Best of 2019 – Places I’ve stayed

I’ve stayed in some memorable places this year during my travels. Here are the ones that stood out.

Desert Himalaya Resort, Nubra Valley, Ladakh
Full on glamping in the northern most part of India, between the mountains of the Karakoram Range and Ladakh Range. My tent had a double bed, front deck, and en-suite bathroom with shower. Outside was a perfectly positioned and often calm pond providing stunning reflections of the incredible surrounding scenery.

Upper Gridiron Hut, Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand
The most unusual hut I’ve stayed in while hiking in New Zealand, built into a huge rock overhang. This was the most enclosed of one of several rock bivvies on the wonderful Tableland Circuit. It has three bunks but I had the hut to myself, an enjoyable if somewhat spooky experience as other people could turn up at anytime. The swing seat outside was a great spot to eat dinner and listen to the sounds of the bush.

Community Lodge near Myaing, Myanmar
Built by ActionAid, supported by the Intrepid Foundation, four years ago, this was a magical place in central Myanmar. The setting, particularly as the sun set, was quite stunning. It was luxurious compared to most community stays I’ve done, with great food, decent showers and mountain bikes to explore the four local villages who the lodge supports.

Long House at Sabah Tea Resort, Borneo
It may have been a replica built for tourists, in a part of Borneo that didn’t traditionally have long houses, but it was still a cool place to spend the night. Ear plugs were essential though as there wasn’t any sound proofing, and I was glad I had a room to myself, it would have been tight with three people. The grounds of the resort, with several pieces of art and colourful flowers, were rather lovely.

Campsites along the Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea
I can’t pick one as all six campsites we stayed at along the track were quite special and different, despite near identical facilities (a hut to sleep in, a hut to eat in, a hut for the crew, long drop toilets, and either a shower or stream to wash in). Some were in villages, others in remote areas, but all were places I’d happily stay again.

Cabane de Moiry, Haute Route, Switzerland
Everywhere I stayed during the eight days I spent walking the Haute Route were in impressive settings but none more spectacular than Cabane de Moiry. Nearly 3,000m above sea level it is built on an outcropping scarily close to the face of Glacier de Moiry. From the dinning area it felt like you could almost touch it, as it completely filled the huge windows. Bonus points for an unexpected six inches of snow overnight, which seemed to scare everyone else into staying put, while I rather enjoyed navigating my way back down the hillside through it.

Layla and Tenchey, Bhutan
I spent 28 nights camping while walking the Snowman Trek through northern Bhutan. Nearly all the campsites were in attractive locations, surrounded by Himalayan scenery but four stand out in memory. First those at the villages of Layla and Tenchery, two of the largest settlements along the Snowman, with Layla home to around a thousand people and Tenchery a fraction of that. We spent a rest day at each, allowing time to explore these beautiful places, though I wouldn’t want to spend the winter at either.

Narethang and Tshorim Lake campsites, Bhutan
Two of the highest and coldest campsites on the Snowman at 4,900m and 5,200m above sea level respective. We arrived to Narethang in thick cold fog, which turned to snow overnight. In the morning the views finally appeared, of the nearby 6,395m high Gangla Karchung, one of the first really impressive sights nearly a fortnight into walking the Snowman. Tshorim Lake was so cold that my water bottle froze in my tent overnight, but the views made up for any discomfort.

Sahara Desert Camp, Erg Chebbi, Morocco
Memorably walked across the epic Erg Chebbi sand dunes as the sun set after avoiding a repeat camel ride, to spend the night at this camp set up on the edge of the Sahara Desert. It was only a twenty minute walk from the town of Merzouga but it felt more remote, if much more luxurious than expected, with flushing toilets, plenty of spare beds, and some wonderful music played by the staff.

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