Step into nature’s playground: St Helena’s Festival of Walking 

Posted on 11 January 2024

Tucked away in the South Atlantic Ocean lies one of the world’s best-kept secrets for nature lovers. St Helena Island, a subtropical paradise brimming with dramatic cliffs, rolling hills, and ocean vistas, offers intrepid travellers an unforgettable journey to explore – on foot.  

For those craving an active getaway, this remote British Overseas Territory presents hiking and walking opportunities as dramatically diverse as the terrain. Coastal cliffs plunge to azure waves while cloud forests harbour mist-cloaked peaks and primaeval flora. 

For South African adventure seekers who are looking for their next big escape, St Helena provides the perfect option with its annual Festival of Walking from November 2023 to March 2024. 

Diverse hiking adventures 

St Helena’s trails offer picturesque rewards for both serious hikers and relaxed amblers. Or, maybe you just like being a peripatetic, a fancy sounding Greek word for a ‘walking wanderer.’  

What’s on offer for walking wanderers on the island? Heaps! The magnificent diversity of hiking trails allows you to traverse a variety of spectacular landscapes in a compact area, with many of the viewpoints along the way only accessible on foot.  

Twenty-one marked nature trails of varying difficulty are collectively dubbed Post Box Walks for the unique souvenir stamp hikers can acquire at the end of each. The Post Box Walks range from 1.5km to 12km, with routes suited for all abilities. Rated easy to strenuous, with level terrain to steep inclines, there’s something on offer for every fitness level.

The Post Box Walks are accessible year-round, although there’s something particularly special about enjoying them with like-minded amblers during the Festival of Walking.  

Getting the inside scoop  

For those who want to dig deeper into St Helena’s wealth of natural splendour and cultural narratives, the Festival of Walking offers guided group hikes on select Walk of the Week routes where local experts share insights that make your experience even richer. 

Avid walkers and conservationists shed light on the unique endemic flora and fauna that thrive on this geologically young island. Historians spin yarns from ages past about the plants, animals and ancient fortifications that dot the Post Box Walks, telling of the island’s discovery in 1502, followed by centuries along bustling trade routes. 

Highlighting a few Post Box Wwalks
Here is what you can expect on just a few of the diverse Post Box Walks.  

  • High Hill: 2km  

This walk is steep but relatively relaxed, and takes you through woodland up to the top of High Hill, where walkers will encounter spectacular views and the remains of an old signal station. 

  • Lot’s Wife’s Ponds: 4.5km  

One of the most popular walks on St Helena, the walk starts in Sandy Bay, past the iconic Lot’s Wife rock formation and towards the coast. Reward yourself at the end of the walk by floating in the natural rock pools filled with sea water, whilst taking in the stark coastline. This walk features ropes to assist your hike in some areas, as the trail takes you along narrow paths. You will need to climb down a rope to access the ponds. 

  • The Barn: 10.5km
    Only the most seasoned island explorers should navigate the Barn’s 10.5km course across Deadwood Plain to volcanic bluffs. The 2-hour trek, one of the most strenuous, passes unique and stark topography before reaching panoramic views over the eastern point. 

Be sure to purchase the Post Box Walks guidebook, which gives information about each walk, or seek recommendations and guidance at the Tourist Office.

Read more: Here’s why St Helena must be on your 2024 wishlist  

Beyond the trails: more St Helena events not to miss 

While the Festival of Walking spotlights the jewel of St Helena, her magnificent natural splendour, a parade of lively happenings also brighten the island and offer visitors engaging opportunities to experience local culture in other ways: 

Festival of Lights – December 2023 

Jamestown sparkles as parades and vibrant floats usher in the Christmas spirit. Live music and merriment fill streets decorated by thousands of dazzling lights – it’s like stepping back in time.  

Whale Shark Festival – February 2024 

This family-fun event celebrates the gentle giants who migrate here annually. Enjoy games, stalls, decorations, and more while learning about conserving these breathtaking creatures. 

Food & Craft Festival – February 2024 

Savour St Helena’s melting pot cuisine that blends British, Asian, and African influences while perusing stalls selling unique arts, crafts, and organic goods created on-island. 

The remote island of St Helena presents adventurers an unforgettable voyage of discovery and a breath of truly fresh air.

Discover paradise: 


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