We’re not saying because we do walking tours that a lockdown is harder on us than on the non-guiding population, but we do struggle to come to terms with the fact that our toilet or front porch does not have historical significance – not any that we’re aware of anyway. And walking down the hallway, pointing at nothing, trying to tell a story where there is no story to be told, gets the rest of the household feigning a constant deep sleep. So, we dream… of places where we’d like to go walking and exploring when the travel gates open again. So, we’ve compiled a walking tour achievement list.
La Paz, Bolivia’s de facto capital, is the highest city above sea level at 3 650 metres. On travel postcards, the beauty of this South American city lies in the massive mountains surrounding it, but “down in the valley”, within its walls, La Paz also has incredible stories to tell. La Paz (The City of our Lady of Peace), dates back to 1548 and a walking tour introduces you to a city born when gold was found in the region.
All tours start outside San Pedro Plaza and Prison. The prison covers a large city block and it operates as a society within La Paz. Here, inmates work within the community, buy or rent accommodation and often live with their families. Tourists aren’t allowed inside anymore, but you can get a glimpse of prison life through the gates.
Other highlights of the walking tours include Rodriguez Market and Witches Market, where you can experience Aymaran traditions (an indigenous nation of the region) and at Witches Market you can also have your fortune read in coca leaves. You’ll also visit San Francisco Church and Plaza, Plaza Murrillo, the centre of Bolivian politics, Mirasol Restaurant and the ecolodge Sol y Luna. (www.redcapwalkingtours.com)
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan is 28m below sea level, making it the lowest lying capital city in the world. On a walking tour through this city you stop by four UNESCO heritage sites in the Old Town (or Icherisheher). Baku was built in the 1880s by the first oil barons that came to this part of the world seeking their fortune, and on this tour you’ll learn about the city’s social, cultural and political aspects during the eras of the oil barons, as well the Soviet eras (1920 to 1991) and modern times.
Baku is a city of superlatives – the Old City is surrounded by skyscrapers, shopping malls and ultramodern buildings, but once inside it might feel like you’ve been transported back in time to the Great Silk Roads. Azerbaijan was on the path of the Roads, and oil, carpets, raw silk, precious stones, saffron were some of the main exports of this area. The region made a significant contribution to the development of this worldwide network. (www.bakufreetour.com)
Not if you avoid crowds
Tokyo’s population currently stands at 37 393 000, and you can temporarily add to this number on a walking tour through Japan’s capital, the most populated city in the world. You’ll find out more about Tokyo’s food, culture, history and religion and highlights include the 1200-year-old Shinto shrine, Kanda Myojin, the electronics shopping hub Akihabara, the massive arts and culture centre Arts Chiyoda, Ameyoko Shopping Arcade, Ueno Park and Yushima Seido, a Confucian temple which dates back to the Edo Period of Japanese history. (www.toykolocalized.com)
Maybe go in summer
Winnipeg in Canada is not the coldest city in the world, it’s not even the coldest city in Canada, but it does take the accolade for the city with the longest spell of below zero temperatures in winter in that country – at one point up to 113 days in a row. On average it can go as low as -21 deg. C. The Exchange District is a National Historic Site in Canada and you can do walking tours through the area where you can see a collection of heritage buildings built between 1880 and 1920. Winnipeg is also known as the Chicago of the North, as both cities were rapidly expanding prairie metropolises “built as much on optimism and corruption as a real economy” according to the Manitoba Museum. Guides share stories of legends, corruption and heroism, and if architecture is your hobby, Winnipeg is a must-see destination. (www.exchangedistrict.org)
One of the oldest cities to be continuously inhabited is Athens in Greece, and people have been walking her city streets for about 7 000 years. The Athens Free Walking Tours start at Hadrian’s Arch, which is located at the Acropolis Museum and it was constructed in the beginning of the second century A.D. From there you’ll visit the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, the National Gardens, the Changing of the Guard Ceremony on Syntagma Square, the Theatre of Dionysus, Thiseo and the Temple of Hephaistos, the Acropolis and other ancient sites. The tour does also include Monastiraki Square, for many the heart of modern-day Athens. (www.athenswalkingtours.gr)
Other cities you can add to a “bought the T-shirt” walking tours trip around the world are Singapore (Most Expensive City to Live in), Bangalore (one of the cheapest cities to live in), Reykjavik, Iceland (Most Northern City in the World) and Wellington, New Zealand (Southernmost Capital City in the World). And obviously Cape Town. We’re biased, so check out this link showing off all the awards and accolades this city has won in the past 10 years. https://www.investcapetown.com/why-cape-town/awards-accolades/