The amazing glacier ice cave as seen in the timelapse short “Crystalapse: Wonders of Iceland” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIQqVqQs9Xs).
This cave is very blue, due to the light filtered through dense glacial ice. It is quite big, absolutely amazingly beautiful. The holes in the cave are known as moulins, from which dripping water carved the cavern years ago. It is located near Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Skaftafell in South Iceland, at the base of Svinafellsjokull Glacier. The cave is difficult to access by normal car and only accessible in the cold of winter while the risks of collapse are lower.
I’ve just spent the last month traveling through Pakistan, and am blown away by all of the beautiful places in the country. Forget everything you’ve heard about Pakistan in the news because I’m about to show you a side of the country that will change your view.
I was traveling through Pakistan as part of the International Entrepreneurship Summer School Program with the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi. In the coming weeks, I will be posting lots more about that experience, as well as advice and tips so you can travel in Pakistan too – because a lot of you have been asking me about it! And I have so much to share.
But let’s start this Pakistan series with 10 most beautiful places in Pakistan to inspire and hopefully give you a new perspective on the country. This list is in no particular order, because how can you choose between so many beautiful places.
My participation at IESS was kindly sponsored by IBA Karachi. As always, reviews and opinions are my own.
Table of Contents
10 Beautiful Places in Pakistan
1. Hunza Valley
Of all the beautiful places in Pakistan, Hunza completely stole my heart. This mountainous valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan is often called heaven on earth, and it’s not hard to see why. Surrounding Hunza are some of Pakistan’s most impressive mountain ranges. These, in combination with the beautiful lush green valley beneath them, makes for breathtaking views at every turn.
For the best views in Hunza, check out these spots:
Baltit Fort is not only good for views but has an interesting history. This fairy-tale-like fort was built in the 8th Century BC on top of a hill overlooking Karimabad (the capital of Hunza district). Guided tours can be arranged for the inside of the fort, where you can get a glimpse of what life was like back then. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges and Hunza valley below.
To get to Baltit Fort you will have to climb a steep hill for about 10-15 minutes through the village, but it is well worth the views. After a visit to the fort, check out the local shops in the village where you can get some great Pakistani souvenirs. They sell authentic gemstones for reasonable prices, as well as scarfs made out of Ibex (pictured below). They are SO soft!
As far as Sunset’s go, there’s not many places more epic then Eagle’s Nest in Hunza. The name just comes from the hotel nearby, Eagles Nest Hotel, which is accessible by car. From the parking lot, it’s just a short walk up to the viewpoint, where there are many rocks to sit on and enjoy the sunset. Be sure to stick around for a bit once the sun sets behind the mountains, as the sky lights up with colors, adding even more natural beauty to this already dramatic landscape.
2. Passu Cones
The Karakoram Highway is full of epic mountain ranges, but one of the most striking landmarks I came across was the Cathedral Range, also known as the Passu Cones.
The views of Passu Cones start to appear near the town of Gulmit. From our hotel, The Gulmit Tourist Inn, we were rewarded with spectacular views from just outside the hotel door.
If you drive a bit further down the Karakoram highway from Gulmit, you can get even better views. There is a safe place to pull off the highway and take some photos, marked by the words ‘Passu’ written on the road. At sunset, when the light hits the mountain range, the cones are particularly stunning. It’s one of the most unique mountain ranges I’ve seen, and a highlight of the northern areas in Pakistan.
3. Khunjerav Pass (Pak-China Border)
I’ve always been fascinated by borders, and the Pakistan-China border was no disappointment. First all, to get to the border you have to drive through the Khunjerav Pass, which goes up to a total elevation of 4,673m (that’s over 15,000 feet)! To go from lush valleys below to snow-capped mountains at the top was completely surreal. If you love road trips, this is one to add to the collection!
I was not expecting to see snow on my visit to Pakistan, especially during the summertime, but it was almost a white-out at the border!
Snow is no big deal for a Canadian like myself but it was so much fun to see how excited the Pakistanis who hadn’t seen snow before were. And as always, the locals were showing their country pride with flags and songs at the border. It’s not just beautiful, but a fun environment to be in!
4. Kunhar River, Naran
Naran was the first town we visited North of Islamabad, and like all of Northern Pakistan, the surrounding nature is stunning.
I loved seeing all the homes built on the side of the hills, but the main jewel of the valley is the Kunhar River. And we got to do one of my favorite activities on it: white-water rafting!
The rapids at the beginning are only class 1 and 2, so it’s perfect for first-time rafters to try this sport. But warning: you will get wet! After rafting, refuel your body with local trout which is fished from the river. It’s delicious!
Naran is a good place to stock up on supplies before heading North, as well as connect online. Internet was virtually non-existent after.
5. Shan Jahan Mosque
The province of Sindh in Pakistan has a rich history with some well-preserved Mughal architecture, including several world heritage sites, but the Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta is undoubtedly the most beautiful structure.
The mosque was built by the Mughal King as a gift to the people of Thatta for their hospitality, taking three years to complete after starting construction in 1644.
Aside from the elegant design and vibrant brick colors used throughout the mosque, the geometrical details are what won me over. Walking through each room I was mesmerized by the beauty of the intricate designs.
To respect the local culture while visiting the mosque, you should cover your knees and shoulders, take off your shoes, and women should wear a headscarf.
6. Landsdown Bridge, Sukkur
The Lansdowne Bridge is a bridge over the Indus River between Sukkur city and Rohri town of the province of Sindh. It was built in the 19th century and considered a marvel of engineering at the time. The bridge is still used today and makes for a great photo. For the best views of the bridge, head to the Tomb of Seven Sisters.
We visited the bridge at sunset but I’d imagine at sunrise it is even more marvelous as the sunrise would appear over the bridge. However, during our sunset visit, there was a rainbow next to the bridge and the sunset on the other side hitting the ancient tombs, so I really can’t complain. I didn’t know where to keep my eyes as there was so much beauty around!
Oh, and did you know there are river dolphins you can spot in the water too? The Indus River Dolphin, one of the rarest mammals in the world, can be found in the surrounding river. How cool is that?
7. Mazar-e-Quaid (Jinnah Mausoleum)
In Karachi, you can visit the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam, the founder of Pakistan. The tomb is made of white marble and intricately designed both on the outside and inside, making it one of the most beautiful places to visit in Pakistan.
During our visit, we even got to take part in a guard ceremony inside the tomb to honor the founder.
The Mausoleum is not only beautiful but also a place to remember the person who was behind Pakistan’s independence. Pakistan has only been a country since August 14th, 1947, after it gained independence from British rule. Next to the tomb is a small museum in which you can learn more about Pakistan’s fascinating history.
I was lucky enough to be in Pakistan to celebrate independence day this year, which was such a great experience. The locals have so much pride in their country, which is something I love.
8. Lake Attabad
When I first Googled Pakistan it was a picture of Lake Attabad that made me want to go. And when we drove by it for the first time, it was just as beautiful as I imagined.
But Lake Atabad wasn’t always around. In January 2010 a massive landslide started nearby, taking off half a mountain with it, ultimately blocking river access and creating a natural dam that filled up the valley that was once there with glacial water. It actually buried part of the Karokam highway! This caused a lot of destruction to the area but what the landslide left behind is truly beautiful.
Nowadays, Lake Attabad is a popular attraction for both locals and foreigners. For the best experience, take a boat ride through the lake which can be arranged from the dock. The contrast of the glacial blue lake against the jagged mountain ranges is truly breathtaking. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also rent jet skis and explore Lake Attabad that way – it looked like a lot of fun!
The water levels have been receding so much in Attabad Lake that it’s possible it won’t even exist in the future. This is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan you want to visit soon!
9. Babusar Pass
report this adAnother epic stop and one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan is the Babusar Pass. At a total elevation of 4,131m, you’ll want scarfs and gloves for this one! The pass is the highest point in the Kaghan Valley, Pakistan, and going so far up in elevation is a shock from the valley below.
The drive itself is an adventure, as you will be going through multiple hairpin turns, but once at the top, you can truly appreciate how impressive the pass is.
Just be prepared for the change in elevation when getting out of the car. Aside from feeling cold, you might notice that you feel short of breath. This is normal and because of the altitude. Take your time walking around, and you’ll feel back to normal once you descend again.
The drive going up to Babusar pass and afterward is also stunning. Okay, pretty much driving anywhere in Northern Pakistan is beautiful. Just go!
10. Fairy meadows
I’m not gonna sugar coat it, there’s no easy way to get to Fairy Meadows. First, you will have to get to Gilgit, the capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan province in the North of Pakistan. If you are coming from Islamabad, this is around 18 hours of driving. From Gilgit, you then have to drive about an hour to Raikot Bridge where the real fun begins.
You have to take a (pretty scary) 1 1/2 hour jeep ride up a mountain, and there’s no guard rail! This is honestly one of the most horrifying drives I’ve ever done in my life, and was told it has been named one of the top 10 scariest drives in the world! The views are beautiful, but I couldn’t look out of the car much without my body going into a complete panic.
After the jeep ride, you then have to do a 2 1/2 hour uphill hike. Or, you can pay a local to take you via horse. So you’re probably wondering why someone would travel such crazy distances to visit one place? Well, there is a reason so many people make the journey there: the unobstructed view of the 8,125m beast that is Nanga Parbat mountain.
Nanga Parbat is the 9th highest mountain in the world, and it truly is one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan. The views from Fairy Meadows is considered to be one of the most accessible hikes that will allow you to witness an 8,000 m high mountain without doing a multi-day trek. I mean, compared to a two-week Everest Base Camp Trek, I guess one scary-jeep ride doesn’t seem that bad.
And camping at Fairy Meadows is about as good as camping goals get. You wake up with the incredible mountain range right in your face. If you don’t want to camp, there are also lodges you can stay at in Fairy Meadows.
Fairy Meadows is also the gateway to the Nanga Parbat Base Camp trek, which I’ll be writing an entire post about – so stay tuned!
Conclusion on the most beautiful places in Pakistan
Tell me, did you expect to see so many beautiful places in Pakistan? I know that my views of the country have completely changed over the last month, and yet I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of Pakistan’s beauty. Although Pakistan’s tourism industry is very much still developing, I think this place is going to become much more popular over the coming years given that it’s such a naturally beautiful country.
This is just the start of my Pakistan series posts. It’s been a jam-packed month of adventure and I can’t wait to share with you everything I’ve learned about this wonderful country. Pakistan’s tourism industry is very much still developing, but I haven’t
The pioneer of women-only travel, Wild Women Expeditions, is helping women in Peru ride a wave of change. Peruvian women can now serve as porters as well as play a leading role as guides on mountain treks on the Inca Trail.
Jennifer Haddow, owner and guiding director, says that her company’s itineraries in Peru that are guided by women will now be supported by female porters as well as led by all women guides.
“It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it, that at one point on the Inca Trail is a pass called Dead Woman’s Pass, where it was believed women could not survive. But now they are breaking barriers in their mountains and taking up their place as leaders in adventure travel,” Haddow explains.
Peru is one of many places where women lack opportunity in the growing tourism industry. Breaking the barriers of misogyny and the label of “the weaker sex” impacts the lives of the women who are entering this arena but also impacts their communities who will begin to view a new-found, female economic power these women bring to the table.
“It isn’t easy for women to find work on the Inca Trail as guides or porters. Our approach is to recognize the strength and talents of Peruvian women to forge their own future; we walk in solidarity with them. We hope that there will be more opportunities for women to benefit from tourism on the Inca Trail. We are committed to bringing travelers to Peru who want to see women empowered and who respect local culture,” she says.
“In many countries we work in, women are challenged to break into the tourism industry and find leadership opportunities. Traditional community roles and family responsibilities often mean that women are unable to find work as guides. Creating leadership and employment opportunities for women is at the heart of our mission to make tourism kinder for women. All of our Wild Women tours are led by local women guides, which is core to our commitment to ensure that tourism works for women.”
“Women’s leadership in adventure travel matters,” Haddow underscores. “By hiring women, we create a new foundation for hiring practices within Peru’s growing tourism sector. Women who can support themselves and their families financially are empowered in their communities. In order to create a demand for female guides and porters, it’s up to travelers to seek out socially conscious companies.”
The new porters share Haddow’s enthusiasm. “I’m excited about being a porter because I’ve spent years not earning money and spending all my time cooking at home. I’m proud to be able to provide financially. I have kids that are studying in school and need to help with their school supplies,” said Luciana.
Marlene said: I’m from Huilloc and am working as a porter for the experience of doing the Inca Trail. Many of my girlfriends want to work as porters. Financially, I will be better off to buy food and clothes.”
A Wild Women Expeditions’ tour in Peru supported by female porters is the Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu.
This video shows the local women and their guests on the trails.
Wild Women Expeditions pioneered women-only adventure travel three decades ago. Today it offers more international itineraries than any of its competitors in the women-only sector.
But to Haddow, more important than the size of her company is its on-going, two-fold mission wrapped around the word kind: to support climate justice and to support women to take their place as leaders in the world of outdoor adventure travel. (See more about that here.)
“Our company is about the heart. We want to change how women perceive leadership and empowerment, to value connection and compassion more than the competition. Women are rising in the adventure travel industry and approaching each other and our environment with kindness. This is the key,” she adds.
When most people think of a camping hammock, their first thought is a sleek swath of fabric hanging between two trees. Unbeknownst to many, the straps that hold the hammock in place can ultimately scar the trees that they’re attached to.
In these cases, you need a portable hammock stand to take with you when you want to relax in the great outdoors without harming nature or breaking park rules. If you don’t want to pay for expensive hammock stands at the store though, there are DIY portable hammock stand plans that can play nice with your budget.DIY Outdoor Camping Adventure travel DIY Outdoor Camping DIY Outdoor Camping
DIY Hammock Stand Plans
Making your own hammock gear is as satisfying as it is practical. There are several stand designs you can choose from that are relatively simple to assemble and transport on all your many adventures.
The following stand ideas are also excellent options if your backyard trees are too frail (or nonexistent) to handle the weight of the hammock. If you’re looking for a fun weekend project, here are a few plans to get you started. DIY Outdoor Camping Adventure travel DIY Outdoor Camping DIY Outdoor Camping
“Dabberty” Foldable Wood Hammock Stand
When it’s folded, the “Dabberty” stand looks like a series of boards laid out in a single layer side-by-side. When it’s unfolded, the base of the hammock supports two diagonal wood posts rising in a V-formation. The hammock can be tied to the two outside posts. You can also cover the stand with a low tarp to keep the sun and insects off your face. DIY Outdoor Camping Adventure travel DIY Outdoor Camping DIY Outdoor Camping
A foldable hammock stand is a great way to get the flexibility you need to go from camping trip to camping trip, or just to store in your garage. Of the four ideas listed here, this project is likely to be the most challenging because the directions are only partially explained.
However, it’s also super cool looking and functional. It’s likely to be the most portable, and stable due to its base — especially if you want to fit at least two people in the hammock. If you can follow the video step-by-step, and decipher the diagram, you can design a stand that’s strong enough to hold whoever wants to kick back and put their feet up.
There are many different types of vacations to choose from in this amazing world we live in. But if active and adventure travel is what you’re looking for then this is the article for you. We have asked some of the most well traveled people we know what their favorite active and adventure travel destinations in Europe are and have compiled their answers for you right here.
Whether you’re looking for moderate activities like nature hikes, cycling and kayaking or if you want to challenge yourself with more extreme adventures like mountain climbing, white water rafting or even base jumping our travelers have provided some fabulous options all over the world.
Travelers Choice for Adventure Travel Destinations in Europe
One of our personal favorite destinations for active and adventure travel destinations in Europe is Cappadocia, Turkey. This semi-arid region in central Turkey is famous for it’s surreal landscape formed by ancient volcanic eruptions and centuries of wind and river erosion.
Aside from just simply open mouthed gawking at the amazing moon-like scape and “fairy chimneys” there are plenty of exciting active pursuits in Cappadocia. Hiking through the valleys from town to town reveals all sorts of interesting sights including honeycomed caves and other unique geological features. Exploring the underground cities, some dating back as far as the prehistoric period, is an adventure in itself and a real challenge for those not fond of tight spaces. But our absolute top experience in Cappadocia is riding in a hot air balloon.
Two things makes a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia very unique. One is the fairytale landscape and the other is the sheer number of balloons in the sky. It’s not unusual to have up to 100 balloons in the air which makes for a spectacular sight.
One of the most beautiful fjords in Norway, Lysefjord, is home to incredible hikes, stunning sea kayaking, scenic cycles and, for adrenaline junkies, there’s even the opportunity to base jump.
Lysebotn is most famous for its three incredible hikes at Preikestolen, Kjerag and Flørli. Indeed, it was a picture of Kjeragbolten, a free hanging rock impossibly wedged in a mountain crevice overlooking Lysefjord, that sealed the deal on our Norway trip. If you want to witness a pure adrenaline rush watch the base jumpers leap from the top of the Kjerag or, if you’re an experienced base jumper, you might want to make the leap yourself!
The iconic Pulpit Rock, jutting out into the Lysefjord, is one of the most recognizable spots in Norway and it’s from the summit where, like a preacher on a pulpit, you can gaze down the sheer cliff face into the Fjord below. Flørli 4444, the stairway to heaven, is a challenging 4,444 step hike up the longest wooden stairway in the world.
Sea kayaking and cycling are other popular Lysefjord activities and provide the perfect opportunity to appreciate the vastness of the fjord and check out its famous sights from a different perspective.
Salzburger Saalachtal is a fantastic place to go for an adventure travel and outdoors trip. This region is in west Austria and nestled in a valley with the Saalach River running through and breathtaking mountains and scenery all around.
While in Saalachtal a few of the fun activities you’d have the opportunity to do, include rock climbing or a Via Ferrata up sheer rock faces. Or you could try your luck down the Saalach River for White Water Rafting. This involves working as a team to steer the boat, avoiding protruding rocks and tackling rapids. And for those that want to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in Austria head up to Almenwelt Lofer, which is a ski resort in the winter and an incredible place to hike or mountain bike in the summer. Up there you’ll also find typical Austrian cows and huts, and you’ll feel like you’re having the perfect escape.”
Alentejo is the biggest region in Portugal and righteously considered as one of best options for active travel in the southern land.
The region offers numerous hiking paths with different terrains. Thus, hardcore hikers can enjoy the steep Lousã Mountain while exploring the unique and slowly disappearing schist villages; those who prefer easier paths can have fun in the Serra d’Ossa, a beautiful eucalyptus forest, get a free aromatherapy session, and check out the cork plantations.
To combine nature & history, head to Marvao, a white walls hilltop village where you can get some awesome views of the region.
Not a hiking person? Then have a refreshing dip in the natural and serene lakes near Portalegre, or get your suntan fix on some of the best beaches in Portugal – Praia do Malhão, Farol or Odeceixe, which is an ideal place to get into surfing thanks to many surfing schools there.
Alert for wine lovers! In Alentejo, you can visit the wine cellars or adegas by bike, and taste some of the best wines in the country. Make sure to visit the wineries near the towns of Borba, Vidigueira, Montemor-o-Novo, and Estremoz.
I had been hearing and reading about hiking the Cares River trail in Picos de Europa National Park for years. The park is a hiking mecca filled with breathtaking trails. The Cares River trail is said to be the most challenging, running right through the heart of the national park between the provinces of Asturias and Leon in northern Spain. The land is crisscrossed by rivers, deep gorges and dotted with lakes, forests and peaks, some over 7,000 feet high. The wild landscape is vast and just stunning.
The recommended round trip hike covers 24 kilometers. You can start the trail in either of the two provinces. We started from Poncebos in Asturias to Cain in the province of Leon.
There is so much more to do besides hiking in this often neglected but unique part of Spain. There are several adventure sports outfitters in the area offering rafting, caving, climbing, biking, paragliding, horseback-riding and kayaking. It’s the kind of place you should go to before everybody else finds out about it.
Likewise, rock climbers, alpinists, and mountaineers enjoy the granite peaks for more strenuous activity, some in the winter as well.
Come snow, slopes fill with downhill skiers and snowboarders. In recent years, snowbiking, snowscooting, and snowtubing have been available, as are dog sledding and cross country skiing
And if you want to take it easy, just stroll around historic towns like Starý Smokovec or Tatranská Lomnica; eat at a traditional restaurant; relax at a spa; visit a gallery, museum, or a botanical garden; or canoe in the Štrbské pleso tarn.
Want to escape the crowds for a solitary hiking holiday in the mountains? Head to Georgia. This former Soviet state has yet to become a popular destination like its neighbour Turkey. As a result, it’s hiking routes are in pristine condition, and you don’t have to worry about overcrowding even in high season.
Kazbeki, located in the north eastern parts of Georgia and is home to some of the best hikes. If you are travelling on limited time, hike up to Gergerti Trinity Church. It is a steep climb, but you can reach the top in about two hours.
For those that have more time on their hands, try the popular hike through Chaukhi pass. It’s a 2 to 4-day hike if you return through Arkhoti. The route will take you past the Chaukhi massif with its seven peaks and three beautiful alpine Abudelauri lakes.
The beautiful unspoiled West Coast of Ireland is a paradise for any outdoor enthusiast. There are lots of things to do in Ireland, whatever your level of experience and aspirations are you will sure find some amazing outdoor adventures in Ireland.
The powerful waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the strong wind make Ireland perfect for lovers of the water sports. The coast is ideal for wind surfing, kite-surfing and surfing. Yet you can find plenty of lakes, rivers, sheltered coastline and quiet bays that will be great for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, fly fishing or sea angling.
The dramatic scenery and landscape is also excellent for walking, hiking, running, cycling, rock climbing and horse riding over the hills or at the beach. Ireland is also a golfer’s paradise as one quarter of the world’s real links courses are located in this island, many of them with breath-taking sea views. The range of opportunities for outdoor activities in Ireland are almost endless.
There are many reasons to fall in love with the Azores, one of the greenest places on earth and also deemed one of the most sustainable. Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, this autonomous region of Portugal has a tag line that says it all-”Certified by nature.” Nine temperate volcanic islands, each with a unique personality, offer an abundance of activities for the active and adventure traveler.
Hike the 8,000 ft. summit of Mt. Pico or the rugged coastline of Terceira. Bike across the black lava fields of a Unesco World Heritage site. Lava tubes and collapsed calderas allow for geotourism. Caving, hang-gliding across emerald lakes and kayaking all add to the outdoor allure.
Faial is a renowned sailing capital where boats often stop on their trans-Atlantic journeys. Each of the islands has their own marina. Deep waters provide a paradise for fishing enthusiasts, and world records for some species have been caught in the Azores. The mild climate allows golfers to enjoy a game with beautiful views year round. After all that activity, hot springs and natural pools warmed by volcanic fissures offer soaking spots for tired muscles before diving into all the great food on the islands’ menus.
There are definitely hiking trails more demanding than the ones found in Italy’s region of Umbria, but few are as satisfying. Umbria, situated in a landlocked position, is the most verdant region in Italy and is considered it’s “green heart”. There are many hills and valleys, replete with vineyards and groves, that make for romantic jaunts. This region is also home to some of the most sacred Christian pilgrimage sites, not the least of which is the hill town of Assisi; where one can make the same trek Saint Francis himself did in his many hours of prayer. With this said, it’s almost as if the whole town is always hiking.
One of the unique trails is one that can be taken from the town of Spoleto to the town of Norcia, in which one can hike along the trail of where the former railroad tracks that joined the two cities exists. It’s a beautiful narrative of nature taking over industry. This hike can be as challenging as one wants it to be.
What Umbria lacks in coastline, it makes up with its unequaled, beautiful, land. To find a region more gratifying to hike would be your greatest challenge.
Although most people visit the Algarve for a week of soaking up the sun on the beach, the Algarve is also a surprisingly good destination for activities like hiking, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and surfing.
Walking, in particular, is well-established across the Algarve both for self-organised walks and organised walking holidays. There are plenty of short walks, both coastal and inland, all over the Algarve. There are also several multi-day hikes like The Algarve Way and The Fisherman’s Trail, which cover large sections of the Algarve. Although hiking isn’t a popular Portuguese hobby, the walks all tend to be incredibly well-signposted and maintained.
What’s great about the Algarve – surprisingly, considering it’s mainly known for its beaches – is the variety of walks available. Stay in the Central or Western Algarve and you can easily access the mountains of Monchique for hilly walks, the nearby coast for walks along the Algarve cliffs, and the Algarve’s West Coast for walks in the South-West Alentejo National Park.
September to June is the best time for walking (or any outdoor activities). The weather is still warm, but there are fewer tourists than in the summer months and accommodation is considerably cheaper.
One of our favorite adventure travel destinations in Europe is Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. If you look at a map of Lake Garda, it’s wide at the bottom and narrows at the top – and the northernmost section, belonging to the Trentino region, is where the fun is really at!
There are so many things to see and do in Lake Garda– the lake is surrounded by mountains reaching up to 2000 meters above sea level and offering a range of adventure activities that has no equals in the country. Naturally, you can hike in the mountains and swim in the lake – but the region is also one of Europe’s best rock climbing hotspots, with nearby Arco having some world-famous crags, and there are opportunities for canyoning and via ferrata. The lake is also great for water sports – it’s windy every day, making it ideal for sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing…. truly an adventurer’s paradise.
I know your first thoughts of Scotland’s summers are rain but that does not stop us hitting the hills or treading out waters. Did you know that Thurso in Scotland has hosted two surfing competitions? Rad eh! Scotland sure is famous for its scenery but those mountains are not just for looking at. Visitors to the Scottish Highlands can hike amongst nature and not all of the treks are strenuous or require a guide (some do). For example, the Stac Pollaidh in Ullapool (which is one of the bigger villages on the increasingly popular North Coast 500 road trip trail) takes a mere two hours to get up and down again and the views are worth it.
Adventure travellers can also take to the waters in the Scottish Highlands. There are companies which offer kayaking, canoeing, river rafting and tubing and, of course, you can take your own devices into the turquoise seas of Mellon Udrigle or Clachtoll. We may not see the sun as often as the Maldives but we certainly have beaches that can compete with theirs.
The beautiful island of Hvar located just off the Croatian coast is well known in the travel world. The island is world famous for hosting celebrities, fancy yachts, and being a backpackers party haven. However, there is so much more to Hvar than that. Hvar is one of the best places in Europe to live a balanced lifestyle.
Hvar Island is a Croatian jewel with so much natural beauty it is hard not to want to be outside and hike. There are many great hiking trails around the island you could spend a whole week here covering just a few. Rock climbing and cliff diving are also great adventures to have in the Mediterranean. And the clue turquoise waters make Hvar a great destination to try your hand at diving and snorkeling. However, one of my favorite activities to do on the island was rent a kayak our and explore the 21 islands that make up the Pakleni Islands.
There are so many great adventure activities for all ages as well as delicious Mediterranean cuisine it’s easy to see why this is such a fabulous spot to live a healthy lifestyle on.
The last time I played golf at Stoke Park, I was only able to play four of the middle nine holes dues to a visiting party following behind us. On a recent visit I was therefore able to rectify this and played the full 1 to 18 holes. Stoke Park has 27 holes made up of three interlinked 9-hole courses – the Colt, the Alison and the Lane Jackson. It is recognised as one of the Top 100 courses of England.
The bunkers on holes 10 to 18 have now been fully restored and refurbished and I can vouch for their difficulty by the fact that by the end of my round I felt as though I should be carrying a bucket and spade as well as a full complement of clubs. They really are the most vicious of traps surrounding, as they do, every large green.
Junior golf is thriving at Stoke Park. Whilst I was there I saw the Junior Golf Summer Camp in operation – what a happy, enthusiastic bunch of under 14s.
Bringing golf to Juniors is great to watch and is the life blood of the future of the sport. This strategy at Stoke Park is already paying off as they number Conor Gough aged 16 amongst their members. He has been selected for the Walker Club, won the England Golf Awards prestigious “Performance of the Year” and played at the British Masters by invitation from Tommy Fleetwood who had previously won the same award. This was all achieved whilst he was studying for his GCSEs. I heard that he plays the first hole – par 5, 545 yards – with a 3 iron, wedge and putter to achieve a birdie on most of his outings on the course.
New practice areas have been developed and are a significant addition to the golfing facilities. These include a large putting green, a wedge range allowing the opportunity to work on shots from 100 yards and extensive improvements on the driving range. The swing studio has been upgraded but the most interesting new facility is the simulators providing golfers the ability to practice on all of the 27 holes at Stoke Park whatever the weather. Movable tee plates also simulate all the different lies that can be experienced on the course.
Food at Stoke was as delicious and imaginative as ever using the finest locally sourced ingredients. Chris Wheeler has lost none of his flair and inventiveness – in fact to my mind – he goes from strength to strength. I was fortunate to dine both at The Orangery and at Humphrey’s where Chris is Executive Chef The home smoked scallops with rose tempura, pea purée and pickled radish was delicious particularly as the roe was also used – very unusual unfortunately these days.
Desserts were divine. Chocolate brownie with banana ice cream and raspberry soufflé with lavender shortbread and ice cream.
Chris Wheeler is amazing – whether he is catering for 2 or 250 people his food is always innovative but never over the top pandering to the fickle fate of fanciful foodies. Food is respected allowing the high quality sustainable ingredients to zing through in the dishes he creates tickling the taste buds but not forgetting the presentation which is so important.
If there’s one holiday that you really, really want to get right it’s the all-important honeymoon. That’s one of the main reasons newly-weds tend to play it safe and follow a well-worn path to a handful of classic romantic destinations such as the Maldives, Italy or Tanzania. Don’t get me wrong – these destinations are nothing short of fabulous, but I wouldn’t have started a travel company with a name like mine if having a different take wasn’t part of the process. So where are these heroic honeymoon destinations that combine all the romance, glamour, and luxury you’ll expect from the most important holiday you ever take, but throw in an all important leftfield leaning?
A tried and tested destination, granted, but often overlooked as a honeymoon hangout. The sales pitch? For starters, short flights relative to some honeymoon destinations that add jet lag to post-wedding exhaustion. Then there’s the sheer exoticism of Marrakech, a likely starting point for any Moroccan ‘moon. There’s little to match the romance of an elegant riad with its courtyards and air of elegant calm, discretely tucked away down an alleyway away from the bedlam of the medina. Next, head to the Atlas Mountains and somewhere sublime like Kasbah Toubkal for continued pampering and the chance to throw in some activity with a trek through extraordinary scenery. For a touch of Lawrence of Arabia-style glamour you can then head over the mountains to Ouazarzate and Dar Ahlam – another luxurious kasbah-style property – and their Desert Camp deep in the dunes for a private glamping (with real emphasis on the ‘glam’) experience that’s hard to beat on the romance-ometer.
A little bit bonkers, a whole lot amazing, Madagascar is the coming force of African destinations, and a great choice for originality seeking honeymooners. This is the place for a different take on the well-worn ‘bush and beach’ combo honeymoon, with lemurs replacing leopards and the white sand beaches and luxury lodges of Madagascar now giving the East African variety a run for their money. On the subject, long-range wedding planners should note the opening of ultra-luxurious Miavana on the private island of Nosy Ankao in October 2016. It’s set to be an instant classic.
Step in to the country that’s probably most ‘other’ (in a good way) from the UK. Japan is a place in which to immerse yourself as a couple, and makes for a truly enlightening first marital experience as you negotiate the fascinating customs and culture of one of the great destinations together. Stay in a traditional ryokan inn where you can enjoy a kaisekibanquet dressed in your yakata dressing gown in your bedroom, or the hi-tech and hi-luxury hotels in Tokyo that are among the most spoiling anywhere in the world. As for the various destinations in Japan itself, Tokyo, Kyoto and the rural region of Hakone (home to Mount Fuji) are unmissables, but if beach is a prerequisite, the southern islands of Okinawa offer beach lodges – ryokan-style, of course.
If you’re planning on marrying in Summer (let’s face it, most of us do) then Europe looms large as the perfect honeymoon destination because our home continent is at her finest and it means no long flights. The obvious choice at this point would be Italy, but that’s what everyone else is thinking, and the attendant sky-rocketing prices can be a real turn-off. Besides, who wants the distraction of the rather lovely looking locals when your betrothed’s eyes should only be for you? No, far safer to head to Portugal, the European destination that has rediscovered its mojo in a major way. We’re loving Lisbon at present, and there are so many superb new boutique hotels that you could do a wonderful road trip honeymoon, starting in picture perfect Porto (stopping off at Six Senses’s first Euro-opening in the Douro Valley), then taking in Lisbon followed by too cool for school Comporta, the next big beach thing, and finally the inland Alentejo region for wine tasting and walking in beautiful surroundings.
One of the unsung gems of Central America, Belize packs a lot into a small place. The Francis Ford Coppola hotels at Turtle Inn (for beach action) and inland at Blancaneaux are lovely romantic retreats, as is the film director’s third property, La Lancha, for the – highly recommended – pop over the border into Guatemala to see the awesome Mayan city of Tikal. The main event, though, is the coast, the cayes and some excellent diving. Base yourself at boutique chic El Secreto on Ambergis Caye and relax or dive/snorkel the nearby barrier reef (the second longest in the world) and Hol Chan marine reserve.
Australia is a wild and beautiful place, a land whose color palette of red outback sands and Technicolor reefs frames sophisticated cities and soulful Indigenous stories. Australia The Ultimate Travel Guide | Best Places to Visit | Top Attractions: Sydney Opera House Sydney Harbor Bridge Great Ocean Road Melbourne Blue Mountains National Park Great Barrier Reef Kangaroo Island Fraser Island Bondi Beach Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park