Adventure Travel Fun – Hiking in Switzerland

One agent from every retail office across Canada recently accompanied Trek Holidays’ President Allan Ronneseth on the Explore Worldwide trip “Hiking in the Bernese Oberland”. It turned out to be a great trip with a brilliant mix of activities for all fitness levels, beautiful scenery, good shopping and plenty of optional excursions and time to relax.

We joined the group in the quaint village of Kandersteg. Nestled below the lower peaks of the Bernese Oberland, this is pretty much a one-street-town lined with chalets, hotels and restaurants and little traffic. We used Kandersteg as a base to hike to Oeschinensee, a pretty alpine lake at an altitude of 1580 metres, about a 500 metres climb from the village. This was a warm up day to give us a taste of what the degree of hiking was.

As it turned out no one had any real issues with this and some of us decided to extend the hike with a circuit on top of the cliffs overlooking the lake, while some relaxed in the sun enjoying a well-deserved beer. Day three of the trip saw us hike from Kandersteg to Kiental, another quaint village (as a matter of fact all villages in the Bernese Oberland seem to be extremely quaint!) in the next valley. The hike took us through forests and alpine meadows which, in summer, are covered in carpets of flowers. Towards mid-afternoon we topped out on a ridge separating the Kandersteg and Kiental valleys and enjoyed some wonderful vistas. We followed a trail down to the cable car station and descended about 1000 metres into Kiental. Cable cars, funicular railways and rack-and-pinion railways abound in the area, allowing you to hike at altitude and enjoy some real mountain scenery without putting too much effort in. At the same time, if you do not want to take the trains or cable cars, you can follow one of the many hiking trails up the mountain and make your day as strenuous as you want.

We stayed in Kiental for one night at a local hotel, quite typical for the type of hotels Explore uses in Switzerland. Some rooms had private facilities, while others shared, but always the rooms and bathroom were clean and comfortable and the service very friendly.

Our tour leader knew the area well and in the next days amended the itinerary such that we saw the best of the area. The first major change saw us take trains and a cable car from Kiental to First, a station at 2168 metres above sea level. The views into the valley as one ascends are fantastic, but on this day clouds obscured them on the last portion of the ride. The weather did not stop us from hiking to a mountain hut at the top of Faulhorn, another 500 metres higher. Enveloped in fog and with temperatures near zero, we enjoyed the warm surroundings and hot food here.

The afternoon was optional and some of us hiked down in to the valley to shop, while some of us continued their hike along the mountain range that separates the Grindelwald and Brienz Valleys. In good weather the views over the lakes around Interlaken would have been stunning, but even in the fog the atmosphere was exhilarating, with rocky outcrops and steep drops looming in the ever changing clouds.

Another day we took a rack-and-pinion railway to the ridge above Lauterbrunnen and hiked the beautiful high route to Muerren. Hiking on the west side of the valley we enjoyed spectacular views of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, some of the highest mountains in central-Switzerland. Our picnic lunch, which Explore provided and like on other days had a great variety and amount of food, was had on a spur opposite these beautiful peaks and overlooking the deep valley below.

One optional excursion no one should miss is the train ride to Jungfraujoch, at 3573 metres Europe’s highest station. Perched on the snowy ridge between Monch and Jungfrau, the station offers spectacular views all the way into France and Germany to the north and over the Aletsch glacier stretching away to the south. One can partake in some winter activities that makes any self-respecting Canadian giggle, but one good walk would take you onto the glacier or a nearby viewpoint.

Some of us couldn’t get enough of hiking and decided to throw in one last great hike, along the foot of the famous Eiger North Face. Considered unclimbable for many years, Eiger and its adjoining peaks loom high above you and this hike really lets you appreciate the sheer scale of these mountains.

The Bernese Oberland truly is an area with lots to do and see for people of all physical abilities. Take the Hiking the Bernese Oberland trip if you want a mix of scheduled and optional hikes, or Explore’s Alpine Trails if you want to visit this and other great alpine regions (like Mont Blanc and Matterhorn) on a strenuous trek.

Adventure Travel In Peru – Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu

After months of planning and over a year of dreaming about it, I finally got on a bus from Arequipa to go to Cusco to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. My friend Milana from Los Angeles, who I used to hike and mtn. bike with, and Karen, her longtime friend, were meeting me in Cusco. We were supposed to be there a couple of days early so they could acclimatize but Milana’s flight from Lima was cancelled so she arrived about noon the day before our tour started. I had already met Karen the day before and we had gotten to know each other a bit as we did some sightseeing and hiking together near Cusco.

When Milana arrived, we went to eat at a restaurant just off the plaza and she had ceviche to eat, it is raw fish marinated in lime juice. Either the ceviche or the lack of time to acclimatize to the 11,000 foot altitude in Cusco, or both, got her off to a bad start. She woke up sick the next morning for the start of our four day trek. We had signed up for a group tour, expecting up to 12 people, so we were delighted when the mini bus picked us up in that morning to find only two other people on the tour! An almost private tour for the group price. It didn’t seem like such a small group by the time we added a cook and eight porters to our guide, Carlos, making a total of 15 people. However most of the time we were trekking it was just the six of us, the porters were either packing up camp behind us or rushing on ahead to get ready for us. The service was great but personally the morning tea in our tents when they woke us, the dining tent for all three meals (although it felt really good at dinner time due to the cold) and the fancy menu, etc. was something I would have given up for a cheaper price. They definitely don’t subscribe to the ultra light hiking idea with a cast iron stove and 20 lb. LP gas tank!

One of the things that surprised me on the first day was to see people actually living along the trail, and riding bicycles back and forth. On the second morning there were women and children with burros going up the trail to set up stands to serve breakfast, sell candy, snacks, bottled water and even Gatorade! By the afternoon, that was all behind us as we headed up to Dead Woman’s Pass at 13,770 feet, the highest point on the trail. The scenery had changed from lush rain forest in the morning to sparse vegetation and rocks by the pass, along with being much cooler. When we stopped early in the afternoon at our campsite for the evening, I couldn’t just sit and wait for dinner, I went on ahead to the next pass, exploring side trails along the way. Solid clouds beyond the summit ruined my hopes for a spectacular sunset but it was an enjoyable time anyway.

On day three we got into the high jungle, thousands of more steps, and actually into some of the ancient ruins. Also a seemingly endless variety of orchids and other flowers. One thing we didn’t see was any wild animals, just a few birds. It also seemed like the farther we went, the more tourists there were. The first day we hardly saw anyone else, so I’m not sure where they all came from. By that evening we were back in civilization, with the option of a restaurant, hot shower and cold beer, which many were enjoying.

The final morning we were up early to be the first ones on the trail, hoping to get pictures of Machu Picchu before there were any people there. They actually opened the checkpoint a few minutes early and we were started off in the dark, on the last couple of hours of the trail, arriving at Machu Picchu just after sunrise. For me, one of the highlights of the trip was hiking up Huayna Picchu, the high peak behind the ruins in all the standard Machu Picchu pictures. There was a wonderful trail, steep and rugged, up to the peak, where the views were fabulous! I saw a less used trail going down the backside and followed that a ways but finally had to turn around to meet the others and catch the bus into Aquas Calientes. Only when I got back to the checkpoint at the start of the trail did I find out that it was a loop trail and I could have continued on around the mountain. There was no time to soak in the hot springs, as we got to Aquas Calientes a bit late and then found out that we had to leave early to walk to the train that would take us back to Cusco, because of the landslide that had covered the tracks on the edge of town. A final surprise was that evening when the train stopped a couple of hours before Cusco and the conductor said that was the end of the ride. We never did find out why but ended up having to take a taxi the rest of the way to Cusco, fortunately arriving with no problems.

The trip was great, Machu Picchu was unbelievable and something that pictures can’t do justice to. Never the less, I did take about 400 photos, trying to capture the grander to relive later. I am looking forward to returning to the area to hike from Cusco to Choquequirao, sometimes called the sister city to Machu Picchu, and then on to Machu Picchu. This hike is much less common and allows for exploring on your own.

How to Hike Like a Sherpa and Tips For Your Next Outdoor Recreation Adventure

The best path to good health involves exercise. This does not mean joining a gym and hiring a personal trainer. A brisk walk is great for a cardio workout. Best of all, it's free to walk. After making several circuits around the neighborhood, it might help to expand the walking route. This is where the idea of ​​hiking along a trail comes into play. The abundance of state and national parks means no one would be prohibitively far from a hiking trail. Just because someone has mastered the energetic walk does not mean they are ready to take on the next level of outdoor recreation that would be an intense hike. This is an exercise that should be approached much like the hike itself: Slow and steady. Here are some valuable tips to make sure a hike experience can be a winning one.

Leave the Denim in the Drawer

Check the label on a pair of denim jeans. It will read, "Made with cotton." That's great for casual wear but horrible on a mountain trail. Wet denim takes forever to dry out. It also draws out body heat leaving the wearer shivering. Embracing outdoor recreation means being prepared to embrace the elements and geological waterways. Cotton is not the clothing to be worn on these adventures.

Always Drink Water

Headaches, dizziness, and lack of focus are all signs of dehydration. The number one sign is when a person becomes thirsty. At that moment, the body is asking for water. On a hiking trail, the hiker needs to carry his or her hydration. Ideally, that would mean a six-ounce drink every twenty minutes. That keeps the hydration flowing before the body has a chance to get thirsty. Keep in mind that water is needed just as much on the way down as on the way up.

Break in Hiking Shoes Before the Hike

The first time a person goes on a hike is not the time to break in a pair of hiking shoes. Those shoes should be worn around for a few days before hitting the trail. It is also helpful to give the feet a break. During lunch or rest, remove the shoes and massage the feet. A nice foot cool down will help prolong the outdoor recreation.

Start Early

Hikes work best in the early morning hours. The sun hasn't had a chance to reach its zenith for the day, and that means cooler temperatures. The longer a hiker waits to take to the trail, the less actual time they'll have outdoors. Getting stuck on a trail after dark is not recommended even for the most experienced hikers.

Notify Friends

Despite all the preparation, an outdoor recreation adventure can go south in a heartbeat. Look no further than "127 Hours" for a prime example of that. There is nothing wrong with wanting to commune with nature by hiking solo. However, it is highly recommended that any hiker tells a friend where they are going and what trail they intend to use, just in case.