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Taking the High Road: Mountain Treks for All

  • Laurel Angrist
  • 17 April 2012

This article was first published by our friends at Much Better Adventures, who have agreed to its republication here. View the original article on their Grapevine blog.

For centuries, high-minded travellers, wise men and ladies alike, have sought out the world’s mountains, revelling in the challenge of the climb and capturing in photographs and ink the terrific views and exaltation that come at the end of long and strenuous hikes.

Ridge-rambling adventurers are, if anything, more numerous today than ever before. Fortunately, mountain treks abound, gauged to hikers of all abilities. Some require the fortitude of serious mountaineers, while others are long and leisurely strolls that wind comfortably through the highlands.

Sound inspiring? It is. Looking for some ideas? Consider the following mountain treks for ecotourists and hikers of all stripes. Remember: No matter what your level of expertise, it’s always advisable to plan ahead due to the isolation and changeable weather of higher altitudes.

A guesthouse in Thethi village in the Albanian Alps

At the guesthouse in Thethi village in the Albanian Alps, travelers will discover the true hospitality of Albania's highlanders in an incredible panoramic setting. Photo courtesy of Gent Mati at shkoder-albanian-alps.com.

Trek Through Local Villages in the Albanian Alps

Northern Albania boasts some beautiful mountain treks that see very little traffic, even in the summer season. Several tour companies lead trips from the city of Shkoder (a centre of Albanian culture dominated by a massive fortress) across the canyons of beautiful Lake Koman. With scenery similar to a Norwegian fjord, the area around the lake is a spectacular gateway to the snow-capped Albanian Alps.

Ideal for intermediate hikers, footing between local villages in the valleys of Valbona and Theth is a lovely way to experience the Albanian countryside. Along the way, trekkers can bed down in comfortable village guesthouses and savour locally produced delicacies such as sheep’s cheese, freshly baked bread and homemade raki.

Lamas often accompany hikers on various hikes throughout Peru

Lamas often accompany hikers on various hikes throughout Peru. Photo courtesy of Pieter Roos at cusco-hotel.travel.

Follow an Alternate Route to Historic Machu Picchu, Peru

Most people who hike to the ancient Andean city of Machu Picchu do so via Peru’s famous Inca Trail. The trek is unforgettable but by no means a wilderness experience, with many groups of other hikers sleeping where you sleep and summitting the steep mountain passes right beside you.

For trekkers keen on a different sort of journey, the Lares route is a great alternative for reaching the ruins of the historic Incan city. Departing from Cusco to the trailhead of Quisuarani, this moderate climb visits several traditional villages still inhabited by indigenous farmers. It then winds past the beautiful jagged peaks of the Andes along a more remote route that allows for an up-close look at the rural life of Peru’s native peoples.

Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is strenuous and scenic climb

Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is strenuous and scenic climb. Photo courtesy of Gunyah

Climb the Classic High Peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

There are six official trekking routes up Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Of these, the steep Machame route is known as the most scenic. Beginning from the Machame Gate at the southern base of the mountain, hikers pass through wildlife-filled rainforests before heading up to the Shira Plateau for spectacular views overlooking the moorland, Kibo and Western Breach. Capping out at 5,895 metres above sea level, this strenuous high-altitude climb is truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Armenia's rough and mountainous terrain holds many challenging trails for hikers

Armenia's rough and mountainous terrain holds many challenging trails for hikers. Photo courtesy of Gunyah

Explore the rugged volcanic terrain in Armenia

Draped across the South Caucasus Mountains, the rugged upland Republic of Armenia is already well on its way to becoming a popular destination for all sorts of outdoor escapes.

From the high altitudes of Lake Sevan, travellers glimpse the typical scenery found throughout Armenia’s countryside. For adventurous souls, one beautiful but challenging trek takes off through the Khosrov National Forest Reserve and climbs up toward the Geghama Volcanic Plateau. The truly intrepid can choose to venture further to 3,597-metre-high Mount Azhdahak, a mysterious place with numerous prehistoric petroglyphs overlooking a vast volcanic crater.

 Banff National Park, Canada's Rocky Mountains

Banff National Park in Canada's Rocky Mountains is home to a large population of mountain goats. Photo courtesy of Gunyah

Hike the Rocky Mountains of western Canada

Canada’s Rocky Mountains boast some of the world’s finest scenery for hikers. High up in the national parks of British Colombia and Alberta, beautiful alpine trails wind through gorgeous meadows and forest, past spectacular waterfalls and streams.

Hikers headed to this pristine region should be sure to experience its numerous highlights. Three popular must-see parks include Wells Gray Provincial Park and the Jasper and Banff National Parks. Visitors in these areas will encounter many historic sites of the First Nation tribes with the chance to explore icefields, glaciers and steep alpine plateaus.

Discover more amazing mountain treks, as well as a host of other outdoor and adventure-travel experiences.

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Laurel Angrist

A native New Yorker, Laurel Angrist is a well-practiced escape artist whose passion for travel and the outdoors has led her to some truly offbeat and interesting places. Outside her work as media consultant for the WHL Group and wordster-in-chief of The Travel Word, Laurel is a writer specialising in stories about tourism, culture and the environment, and is also pursuing a masters in Library Studies at the City University of New York. Visit her website: www.laurelangrist.com.
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adventure travel, Albania, Armenia, Canada, ecotours, mountains, national parks, Peru, Tanzania, top five, whl.travel,

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