Winter tourism and white plans, plus #PlanForTheGang!
The cold brings not only quiet evenings in front of the sofa, but also hundreds of opportunities to travel in winter that you did not expect. It is a great time to visit both nearby destinations and other more distant and exotic ones. If you are one of those who make a break in your routine in a few months... do not hesitate, this winter get on the road.
There is no doubt that winter hides authentic gems that can only be enjoyed at this time of year (and that are not limited to just skiing): other winter sports, northern lights in northern Europe, trekking through dreamlike places... Winter puts within our reach a multitude of destinations that are as attractive as they are diametrically opposed. All we need are some leggings under our pants, wool socks, a thermal shirt and lined boots, all to not give up (no matter how low the temperature) some of the most beautiful landscapes and adventures on the planet. Here are some of our proposals!
It is almost the northernmost destination in Europe that can be reached by train, a place for true winter lovers. In December and January the sun is hidden for several weeks, but the darkness makes it one of the best places in the world to admire the majestic Aurora borealis.
Legends about the Northern Lights range from the Sami (an indigenous people of Lapland, who believed that when a fox came down the hills hitting the snow with its tail, sparks arose that became the Northern Lights), to the Vikings (who believed that the northern lights were the armor of the Valkyries -virgin warriors-, and he often believed that this phenomenon heralded wars, epidemics and other evils in the world). The best time to see the spectacular phenomenon of the aurora borealis – or northern lights – is winter. The ideal location is Swedish Lapland, widely regarded as Europe's last wilderness.
Other activities you can do are the ski of ground along the routes of the national parks, the mushing with husky dogs and rent snowmobiles and drive them through ancient forests. And if you visit the city of Kiruna, you can stay at the Ice Hotel, where each of its 18 suites is an ephemeral work of art, since the hotel is rebuilt every year.
Another spectacular destination in the southern summer: Perito Moreno is one of the few glaciers in the world that is not in the process of retreating. Spilling from the Chilean border on Pietrobelli Hill, in the icy heights of the Patagonian Andes, this point attracts thousands of people every summer day from the nearby city of El Calafate.
You just have to put on some crampons and walk on the ice through the so-called "mini treks" that cross the ice to discover a world of seracs (large block of ice fragmented by major cracks in a glacier), cracks and sinkholes. The crossing offers magnificent views of the gray surface of Lake Argentino. At the end of the route you even get to taste the glacier, with a final stop at a makeshift bar to warm up with a whiskey on the rocks… brought directly from Perito Moreno.
In almost all arctic regions it is possible to travel by dog sledding (mushing), but doing it in the Canadian Yukon Territory is special. If any traveler thinks that there are no virgin territories left, perhaps they should travel to Yukon, a territory almost as large as Spain but with only 34.000 inhabitants.
The Yukon Quest is held here, a 1.600km dog sled race based on both survival and speed as it traverses mountainous terrain in temperatures that can drop to -50C. Even the best runners take over 9 days to complete, so it's no wonder it's considered the toughest race on the planet.
Every winter the inhabitants of Zanskar, in the Indian Himalayas, make a harsh journey from their snow-insulated villages to the city of Leh, in Ladakh, and do it as they did centuries ago: walking on the Chadar River. During the 8 months of the long winter, it remains incommunicado with the outside world. It is then that the partially frozen Chadar becomes a lifeline for the Zanskari: their only physical link to the rest of the planet.
Zanskar's isolation has drawn adventurers to this ancient route, especially since the 90s; Today the Zanskari share the route with Western adventurers, though few travelers carry as much weight as the locals. The round trip takes 14 to 18 days, with an average temperature of -10ºC during the day and -20ºC at night. You have to be in shape, be an expert and be equipped for the cold. Despite the odds, it is a spellbinding journey through frozen landscapes as well as the ever-smiling Zanskari, for whom this difficult route is the only way home.
The Benasque ski slope makes this frozen paradise unique: located within the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park at the foot of the La Maladeta Massif (Huesca), with fabulous views of Pico Aneto. There is nothing better to release adrenaline than paragliding or hang gliding in Castejón de Sos, walking pulled by huskies in Llanos, or canoeing, kayaking, rafting or hydrospeeding down the Esera River.
The capital of the Alps, in the Tyrol area, is a city with more than 100.000 inhabitants and a curious mix between Italy and Germany. We can find it in the West of Austria, located in the Inn valley in the middle of huge mountains; It is famous for the practice of winter sports, it is also known for hosting the Olympic games three times. The months of January, February and March correspond to the high season and the influx of snowboarders from all over the world, since the Nitro Skylinepark, with fabulous views, is one of the best slopes in the world for those who practice this sport.
Alaska's most popular and iconic experiences include dog sledding, Northern Lights viewing, snowboarding and skiing (Nordic and Alpine), snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
Dog sled racing is the official sport of Alaska – visitors come from all over the world to watch it, including the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Cross-country skiing has one of its sanctuaries here. Anchorage's Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Jack Springs Russian Park and Hillside Trail System, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Trail System. In addition, it also has excellent destinations for snowmobiling: Fairbanks, Denali, Talkeetna, Valdez, Haines, the Mat-Su Valley, Girdwood and the Kenai Peninsula.