Japan: Koya-san & Kumano Kodo Trek

8 Days | Trek ancient trails in the tranquil countryside of Japan.

4.9 out of 5 based on 26 reviews submitted.
Walking & trekking
From
GBP £2,271
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Stray off the tourist trail with an eight-day trekking adventure on some of the ancient pilgrim routes in Japan. The Koya-san and Kumano Kodo treks take you deep through the wilderness and into the mountainous landscapes of Honshu, as well as providing insight into the strong connection with past and present pilgrims hiking these historic routes. Along the way, stop by peaceful temples and tranquil monasteries, soak in traditional onsen and discover the cultural hubs of Kyoto and Osaka. This small-group adventure will give you both a physical and cultural workout around the best of enchanting Japan.

Trip overview

Map of Japan: Koya-San & Kumano Kodo Trek including Japan
Start
Kyoto, Japan
Finish
Osaka, Japan
Theme
Walking & trekking
Destinations
Japan
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Style
Original
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 12
Trip code
CJXK
This trip generates 38 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.

Why you'll love this trip
  • Experience two of the main religions in Japan – Buddhism and Shintoism – by following the footsteps of ancient pilgrims on their quest for faith along the Koya-san and Kumano Kodo trails.
  • Discover two of the major cultural hubs of Japan on foot, walking the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto and strolling through the Dotombori district in Osaka.
  • Join in the morning prayers and share a traditional shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian) meal during an overnight temple stay in Koya-san, deep in mountainous Wakayama prefecture.
  • Soak in an ancient onsen after a day of trekking in Yunomine – there's no better way in Japan to relax and rejuvenate, as well as understand local traditions, than in the natural mineral waters of a hot spring.
  • Explore Kyoto on a couple of nearby hikes for a different perspective on the life and culture in this notable city, as well as visiting some sites of natural and religious significance.
  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll learn about our Intrepid Foundation partner, Eden Reforestation Projects. Donations help them provide local employment opportunities and tackle climate change one tree at a time as they restore forests across 10 different countries. Intrepid will double the impact by dollar-matching all post-trip donations made to The Intrepid Foundation.

Is this trip right for you?
  • The active nature of this trip means that the fitter you are, the more you will be able to enjoy it. It is expected that travellers joining this trip will have had some experience hiking before joining this tour. On some hikes you will need to be able to carry your overnight pack on the trail because we will forward your luggage to the next destination. Hiking distances vary from 3-15km per day with no more elevation change than 60-900m on one hike.
  • The hikes on the Koya-san trail and Kumano Kodo include sections rather than the whole trail, which gives you an experience of the trails without needing to commit to multiple days of strenuous trekking.
  • You may spend some nights in a ryokan, a Japanese-style inn with shared facilities. It’s a great taste of tradition, but not everyone finds futon mattresses on tatami mat flooring, small bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more Western-style hotels and beds. Read more about ryokans in our ‘Accommodation’ section of the Essential Trip Information.

Itinerary

Map of Japan: Koya-San & Kumano Kodo Trek including Japan

Inclusions

Meals

6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 5 dinners

Transport

Train, Private vechicle, Taxi

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nights), Ryokan (1 night), Guesthouse/Ryokan (2 night), Temple Stay (1 night)

Activities
  • Kyoto - Shimogamo Shrine
  • Kyoto - Path of Philosophy (Tetsugaku-no-Michi)
  • Kyoto - Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)
  • Kyoto - Mt. Daimonji-yama hike
  • Koya-san - Koya-san Choishi Michi trail
  • Koya-san - Okuno-in Mausoleum
  • Kumano Kodo - Kumano Hongū Taisha
  • Kumano Kudo - Hiking
  • Osaka - Dotombori District walking tour
  • Kii Katsuura - Tuna Market

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. As this is an active hiking trip you will need to have an excellent level of fitness. Please read the itinerary carefully to make sure that you'll be able to make the most of the activities on this trip and enjoy an active adventure in Japan.
2. Your luggage will be forwarded to the next destination at different points of the trip, but you'll still need to be able to carry a small day pack during the hiking.
3. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
4. We are currently unable to book pre or post tour accommodation at our start & finish point hotels due to limited room availability. We recommend booking a hotel of your choice through an online booking engine if you are planning to stay longer in Japan.
5. This trip does not include a Japan Rail Pass. If you are planning to travel in Japan before or after your trip you will need to purchase your own Japan Rail Pass in advance or individual tickets in country.
6. It is essential you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. You will be allowed up to two pieces of portable luggage, the total length, width and height of which must not exceed 250 centimetres. (up to 2 metres in length) and 30 kilograms in weight. Luggage over 251cm will NOT be permitted on trains at all. Please advise your leader at the Welcome Meeting if your luggage is over these size limits so they can make the necessary arrangements.
7. There are generally fewer double rooms in Japanese hotels. While every effort will be made to accommodate double room requests, this may not always be possible.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Read Essential Trip Information

Reviews

4.9 out of 5 based on 26 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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K · Traveled June 2024
Our guide Kento was so genuine and very knowledgeable about temples, shrines and Buddhism. The tour wouldn’t be the same with any other guide. I especially loved Koyasan and the final tough hike. The gender-split public showers and traditional Japanese housings will definitely be outside some people comfort zones.
Review submitted 03 Jul 2024

Olga · Traveled June 2024
This trip takes you to parts of Japan off the main tourist routes and introduces you to idyllic rural areas and mountain forests. The last day's trek is hard (especially in summer) but the tour leader can suggest alternative side excursions. Kento's warmth and good humour will stay with me, long after this trip is over.
Review submitted 30 Jun 2024

David · Traveled June 2024
I prefer to travel solo or unattended, but would definitely recommend Intrepid for a trekking tour or a travel experience that requires you to go deeper into the wilderness.
Review submitted 24 Jun 2024

Lazaris · Traveled June 2024
Japan: Koya-san & Kumano Kodo Trek is for the adventurous. You need to be ready mentally and physically as the hikes require endurance and stability. Wonderful way to see Japan's forests and learn its history.
Review submitted 09 Jun 2024

Rose · Traveled June 2024
This was an excellent trip, as my first introduction to Japan. It was a great balance of exploring Kyoto and Osaka, visiting significant cultural and religious sites in Koyasan, and excellent trekking too. Kento our group leader was patient and supportive throughout and a font of knowledge. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this trip.
Review submitted 10 Jun 2024
Japan: Koya-san & Kumano Kodo Trek
From
GBP £2,271