Since the dawn of time mountains had a special attraction for humans, permanent, motionless and reaching up to the sky. In all cultures they were considered mystical places, the home of gods. In modern times, we still love mountains for their challenges and the exhilarating rewards that they bestow on us when we overcome them. As eco-conscious travelers, we know that trekking is the best way to discover new places and enjoy unique natural habitats. Here are five amazing mountain destinations to help bring you back to a simpler, more balanced state of being while pushing yourself to reach new heights!
Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia region is known for its soaring mountains, bright blue icebergs, and golden grasslands that’s home to rare wildlife, like the llama-like guanacos. The park was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978 and has been voted the fifth most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic and the 8th Wonder of the World by TripAdvisor. If you’re into the outdoors, this is definitely on your bucket list!
The centerpiece of the park has to be the mountain group, the Cordillera Paine. Made up of three granite peaks, the Torres d’Agostini, Torres Central, and the Torres Monzino, extend up to 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level.
But there’s more than mountains. The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the world’s second largest ice field. It feeds four main glaciers with the largest being Glacier Grey.
Another unique spectacle of this region are the multitude of lakes all vividly blue and green due to rock flour suspended in the waters. Rock flour, or tiny particles of rock, are very light and stay suspended in the water, the sunlight that reflects off them creates those eye-catching special effects.
Where to stay
EcoCamp Patagonia is a fantastic place to base your trip to Torres del Paine. Voted one of the world’s best resorts in 2018 by readers of Condé Nast Traveler, it offers a variety of tours like the Torres del Paine W Trek. The trek, highlighting the best of Torres del Paine including Grey Glacier, teams visitors up with highly experienced and knowledgeable guides who lead the hike in a W shape from west to east.
The Epic Patagonia – Multi Sport Adventure explores the park by foot, bike, kayak, and even horseback. With the Patagonia Puma Tracking – Wildlife Discovery Adventure, wildlife tracking professionals track and observe the top predator, the Patagonian puma, in its natural habitat.
EcoCamp Patagonia is the world’s first geodesic (dome) hotel, based on the traditional shelters of Torres del Paine National Park’s original inhabitants, the Kaweskar. Here, wake up to mountains showered with a pink hue and listen to birds singing their early morning songs.
Avenue of Volcanoes, Ecuador
Trekking through Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes in the Andes there are many different routes through idyllic pastures, fragrant woods, and winding mountain trails. This equatorial location is temperate year round, while nights tend to be a bit cool, but not cold.
The third highest mountain in Ecuador, Cayambe, stands out in this region which is home to llamas. You really need to be trained and fit to hike up to 4,650 meters (12,556 feet) above sea level, but you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of Green Lake and the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Where to stay
Hiking is a great way to explore this area, but so is horseback riding and the Hacienda Zuleta offers such an opportunity. This private estate with 11 rooms for guests, each with hand-embroidered linens and beautiful garden views, is also a working farm producing a wide range of products including milk, cheese, quinoa, potatoes, and organic vegetables.
The hacienda offers guided horseback tours that explore the stunning Andean countryside on different trails that go from 9,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level. One of the easiest trips takes you along cobble stone roads to an area called La Cocha lake. Pass through green pastures dotted with woods and Caranqui pyramids. These structures are from the ancient Caranqui culture and date from 950 CE. to 1500 CE .Then there’s a restored water mill where riders dismount and take a short walk through lush vegetation to admire the roaring waterfall on the Tahuando River.
Another easy trip is to the Condor Huasi Project facilities located in La Rinconada de San Pedro Valley. Here you can learn about wildlife in the area as well as efforts to protect and nurture endangered condors and spectacled bears.
Do you need more reasons to explore this impressive part of the world? Book your stay at Hacienda Zuleta on Wayaj and get 5% off!
The High Atlas, the greatest mountain range in North Africa, is arguably the most beautiful and intriguing part of Morocco. It has a feeling of remoteness and encompasses villages where the way of life has changed little for centuries. Hiking in the High Atlas is one of the best way to discover Morocco and its culture!
The region offers a wide range of trekking experiences: from a short ramble through villages to more demanding multi-day treks. The area is pretty accessible to any level of fitness and mule support can be arranged for bags and people, which opens up more opportunities.
Wayajers can ascend the 4,167-meter Jbel Toubkal (13,671 feet) tall mountain, North Africa’s highest, during the summer months without specialist climbing skills. If you’re reasonably fit and determined, the views are magnificent and on a clear day you can see the Sahara.
Where to stay
Set on a hilltop at 1,820 meters (5,971 feet), the Kasbah du Toubkal is situated at the foot of Jbel Toubkal. In a Condé Nast Traveler review the hotel is rated the country’s first and foremost mountain retreat with amazing rooftop views. Tours and treks are available where visitors can stay at the Kasbah or for those on multiday expeditions, the Azzaden Trekking Lodge, a lodge on the outskirts of Aït Aïssa, a traditional Berber village.
Kasbah du Toubkal also offers “Trekking in Style,” a new concept that allows visitors to stay in luxury accommodations without any sort of hardships. Travelers also get their own personal mountain guide and you can walk or hike as little or as much as you like.
For decades the Dolomites range has been a favorite destinations of hikers and mountaineers, the area offers many trails of different lengths and difficulty, one thing they have in common the breathtaking mountainscape! Some are fine for strollers and ideal for families with young children and for leisurely hikers. Others are more demanding, like the hike up to Hochwart at 2,607 meters (8,555 feet). A “rifugio” can be found along most trails. In old times, these mountain cabins used to be simple shelters to rest or escape bad weather during the journey, and they are now restaurants and bars offering local specialties to restore the exhausted hikers.
A less rigorous hike is along the Waalweges, a 100-mile network of pathways that follow century-old irrigation channels through orchards and vineyards. Visit Dorf Tirol/Tirolo and see an idyllic twelfth-century castle. While on your travels be sure to stop in Bärenbad to get a rest from all that hiking and drink some of the refreshing mineral water.
The Via Vigilius is a long distance hiking trail connecting the territories of Südtirol and Trentino. It can take about eight days to walk the 109 kilometers (68 miles). On some of the days expect to hike up to 1,300 uphill meters (1,421 feet). The longest stretch is about 20 kilometers (12 miles).
Where to stay
Right next to the cable car station -which is also the only way to reach it, the Vigilius Mountain Resort is an excellent place to base your travels to discover South Tyrol. Nestled into the landscape, the sleek wood and glass construction perfectly combines modern comforts and local traditions like the Stube Ida, the 100-years old tiled stove that warms up the diners while they enjoy a traditional Italian 4-course dinner.
Nanda Devi, India
Nanda Devi, the second highest mountain in India, is thought to be manifestation of the goddess Parvati. The Sanskrit word nanda means joy or happiness and devi means goddess. It’s regarded as the patron-goddess of the Uttarakhand state.
Because of its religious significance and in order to protect the fragile ecosystem, the main peak, as well as the circle of high mountains surrounding it were closed to both locals and climbers in 1983. However, it can still be admired from the surrounding region which includes the Nanda Devi National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.
However, Nanda Devi East (or Sunanda Devi as it’s locally known), the lower of the two peaks, is open. The majestic peak looms at a height of 7,816 meters (25,643 feet), and at this imposing altitude, it’s clearly one of the most difficult treks in the Indian Himalayan region. This trek is only for experienced climbers.
Where to stay
Nestled in the shadow of the sacred Nanda Devi Range, the Kumaon Hotel offers a private mountain retreat. It’s a great place to base yourself for travels in the area.
Set in a ridge in Kasar Devi, it has a sacred heritage. Here, stone temples devoted to Uma and Shiva dot the valley. The location has also attracted some famous visitors over the years, such as Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Allen Ginsberg, and Timothy Leary.
The property has 10 luxury suites, a library, a sun lounge, and a gourmet restaurant. With floor to ceiling windows that offer breathtaking views of the nearby mountain peaks, you won’t want to leave!
We hope we’ve been able to inspire your next travel adventures, because spending active time outdoors is a true elixir to fight modern stress. Whether it’s taking on the Torres del Paine W Trek, horseback riding amidst the ruins of an Andean lost civilization, or hiking amidst the Dolomites, or even just explore the natural reserve closest to you, each of these experiences will certainly challenge you and recharge your spirit with their wholesome beauty.
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