The Big Six: Luxury trekking lodges
Saturday 08 October 2011
Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco
A warm Berber welcome awaits those who hike (or mule-ride) up to this lodge, teetering at 1,800m in the High Atlas mountains. Behind looms Mount Toubkal – at 4,167m, North Africa's highest peak, and just one of many treks to tempt the Kasbah's guests away from its cosy Moroccan confines. Carved walnut furniture and colourful rugs add a sense of place; a panoramic terrace offers mint tea with top views; a hammam soothes post-hike limbs.
Kasbah du Toubkal, Imlil, High Atlas, Morocco (00 212 524 485611; kasbahdutoubkal.com). Doubles start at €160, including breakfast.
Parador de Bielsa, Spain
Just 200m from Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, this grand stone Pyrenean parador is perfectly placed for hikers. Peaks dominate the views from the stone terrace and many of the comfortable rooms. The top-floor Balcó* de Pineta suite is best, complete with hydro-massage bath and wide windows. Hiking is balanced with hearty cuisine: simple local dishes include migas aragonesas (fried breadcrumbs with sausage and grapes), complemented by Aragonese wines.
Parador de Bielsa, Valle de Pineta, Bielsa, Huesca, Spain (00 34 974 501011; parador.es/en). Doubles start at €128, room only.
Buffalo Mountain Lodge, Canada
A Canadian log cabin, only on a grander scale – that's the feel of Buffalo Mountain Lodge. High-ceilinged, wood-beamed rooms hold roaring stone fireplaces, and a chandelier fashioned from antlers lights the lounge. The innovative restaurant makes good use of wild game andseasonal fruits and berries. The Rocky Mountains hub of Banff is a 15-minute walk, with trails – around postcard-perfect Lake Louise and the national park beyond – on the doorstep. Skiing awaits in winter.
Buffalo Mountain Lodge, Tunnel Mountain Road, Banff, Canada (001 403 762 2400; crmr.com/buffalo). Doubles start at C$179 (£112), room only.
Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, South Africa
The Zulu call the Drakensberg mountains ukhahlamba – the Barrier of Spears. Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse is a distinctly more welcoming prospect on the edge of this hostile range, well-located for leg-stretching. The cosy lounge (all roaring fire and chocolate cake), library and farmhouse-chic bedrooms are good for relaxing.
Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Kamberg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa (00 27 33 267 7243; cleomountain.com). Doubles start at R3,190 (£260), half board.
Uma Paro, Bhutan
Bhutan is a trekking Shangri-La, encompassing some of the least-trodden heights of the Himalayas. And Uma Paro is the classiest way to access them. This whitewashed, pagoda-style retreat – resembling one of the country's iconic hilltop-fortress dzongs – peers down on the forested Paro Valley. Plus expert guides lead bespoke, and breathtaking, treks.
Uma Paro, Paro, Bhutan (00 975 8 271597; uma.paro.como.bz). Doubles start at US$330 (£220), with breakfast.
Mountain Lodges of Peru
Reaching Machu Picchu on foot doesn't have to mean camping: Mountain Lodges of Peru runs lodge-to-lodge hikes between its four luxury properties on the little-used Salkantay route to the Inca citadel. Days on quiet, spectacular trails (including a 4,600m mountain pass) end in proper beds with tasty hot meals, open-air Jacuzzis and fully stocked bars.
Mountain Lodges of Peru, Salkantay, near Cusco, Peru (00 511 421 7777; mountainlodgesofperu.com). Six-night treks start at US$2,560 (£1,707) per person, including full board, guides, transfers and entrance to Machu Picchu.
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