The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is known for two things: rain, and epic coastal views. While rainfall amounts vary in the Westland, some areas receive as much as 18 meters of rain (54 feet!) a year. As a result of this rain, much of this area is heavily forested with swamps in certain areas. In addition to the fantastic forests that cover the West Coast, the views along the coastline never fail to impress, irrespective of whether there is precipitation or not. One of the easiest, and best hikes in the region, the Truman Track, combines much of the best features of the area, along with a stunning beach, and is a must-do hike for visitors to the region.
Annecy is one of the more picturesque towns in France, and a charming destination in the Haute Savoie region. With a beautiful lakefront park along Lake Annecy, an old town with historic structures, and expansive trail networks bordering the town, the town presents a plethora of options for visitors who are looking for outdoor activities. The most popular hike(s) near the town is to the summit of Mont Veyrier (and its companion, Mont Baron), which is a mid-sized mountain that dominates the lake’s Eastern shore. At 4,236 feet in elevation (1,291 meters), Mont Veyrier is hard to miss, but what makes the mountain really stand out is a prominent limestone band near the summit. While Mount Veyrier is not the largest mountain in the French Alps, it is a great hike that is suitable for all levels of experience, and one that has a bonus of providing great views of Annecy, and the Haute Savoie region from the top.
After all of the Lord of the Rings movies, and the Hobbit movies, much is made of New Zealand being exactly like Middle Earth, with rolling green hills, high snow-capped mountains, and lush forests and roaring rivers. While New Zealand has all of these things and more, it also has an area that appears to be lifted straight from the Sahara, or from one of the deep deserts of the world. That place is the Farewell Spit, a fifteen mile (25km) stretch of land that extends from the northern section of the South Island of New Zealand. And for those willing to explore it, the Farewell Spit features sand dunes, blowing sand storms, long stretches of sandy coast, wildlife, and hidden pools of water.
Tortuguero is a town and a National Park on the Caribbean coastline of Costa Rica; and it is also one of the best destinations to visit in the country, as it provides a plethora of unique wilderness experiences for all levels of visitors. While all of Costa Rica’s national parks are stunning, Tortuguero National Park is perhaps the country’s most pristine national park. Tortuguero National Park has an enormous amount of biodiversity including mangrove forests, beaches, swamps, lagoons, and of course, tropical rainforests. While the park protects many species of animals and plants, the main species (and attraction) that is protected is the Green Sea Turtle, which nests on the beaches of the park from July to October.
Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica contains a number of fantastic hikes for tourists, both in, and around the park. While Arenal Volcano cannot be climbed, it remains a destination for regular tourists and bird-watchers alike to visit. One of the hardest hikes in the region, Cerro Chato, allows visitors to climb a nearby inactive volcano with a crater lake. Even though Cerro Chato is a great hike, views of Arenal Volcano are obscured from it, due to the extensive coverage from primary tropical forest in the region. In contrast, the hike to the Danta Waterfall provides great views of the tropical forest, the volcano, a waterfall, Arenal Volcano, allows for wildlife viewing, and is accessible for most hikers.
Bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is a country that offers excellent adventure opportunities on both land and water. The best location for adventure on the Caribbean coast is Tortuguero National Park, whose beaches are famous in and out of Costa Rica for innumerable reasons. The best location for adventure on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is Manuel Antonio National Park. Located on the Southwestern side of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica’s smallest national park; however, despite its size, Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica’s most famous national park.
From the sand dunes of the Farewell Spit, to the volcanic terrain of Tongariro National Park, to the lush forests of Rakiura National Park and the tropical beaches of Abel Tasman, New Zealand has almost every type of backcountry terrain that a hiker could want. With so many picturesque and jaw dropping locations, it is hard to find first, a bad hike in all of New Zealand, and second, “the best” hike in all of New Zealand. However, if you are a person who likes superlatives and stunning alpine views, the best hike in all of the three islands of New Zealand (North, South, and Stewart) might just be Key Summit.