Action and adventure holidays: Mountain high

Action and adventure holidays: Mountain high

From Everest Base Camp to Kilimanjaro, the world is full of peaks your clients will love to conquer, says Joanna Booth

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It’s 60 years to the month since Edmund Hillary and Norgay Tenzing became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The world’s highest mountain has lost none of its glamour in the intervening years.

While reaching the summit is still a feat only open to expert climbers, making it to Base Camp can be achievable for anyone with a decent level of fitness and a healthy dose of mental fortitude.

And if the Himalayas don’t appeal, there are other peaks to tempt potential trekking clients. From popular choices such as Kilimanjaro to easier options closer to home (Explore offers a three-day trek up the UK’s highest peak Ben Nevis) specialist adventure operators can give customers a smooth journey and peace of mind.

EVEREST


Your clients won’t be able to follow in the footsteps of Hillary and Tenzing all the way to the 8,848 metre-high summit of the world’s highest mountain, but a trek to Everest Base Camp (at 5,380 metres) is still a major achievement, providing spectacular views of the Himalayas and major bragging rights upon their return.

Taking an organised trip means they will have guides, porters to carry the lion’s share of the luggage, and expertly-planned itineraries building in time to acclimatise – a must at such high altitude.

If clients are spontaneous they could join one of the anniversary treks at the end of May – there are still a couple of places available on The Adventure Company’s 18-day trek, from £1,959 departing May 24, and on Nepal Uncovered’s similar itinerary, which has £100 off, starting from £649 excluding flights, departing May 19.

The best times to trek are from mid-March to the end of May, and from the start of September to mid-November, avoiding the very cold winter and wet summer periods.

Imaginative Traveller offers an alternative route to Base Camp, trekking via Gokyo, known for its spectacular lakes. Starting from £758 land-only and at 19 rather than 16 days, it’s longer than the classic route, but the views of the Himalayan peaks from the summit of Gokyo Ri are worth the extra time.

Explore has two new itineraries for this year that include Everest Base Camp. The Original Everest Base Camp Trek is an extension of the classic trek, following the entire route Hillary and Tenzing took from Jiri to Base Camp over a 24-day trip.

The 22-day Island Peak Ascent visits Everest Base Camp and also includes ascents of Kala Pattar (5,545 metres) and Island Peak – at 6,181 metres, one of Nepal’s highest trekking peaks. The trips start from £2,377 and £2,725 respectively, including flights.

KILIMANJARO


Africa’s highest mountain may be dwarfed by Everest, but at 5,895 metres it’s possible for ordinary mortals to climb right to the top. It rises from the rolling plains of Tanzania – Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest free-standing mountain – making this three-coned, dormant volcano a pretty impressive prospect. There’s no technical climbing, just walking, but with high elevation, low temperatures and the potential for high winds, it’s not an easy option.

The Adventure Company offers three 10-day trips following different routes to suit different levels of fitness. The easiest, the Rongai Route, has the most gradual ascent, approaching the mountain from the north, with views over Masai lands so climbers may spot monkey, buffalo and elephant.

The Marangu Route is the classic option, and allows those who don’t enjoy camping to make the trek staying in huts rather than tents. Experienced trekkers could try the challenging Machame Route, with the steep ascents made worthwhile by views of ice fields and the mountain’s scree-covered dome. The three trips start from £2,129, £1,999, and £1,999 respectively, including flights.

Many travellers will want to twin a climb with a safari, and Imaginative Traveller offers a 14-day Serengeti & Kilimanjaro trip that offers just that, from £1,946 excluding flights.

Rainbow Tours reports that honeymooners who take on the Kilimanjaro challenge enjoy spending the second week of their special trip relaxing on the beaches of Zanzibar. The operator offers a trip incorporating the Rongai Route climb with a week at the Matemwe Beach Village, from £3,590 including flights.

For those who are gluttons for punishment, Explore offers a 16-day trip that sends clients to acclimatise for their Kilimanjaro climb by trekking up Mount Kenya first, from £3,097 including flights.

Mountain high

TOUBKAL


At 4,167 metres, Jebel Toubkal, as it is known in Morocco, is a less challenging option than Everest or Kilimanjaro, with well-defined paths passing through remote Berber villages and terraced fields before hitting steeper stretches. Those who reach the summit are rewarded with views that on a clear day can stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sahara Desert.

New for this year is G Adventures’ seven-day trek, starting and ending in Marrakech, from £349 excluding flights. Accommodation during the trek includes mountain huts and camping, with nights in a hotel in Marrakech at either end.

Explore offers an eight-day option that includes a second chance to ascend Toubkal if weather conditions weren’t favourable on the first day, or an ascent up nearby Ouanoukrim, another 4,000 metres-plus peak, if they were able to complete the climb. From £639 including flights.

KINABALU


Mount Kinabalu in Borneo suits those who want their climb to be just one part of a wider trip. The three-day ascent to the summit gives clients the chance to prove their mountain mettle but leaves plenty of time for Malaysia’s other highlights, which include beaches, jungles and those famous orangutans. It’s not one for slouches though – the jagged ridge rises to a height of 4,095 metres, and there is a very early start on the last day, to reach the summit by sunrise.

It is an easier option than any of those above, which is reflected in the fact you can book clients on a Mount Kinabalu climb with Kuoni and Travel 2, as well as with specialist adventure tour operators. Travel 2 offers a 10-night Malaysia trip, including three nights in Kuala Lumpur, the three-day Mount Kinabalu climb, and five nights at the Beringgis Beach Resort & Spa, from £1,479, including flights.

MONT BLANC


You don’t have to leave Europe to find a very challenging mountain. Mont Blanc sits on the French/Italian border, resulting in two similar nicknames inspired by its snowy cap – La Dame Blanche and Il Bianco.

Ascending the 4,810-metre- peak is undeniably tough. Exodus has redesigned its Mont Blanc Ascent itinerary for this year, giving clients the very best chance of reaching the summit. The climb is attempted over three rather than two days – the extra day helping with acclimatisation to the altitude and also adding flexibility to compensate for weather conditions. The trip itself lasts eight days, beginning with a three-day expedition sleeping in mountain refuges as the guide puts guests through their paces to prepare. The trip costs from £2,099 including flights, and includes use of an ice axe and helmet.

If that all sounds a bit too serious, the Mont Blanc Circuit is less intense. A series of paths linking the seven valleys that surround the mountain and passing through France, Italy and Switzerland, it’s less challenging than the summit, but gives clients the chance to trek through the same beautiful Alpine landscape.

G Adventures has a 10-day trek starting from £799 excluding flights, and for those who prefer a bit more comfort, Exodus’s 15-day Mont Blanc Hotel Trek stays in family-run hotels and basic inns, from £2,049 including flights.

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