It’s hard to beat the exhilaration of reaching a mountain peak. After a challenging climb the breathtaking views are the sweet reward. Here are a few spectacular hikes worth adding to your bucket list.
Trek above and beyond the Inca Trail.
This epic seven-day lodge-to-lodge trekking experience curated by Naya Traveler takes travelers on a historic section of Inca trail through 15 different ecosystems, while traversing a mountain pass over 15,000 feet, exploring villages where locals still maintain age-old traditions, and reaching the mystical beauty of Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of the Inca Empire. Each day’s trek ends with a hot shower in a beautiful, cozy lodge, complemented by a massage or a dip in an outdoor whirlpool, followed by a gourmet meal with select wines and more. All provided with highly personalized service by local staff, this luxury trekking experience goes beyond deluxe lodges and a great trek. It is a unique opportunity to experience ancient history in the Land of the Incas, as well as the most interesting and exotic variety of flora and fauna. Be part of a traditional offering to “Pachamama” (Mother Earth), indulge in a traditional Peruvian meal cooked in the earth by hot stones, visit an organic coffee plantation, one of many in that area that produces some of the best organic coffee in the world, and much more. Rates for this luxury trekking experience in the Sacred Valley start at $11,500 per person (double occupancy). Includes all accommodations at luxury lodges, most meals, all activities and excursions, all transport, all entrance fees, train tickets, and guided tours.
Walk the mighty Dolomites.
From the dreaming meadows of the south Tyrol to the towering spires of Tre Cime, On Foot Holidays’ self-guided walk in the Dolomites of northern Italy is a longtime favorite–and it’s now even better, with improvements to the route for 2019. From the German-speaking enclave of Italy’s South Tyrol, the route meanders south via a remote refuge and the Tre Cime mountain into the Italian Dolomites. The final breathtaking stretch reaches the resort of Cortina. Reminders of World War I linger in this part of Europe, particularly in the high country. On Foot Holidays has extended its standard route to include a circular walk from Cortina, where walkers can discover reminders of battles between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies in this unforgiving terrain. Climb via a pretty path up from the Falzarego Pass, through the dramatic Col de Bos, and up to the Lagazuoi refuge. The open-air museum at Lagazuoi is well worth the climb, with huts, tunnels and trenches to explore. The views across the valley to 5 Torri are tremendous, too. One of the goals at On Foot is to create walks that don’t involve transfers mid-route, and it has filled the missing link from Misurina to Cortina, through lovely woodland and along winding mountain paths up to Passo tre Croci. This means the whole route can now be achieved end-to-end without transfers. There are still shortening options using buses or a chairlift for less strenuous walking. Rates for the seven-night route start at £845 per person (double occupancy), including all breakfasts, one evening meal, luggage transfers (except refuge night); full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.
Climb Africa’s highest peak.
Preparing for the climb of your life? At 19,341 feet above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the world’s largest free-standing mountain and Africa’s highest peak. A climb to Kilimanjaro’s summit involves a multi-day adventure through the mountain’s five climate zones and is not for the faint of heart. Though not a technical climb, most trekkers experience varying levels of altitude sickness and the summit success rate is approximately 70 percent. Leading safaris and treks throughout Tanzania, Duma Explorer recommends seven-, eight- or nine-day climbs to increase chances of success. The most popular climbs are the seven-day Machame, eight-day Lemosho and nine-day Northern Circuit routes. Duma Explorer provides camping equipment, meals and support staff while trekkers provide their own personal gear. Duma Explorer started as a Kilimanjaro trekking company back in 2004 and now runs approximately 30 Kilimanjaro climbs per year. All guides are Wilderness First Responder certified. Rates range from $2,899 per person up to $3,399 per person. Other climbing adventures in Tanzania include Mount Meru, Oldonyo Lengai, and Ngorongoro Highlands trekking.
Hike through rainforests to the top of Mount Gimie.
For fitness enthusiasts looking for a unique island experience, Calabash Cove Resort and Spa, a boutique 26-room resort and spa, arranges private climbs of Mount Gimie, Saint Lucia’s highest peak. Mount Gimie, at 3,117 feet, is the tallest mountain on the island of Saint Lucia. It is of volcanic origin and covered by lush tropical rainforest. With a few days advance notice guests just need to bring good hiking gear and a backpack and Calabash Cove will arrange a private guide, lunch and transfer to the foot of the mountain and back. The tour takes all day with approximately five to six hours of hiking in steep terrain. This is not a run-of-the-mill activity. Some participants take nine hours for the hike, trekking through two valleys, along a small creek, and up and down on a barely-visible trail. In some places the guide has to clear the path from overhanging vegetation. People do it only seldom and it is not unusual for hikers to turn around half way! After the day’s strenuous climb, return to Calabash Cove and rejuvenate tired limbs and muscles at Ti Spa, the resort’s on-site spa that uses indigenous ingredients.
– Text courtesy Katherine Han PR; images by featured companies, click individual images for details.