loire, you are sure to meet many new friends on the route. The plethora of wineries on the route also means that short stops for a wine tasting can often turn into lengthier stops comparing the subtle differences in the delicate wines of the Loire valley. For more information on any of these trips, don't hesitate to get in touch with our destination specialists who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
We'd like to thank everyone who has entered the #MacsMoment contest to date, and provided a lot of the photos in this post - sharing special moments to inspire others to get out there and explore.