Athletes are jungle trekking this fall

Thailand, Hawaii, and 3 more tropical destinations for the fit set.

In some of the most beautiful, untainted places around the world, fit bodies are burning calories, strengthening muscles, and coming face-to-face with wildlife. Jungle trekking is hotter than ever, thanks to the rise of adventure travelers and famous thrill-seekers like Bear Grylls proving the exotic landscapes are as rewarding as cities and beaches. Here, five to add to your travel bucket list.

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  • The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Belize

    The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Belize

    Jaguars run wild in the 107,000-acre Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in Belize’s Cayo District. Fall is an ideal time to visit as the rainy season has just ended, ensuring verdant rain forests. With a trained guide, explorers set out on foot at night to spot the elusive, nocturnal cats. The nature reserve is equally thrilling by day. Travelers can hike various levels of limestone hills and valleys, along the banks of Privassion Creek and rushing rivers with waterfalls, and even venture into nearby Chiquibul National Park and the Caracol Archaeological Reserve with ancient Mayan sites. The mother of all jungle adventures is the journey to ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) Caves. Only reachable by foot, travelers will navigate land, across rivers, and within an underwater cave system (with head lamps) to an ancient sacrificial chamber full of thousand-year-old skeletal remains. It’s an eight-hour journey for intermediate to advanced hikers that requires swimming. Pique Travel Design offers fully customizable, outdoor adventure tours in Belize, including ATM Caves excursions. 

    Stay: Blancaneaux Resort
    This five-star property opened by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola is set within the jungle, with villas and cabanas perched on the hillside, many with their own pools. The resort offers daily and complimentary full-day, guided jungle hikes and moonlight jaguar quests. 

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  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the world’s only island that experiences eight of 13 different climate zones, and a diverse range of ecosystems, from dry rain forest to tropical beaches. The most popular area, Kilauea Iki (or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park) on the eastern coast is the most visited. Once visitors trek the dense rain forest (full of exotic birds and dragonflies), they discover a national park sprawling with black lava rock with steaming cracks, craters, and even hot lava tubes. It’s an incredible landscape for all hiking levels, thanks to manmade trails. Fall is off-season, so it's less crowded even when the temperature is still considerably optimal. 

    Stay: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai 
    This five-star property has seven swimming areas, an outdoor spa, and rooms with prime ocean views. The resort can arrange guided visits to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or offer seamless directions if you want to venture on your own. 

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  • Campuhan Ridge Walk, Bali

    Campuhan Ridge Walk, Bali

    Ubud is the heart of Bali, known for its enchanting, storybook jungle setting (hanging vine, banyan trees, and dense foliage), ancient shrines, and soul-seeking Eat, Pray, Love vibes (the book was set in Ubud). Active travelers will find plenty of jungle to hike. In fall, which is shoulder season for Bali, the temperature is a constant 81 degrees, most of the wildlife are out, and crowds are light. Campuhan Ridge Walk is the most trekked trail, where hikers of all levels cross rice fields, rivers, and waterfalls, all within the unspoiled, rural terrain. To reach great heights, advanced hikers will travel an hour outside Ubud to climb Mount Batur volcano or Mount Agung, the highest peak in Bali (9,900 feet) that’s best experienced during sunrise. (Most hardcore hikers start the four-hour climb at 2:30 a.m.)

    Stay: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
    This luxury retreat is set within the rain forest along the Ayung River. Guests can hike right on property, and cycling, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities and excursions are offered. 

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  • Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, Thailand

    Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, Thailand

    Fall is unarguably the best time to jungle trek in Phuket. The weather has cooled and high-season crowds are still at bay. Fall is the rainy season, but rainfall is short and makes the jungles even more vibrant. Khao Phra Thaeo National Park is the last remaining virgin rainforest in Phuket. With dense vegetation, rivers, and cascading waterfalls (prime in fall), the park is teeming with wild animals like boar, deer, monkeys, and langurs (a type of monkey native to Southeast Asia). There are several trails to choose from. The Bang Pae Waterfall Trail is the easiest and takes about one hour. A more intense hike in Phuket is from Karon Beach to the Big Buddha statue (three miles one way) using paths made by farmers working in the land. The money shot of the sea is from this peak at an elevation of 1,300 feet. After the hike, white water rafting enthusiasts can experience the rushing rivers of Phang Nga. 

    Stay: Marriott Nai Yang Beach Resort
    This new resort is only five minutes from the airport on the secluded Nai Yang Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand. Stay in a beachfront villa (each equipped with private pool). Staff can arrange all hiking excursions and rafting adventures. 

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  • The Amazon River, Peru

    The Amazon River, Peru

    The most convenient way to explore the Amazon River is on a river cruise, where guests can view attractions and wildlife from the boat and also explore the lush rainforest on walking excursions. Go in the fall when the jungle trails are accessible (they notoriously flood starting in December). Aqua Expeditions, a luxurious river cruise, operates Aria Amazon where professional guides lead small groups on foot through the jungle to experience first-hand encounters with capuchin monkeys, three-toed sloths, and toucans. You'll also glimpse pink dolphins and piranha from the boat. 

    For more intrepid travelers, Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, a luxury lodge with 35 cabanas, offers half-day canopy and anaconda walk excursions. Guests walk among the treetops in the Amazon Basin, across a network of hanging bridges, while spotting birds, monkeys, sloths, and other native animals (including the elusive anaconda for lucky trailblazers), as well as medicinal plants. The lodge offers hiking tours, including night hikes, where owls and caimans are spotted.

    Stay: Aqua Expeditions or Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica

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