There’s something about being up high in the mountains. Fresh, crisp air, stunning panoramic views and being above it all heightens the senses with an exhilarating flair.Blue Mountains, Jamaica

The Jamaican Blue Mountain range stretches across the island’s interior. The highest point is 7401 feet (2256m). Renowned for producing some of the best coffee in the world, the area has much more to offer visitors. Rivers and swimming holes abound in the mountains and locals know which dirt roads will lead to invigorating waters. Bird watchers can be seen on any given weekend trodding the roads with binoculars swinging from their necks.

As Kingston scurries beneath, the Blue Mountains provide escapes for the rustic traveler to the effortless luxury seeker. 

Find out more information on the Jamaican Blue Mountain range.

IMG: Table Mountain by moonlight. Richard Ashley. Flickr. Creative Commons.

Table Mountain, South Africa

Table Mountain is an apt moniker for a piece of nature that looks like a table for the gods. At 3,558 feet (1086m), it’s not at an impressive height as the other retreats on this list. In fact, it’s actually a plateau. Sandwiched by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head, Table Mountain’s cliffs are known by travelers to South Africa to induce vertigo. Cape Town sprawls out in Table Mountain’s shadow. 

Visitors can reach the top via a cable car or hike up the mountain. If you choose the hike, there are many endemic flora and fauna to look out for along the way. Platteklip Gorge trail is the most popular and direct route to ascend. Fit hikers usually take two hours one way. 

IMG: Telaga Warna Dieng. tian yake. Flickr. Creative Commons.

Dieng Plateau, Java, Indonesia

At 6561 feet (2000m), Dieng Plateau is a caldera formed by the eruption of a volcano, thousands of years ago. Marine fossils found at the site meant that, at one time, the caldera was full of water. Now dried out, volcanic activities continue to this day, which is evidenced by sulphuric fumes and poisonous lakes. 

Temples on the plateau date back as far as to the eighth century as part of the Sanjaya Dynasty. The remaining eight temples resemble the larger ones at Prambanan, a few hours drive away. 

A long weekend here is well spent surrounded by red dirt potato farms, Telaga Warna, a colorful lake with green, blue and purple hues and hiking up Gunung Sikunir and watching a traditional Javanese puppet show at the local museum. 

IMG: Overland Track, day 6. albedo20. Flickr. Creative Commons.

Overland Track, Tasmania

Located in Tasmania’s World Heritage wilderness, the Overland Track runs 40 miles (64km) from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair. Jaw dropping scenery unfolds from Barn Bluff’s brown tundra to the moss-covered moors of Pine Forest. Pelion Gap is one of the highlights along the route with fragrant eucalyptus trees lining the pathways. Hikers have the option to extend their trip and hike up Mount Ossa, Tasmania’s highest peak.

Aborigine history runs deep in the area. Archeological excavations have unearthed hundreds of artifacts containing several stone tools between Pelion Plains and Lake St. Clair.

IMG: Grand Pitons HDR
The Grand Pitons of St. Lucia and the city of Soufriere. Orbital Joe. Flickr. Creative Commons.

The Pitons, St. Lucia

St. Lucia is one the Caribbean’s most exclusive islands and is home to the UNESCO World Heritage twin mountains, the Pitons. Aptly dubbed Gros Piton and Petit Piton, hotels and resorts charge a premium for a glimpse of the mountains from any of their rooms. The mountains are a result of a volcanic activity thousands of years ago. Soaring at 2,618 feet (798 m), the Pitons are located near the town of Soufriere (the French named this town meaning Sulphur.) If you don’t mind driving over steam that escapes from the earth, there a crater that is vehicle friendly on ascension. There is a natural mud bath near the springs that hikers can smother on their skin for a natural topical treatment.

The Tet Paul Nature trail takes the average hiker 45 minutes to complete. Starting at the renowned Fond Doux Estate,  the trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of St. Lucia. 


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