When the summer comes around, some of us can’t stand the thought of sitting around on a beach. It goes against our DNA. The ultimate active getaway might be more your speed: A mountain, volcano or hiking trail. Here, the travel experts at Insight Guides recommend the world’s best.
The most iconic hike in the world is defintely not one for the fainthearted. The 70-mile round trip takes about 16 days; on the way, you’ll pass the Sherpa villages of rural Nepal, with three of the ten highest peaks in the world acting as a reference (Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu). Throughout the trek, you’ll gradually acclimate to the rising altitude, which culminates in your destination: 17,598 feet above sea level. We recommend going from September to June, although it’s quietest (and very cold) in December and January. What about it then? Talk to an expert about trekking in Nepal.
Before you go, master the 17 Rules of Stress-Free Travel!
Cotopaxi is both an active volcano and Ecuador’s second highest peak, so there are two immediate reasons to climb it. Although it’s tall — 19,347 feet – it isn’t known as a particularly challenging climb. A 4×4 will take you most of the way through this national park, leaving you only the final assault on the summit. Crampons and an ice axe are essential, as the top of the mountain is coated with snow and ice. At the summit, steam rises from the crater and it melts away the snow. Be sure to take your camera, as this is one of the most picturesque climbs in the world. If you’re not into hiking back down, several tour companies that will let you ride a mountain bike to the bottom. Wondering when to go? The weather is at its best from December to April.
Named by the Cherokee Indians after the dense fog that cloaks the hills and looks like a mysterious blue smoke from a distance, this one is certainly a marathon and not a sprint. There are about 900 miles of walking trails in the area, which has been a protected national park since 1934. The Smokies have a huge array of flora and fauna that’s unlike anywhere else on the planet. There are 200 types of birds and 1,500 species of flowering plants spread through the park’s 500,000 acres, which attracts more than 9 million visitors a year. Trails vary in length and difficulty, so there’s something for everyone. July, August and September are the best months in terms of weather, although July and August can be quite busy, so visit in September for solace.
Looking for something sooner? Check out these Best Luxury Summer Vacations for 2016!
Hopping across the pond, this hike lasts about six days and passes through flowery meadows, small Swiss villages and even part of Italy. The Matterhorn is the highest mountain in the Alps, and this hike traverses it as opposed to summiting it. Along the way, you’ll stay in small Alpine villages on either side of the border, adding a cultural element to the hike. The scenery is fantastic and the route includes high passes with steel ropes, so outdoor experience and a high level of fitness are definitely required. The best months to go are August and September.
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The iconic Mount Fuji is the highest volcano and peak Japan has to offer. Although still considered an active volcano, Fuji last erupted back in 1707. Today, it’s considered one of the three holy mountains of Japan, along with Mount Haku and Mount Tate. The best time to go is from early July to September; there are four different routes of varying difficulty to choose from. The most popular way to climb Mount Fuji is to set off around midday, ascend halfway, rest for a while in the mountain huts, then set off again around midnight in order to reach the summit for sunrise. Watching the sunrise from the summit is a breathtaking experience that’ll stay with you for the rest of your life.