Take a hike… around the world
The travel industry clearly has its fair share of people who love to go a-wandering, along a mountain path…
And also hike on other types of terrain or explore the Great Outdoors by other methods.
Travel Courier wants to introduce you to some particularly energetic members of our industry and have them tell you why their destinations are great for coming into contact with nature.
Here are their stories:
Lead photo courtesy swiss-image.ch / Andreas Gerth
It would be hard to dispute Pascal Prinz’ belief that his homeland is ideally suited for hiking and alpine tourism.
Prinz oversees Switzerland Tourism’s Canadian office, which promotes a country synonymous with the Alps.
“Switzerland is a hiker’s paradise and the number 1 hiking destination in the world,” he says. “Switzerland offers stunning nature, a dense network of trails, a variety of experiences, from flat hiking along turquoise lakes and romantic vineyards to multi-day hikes in the Alps. In addition, its excellent infrastructure and public transportation make it easy for our guests to conveniently reach trails and peaks across the country.”
Prinz himself is a hiking enthusiast and says it’s an activity that’s perfect for those wanting to get out and about during the current pandemic.
“I love hiking,” he states. “Hiking might be the new yoga and has become even more popular this year during Covid-19. It’s easy to practice physical distancing. Hiking helps me recalibrate and reconnect with nature. One of my favorite hikes is the Senda Sursilvana from Chur to Andermatt in the Romansch-speaking part of Switzerland. It’s in my home region Graubünden, where I grew up. It follows the scenic Glacier Express route and is fantastic. With a bit of luck, you might even see my favourite animal, the ibex.”
Prinz will soon be revisiting his homeland, where he plans to again hoof it, confident he can do so in a safe manner.
“I’m actually going hiking in Switzerland in September,” he reports. “I need more than a vacation, I need to recharge my batteries. Every time I come back from hiking in Switzerland, I feel rejuvenated. It’s a great activity to enjoy with friends and family. Switzerland began welcoming Canadians again on July 20 without the need for a quarantine upon arrival. Canadians returning home, however, are still required to self-isolate for 14 days. A recent study by The Deep Knowledge Group found that Switzerland and Canada are two of the safest countries to travel to,” he adds.
Visit Jordan North America
Malia Asfour has the luxury of choice when it comes to choosing a hike in her homeland, one of which is ideal for those wanting to see a broad swathe of the country.
“There are so many trails to hike in Jordan and so many different types of hikes all over the country,” notes Asfour, who heads the Visit Jordan North America office. “The most popular, of course, is the Jordan Trail, which stretches from Um Qais in the north to Aqaba in the south.”
“The Jordan Trail goes through 52 local villages and is one of the enterprises on the Meaningful Travel Map of Jordan, created with Tourism Cares. In 2017 Andrew Evans walked the Jordan trail in 42 days and documented his journey, you can read his daily blog and watch his videos on https://www.myjordanjourney.com/andrew-walks-jordan. The Jordan Trail has economically benefited local communities along the trail by hosting hikers for meals or overnight stays.
“There are many hikes around Petra, Feynan, Wadi Rum, Ajloun, Um Qais and the desert castles,” she adds. “You can pretty much hike through the country and explore so many sites. Walking through Jordan is like walking through an open-air museum. There is so much to see and so much to explore.”
Asfour says anyone can hike the Jordan Trail or segments of it, recalling how a few Christmases ago she and her family and hiked 9 km of the trail, with their hike taking place in forest in the northern parts of Jordan. “We started the hike in the morning, we had 3 kids under 12 and 3 teens and 4 adults with a guide,” she recounts. “It was great fun and we ended the hike around lunch time, where we were met by a man and his son who had cooked us a delicious meal and bread that was baked for us on the spot.”
Jordan differs from the Mediterranean climate in the north to the deserts in the south and the lowest point on earth at the Dead Sea in the middle. There are Jordan Trail parts that are more difficult for hiking than others, but, for the most part, it’s suited for pretty well all.
“I believe just like most people these days that we are all yearning to get out in nature and that we want to be in open spaces that take us away and on a journey,” Asour adds. “The Jordan Trail, or hiking in Wadi Rum or Petra or anywhere in Jordan, means you can easily social-distance and really get immersed in the culture and traditions of this beautiful country.”
Virginia's Blue Ridge
Taylor Spellman has an “imperfect substitution” for currently idle cycling enthusiasts during these imperfect travel times in a part of the world she says is picture-perfect scenery-wise.
Spellman is the spokeswoman for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge and her colleague Shannon Terry came up with a host of what she labels “imperfect substitutions” for area travel experiences, a light-hearted way to create interest in Virginia’s Blue Ridge among potential tourists during these days of limited travel.
Among the substitutions is Cyclocross Substitute, an alternative to cyclocross competitions. Cyclocross is promoted as a fast-paced, off-road bike race where teams race a course featuring various obstacles and barriers.
A Roanoke-area course features railroad ties, sand pits, stairs, run-ups, grass and singletrack riding.
“Pretty fun to participate or watch as a spectator,” Spellman says, with spectators often urging competitors on by ringing cowbells. The Cyclocross Substition features four steps, the first being finding a bicycle, tricycle or “anything with wheels” and “then throwing multiple items into the yard” to act as obstacles. Participants are then advised to ride around the yard while being heckled by their families (who can also be supportive by banging pots and pans in lieu of ringing cowbells) and then ultimately “make future plans to participate in true cyclocross in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.”
A major cyclocross competition is planned for the area in mid-November.
Meanwhile, Spellman promises cyclists will enjoy Virginia’s Blue Ridge, regardless of what type of cycling they opt for, noting the region has been named America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital.
“Virginia’s Blue Ridge is surrounded by mountains providing beautiful, scenic views nearly every place you look,” she says. “With four full seasons, our region’s wardrobe is an impressive collection ranging from bright spring blooms to vibrant fall coloUrs. Our mountain roads, Blue Ridge Parkway and TransAmerica Bicycle Trail (aka US Bicycle Route 76) offer exciting ways for cyclists to enjoy the region on two wheels. Mountain biking and cycling are huge parts of the culture in the Roanoke Valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Virginia’s Blue Ridge is full of beautiful scenery and adventure.
“This (the substitution) certainly won’t measure up to the in-person experience but we hope these entertaining graphics will provide folks with ways to have some fun while at home while remembering Virginia’s Blue Ridge.”
Virginia's Blue Ridge
Virginia’s Blue Ridge’s Taylor Spellman — who appeared in the above item promoting an “imperfect substitution” for cyclists she says would be well-served by visiting her destination when travel restarts in a major way — has returned to share some of her employer’s deepest thoughts with you.
Another of the Six Imperfect Substitutions Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge is now touting is DIY Dixie Caverns, recreating to a considerably reduced degree a visit to the region’s Dixie Caverns, a sprawling subterranean world open to visitors, who are offered guided tours.
Would-be cavemen and cavewomen are advised to find the darkest spot in their homes, preferably the basement, tie a carrot to the ceiling to serve as a makeshift stalactite and then turn off the lights, relying on a flashlight to view what lies in the depths of their home.
The ultimate goal is to inspire outdoor enthusiasts to some day visit Dixie Caverns, a series of massive underground inter-connected chambers.
“The fun part about these substitutions is that anyone can try them from just about anywhere – and you can enjoy each activity within your own comfort level with no time pressure or elevation change (with regards to the hiking),” Spellman says of the imperfect substitutions.
“One of our main goals is to help keep Virginia’s Blue Ridge top of mind and our marketing team is getting creative with ways that we can stand out to the ‘outdoor adventure seekers’ everywhere.”