Morocco looks magical in photos, the African light, intricate tile work, desert colors and exotic architecture. Travel articles (here) praise the food and popular bloggers (here) post enviable pictures. Personal friends have raved about it and I even had a friend who lived there after college. So why was I disappointed?? Were my expectations too high or has it changed over the years? I’ve never felt like “prey” like I did in the Medina of Marrakech. So I wanted to pass along a few tips.
The Dolomites, situated in Northwest corner of Italy on the Austrian border, are considered one of the most a beautiful mountain landscapes in the world. Once known as the “Pale Mountains”, this natural paradise was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2009. In early July, my husband and I treated ourselves to a week hiking the Dolomites with REI (outdoor adventure company) and are still giddy from the experience. Sipping cocktails poolside sounds relaxing but active trips can be life-changing. When my heart was racing after 2 hours of vertical climbing, I felt completely present and at peace. The alpenglow colors illuminating the rocks at sunset, the emerald pastures, greenish-blue lakes, flowering meadows, vertical walls, and cragged peaks make this one of the most remarkable mountain ranges to explore. If you aren’t convinced yet, keep scrolling…..
I had two reactions when I first arrived at the Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary in Thailand that rescues and rehabilitates overworked elephants. Part of me was giddy with excitement to see such amazing animals up close but I also felt a deep sadness in the pit of my stomach when I learned what they had suffered prior to their arrival.
Hiking is my bliss and one of my favorite “quick trips” is going to Boulder, Colorado to hike. Boulder has many great hikes (Mt. Sanitas or The Royal Arch) but a quick 90 minute drive takes you to Rocky Mountain National Park. National parks are great places to hike. The trails are gorgeous and well marked, the parking system is organized with timely shuttles and friendly rangers are available to answer your questions. But, crowds swell during the summer and Rocky Mountain National Park gets overrun with visitors. However, this year we went during the eclipse and lucked out! Not only did we find the perfect hike but the park was empty, we had it all to ourselves.
If you like adventure but also like the luxuries of indoor plumbing and hair dryers, then hiking the Salkantay trail with REI is the trip for you! This past August, my husband and I hiked the Salkantay lodge to lodge trail with REI. This stunning 43 mile (6 day) hike in the Peruvian Andes includes a 15, 200 ft. pass, dips down through the rain forest, and finishes at the legendary city of Machu Picchu. It’s one of REI’s highest rated trips and I can see why.
After completing the Tour De Mount Blanc with REI 2 years ago and loving it, we chose them again for this adventure. I wince at the rates, but in the end, you can’t put a price on an amazing experience. REI adventure travel is seamlessly organized and they hire the best local guides. Their active vacations are for anyone who wants an adventure with pampered accommodations.
This is a photo journey of my 5 day hike to Machu Picchu on the Salkantay trail.
(Above) llama love at Machu Picchu.