Five solo adventures for mind, body and soul
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Walking on the “roof of the world” in Pakistan
Jonny Bealby, the founder of adventure travel creator Wild Frontiers, is a great believer in the edifying qualities of travelling by oneself. He also knows all about solitude in foreign places, having lived for months in the remote Hindu Kush. His new solo journey Wild Frontiers is an exceptional walking tour of northern Pakistan, capitalising on Bealby’s deep familiarity with the region and calibrated for a group of no more than 12 individual travellers (“solo but not alone” is his working tagline). The 14-day “Journey to the Roof of the World” takes in some of the highest mountains on Earth, which are visible from the route from its various paths and byways.
Starting in the Khaplu Valley and ending at Shigar Fort in Baltistan, the route traverses the terrain of giants including, right there on the horizon, K2; at its midpoint is a non-glacial trek over the 4,572 Thalle La. Along the way are out-of-time villages, encounters with the various ethnic clans that call this territory home, and honest but sublime food. It’s about as close as one can get to the majesty of these mountains without undertaking an actual expedition – and a great way to convene and connect with like-minded adventurers. wildfrontierstravel.com, from £2,950 for 14 days
Culinary and culture adventures in Portugal and Colombia
Flash Pack – the UK company that specialises exclusively in solo travel for the 30- and 40-somethings – has a roster of compelling new itineraries for summer and autumn 2023. The small groups, tailored days and accommodations, and adventure- and gastronomy-led guiding are right in line with what their clients want; each is then interpreted and customised for destinations as diverse as Turkey, Morocco and Costa Rica.
Two that we especially love the sound of: first, a soft-adventure week in Portugal, starting in Porto and the Douro Valley, with riverside walks and degustations, traversing the coast (where the surf lessons are optional), and a hike and 4x4 ride through the national park at Sintra. Then there’s the nine-day exploration of Colombia, whose highlights include graffiti tours in Bogotá, speedboat rides in Guatapé, community-project cooking lessons in Medellín and, naturally, a day on Cartagena’s favourite party island, Cholón. flashpack.com, Portugal from £2,550, Colombia from £2,445
Leadership life hacks in Spain’s top wellness destination
SHA Wellness, outside Valencia on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, is a leader in diagnostics but also a leader in all things feel-good about wellness, from excellent fitness consultants to equally skilled massage therapists (not to mention delicious, nutritious, beautifully-plated food). No surprise that couples and groups of friends often check in together; but its newest programme, called Leader’s Performance, is designed with solo attendees in mind. SHA’s heads of, respectively, cognitive development-brain stimulation and healthy ageing & sleep have together created a seven-day course of analysis, diagnosis and treatment for the solo C-suite executive, business leader – or anyone whose job contains excesses of activity, travel and stress.
The goal: optimising healthy productivity by identifying how clients react to stress markers, mentally and physiologically, then making the appropriate, entirely bespoke recommendations for behavioural, fitness, sleep and nutrition habits and routines that help. The treatments, sessions and science are state of the art; the intel you leave with, actionable in everyday life. shawellness.com, from €9,600 per week for full programme including room
A leopard safari in Sri Lanka
Abercrombie & Kent subsidiary Cox & Kings is another company that presaged the solo-travel boom, and has the portfolio of alluring (and very good-value) itineraries to show for it, ranging from tiger-tracking in India’s Ranthambore National Park to trekking and cooking in Peru.
In Sri Lanka – a greatest hits destination for both culture and nature – groups of no more than 12 embark on a 12-night exploration that moves from elephant and leopard safaris in Wilpattu National Park to the wide beaches at Anantaya Chilaw and Wadduwa, with visits to the rock fortress at Sigiriya and the cave temples at Dambulla, and two nights in beautiful Kandy, where guests can pair off for cooking classes, dance performances and Puja ceremonies at the hill station’s famous Temple of the Tooth. coxandkings.co.uk, from £2,695