Photo by Gentl & Hyers/Shakti Himalaya
Courtesy of Mountain Lodges of Peru
On the Salkantay Trek with Mountain Lodges of Peru, you end your daily adventures in the Andes at a gorgeous lodge.
Not all multi-day trekking experiences are created rugged; some allow you to conquer challenging terrain by day and luxuriate in utter comfort (and maybe a hot tub) by night.
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For some avid trekkers, “luxury” means not having to set up a tent and campsite at the end of a long day in the wilderness. These people seek out the networks of simple, serviceable huts scattered across mountain ranges, forests, and rolling countrysides all over the world.
Other hikers prefer their backcountry comforts to be more traditionally luxurious but still want the challenge of a multi-day route. As a result, a number of extravagant trekking experiences have cropped up that beg the question, “If your spacious, multi-room ‘hut’ has a wall of windows, high-thread-count bed linens, a gourmet chef, and an outdoor hot tub, can it really be considered a hut?” Perhaps not, but “hotel-to-hotel hike” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Lodge-to-lodge, chalet-to-chalet—whatever you want to call them, the following trips will get your feet moving every day and let you unwind in plush surroundings with an excellent glass of wine every evening. Of course, five-star opulence isn’t always possible in places as remote as these, but having an ultra-comfortable place to lay your head and someone else organizing everything—logistics, luggage transfers, and maybe even a quick van transfer or two—leaves you with the luxury of simply focusing on the natural world around you.
(All listed prices are based on double occupancy.)
Although the Himalayas offer some of the most remote and punishing trekking terrain in the world, Shakti has managed to create truly indulgent experiences here—in three different locations no less. While the outfitter’s offerings in Ladakh and Sikkim bring travelers to Himalayan villages that most have never heard of, the experience in Kumaon, paired with a stay at the outstanding Shakti 360° Leti lodge goes above and beyond.
Trekkers on the eight-day journey follow country roads through terraced farms and rhododendron forests, past Hindu temples, and from one farming village to the next, meeting and interacting with locals for the first four days. Shakti rents rooms from village families and renovates them so that guests can enjoy fresh, clean accommodations decorated with natural textures, subtle designs, and neutral colors. (Shakti even installed porcelain flushing toilets—a real rarity here.)
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The trip concludes with three nights in one of the four teak-and-slate cottages at Shakti 360° Leti lodge. While you could spend your day relaxing at the lodge, it’s worth it to take a gentle walk (or a more strenuous hike, if you’re up for extra exercise) into the countryside. Or learn to make local specialties like momos and biryani at a cooking class lead by a Shakti chef. Or simply soak in your surroundings: At 8,000 feet above sea level, the views of the Himalayas from here—especially at sunrise—are spectacular. —From $7,595 per person.
For decades, people have flocked to Machu Picchu to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Inca. Most zero in on the Inca trail, but in fact, the Inca made tracks all over the Sacred Valley, and luxury outfitter Mountain Lodges of Peru (MLP) has been guiding people through some of those lesser known rocky mountain passes, cloud forests, and steep, forested river valleys since 2007, connecting its guests to the indigenous Andean communities that still live there, and doing it all in style.
MLP’s seven-day Salkantay Trek does culminate in a visit to Machu Picchu Sanctuary, but first, you’ll travel through blissfully crowd-free sections of the Andes, traversing 15 different ecosystems, exploring the stacked-stone walls of archaeological sites such as Quillarumiyoc, and crossing the Salkantay Pass at 15,213 feet above sea level.
Nights are spent in four of MLP’s proprietary lodges—the Salkantay, Wayra Lodge, Colpa Lodge, and Lucma Lodge—where you can sooth sore limbs in the outdoor Jacuzzis, opt for spa treatments, and enjoy gourmet meals made with ingredients you may have passed on the trail earlier in the day, including quinoa and local mint. Each lodge blends Andean building concepts, such as thatched roofs, with contemporary design touches, such as huge, multi-paned windows that you can sit beside and take in commanding views of the landscape you conquered earlier in the day. —From $2,990 per person.
Italy, France, Switzerland
The history of mountain refuge networks in the Alps—particularly in Italy and France—makes this a classic destination for hut hiking, and no peak here is more iconic to trekkers than the range’s tallest: Mont Blanc. Those travelers who circle the massif (rather than summit it) pass through France, Italy, and Switzerland, enjoying the culture and cuisine of each. Some hikers camp, others stay in refuges—or basic, yet clean and welcoming guesthouses—along the way.
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But MT Sobek ups the ante on this classic route with its Tour du Mont Blanc experience, one of the adventure travel company’s most popular trips for over 40 years. On its 10-day trek, you’ll cover the same terrain that draws so many to the heart of the Alps: Roman roads that cut through wildflower-strewn alpine meadows, narrow trails that lead to mountain lakes, and gravelly high-altitude washes that give way to glaciers. But at night, you’ll descend into charming hamlets to feast on fresh, delicious fare and to sleep in fine hotels, resorts, and chalets with warm, wooden interiors, plus large bay windows and balconies and an occasional spa or sauna. When you’re not hiking, expect to spend your time relaxing and enjoying Alpine cheese and Rhône wine while MT Sobek’s expert guides take care of everything else. —From $5,995 per person.
The Great Walks of Australia is a network, supported by Tourism Australia, of independently owned hiking experiences that highlight some of the country’s best natural wonders, while providing guests with luxury accommodations. Most of the collection’s 12 offerings explore the terrain from a single homebase, but its newest trip, the four-day Three Capes Lodge Walk operated by Tasmanian Walking Company, is the first in which guests actually trek from one night’s lodge to the next.
The two brand-new buildings (guests spend two nights at the second lodge) are located within Tasman National Park and were designed with sustainable features including solar-powered technology and Archimedes wind turbines, which don’t threaten local birdlife. Here, you’ll enjoy quick access the island’s dramatic southern coast where you can explore woodlands and dolerite cliffs; swim in the Southern Ocean; climb the 985-foot Arthurs Peak; spot albatross, petrels, and gannets; and revel in end-of-the-Earth views—there’s nothing between here and Antarctica.
At the end of the day, indulge in hot baths, facials, and massages, surrounded by clean-but-cozy contemporary decor, and dig into phenomenal three-course meals highlighting local cuisine and Tasmanian wine. —From $1,898 per person.
Technically, guests on CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventure’s Lodge-to-Lodge experience don’t walk all the way from one lodge to the next. But as the experience itself is all about heli-hiking, it seems fitting that the transition between bases includes a helicopter too.
Over six days, trekkers explore the glaciers, peaks, and craggy terrain of the Columbia Mountains, spending three days at CMH’s Bobbie Burns Lodge and three at its flagship, log-hewn Bugaboos Lodge. If guided extreme adventures such as the Mount Nimbus via ferrata (a system of steel cables and bridges that allow hikers to traverse challenging terrain more easily) or a trek to the Conrad Glacier weren’t enough, both lodges feature indoor climbing walls. And after all that adventure, nothing is more welcome than the lodges’ saunas and hot tubs, which offer spectacular views. Order a glass of wine (Bugaboos Lodge has a huge glass-walled wine cellar), sit back with a book in a fireside leather armchair, or retire early to your room to prepare for the next day’s adventures. —From $5,169 per person.
(Psst! Are you one of those hikers for whom a hut is the epitome of luxury? Check out our collection of 8 of the World’s Greatest Hut-to-Hut Hikes; accommodations may be more basic, but the trails are unsurpassed.)
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