For some of us, an ideal vacation looks like a relaxing all-inclusive, sprawled out and sleeping in the sun. However, others find joy in a getaway that is packed with adventure and centred around challenging their comfort zone! With that being said, we have assembled a short guide for thrill-seeking adventurers that want their time off to help them break a sweat, spike their adrenaline and enjoy their favourite sport. Check out our guide to active travel destinations: mountain edition!
This crowd favourite pastime doesn’t need to be limited to the occasional weekend hike. Nor does it need to be the only focus of your vacation! Integrating hiking into our getaway can be extremely adaptable to our preferences and needs. For example, choosing a destination with incredible trails nearby allows us to explore a town and summit a few small mountains throughout our trip. On the other hand, however, we can also opt for thru-hiking trips that keep us in the mountains for weeks at a time.
For example, the Camino de Santiago is a renowned thru-hike pilgrimage that attracts nearly 350,000 trekkers from around the world each year. The Camino is a pilgrimage to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. While the Camino is an intricate network of trails, the most popular route is the Camino Francés, which runs from the city of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela. The Camino Francés covers nearly 500 miles and takes approximately 30 days from start to finish.
Hiking a section of the Appalachian trail in the United States, the South West Coast Path in the United Kingdom, the Great Himalayan Trail in Nepal, the Grand Italian Trail in Italy and the Kungsleden trail in Sweden are also great options.
Alternately, for those that wish to sprinkle bouts of hiking bliss into their trip, choosing a destination with easy access to hiking trails will help maximize your time! Sedona, Banff, Monteverde, and the Patagonia region in Argentina and Chile are wonderful locations packed with culture, nature and incredible trails.
For hikers that also enjoy slacklining, Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park is the place to be!
Yosemite is also renowned for its rock climbing routes and culture. In other words… If your idea of a perfect vacation is packed with scaling mountains and soaking in the sun, Yosemite will be a haven for you! Yosemite has fantastic spots for bouldering and single-pitch climbing, as well as towering granite walls to scale for varying skill levels.
Kalymnos, Greece, is another climber’s oasis. Between the sparkling Aegean ocean, fresh seafood and over 3,400 climbing routes to explore, it should come as no surprise that it is ranked as one of the world’s most popular climbing destinations!
Next up, is Squamish—a charming town nestled north of Vancouver in British Columbia. While western Canada is adored for its beautiful mountainous landscapes and has no shortage of climbing routes to explore, Squamish is considered to be Canada’s rock climbing mecca. Embracing our inner mountain junkie is extremely easy in Squamish, as most climbing sites are within a ten-minute drive from the downtown area. For this reason, the climbing community is abundant and tight-knit here. Experiencing the mountains from afar on the sea to sky gondola is an incredible way to witness their magic.
While exploring a gruelling trail and reaching a mountain’s summit can leave us feeling exhausted, empowered and refreshed, there is something to be said about going within. This is where caving (also known as spelunking) comes in! Trade mountaintop views for an entirely new world underground, while exploring new ecosystems and incredible geological formations.
Some of the best sites for caving worldwide can be found in Thailand, Fiji, Iceland, Costa Rica, Greece, Australia, France and the United States. Slovenia has also been dubbed a world-famous caving destination. The country has approximately 8,000 caves, 20 of which have been recognized as “show caves” for their unique beauty. The Waitomo Glowworm caves in New Zealand, Fingal’s Cave in Scotland, and the Caves of Sagada in the Philippines are also famously beautiful caving sites.
Many of these mountainous destinations have a lot of overlap in their adventurous attractions, offering some form of active exploration for everyone! As always, it’s important to honour and respect the land we’re on, as well as the Indigenous communities it belongs to.
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By: Briahna McTigue