Dramatic mountain ranges and towering peaks are not often associated with cruise getaways, as sea-level is often as high up as cruisers get! There are, however, several impressive mountains located in exotic ports across the world, or situated further afield and available on the shore excursions operated by some of the major cruise lines. Mountain ranges offer travellers the opportunity to observe spectacular scenery and perhaps even scale the colossuses themselves – if they are feeling brave!
Table Mountain, Cape Town
Overlooking the vibrant city of Cape Town in South Africa, the flat-topped Table Mountain is an iconic natural landmark and is even featured on the city’s flag. The mountain’s summit reaches heights of 1,085 metres above sea level and is home to an array colourful flora and fauna including tortoises, mongooses, porcupines and a variety of snakes.
There are a number of ways to explore the mountain and its surrounding areas. The Table Mountain Cableway transports passengers from a low station, situated around 300 metre above sea level, up to the mountain’s famous plateau. Several hiking trails are also available for visitors who wish to scale the mountain on foot. Other activities, such as rock-climbing, mountain-biking and caving are also popular amongst intrepid holidaymakers.
Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro
Sugar Loaf Mountain is a unique and imposing peak located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Guanabara Bay – a peninsula that extends out into the Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful mountain reaches heights of just under 400 metres and gets its name from its distinctive shape, which is said to resemble a concentrated and refined sugar loaf.
Visitors must take two cable cars to reach Sugar Loaf Mountain’s high summit, the first of which carries passengers to the smaller Morro da Urca at a height of 220 metre, whilst the second completes the journey to the top. The area is also a fantastic location to observe daring rock climbers, who regularly scale Sugar Loaf and its surrounding peaks, creating one of the largest urban climbing zones on Earth.
Gros Piton, St Lucia
The beautiful and tropical Caribbean island of St Lucia is home to two imposing mountains – Petit Piton, standing at 743 metres tall and the larger Gros Piton, which reaches heights of 771 metres. Although Gros Piton is not the highest peak on the islands, it is famous as one of the most striking sights in St Lucia, boasting a verdant ecosystem filled with exotic flora and fauna.
Gros Piton is also a popular natural attraction amongst tourists as it is fairly easy to climb without any experience or mountaineering equipment. A hike to the summit and back down to sea level can be completed within a few hours, offering breath-taking views across St Lucia. Local guides are also available to assist ramblers if necessary.
Mount Fuji, Tokyo
Located around 100 kilometres to the south west of Tokyo, Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and reachable on excursions from the nation’s capital. On a clear day, this mountain is even visible from Tokyo, demonstrating its massive size. Fuji’s summit sits at a high of 3,776 metres and is one of Japan’s three holy mountains, inspiring numerous artists and poets over the centuries.
Due to its huge size, climbing Mount Fuji is not for the faint-hearted. Regardless, hundreds of thousands of people scale the mountain every year, from experience climbers to beginners, as a number of climbing routes are distributed across the mountain ranging in difficulty and gradient.
Mount Vesuvius, Naples
Mount Vesuvius is a famous and imposing composite volcano situated in the Gulf of Naples in Italy. Although it is technically not a mountain, it is one of the country’s most prominent natural landmarks. Vesuvius is known across the globe as the volcano that erupted over Pompeii thousands of years ago, preserving the island in ash and creating one of world’s best archaeological locations.
The volcano and its surroundings were declared as a national park in 1995 and the summit of Vesuvius is open to visitors. Hikers can reach the top by navigating one of a series of paths that run up the side of the volcano, including a marvellous spiral walkway leading around the mountain to the crater.
(1) Paul Mannix – wikipedia.org
(2) Alpsdake – wikipedia.org
(3) Pastorius – wikimedia.org