By Ombretta Di Dio
Summertime doesn’t always have to mean throwing on the sunscreen and heading to the beach! If you want to mix up your holiday and really explore nature while breathing some fresh air, check out these high-altitude spots and plan your next mountain vacation.
7 Rocky Mountains (North America)
The Rocky Mountains stretch all the way from British Columbia, Canada to New Mexico, offering 3,000 miles (4,830 km) to explore. Your destination is just a matter of choice; what kind of climate, culture and environment do you like the most? If you’re a fan of bare rocks covered by slight mantles of tundra but still like to feel the warmth of the summer, then Colorado is your destination. If you are charmed by high white pines and can’t stand the city heat, Canada is where you belong. Make sure to check out popular Rocky Mountains parks like Yellowstone National Park, Pikes Peak, and Yoho National Park.
6 Irazù National Park (Costa Rica – Central America)
Irazù is a volcano that, due to its activity and thanks to the wind that endlessly blows in its favor, has the shape and the resemblance of a moonscape. It is the most visited park in Costa Rica. This peak is divided in a myriad of craters characterized by mineral pools that are constantly enriched by rain. The region where this mountain is settled is covered in rainforest and orchids can be admired in the gorgeous botanical gardens. If you’re a fan of coffee, this destination will satisfy your needs-- a number of coffee farms are scattered throughout the area.
5 Swiss Alps (Europe)
If you don’t want to give up typical summer recreational activities like swimming and fishing surrounded by a heavenly blue sky and gorgeous peaks (and where skiing continues in August), then the Swiss Alps won’t disappoint you. These amazing mountains that cover part of Switzerland, France and Italy are full of romantic European charm thanks to little villages like Zermatt, which still present their typical mountaineer aspect thanks to the complete lack of car traffic. In the Swiss Alps you will most likely have a complete vacation enriched by culture, amazing food, outdoor activities and summer fun.
4 Kilimanjaro (Africa)
If you want to see the mountain in its full beauty and are attracted to far and exotic destinations, then Kilimanjaro has a unique scene to offer. Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and the single most elevated in the world. Its National Park is a protected area that surrounds it at its base. As you go from the foothills to the top of this gorgeous mountain you will find typical African animals such as elephants, leopards, and buffaloes. It’s suggested to spend at least 10 days in this destination to be able to appreciate its diversity of flora and fauna and to be able to reach Uhuru Peak. Don't forget to make time to visit the famous Kilimanjaro Glacier!
3 Terskey Ala Too (Kyrgyzstan - Asia)
This picturesque and hidden destination is famous for its “7 Bulls” and “Broken Heart”, the red rocks that resemble the animals and the human organ that give them their names. Rare animals like the Tian-Shan bear, the red wolf, and the snow leopard can also be found in this area. Aside from the typical trekking activities that include visits to lakes Altyn-Arashan and Ala-Kel, this beautiful region offers hot springs that will allow you to deeply relax as there is a large quantity of radon present in the waters. While exploring this region, you will come in contact with local nomadic tribes that will most likely offer the national tea (kumis) to you.
2 Kimberley (Western Australia)
The Kimberley Region is a remote destination that was partially unknown till the 1950’s. Its beauty remains preserved and uncontaminated thanks to the natural disposition of its rather short peaks, making it almost impossible to explore the entire area. A trip to this mountain chain will take you to natural gems like the Mitchell Falls and Bungle Bungles National Park. Finally, if you still need the sweet serenity of water, head to the lively town of Kununurra, where you will be surrounded by astounding lakes, rivers, and water falls.
1 Amazon Basin (Perù – South America)
Definitely the most charming, rich, and exotic destination of them all, the Amazon Basin is covered by the "lungs of the world", the Rain Forest, and is "dampened" by the Amazon River. This area can be explored from many sides, but a suggested way to explore this region is to start with a trip to Manu in Perù. Its National Park was built in 1973 and there are more than 800 different species of birds and 200 mammals. If you’re lucky, you will be able to encounter some native tribes like Matsiguenka, Amahuaca, Yine, Amarakaeri, Huachipaire, Mashco Piros and Nahua. With infinite kinds of trees and the never-silent sound of the jungle, you will be exploring nature at its best. The Amazon is definitely a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.