Some of the Most Unique or Interesting Hikes that We’ve Taken
May 17, 2021
Regardless of where you travel to, there are times when the only way to see some interesting sights is to get on a trail and go for a hike. Many of these are quite invigorating and others are more of a stroll than a hike. Regardless of how strenuous the hike might be, they generally are all worth whatever effort is needed. In some cases, we’ve had the choice to hike or to take a car or funicular, but we decided to take the hike instead. Obviously, living in Colorado provides us many opportunities to get into nature and enjoy the beauty of the mountains, but these hikes around the world have been equally fascinating.
Carrasco National Park in Bolivia – This was certainly an amazing experience and our first real experience of hiking in the Amazon Rainforest. Since not as many people visit Bolivia, the trails were not as clear as you might find in other places and our guides literally had to use machetes to whack away the foliage that was overtaking the trail in locations. Even getting to the trail was an experience as we had to take a metal cart suspended on cables to cross a river. The park is most famous for having a cave with Guacharo birds. These birds are virtually blind and are nocturnal feeders that eat the fruit of the oil palm trees. They are also known as “blind birds” or “oil birds” because of their unique eating habits as well as because they are the only nocturnal fruit eating birds in the world that fly. Needless to say, there are a lot of other animals that can be found in the park and hiking through the park provides a variety of unique experiences.
Bergpark Wilhemshöhe in Kassel, Germany – The very first trip that we took while staying in Germany was to the city of Kassel where we spent most of our time at the incredible Bergpark Wilhemshöhe. There are so many wonderful sights to see on the grounds of the largest European hillside park. Due to it’s size of 590 acres as well as the fact that it sprawls across a steep hill makes it a strenuous day of walking, but the views and historic sites are well worth the effort. The park is made up of four major points of interest, Schloss Wilhemshöhe, Lowenburg Castle, Hercules Statue, and the fountain and water feature that cascades down the hillside.
Metropolitan National Park in Panama City, Panama – If you are planning a trip to Panama City, one of the sites that you should consider visiting is the Metropolitan National Park. Since Panama City is surrounded by a rainforest that is protected by law, the city is literally surrounded by jungles and wildlife. You don’t have to leave the city in order to escape into nature and see some of the exotic wildlife that the country has to offer. It isn’t a strenuous hike at all, but it does get you far enough above the city to enjoy amazing views of the capital of Panama. It is about a fifteen minute drive from downtown Panama City to reach the park and the cost to enter is only $4 per person for non-Nationals ($1 for Nationals).
Laguna Quilotoa in Ecuador – Volcanoes are a common sight when you visit Ecuador and we decided to visit several of them during our visit. Although many of them are still active, Quilotoa hasn’t erupted for several hundred years. One if its last eruptions was violent enough to create the enormous crater or caldera that has since filled with water that is 800 feet deep. You can either hike around the rim of the crater or hike down the steep trail that takes you down to the lake. We ended up doing a bit of both, but we didn’t go all of the way down to the lake itself. If you want to, there are kayaks for rent if you want to go out on the sulfur laden water, but that didn’t sound too appealing to us.
The Valley of the Kings in Egypt – Although you only hike a short distance through the valley, the time spent climbing down into the tombs obviously makes this one of the most amazing places to visit. Some might argue that it isn’t really a hike, but if you spend the time walking in the Egypt’s extreme heat, you might think differently. The Valley of the Kings is probably best known for the discovery of King Tutankhamun (King Tut) by Howard Carter in 1922 and you can watch a short documentary at the main entrance showing the removal of the treasures and sarcophagus that were found. You can purchase an extra ticket to go into the tomb of King Tutankhamun, but since he suddenly died at the age of 19, his tomb is small and unimpressive and not really worth the extra entrance fee.
Barr Trail to the Top of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado – Without a doubt the most difficult hike that we’ve ever done. The entire hike is over twelve miles and has an elevation gain of over 7,000 feet (2,100 meters) to the peak, which is at 14,114 (4,301 meters). It certainly is not a hike for novices and was very much a challenge for us and we hike on a routine basis. Even if you are an experienced hiker, it is important to acclimate to the altitude of Colorado Springs for at least a couple of days before attempting to do the hike. Choosing the time of year to do the hike is important because even in the middle of summer it can snow on the top of Pikes Peak, so we hiked in August on a day when we knew that the temperatures would be fine at the base as well as the summit. Depending on the day, you may find yourself starting out in light weight clothing at the base and then layering up as you near the summit. It is also extremely important to be sure to stay hydrated with a combination of plain water and sports drinks.
Gellért Hill in Budapest – We walked from our hotel down to the river where we crossed Liberty Bridge to start our hike to the top of Gellért Hill, which is 771 feet above the river below. The winding path is fairly steep and takes you through a wooded area as well as by the St. Gellért Monument. The hill gets its name because it is the location where St. Gellért was brutally killed and apparently tossed from the hill. It took us about an hour to make the walk to the top of the hill, but we stopped several times to take in the scenic views at the various overlooks. At the top of the hill is the Citadella, which is a fortress on the Buda side of the Danube River. The Liberty Statue that is located next to the citadel can be seen from throughout the downtown area of Pest. The bronze statue features a woman raising a palm leaf toward the sky and, although it was built by the Soviet Union, it still represents Hungary’s freedom from Nazi occupation. As interesting as the fortress and statues are, the main reason for making the trek to the top of Gellért Hill is for the views of Budapest. You can see the Buda Castle District, the Parliament Building, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Danube River, and the heart of Budapest.
We have done many other interesting hikes throughout the years, but these are some of the ones that have stood out in our memories. You don’t have to go to extremes to find places to go on a hike that will provide you with rewards of beautiful scenery and satisfy the desire to stretch your legs.