Are you chained to a desk all week dreaming for a chance to get outdoors? Do you live in a concrete jungle dying for fresh country air? Do you have itchy feet longing for a trail to hike on no matter what the weather? Being all of the above, here are my favorite hikes from around the world!
WINTER – LAVA HIKE ON HAWAII’S BIG ISLAND
What better way to spend winter than on an island wherein it is eighty degrees all year round. Once you tire of sun, surf and sand, it is time to head to Kalapana for a hike over the newest land on earth to search for the freshest lava flowing into the ocean. Hiking on black lava fields as far as the eyes can see is so out of this word. And consider it your lucky day if you see a plume of smoke in the distance because that is where fiery lava meets the ocean.
Hiker’s tip: Make sure you are wearing close toed shoes as the rocks are hot and
gloves because the terrain may be beautiful, but the newly hardened lava rocks are so sharp that if you fall, you will have plenty of cuts.
SPRING – BATHING MONKEYS IN JAPAN’S HELL VALLEY
If you find yourself in Japan in early spring and cherry trees have yet to blossom, make your way to Jigokudani or Hell Valley. This valley near Nagano got its name due to steam and boiling water that bubbles from crevices on the ground. It is famous for a large population of Japanese macaques or snow monkeys that love a dip in the onsens or hot springs from December to March. A mile-long hike on a snow covered mountain trail leads to a circular stone tub built on top of a natural hot spring where you will find snow monkeys relaxing and frolicking in the wild.
Hiker’s tip: Book a room at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in the nearby ski village of Nozawaonsen where one can use the public bathhouses for free and try dumplings steamed over onsen water.
SUMMER – INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU IN PERU
Summer in North America means mild winter (almost autumn-like) in South America which calls for great hiking conditions. There are two major hikes to Machu Picchu, the classic 4-day route that traverses three imposing mountain passes for 26 miles and the sacred 2-day 14-mile trail that bypasses much of the mountain. These hikes begin at an elevation of 8,000 feet and it is a must to acclimatize first in Cuzco for a couple of days. Drinking coca tea and avoiding alcohol while getting used to the altitude are highly recommended to prevent acute mountain sickness which could make or break your hike.
Hiker’s tip: Bring plenty of insect repellant as there are sand flies that like to eat human flesh. Their bites are not painful, but it will leave you bleeding at first and itchy for weeks.
AUTUMN – CHATEAU TO TEA HOUSE HIKE IN BANFF, CANADA
Leaf lovers can hike from Banff National Park’s Lake Louise to Lake Agnes on a 2.2 mile trail while enjoying one of the best fall foliage destinations in North America. The trail starts at the Fairmont Hotel’s French-inspired chateau. After an uphill climb on switchbacks, pass by Mirror lake, and arrive at a waterfall. Rest and take photos because next to it are two sets of wooden staircases which serve as the final ascent to a wooden Alpine tea house built on top of a waterfall. Reward yourself with a cup of steeped tea and fresh baked scones before exploring nearby Lake Agnes.
Hiker’s tip: Arrive early before the horde, bring extra layers as it is extra cold on Lake Agnes and the teahouse is cash only for they have no electricity.
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Written by Faith Azul-Evia. Faith is an avid flashpacker (a slightly older version of a backpacker with a bigger budget but still wants to avoid a packaged version of a destination) and believes that her travels start as soon as she steps out of her NY apartment building. She is in constant search of new places to explore, eat, drink, sleep, spa, run, hike and yoga. She has been to more than 40 countries on 6 continents and dreams of going to Antarctica someday. Follow her @faithflashpacks on Instagram.