Covering vast swathes of our planet’s land surface, Asia is the largest of our continents stretching from the Arctic tundra in the north, down to the sweltering tropical heat of the southern regions.
The endless undulating plains are Asia’s dominant feature, though one cannot think of this continent without also calling to mind the towering peaks of the Himalayas, as well as vast areas of temperate rainforest. These rich and varied habitats each hold unique populations of wildlife, including the elusive tiger and the lovable panda.
Hit the road
To see and explore any part of Asia at its best, it is essential to travel on foot. Hiking is the one form of travel which engages all the senses – which probably explains why it also connects so easily with the soul. Walking through a landscape you can experience, enjoy and interact with the sights, sounds and aromas you encounter on your journey.
Embrace your wild side
Though they lack the drama of the high mountain peaks, Asia’s temperate rainforest areas are nevertheless teeming with wildlife. Birds are everywhere, and characteristic species include exotic woodpeckers and the delightful hornbills which colonise the Vietnamese rainforests. Exploring Java’s natural environment may result in sightings of the Javan gibbon. Those wanting to see larger fauna, like elephants, will have more success in the forest tracts of Indonesia. Smaller pockets of tropical vegetation in both Sumatra and Borneo hold populations of rhinoceros, as well as some of the remaining Asian tigers.
Equally beautiful on a smaller scale, the Japanese Emperor butterfly, clothed in purple with distinctive spotted wings, blends perfectly with the sun-dappled vegetation in its native habitat – a camouflage which renders it almost invisible until it takes to the air. The Emperor’s caterpillars are even harder to spot, taking on the same green hue as the foliage of the celtis tree which is their food plant.
Hiking and trekking in Asia requires careful preparation to meet the challenge of the environment. Getting into good physical condition is essential, and such a trip should never be attempted if you are unfit. Good quality clothing is equally important, and here the feet should be your main priority: a comfortable pair of men’s hiking boots will provide the necessary protection and ensure your hiking trip remains memorable for all the right reasons – just remember to break them in properly before they are due to see action.
Almost any Asian hiking destination holds unexpected treasures. So whilst your adventure trek slowly unwinds step by step, be prepared for that once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of rare wildlife species or the unexpected discovery of ancient ruins which makes such experiences so deeply rewarding.