2015's Top destinations for an active holiday
Enjoyed one too many mince pies over the Christmas holidays? Perhaps the cold weather meant you didn't make it to the gym as often as you'd planned? Don't worry – many of us are in the same boat this January, but hopefully one of your New Year's resolutions is to have a happy, healthy and fit 2015! If you're anything like the Expertrain team, you're probably planning to do some travelling this year, whether your idea of the perfect holiday is trekking in Nepal or shopping in Milan. Why not combine a holiday with the opportunity to get fit and stay active? Here's our pick of 2015's top destinations for an active break – what are you waiting for; get packing!
You don't have to climb Everest to enjoy trekking in the Himalayas and the good news is that the region has become more accessible to backpackers over the last few years. Undoubtedly one of the best areas for trekking, the Himalayas are home to the highest mountains and some of the planet's greatest biodiversity. It's here you'll find luxury lodges alongside village homestays – truly a melting pot of cultures and religions; Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism all meet here.
Walking holidays in the Himalayas aren't just for seasoned trekkers. Gone are the days when trekking meant seriously roughing it, and the rise of 'trekking tourism' means you can usually choose from a wide range of accommodation in most destinations, depending on the type of experience you're looking for. Apart from the high altitude, many of the walking routes are no more challenging than those in the Lake District, although bear in mind you'll be in some of the most remote regions of Asia.
When to go
We recommend April or October, as summer monsoon season can make many routes impassable with wet, cold conditions. Whilst the autumn months are colder, it's also the busiest time, particularly in the Everest area.
The best deals
Go it alone and head for popular trekking area in Annapurna and around Everest and you can usually find accommodation in basic lodges, if you're on a tight budget. If you have more to spend, consider booking with a specialist UK travel agent who can organise a customised itinerary with a local guide to show you the sights.
What to see
Don't miss Burma off your list – it's home to some of the most pristine jungle, amazing wildlife and temples (head for Bagan) as well as the city of Rangoon. For families, Chitwan National Park in Nepal is a must-see, with the opportunity to ride elephants, sure to leave to everyone smiling! Don't miss the stunning temples of Kathmandu and Tibet's Potala Palace, the region's most popular attraction, with its majestic red and white buildings.
Think of Montenegro and you probably picture luxurious hotels, great nightlife and glittering casinos, but escape from the coast and you'll find peaceful lakes and hills where you can enjoy an active break. Lake Skadar, on the Albanian border, is the perfect place to stay active. Hiking trails in the area are still in their infancy but that's part of the appeal; discovering the undiscovered.
Fishing at the lake or enjoying dinner with local winemakers (by prior arrangement) are the perfect antidote to beach holiday boredom. As well as hiking and fishing, there's the opportunity to sample some of the region's fine wines – the area was once the centre of Yugoslavia's wine industry and you can still book wine tasting tours to visit local producers. For the healthiest option, choose red wines, loaded with antioxidants! Take to the water and try your hand at a spot of kayaking, with the opportunity to spot pelicans and herons on the way, or go snorkelling, rafting or exploring ancient ruins.
When to go
April to September is the best time to head inland, where the summers are warm but winters bitterly cold, with temperatures dropping as low as minus 20 degrees! The summer months can get incredibly busy, with accommodation booking up quickly, so for the best deals and a more relaxing break, June or September are probably the best months.
The best deals
Book an adventure holiday with a company such as Undiscovered Montenegro or Activities Abroad and you'll usually be able to tailor-make your trip to include the activities you'd like to try. Prices include your accommodation, activities and some meals, so you'll need to book flights separately.
What to see
Pack a picnic lunch and take a kayak trip to the island of Beska, visit Moracnik Monastery or stroll through the beautiful Orahovo Valley. A wine-tasting tour is an essential part of any holiday here, or why not enjoy walking the route from Villa Miela to the village of Godinje? If Albania appeals, cross the border to explore the country's vast ancient ruins and relax on stunning, peaceful beaches.
The French Alps
The French Alps may be a top winter sports destination, but they're also a great choice year round. Here you can try horse riding, quad biking, mountain biking, climbing, white water rafting and more! Resorts such as Les Gets and Val D'Isere are amongst the most popular, but smaller resorts such as Morzine are also worth checking out. Multi-activity holidays provide great value for money and let you try something new; why not try your hand at watersports, canyoning, climbing and paddleboarding.
When to go
Summer is a great time to visit the French Alps for an activity holiday, and the weather here gets pretty hot in the summer months – although not so hot that you'll lose motivation! The accommodation here books up quickly in peak season, so make sure you plan your trip in plenty of time.
Get the best deals
For the best value for money, an all-inclusive activity holiday with a company such as Alpine Elements means you'll be able to enjoy a huge range of activities and an organised itinerary, which means you can fit more into your break. You'll also get meals and accommodation included; great if you're on a budget. If you're looking for a more specific type of holiday such as walking or trekking, and you're familiar with the area or have routes planned, booking your flight and accommodation separately could help you to save money.
What to see
Don't miss the ride down the Super Morzine Gondola lift for a thrill and stunning views. Swimming and sunbathing at Lac Montriond is a great way to relax, particularly if you're travelling with family. The centre of Morzine, with its shops and cafes, is also a must-see. Adrenaline junkies should head for Tignes where you can try 4 x 4 driving or quad biking!
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