By Christine Maul-Pfeifer
Walking is a great form of exercise. From helping you lose weight and de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of many chronic diseases, going for regular walks is one of the best things you can do for your health. It’s easy to do, and you don’t need much equipment: some good hiking boots or shoes, comfortable, climate-appropriate clothing, and maybe a backpack full of water and energy bars is all you need for simpler hikes.
If you’re super adventurous and plan to go up to higher altitudes on more challenging hikes, you may want to take some oxygen canisters along with you. Personally, when I hiked up the Inca trail, I prepared my body for the heights with Boost Oxygen. Unlike other travellers, I wasn’t huffing and puffing my way along the verdant mountains of Peru – nor did I get a nasty headache from the altitude.
But Peru isn’t the only country that offers amazing hiking: eco conscious travellers can discover waterfalls in Costa Rica, clouds of butterflies in India and all kinds of other delights at these sustainable hotels for walkers and hikers, handpicked for those who love a good trek in the midst of the best of what nature has to offer.
C G H Earth’s Spice Village in Thekkady, Kerala, is the essence of an Indian tribal mountain village al packed into 35 acres of one hotel property. While strolling around the property may already seem more like visiting a botanical garden, there are many other hiking options.
On the Border Hiking trek, for example, a forest official and two trained guides of the local community will take a group of 6 through the jungle with glimpses of vast plains and lofty escarpments. For discovering birds, butterflies and other wildlife, the 5 km “Nature Walk” will offer unique spectacular experiences in nature you’ll never forget.
Hidden in the Costa Rican rain forest, there’s Macaw Lodge, the perfect destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers. The location is directly in the transition zone between rain and dry forests, so visitors can encounter many different kinds of flora and fauna. Find yourself in a world of scenic beauty with a Natural History Walk, where the trail leads deep into the forest to an impressive waterfall. Morning people can take the “Early Bird Walk” at 6 a.m. – yes, it’s early, but you’ll be amazed by the 350 bird species seen at that hour throughout the lodge’s gardens and trails. After a long day of walking, you can stretch out any tired muscles with the lodge’s wonderful outdoor yoga classes.
Located near mystical Machu Picchu, the famously well-preserved Inca city, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in Peru is perfectly positioned for historic hiking experiences. On the day long Inca Trail trek, you can discover all the sacred sites that have fascinated so many.
Once back at the resort, you’ll be fascinated by nature’s diversity on the hotel’s orchid trail, where you’ll see 372 different orchid species in their natural habitat and discover the fascinating ecosystem of Machu Picchu’s surrounding forests, lush with indigenous plants and animals. The resort also offers walks to its organic gardens and spectacled bear rescue centre, as well as other hikes throughout the majestic cloud forest covered mountains.
From cultural visits to walking treks, at the Hunas Falls resort in Kandy, Sri Lanka, there are many breathtaking options for walking! Part of their nature program is the self-guided tree trail, which runs around the lake through the sub-montain zone. It offers not only a glimpse of Kandy’s lush variety of trees, but also the region’s colorful butterflies and exotic birds, which can best be seen during the early morning. A resident naturalist accompanies guests on the other 14 tours offered at the eco resort. From a Mount Hunnasgiriya Trail with panoramic views of mountains and valleys to an excursion to Sembuwatta Lake, every walk is an incredible experience.
Right in the centre of the impressive Dolomite mountain range, the eco resort Leitlhof not only offers spa experiences with locally sourced herbs, but also several hiking tours to keep guests moving. Take hikes in the Drei Zinnen and Fanes-Sennes-Prags nature reserves, whose beauty is preserved by UNESCO World Heritage rules. If you find the 3000 meter climb up the famous “Drei Zinnen” daunting, you, should at least take the hike around them, as it offers unique and gorgeous mountain views. Hotel Leitlhof offers many hiking and climbing tours for people of all fitness levels, from beginners to pro athletes–anyone’s walking ambitions will be met here!
Experience a unique ambiance at 1,050m at the Timber Hotel Forsthofalm in Austria. With overall 400 kilometres of hiking trails, the vacation region is one of the largest and most contrasting hiking regions of Austria. Get active on the different hiking trails or choose from their selection of themed hikes. Catch new energy on the “way of silence” to one of the last inhabited hermitages, and consciously let the power of the ancient mountains harmonize your body, mind and soul. Walkers who love natural remedies might want to try the medicinal plants and alpine flowers trail, while families can embark on an easy 2 hour hiking trail.
Set within the pristine Soysambu Conservancy, The Sleeping Warrior Lodge in Kenya offers breathtaking views on Lake Elmenteita and the Rift Valley. But why only enjoy the view when you can choose a walk right through the middle of these incredible landscapes? Experience “The Out of Africa Walk,” featuring open savannah plains where giraffes, zebras and buffalos are seen regularly. Or embark on “The Botanical Trail,” where a guide will describe the unique indigenous tree species of the area and take you through the shady acacia groves and lava ridges along the way. All walks can be tailored according to fitness levels and interests to give each guest a unique, unforgettable experience.
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