We're all for a relaxing holiday packed with pampering spa treatments and lazy beach days, but sometimes an active adventure in nature is just what the doctor ordered. In fact, a recent study from Trinity College, Dublin, found that a regular dose of 'awe' helps boost healthy emotions such as compassion and gratitude, and a weekly 'awe-walk' increases positivity and reduces distress. Psychologist Dr Dacher Keltner, who worked on the study, says: "Awe is a positive emotion triggered by awareness of something vastly larger than the self and not immediately understandable" and we'd say that a good, long walk in a new and dreamy destination will give you more than your fill. So, if you're stuck in your home office, twiddling your thumbs and dreaming about your next trip, this roundup of the best hiking holidays is the perfect-pick-me-up to get you inspired for the day when you can lace up those walking boots again, hit the trails and get your dose of awe.
Zambian Walking Safari
Bored to tears of the same old circuit around your local park? Venture to the wilds of South Luangwa National Park in the east of Zambia for an unforgettable walking safari - one of the all-time best hiking holidays. Spend your days immersed in the bush where you'll encounter wildlife big and small, from tiny ants to huge buffalos. Then, come night, cosy up in a tented camp for sundowners and storytelling around a crackling fire.
Inspired? Check out this 11-day Zambia itinerary.
Outback Adventures in Australia
If you really want to discover something 'bigger than yourself' to get your dose of awe, you can't get much more awesome than Australia's vast Arkaba Conservancy is the prime location. This stretch of southern Outback is home to one of the 'Great Walks of Australia', a four-night, three-day trek through creeks, mountain foothills and cypress pine forests. With a passionate guide to accompany you and a traditional 'swag' bed under the stars to lay your head at night, this is wilderness wandering at its finest.
Find out more about an adventure in the outback here.
Trekking in Bhutan
Another awe-inspiring hiking holiday to add to your bucket list is Bhutan's incredible five-day 'Dagala Thousand Lakes' trek. With a team of pack ponies, guides and trek assistants to join you on the hike, you'll be well looked after as you tackle the stunning (yet steep) mountain passes and spend the night in a cosy lakeside camp.
Like the sound of a trekking holiday in Bhutan? Find out more here.
Family Fun in the Dolomites
One of the best hiking holidays for the whole family is undoubtedly Italy's dramatic Dolomites mountains. Visit in the summer for ample adventures in the lush green hills and enjoy activities tailored just to you whether you're after a selection of child-friendly day walks or thrilling climbs along the region's historic via ferratas (routes equipped with steel cables, ladders and walkways), guaranteed to impress the most troublesome teens.
Inspired? Find out more about family holidays in the Dolomites here.
Hilltop Hikes in Vietnam
If you fancy a side of culture on your hiking holidays, aim for the beautiful valleys and mountains around Sapa in northwestern Vietnam. Terraced rice fields form the beautiful backdrop for a walk through the hills to the remote village of Nam Cang where you can meet the locals, refuel with a hearty lunch and even cool off with a refreshing dip in the river.
For more holiday inspiration in Vietnam, check out our itineraries here.
Discover Captivating Corsica
For the serious hikers, Corsica is the place to aim for. This mountainous Mediterranean island is home to Europe's toughest trek - the GR20 - which takes walkers across the length of the island in two weeks along craggy mountain trails. If lung-busting inclines and basic mountain huts aren't your cup of tea, there are plenty of other hikes to choose from, all boasting awe-fully (sorry) good views over the region's magnificent mountains and sparkling coastline.
Inspired? Have a look at our selection of Corsica itineraries here.