Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

“A nine day self-guided walking holiday on the Kumano Kodo trail, with five full days of hiking on the trail itself. Staying at traditional inns along the way”

Highlights

Kyoto | Guided tour guide in Kyoto | Kiyomizu and Sanjusangendo Temples | Philosopher's path | Train journey along Kii Peninsula | Takahara | Nakaheji | National Historic Road | Chikatsuyu | Yunomine | Kumano Shrine | Koguchi | Nachi waterfall | Nachi Shrine

Description of Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

The Kumano Kodo is an iconic network of long-distance walking trails. Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims and nobility from 11th century Japan as they travelled from Kyoto to the three great shrines of Kumano, scattered among the Kii Mountains in the Kii Peninsula. This is the largest peninsula on Japan's main island of Honshu and the Kumano Kodo trail is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Divided into three main sub-routes - Nakahechi Trail, Kohechi Trail and Iseji Trail - the Kumano Kodo offers a whole range of walking options.

This self-guided walking holiday can be designed in various lengths with up to 11 hiking days, with some fairly strenuous treks of up to eight hours of walking per day. The route is very well-marked, so in terms of logistics for self-guided walking, it is very easy. Plus our itineraries are flexible, of course. Whichever route you take, you will enjoy hiking through ancient bamboo forests and mist-covered mountain terrain, staying at traditional Ryokan inns, bathing in hot-spring baths, and of course taking time out at serene and sacred temples. The Kumano Kodo self-guided tours offer 4, 5 or 6 days walking village-to-village along the old Nakahechi pilgrimage route heading west to east across the Kii Peninsula. The Kumano to Koya self-guided tour offers 5 days of walking village-to-village from south to north along the Kohechi trail, another wonderful section of the pilgrimage route leading from Kumano Hongu Taisha Shine to spiritual Mount Koya. Or combine both self-guided tours, taking in both the Nakahechi and Kohechi trails, to produce a trip of 9 or 11 days.

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Vouchers
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Responsible tourism

Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

1. Protection of Local environment
You will experience the ‘satoyama’ landscape of rural Japan, the border area between arable flat land where rice is grown, and the mountains. Managed sustainably over centuries, it is biologically diverse and supports a wide variety of wildlife. The presence of small-scale tourism in Kumano region has encouraged the conservation of these areas, and discouraged the development of golf-courses and other projects which have negative effects on the local biodiversity. We support conservation through the Nature Conservancy Council of Japan.

2. Wild life
We respect wildlife by avoiding quick movements, loud noises, getting too close and feeding animals.We help with the preservation of local culture by educating visitors about local traditions and crafts, and making the history and culture a central theme of their visit.

3. Waste
We follow the principles of ‘Leave no Trace’ on our walking tours. We do not leave behind any waste on our tours. On our walking tours we dispose of all waste properly to avoid contamination of water sources. We avoid as much the use of paper, and do as much of our marketing as possible on-line, using internet fax and avoid printing out paper. When we do print we use double side as much as possible.

4. Transport
We organize the trips to use local public transport as much as possible where this is an option, lessening the environmental impact of extra vehicles on small country roads. We encourage our employees to walk/bike to the office.

Community

1. A fair deal
We work only with small local businesses rather than international chains, and where possible we source goods and supplies locally, using only small, locally-owned and run accommodation and restaurants. This ensures that as much as possible of the money remains within the local economy. We promote travels to often visit the lesser-known (but equally enchanting) areas of the countries we visit, and this helps to spread the economic benefit of tourism more evenly.

You will be staying at these traditional houses, some over 200 years old. They are owned and run by several generations of one family, and all income from visitors stays in the village and brings the benefit of jobs for the younger generation. Your food will be prepared from locally-sourced fish, meat, and vegetables. Many owners also grow their own vegetables and rice. We support The Japan National Trust which helps protect the traditional buildings of rural Japan.

We believe that small group tourism encourages young people who would otherwise leave to find work in the cities to stay and start small-scale sustainable enterprises that cater to visitors. We try to avoid the destinations that cater to mass-market tourism, taking our guest to the lesser-known but if not more rewarding places that larger tour companies tend to avoid due to their unsuitability for large groups. This means our clients money will end up in small community that may have little in the way of work for its young people.

2. Local Crafts & Culture
To offer unique, engaging and educative tours which take visitors to lesser-known countries and regions, and introduce them to the culture, history and traditions of the people who live there. We provide cultural classes which help spread and preserve the culture, knowledge and traditions of the locals. We also encourage our tour leaders to have a deep knowledge of the local people and culture. They have often lived and worked locally for many years. By travelling the quieter backroads and encouraging personal contact with the local people, we reveal a side of these countries that most visitors never see.

12 Reviews of Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 06 Dec 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The beautiful trails and the peace

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure your shoes have ankle support

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


No not really. Luckily Japan is very clean and no one including tourists throw garbage. The japanese also use this trail a lot.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Wonderful

Reviewed on 01 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Staying in the Ryokans and the natural beauty

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be fit, it’s hard work!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Hopefully

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 01 Apr 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Specific moments on the trail, especially at the approach to Hongu, our ryokan and experience at Chikatsuyu.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I would not book this holiday.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Not really. The local people have no doubt been hosting travelers on the Kumono Kodo for centuries. The environmental benefits of this company are not perceptible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was good, with a few problems that I already conveyed to the tour operator. My main issue is that it was poor value - it was way overpriced. I was partly sold on the tour as a sustainable holiday and I now think that is pretty much just greenwashing for profit.

Read the operator's response here:

We appreciate your sharing your thoughts about our tour and we're grateful that you mention special moments at the grand shrine at Hongu and in Chikatsuyu. With the growing popularity of the Kumano Kodo trail among overseas visitors, it is now easy to forget how the route had fallen into obscurity in past decades. We remain proud of the small part we have played in reviving interest in in the trail and in the new life it has brought to the area. Our presence in the village of Chikatsuyu demonstrates that we are closely involved with the local community and aim to generate economic activity and job opportunities through tourism in a sustainable and ecological way.
In terms of pricing, we are always working to increase the perceived value of our tours. Arrangements for every one of our trip are made on an individual basis and tailored to clients' particular requirements. But we will certainly take on board your comments; we are always striving to improve our products and services.

Reviewed on 21 Nov 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Hiking the Kumano Kodo, staying in inns along the way; 2 days at Koyasan.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Bring hiking poles for the Kumano Kodo. Pay attention to times and distances and avoid being on the trail after dark.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Staying at local inns would seem to benefit the local economies. Not sure about the rest.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Great.

Reviewed on 31 Oct 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Meeting the interesting people from different nationalities and backgrounds along the journey.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Plan your downtime. After a long day hiking, you will be tired in a small village with no external sources of entertainment. Bring a book, cards, or better yet, engage with the people around you. Other travellers or your host(s).

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. We supported the economy and left no trace on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a fantastic experience. The Kumano Kodo is a hidden treasure. My wife and I were alone on the trail almost the entire time. We rarely came across other travellers but when we did we had great conversations and connected with people from across the globe. The beauty of this pilgrimage is hard to explain in words or pictures. You have to live it. The group provided us with documentation that was superior. We never felt lost or unsure of our next destination along the path. Top notch service as well. We dropped by the local office and were treated with smiles coffee! :)

Reviewed on 30 Aug 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Hiking in the typhoon- Amazing. All the accommodations and food were really top notch as well.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


To just make sure to enjoy themselves and immerse themselves in the experience.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent Holiday!!

Reviewed on 23 Dec 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The walking was great. Staying in local accommodation was superb and we enjoyed the local food

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I think walking sticks are useful

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes to the first but not sure about the others.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 11 Nov 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Standout moments were walking into the shrine at Hongu and feeling that we were part of a flow of visitors spanning centuries; having our first 'onsen' bath (followed by many more!); and learning how to debone a fish with chopsticks, without breaking the skin. This will become a party game.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You will need a walking stick/hiking pole. And your luggage can rejoin you every night if you want.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes - all the accommodation seemed to be run by local people, and we used public transport to reach the start of the walk and depart from the end-point.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it to others.

Reviewed on 31 Jul 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The phenomenal trek through unspoilt forests - despite the swelter of heat and humidity - and the occasional splendid view from the top!!! And superb, astonishing accommodation, beyond what we imagined it would be. A perfect combination.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You need to be a strong walker! But it is definitely worth the effort. Learn a bit of Japanese if you can.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, by the local accommodation we were allocated.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The best. The holiday of a lifetime.

Reviewed on 22 May 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The friendliness and welcome feeling Japan gives

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do your research

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


9.5%

Reviewed on 22 Apr 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Staying in small guesthouses in small towns was very memorable and pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a good way, to experience a bit more of the
culture.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do it! This was a great trip. Although I would book early if you want to be able to stay in the locations where the walks usually end. Because of our late booking we often had to make our way to another town for the night (although I give them credit for finding us place just a few weeks ahead of time).

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, there was definitely a small amount of impact I feel. A well developed trail but very clean and easy. All lodging was with small family run place and felt
local.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was a great trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a walking holiday on their own time. We did find that we were slower than the
anticipated times when walking, but suspect that some of that was because we took our time when we knew we had a short day. Make sure that you are ready
for a lot of uphill walking Koguchi to Nachi-san.

Reviewed on 24 Nov 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


All of it was good. The highlight might have been the first sight of the Golden Temple in Kyoto, or the first proper Japanese meal.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


As it is primarily a walking holiday through woods, I would recommend one takes good walking boots and a stick.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Mainly staying staying in small, traditional hotels (ryokan) must be good.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent. All the arrangements worked perfectly.

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