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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Top 5 Adventure Treks for 2015

Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Journeys International

For some newlyweds, they want nothing more than to lay on a white-sand beach for their honeymoon. However, for the more adventurous lovebirds, we’ve got some life-changing and physical honeymoon ideas. Journeys International is a family-owned, U.S. global adventure travel company and their president, Robin Weber Pollak, recently weighed-in on her Top Five Adventure Treks for 2015.

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Trekking is one of the most exhilarating ways to travel, providing an opportunity to experience landscapes and cultures on a deeply intimate level. For those curious souls who don a pair of walking boots and set out on foot, the rewards can be far and above many other trips. Out of more than 200 trips and 89 active adventures, Journeys International has selected these five as the most unique and rewarding treks for 2015.

Fall Festivals East of Everest (Arun Valley, Nepal) – 12 days

Celebrate Dashain in the Arun Valley with views of the world's highest peaks

This trip offers a spectacular yet accessible opportunity to experience the richest celebration of Himalayan culture among dramatic peaks, away from other travelers, in a region where local people will welcome you with an open candor only seen in such little-visited areas. Bring your camera to capture the amazing photo ops you're sure to encounter!

The trip is planned around Dashain (pronounced "Dah-sai"), the biggest and most widely-celebrated national festival of Nepal. The 15-day celebration is a time for family reunions and rejoicing around themes of the conquest of good over evil. The main deity worshiped during Dashain is the goddess Durga (Kali), the divine mother. 

The giddiness of the festival is heightened by the ideal weather of the season and the anticipation of the imminent rice harvest. This is a pleasant time for trekking in the lush, green hills, a season when clear weather typically allows breathtaking views of distant Himalayan peaks. Makalu, in particular, will be a constant feature of the horizon along your trail.

Your trek will also take you through hill bazaar towns during their weekly bazaar days, allowing you to enjoy the spirit of the market and see different cultural groups in their finest traditional dress. The mighty Himalayas serve as a backdrop for the Arun Valley’s distinctive culture, flora and fauna, making this an unforgettable trekking experience for anyone up for the challenge. The trip is also a photographer's dream. Average daily trekking time is 4-7 hours and daily trekking distance is 5-8 miles. No technical climbing experience or equipment is required.

Patagonia Discovery Safari (Torres del Paine W Trek) – 11 days

A delightful exploration of Chile's Lake District and Torres del Paine National Park

Journey through southern Chile on this trip that takes you to the most scenic and exhilarating places in the Lake District and Torres del Paine National Park. Begin with a day in Santiago where you will get a taste of the trendy, bustling capital of Chile. Then fly south to Puerto Montt, your entry point for the Lake District. The towns in this area are charming, featuring Bavarian architecture and delightful shops and cafés. But the real features are the lakes and rivers, the forests, mountains and even volcanoes, all adding texture to the landscape.

The second half of your trip unfolds in Patagonia, where you enjoy your choice of varied excursions in Torres del Paine National Park. Stay at EcoCamp Patagonia, a delightful, cozy and unique facility nestled in the shadow of the granite towers that give the park its name. You will live and breathe the beauty of the park for four days and enjoy the camp that consistently ranks among Journeys travelers' favorite lodges anywhere in the world.

Mountain Lodge Trek to Macchu Picchu (Lares Trail) – 11 days

A fantastic lodge-to-lodge trek through the Andes

After two days in Cusco for acclimatizing and touring, embark on a six-day guided trek to Machu Picchu, entailing 3-8 hours of hiking per day. Venture through cloud forests and alpine tundra, cross a high pass of over 4700 meters near the glacier-covered peak of Salkantay ("Savage Mountain" in Quechua) and descend into lush semi-tropical valleys. Your first view of Machu Picchu, from the Llactapata Pass on the sixth trekking day, is one that's available to very few travelers. The following day is completely devoted to the site.

If time allows, do add additional time in Peru before and/or after this trek. We're happy to offer our broad experience in this diverse country to help you spend more time in the Andes, on the coast or in the Peruvian Amazon.

Tanzania Full Moon Kili Climb   15 days

Climb Kilimanjaro, safari at Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater, dive Zanzibar!

Journey to the top of Africa by the lightly-used Rongai route that starts just south of the Kenya-Tanzania border. Now open for climbing once again, the Rongai route is regarded by experienced guides to be both easier and more beautiful than the main Marangu trail. The Rongai route begins in attractive farmland and delightful forest, with the possibility of wildlife viewing, and passes through several different climate zones as it works its way towards the summit. An extra day is added to the standard five-day itinerary to ensure maximum acclimatization while offering the best possible chance of enjoying the magnificent scenery. This route retains a sense of unspoiled wilderness and offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the north. After your successful summit, spend the next three days on safari in Lake Manyara and at the Ngorongoro Crater, where you might be lucky enough to see the big five! Your trip ends with days at your leisure at a beautiful, small resort property on the storied island of Zanzibar.

Uganda Gorilla Tracking 11 days

Your own private Uganda gorilla safari with JOURNEYS' guide, Paul Tamwenya

We have developed this 11-day vehicle and hiking safari guided by our multi-talented local partner, guide, birder and naturalist, Paul Tamwenya as the most active and diverse nature safari experience you will find in Uganda. Of course, you will visit the famous Mountain Gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, but you will also seek out the chimps of Kyambora Gorge and at least seven other species of primates. Visit the unique habitats of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park with their varied primates and endemic birds. Your trip will include a hike to meet Pygmies around Kisoro and a 4x4 vehicle safari in the vast and amazing Queen Elizabeth National Park, where you will encounter the highest ratio of large mammals and predators to human visitors in East Africa. Expect to see large numbers of elephants, lions, cape buffalo, kob, crocodiles, hippos, other mammals and many of the 612 species of birds that make the park home. Day hiking on the trip will consist of 3-4 hour walks appropriate to the weather, interests and abilities of our group. Accommodations are in guest houses and tourist hotels; we will not be camping or backpacking. This special trip is offered on a private and very small group basis only.

This itinerary can be easily modified to include additional days of gorilla trekking beyond the one day included in the price. You can also add more time on vehicle safaris in Queen Elizabeth and nine other national parks of Uganda or an extension to Rwanda if your schedule permits. Minimum age for gorilla trekking is 15 years.

For more information on any of these itineraries or to explore the other 150+ trips offered my Journeys International, visit journeysinternational.com.

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