So when it comes to adventure travel, we tap out pretty quickly. While fit, neither of us are particularly athletic, nor are we into zip-lining, bungee jumping, or downhill skiing in the Alps. But a walk in the woods is one of life’s greatest pleasures – especially if it can be done without the burden of clothing.
I realize there are entire books, blogs, and cyber communities dedicated to organizing naturist walks. These offerings have always looked intriguing to me, but rarely do they coordinate with our calendars when we’re not traveling. And reading an announcement for a “free-hiking” (a term coined for hiking in the nude) opportunity in the Austrian Alps when you’re currently in the Pacific Northwest, while enticing, is not so easy to navigate. There are dozens of organized naturist hikes in France each summer, and my sense is there is a wonderful sense of community there, but the ever looming language barrier will almost certainly be an issue as well.
The other significant trend is creating your own free-hiking in the Do-It-Yourself version; finding a little know trail on a weekday where you’re less likely to run into other hikers – especially families with children – which typically involves having some sort of clothing at the ready in case you decide at the last minute that it’s better to dress than dare as your approach unsuspecting passers-by. This sounds stressful to me.
Which finally brings me to the subject of this particular post – our recent journey down the Ilingas Gorge near Vritomartis Naturist Hotel on the southern coast of Crete. (You can read their description with photos here.) The hotel organizes the entire event, beginning with an open air ride up an incredibly steep and narrow road on bench seats in the back of a pickup truck where the road continues to narrow and deteriorate until even the goats decide – “Whoa, it’s too desolate out here!” We did, however, encounter something of a traffic jam when a sheep herder was moving his flock through a narrow passage.
Once near the top of the mountain, we walked a short while until our guide gave us the all clear signal, at which point, the whole group was naked within a matter of minutes. (There was one adolescent girl in our group who choose not to go bare – no problem.) While there were a few places that required a bit of scrambling over rocks, it was generally an easy downhill walk, frequently in the shade of the scraggly woods and the sheer cliffs as the gorge would close in around us. End to end, perhaps 90 minutes to two hours before we emerged into a clearing, got dressed again, and boarded the truck for the nearby town of Anapolis for lunch. You’ll also see on the Vritomartis blog that there were plenty of opportunities for photo ops, including the obligatory fig leaf photos that have great potential for that Christmas card you really want to get noticed. While respectful, nobody seemed particularly camera shy, and we seized the opportunity for a good bit of nature and naturist photography.
I have ranted in previous posts (See: Nude at 100 Paces) about what seems to me to be a disproportionate concern about random encounters with naked people, noting that by the time you come across a person donning hiking shoes and a day-pack, you really have to have a keen eye to determine whether that person is shrouded in fig leaves or not – never mind that fig leaves cover more skin that a typical bikini or Speedo – but that topic has been beaten to death elsewhere. That said, the Jeep and Hiking Safari at Vritomartis goes down in the books as one of our favorite naturist walks, devoid of the fear that we would unintentionally offend a local family of humans, goats, or geckos.
With that, here are a few other places that have made our Naked Walks Hall of Fame, with similar criteria for walking naked without worries for at least an hour round trip. I’m hoping readers here might be inspired to share others we should add to the list.
- The beach at Naturist La Jenny (France): I have written volumes about our many visits to La Jenny, but one thing we enjoy the most is the fact that we’ve walked one or two hours up and down beach from the resort without ever feeling the urge to wrap up, even as we’ve meandered into textile beach areas. In short, nobody cares.
- DeAnza Springs Resort (California): Hardly a walk in the woods, as this is high desert with lots of rocks and scrub brush, but we thoroughly enjoyed following the trail that weaved in and out of the nearby abandoned railway. You have to get the timing right as a mid-afternoon walk on a 100+ degree afternoon would probably loose its charm pretty fast.
- Club Origan Village (France): A fairly modest naturist resort in the mountains above Nice, but one of the best features is a path that scales the mountainside and runs along the ridge for about an hour, providing breathtaking views of the valley below. When we stay there, we make it our morning ritual to do the 90-minute loop each day.
- U-Furu Naturist Camping (Corsica): A remote campground on the island of Corsica where you can take a fairly substantial hike back to a small stream that features some lovely waterfalls if there has been enough rain that season. Also a wonderful spot for naturist photography.
- Ile du Levant (France): The coastal trail along the Mediterranean is simply spectacular, making you realize how silly it is to ever wear clothing when walking along the sea. I’ve written a lot about this little island near the French Riviera if you dig back in my blog.
- Harbin Hot Springs (California): It’s been a while since we’ve visited, so I can only assume that policies regarding nudity on the grounds are similar to that of years past, which not only allowed for nude soaking in the magical hot springs, but also the opportunity to explore the paths on the nearby hillside sans clothing. Last time we did that, the few people we encountered on the paths were clothed, but scarcely batted an eye at our nudity.
Know a great spot we should check out for our next naked walk? Add it in a comment and we’ll put it on the list.