5 Awesome Travel Destinations Every Fit Girl Will Love
If the thought of running, jumping, climbing and pedaling through byways, back roads and riverine valleys gets your heart racing, it’s time to join thousands of women who combine sightseeing with fitness when they travel abroad.
Pack Up Your Running Shoes
“Fitcations” have become a major travel trend. According to the Global Wellness Institute, there was a 14% increase in global wellness tourism from 2014 to 2017, says Flight Centre leisure marketing leader, Nicky Potgieter. “Searches on Pinterest for ‘fitness travel’ jumped an astounding 618% in the last year, which means more and more people are using their time abroad to master their downward dog or to check ‘climb Kili’ off their bucket list, rather than sipping piña coladas and avoiding the hotel gym.”
The Chill-Out Workout
“I’m definitely one of those women,” says personal trainer and blogger Jane Kilian, the face behind fitness and travel platform GI Jane. “I take part in some type of sport in nearly every place I travel to and, when I return home, I always feel like I really made the most of my trip.”
Feeling inspired? Here are Potgieter’s top destinations for SA fitsters.
A Himalayan adventure that doesn’t involve summiting the world’s highest peak, Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit treks range from three days to three weeks against a backdrop of spectacular scenery. Looking for something even further off the grid? The Manaslu Circuit Trek and Three Passes Trek are a must, says Potgieter. “There’s quite a bit of planning with a hiking holiday, so it’s important to go through a reputable company. G Adventures is quite popular with South Africans with expert-led small group expeditions where you can trek with peace of mind alongside like-minded travellers.”
Check out this video of the Annapurna Circuit Trek…
2. Reunion Island
The little piece of France in the Indian Ocean is home to the gruelling Grand Raid trail runs, but if running through the night in wilderness conditions isn’t your idea of fun, there are still many options that will keep you active minus the exhaustion hallucinations. Hike to the Piton de la Fournaise volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, go canyoning or stick to the ocean and spend your days scuba diving, rafting and canoeing. Bonus: nearly half of the island is a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site, so no matter what your chosen activity, you can bet you’ll be doing it in postcard-perfect paradise.
Muscles feeling achy after all that exercise? Because of the volcanic activity on the island, you can ease them by sinking into a natural hot spring. The hot, mineral-rich water, between 32 and 38 degrees Celsius, bubbles up from the earth and is said to treat a number of ailments, including rheumatism.
Mozambique isn’t a polished destination with the glamour of some of its Indian Ocean contemporaries, but that’s exactly why fitness-seekers love it. Run the lengths of its vast white beaches, snorkel and scuba its staggeringly blue ocean, and surf its uncrowded waves. From June to September you can swim alongside whale sharks typically spotted filter-feeding in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Marine Park and Tofo Beach, just north of Maputo.
“Us Durbanites will typically drive up, but Maputo is only an hour’s flight from Johannesburg if you’re looking for an active weekend break from Jozi,” says Kilian. “The great thing about Mozambique is that it’s visa-free and most non-motorised water sports are complimentary at most of the hotels.”
Land of pizza and gelato, right? But wait, there’s more! Italy is also the best place to try something you might never have considered before — skiing. The Club Med Resort in Cervinia is a breath of pure, crisp air with peaks at 2 050 metres up and views stretching as far as Switzerland.
You can try a range of snow-based activities suitable for all levels, with lessons for beginners, on-site gear hire and children’s ski facilities if you’re thinking of bringing the whole brood.
Check out this video of skiers at Club Med Cervinia…
5. At Sea
Cruise holidays have a reputation of being floating all-you-can-eat buffets, but many liners have started bucking that trend by expanding their fitness and wellness facilities – beyond the conga line.
“You’d be amazed at the innovations on cruise ships these days, especially when it comes to keeping fit,” says Potgieter. “You can visit multiple destinations while trying multiple sports all in one place. It depends on the ship but you can go from stretching your legs on the top-deck running track to yoga, Pilates, kickboxing or bouldering classes, while the kids are kept busy with their own on-board activities.” And that’s just onboard. Put down on anchor at a beach destination and you can spend the day swimming or snorkelling to earn that buffet dinner.
“Remember, you don’t need the fitness levels of a professional athlete to enjoy a new type of sport, or active holiday,” says Kilian. “You just need an open mind and a willingness to try new things.”