From as far back as can be remembered, mountains have played a central role in the lives of people in every region of the world. Communities living close to the world’s great mountains have looked up at their rocky, sometimes snowcapped peaks, and revered them as an inspiration for adventure, as a source of spirituality, and as a provision for energy, water, food and medicine.
In more modern times, mountains have become places to escape away from the daily grind of city life – these high-altitude rocky sanctuaries are where we can escape to a luxury lodge with our family and friends, where we can free our minds in the fresh, crisp mountain air, and where we can experience the thrill of trekking, skiing, paragliding and climbing. Through the lens of camera, mountains also provide spectacular scenes to photograph – and to take back down with us, when we return home. Here’s a look at three mountain destinations not to miss out on – and where you can stay at each one.
Tanzania: Kilimanjaro inspiration
One of the most frequented natural landmarks in Tanzania, the 5,895 metre-high Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest peak, and a climb to the top is the definitive African experience for those with a heart for adventure. What makes the summit extra alluring is that, with enough training and preparation, it’s in reach for most people: no mountain climbing skills or extreme fitness is needed. Just a good dose of stamina and courage to reach the top. For those that are quite content to gaze up at Kilimanjaro’s magnificence from below, there are a handful of luxury lodges offering spectacular views of the peak from the “ground-level” African plains. The Original Maasai Lodge (www.africaaminilife.com) for instance, is a luxury lodge built in a traditional Maasai style – and from where, every morning, you can experience the sun rising up from behind Kilimanjaro’s snow-capped peak. If you’re in search of pure African beauty, Kilimanjaro won’t fail to inspire – either from the top, or from below.
Nepal: Land of the Himalayas
Nepal is a land shrouded in magic and mystique. Its home to countless valleys and gorges filled with thick green jungle; a colourful collection of cultures and tradition; quaint wooden tea houses high up in the hills; the iconic travellers’ city of Kathmandu; and a people that place a rich spiritual existence close to their hearts. Of course, Nepal is also home to the highest and most magnificent mountain peaks in the world, the Himalayas. For serious mountain climbers, the Himalayas need no introduction, but there are also dozens of single and multiple-day treks geared for all levels of skill and fitness – classics like the Everest Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Circuit, and Poonhill Trek come to mind – which all bring you up close to some of the most majestic mountains and alpine terrain in the world. And then there are the mountain lodges, like the famous Hotel Everest View (www.hoteleverestview.com) in the Khumbu region of Nepal. Situated within the Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal, the hotel offers a 360 degree view of the awe inspiring peaks – including Mount Everest. Staying true to its mountain-adventure heritage, the only way to access Hotel Everest View is via a two-day trek through pine and rhododendron forests from nearby Lukla Village; or more recently, via helicopter!
Germany: High adventure on the Zugspitze
Around an hour-and-a-half drive south of Munich in the Bavarian Alps lies Germany’s highest mountain – the awe-inspiring Zugspitze. At 2,962 metres above sea level, the Zugspitze is the highest mountain in the country and home to three glaciers and Germany’s highest ski resort. The 20 kilometres of pistes enjoy a deep covering of natural snow for skiing and boarding for six months of the year, explains the official Zugspitze visitor’s site. The Zugspitze is also an attractive destination for non-skiers: Right at the top, an impressive 360 degree panorama opens up to reveal extensive views of over 400 mountain peaks in four countries. There are also two toboggan runs here, an igloo village and a bunch of eateries. And, for those seeking a luxury Zugspitze stay, the Werdenfelserei boutique hotel (www.werdenfelserei.de) is located right at the bottom of this famous mountain.
Fly Oman Air!
Oman Air flies to Kathmandu in Nepal; Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar in Tanzania; and Munich (and Frankfurt) in Germany. To book a flight visit www.omanair.com
Images: © Shutterstock; Hotel Everest View (www.hoteleverestview.com)