Google Street View Takes Us To New Heights On Everest, Kilimanjaro And More

Google Street View now takes to some of the tallest mountains on the planetWe’re big fans of Google Street View here at Gadling and over the past few months we’ve enjoyed the addition of the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon River, amongst other destinations. Through the use of modern technology, Google has given us the opportunity to explore some very exciting places without ever having to leave the comfort of our own homes. Now, with its latest addition to the Street View Collection, the Internet search giant is taking us to new heights as they take their high-tech cameras to the slopes of some of the tallest mountains on the planet.

The latest Street View gallery is entitled “The World’s Highest Peaks” and it includes views on and around four of the Seven Summits, which consist of the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents. Those locations include Everest Base Camp in Nepal, as well as the summits of Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet) in Tanzania, Elbrus (18,510 feet) in Russia and Aconcagua (22,841 feet) in Argentina. The gallery also spotlights various other sections of each of those mountains, including some of the more well known mountaineering camps or other landmarks, such as the famous Lava Tour on Kilimanjaro.

Not all of the images in the new gallery are captured from such lofty heights, however. For instance, the Himalayan village of Namche Bazaar is given the Street View treatment, allowing us to take a virtual stroll along its narrow walkways. The Google cameras were even allowed inside the colorful Buddhist monastery in Tengboche, a popular attraction for those trekking to Everest.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to climb these peaks but the thought of the thin air makes you light headed, then this new gallery is just for you. Enjoy the heights of these iconic mountains without ever stepping foot on any of them.

[Photo Credit: Google]

10 Big Travel Adventures For 2013

Travel adventures to Denali National Park in AlaskaThough 2013 may only be a few days old, it is never too early to start planning our travels for the year ahead. If you’re looking to put a healthy dose of adventure into your life this year, then Gadling is here to help. We have ten suggestions for big travel adventures that are sure to challenge and delight in the months ahead. These journeys are not for the faint of heart, however, as they will carry you to the very ends of the Earth in pursuit of a true once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

Backpack Through Denali National Park
Even in the 21st century, Alaska remains a wild and untamed frontier that is quite simply the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers alike. At the heart of that beautiful landscape is the incomparable Denali National Park, which is essentially 4.7 million acres filled with breathtaking scenery and spectacular wildlife. Alaska Alpine Adventures offers both seven- and ten-day backpacking excursions into the park, taking travelers across massive glaciers, high into mountain passes and along remote rivers that few people ever see. These trips are a backpacker’s dream come true in one of the last great wildernesses on the planet.

Explore Namibia’s Skeleton Coast
Located along Namibia‘s northern-shores, the Skeleton Coast is so named for the smashed hulls of ships that have washed up on its beaches. More than a thousand vessels have come to rest in those sands, giving the place an otherworldly feeling that is difficult to describe. Desolate, yet incredibly beautiful, the coast is home to an array of wildlife including sea lions, baboons, elephants and even rare black rhinos. The region is inaccessible by land, but several adventure travel companies, including Audley Travel, can arrange for safaris to this remote corner of the world. This is a destination for those who truly want to get away from it all, as it is seldom visited and far from the traditional travel crowd.Travel adventures in the Himalay with Sacred RidesMountain Bike The Himalayas
For decades, one of the staples of adventure travel has been trekking in the Himalaya. But for those looking for a completely different challenge amongst the tallest mountains on the planet, Sacred Rides has a fantastic alternative. The company, which specializes in unique mountain biking tours around the globe, gives travelers the chance to pedal their way through Nepal on a 12-day tour that is truly unique. This adventure takes riders into the remote Mustang Valley, through the shadows of both Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, and into the deepest mountain pass on the planet. Along the way, they’ll catch their breath in ancient Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries and rustic mountain villages.

Whitewater Raft The World
We’ve told you about Mountain Travel Sobek’s amazing new rafting excursion before, but it is so ambitious and grand it’s worth mentioning again. The company’s Six-Continent Whitewater Adventure is unlike any other, offering travelers the ability to experience Class III-IV rapids in California, Ecuador, Spain, Kenya, India and Australia on a single 25-day whirlwind journey. If you’re a fan of whitewater rafting, it simply doesn’t get any bigger or more adventurous than this.

Trek The Atlas Mountains
Already hiked through the Andes, Alps and Himalaya but still find your feet are itching for an adventure? Why not hit the trail in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco? Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains offer unexpectedly rugged routes that wind through verdant valleys, across sparsely populated alpine meadows and over snow-capped summits. Travelers are treated to breathtaking vistas and are welcomed by the friendly locals who inhabit the tiny villages that are sprinkled throughout the region. Explore World Wide offers a variety of travel options to the Atlas Range, including short climbs to the top of the 13,671-foot Toubkal Peak and extended 15-day treks across the region. Like all great hiking excursions, these options provide a good mix of scenic landscapes, physical challenges and unique cultural immersion opportunities.

Learn To Sea Kayak In Patagonia
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to sea kayak, there are few places on the planet that are better suited to obtain those skills than Patagonia. The incredible wilderness located along the southernmost tip of South America is amongst the most beautiful settings on the planet and it remains an incredibly remote and wild place even today. And who better to train travelers in the art of sea kayaking than the folks at NOLS – the National Outdoor Leadership School. The organization leads a couple of trips to Chile each year where their guests gain paddling skills while traveling through lush rainforests, past towering granite spires and around pristine beaches. Paddlers will encounter plenty of wildlife along the way as well, including sea lions, giant otters, Andean condors and much more. This trip is a mix of equal parts adventure, learning and exploration that lets travelers go home with new skills and a host of wonderful memories.

Travel adventures on the SerengetiTake A Walking Safari Across The Serengeti
The Serengeti is one of those iconic destinations that every adventure traveler should have on their list of places to visit. With its dizzying array of wildlife, it is simply a magical place for animal lovers and naturalists alike. But those looking to experience the traditional safari in a unique way will want to check out the Walk on the Wildside itinerary from the team at Mountain Madness. This trip gets travelers out of the safari vehicle and actually puts them on the rolling savannah on foot. Specially trained guides will keep travelers safe as they spend their days hiking from one campsite to the next, all the while moving amongst vast herds of antelope, wildebeests and zebras, keeping their eyes peeled for elephants and lions along the way. At night they’ll actually camp right on the Serengeti, drifting off to sleep to the sounds of wild animals grazing just outside their tent.

Go Camping In Antarctica
For many, a visit to Antarctica is the ultimate adventure, as the frozen continent is the very definition of the “ends of the Earth.” While there are numerous travel companies that offer cruises to the bottom of the world, not many of them also offer the ability to actually go camping while there. But adventurous travelers looking for the ultimate cold weather camping experience will want to check out the itineraries available from Quark Expeditions. Their Crossing The Circle tour not only offers the option to go kayaking with whales and visit remote penguin colonies, but travelers can actually camp on the Antarctic Peninsula itself. Just be sure to pack a warm sleeping bag and your long underwear.

Climb The Highest Peak In South America
Located in western Argentina, the 22,480-foot Aconcagua is the tallest peak in South America and the highest in the world outside of the Himalaya. Despite its extreme altitude, however, the mountain requires only a few rudimentary technical skills to climb, making it accessible to adventurers who enjoy venturing into thin air. The standard route to the top is essentially a challenging hike requiring about three weeks to complete, including acclimatization and shuttling gear to high camps. The climb also happens to serve as a great training ground for a potential attempt on Everest or other more demanding mountains. The Adventure Consultants are one of the best companies around when it comes to organizing an Aconcagua climb, offering multiple expeditions to the mountain each year and providing top notch service, skills training and guidance. This is the trip for those who have trekked to the summit of Kilimanjaro and are now looking for new high altitude challenge.

The Ultimate African Adventure – Cairo to Cape Town Overland
If you’re looking for the ultimate African experience, it’s tough to beat Intrepid Travel’s amazing Cairo to Cape Town overland adventure. As the name implies, your excursion will begin in Egypt‘s capital city and proceed south to the capital of South Africa. In between, travelers will pass through the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. The trip is an incredible 117 days in length and offers a mix of camping and rustic accommodations. The itinerary features stops in some of the continent’s more vibrant and exciting cities, while also providing plenty of opportunity to encounter Africa’s famous wildlife in a number of fantastic natural settings. If you’re a fan of African travel, it just doesn’t get any better than this. That is, provided you have four months of vacation time saved up.

Hopefully this list has provided you with some ideas for your own big adventures for 2013. Good luck in your travels in the year ahead and enjoy the road.

[Photo Credit: Kent Miller, Kraig Becker]

Experiencing The Beauty Of The World’s Second Highest Peak: Cerro Aconcagua

mountainCerro Aconcagua, located in Mendoza, Argentina, is a mountain in Aconcagua Provincial Park. At 22,841 feet, the mountain is the highest in the southern and western hemispheres. In fact, aside for the Himalayas, it is the world’s highest peak.

To get to the park from Mendoza city center, take the Puente del Inca bus, which is 26.50 Argentine Pesos (about $6) each way. The excursion continues to be budget-friendly, as the entrance to Aconcagua Provincial Park is only 10 ARS$ (about $2). If you want to go to the base of the mountain, you will pay more, but only about $17 total. You can choose to simply hike the park for the day, as I did, or trek to the top of the mountain. This is only for the most fit of adventure enthusiasts, as the hike takes about 10 days each way and about three people die each year trying to make the ascent. Moreover, if you’re going to go this route make sure to leave some time before the hike to fill out the necessary paperwork.

However you decide to explore the area, just make sure you do it. The contrasting landscape of the park almost seems unreal, as lagoons, prairie, grey stone, fairy chimneys, rainbow-colored rock and snow-capped mountains all inhabit the same area.

For a more visual idea of my day experiencing the beauty of Cerro Aconcagua in Aconcagua Provincial Park, check out the gallery below.

Update: A commenter below points out that the Himalayas have over 100 peaks about 2,400 feet, and we acknowledge that encompassing all those into one can be misleading. Moreover, she posts a great guide for those who want to actually hike to the top of the mountain. Rest assured, it’s a glorious hike!

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Teen mountaineer completes Seven Summits

Jordan Romero completes the Seven Summits15 year old mountaineer Jordan Romero has completed his quest to climb the Seven Summits, the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents, and in the process became the youngest person to achieve that feat. On Christmas Eve, Jordan, along with father Paul and stepmother Karen, reached the top of the 16,050-foot Mt. Vinson in Antarctica, the last of the mountains on his list.

Jordan first dreamed of climbing the Seven Summits after seeing a mural on the iconic peaks in his grade school. He was just ten years old at the time. Later that year, he would bag his first summit, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa. He would follow that up with successful climbs of Kosciuszko (Australia), Elbrus (Europe), Aconcagua (South America), Denali (North America), and Carstensz Pyramid (Oceania).

But it was his successful summit of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain on the planet, that grabbed headlines around the globe. At the time, Jordan was just 13 years old, and his bold expedition sparked debate in the mountaineering community over how young is too young to climb the world’s biggest mountains.

The logistics and location of climbing in Antarctica forced Jordan to wait another year and a half to climb Mt. Vinson, but now he has claimed that summit too. Last Friday, the teenager, along with his parents, moved up to High Camp on that mountain, and on Saturday – Christmas Eve – they continued on to the summit itself. Weather conditions, as you would expect, were challenging, with high winds and sub-zero temperatures dogging them all the way. But int he end, they topped out at about 1 PM local time. They then safely descended back down the mountain and skied back to Base Camp, where they enjoyed Christmas dinner.

Congratulations to Jordan on completing his quest to climb the Seven Summits. Well done young man!

[Photo courtesy of Jordan Romero]

Teen climber Jordan Romero prepares for final Seven Summit

Jordan Romero will take on Mt. Vinson nextWhen we last checked in with teenage mountaineer Jordan Romero, he had just finished climbing Mt. Everest and in the process, setting a record for the youngest person to accomplish that feat. Jordan was 13 at the time, and razor focused on becoming the youngest person to reach the top of the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. Now, a year and a half later, with one mountain still on his list, he is preparing to achieve that goal as well.

Next week, Jordan, now age 15, will leave the U.S. for Antarctica, where he and his father Paul, along with step-mom Karen Lundgren, will attempt to climb Mt. Vinson, the highest peak on the continent. If all goes according to schedule, he’ll arrive in the Antarctic on December 16 and start the climb the following day. Over the following two weeks, Jordan and his team will face brutally cold temperatures, high winds, and the threat of avalanches, all for the chance to stand on the summit of the 16,050-foot mountain. If successful, Romero will become the youngest person to complete the Seven Summits.

Jordan first conceived of the idea of climbing the highest mountains on each of the continents when he saw a mural of the Seven Summits in his elementary school. That was back in 2005, when he was just nine years old. The following year he was off to Africa, where he trekked to the top of Kilimanjaro, which only fueled his desire to climb those mountains. In 2007 he checked Kosciuszko (Australia), Elbrus (Europe), and Aconcagua (South America) off of his list, and summitted Denali (North America) and Carstensz Pyramid (Oceania) in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Last year, he gained recognition worldwide for his successful climb of Everest, igniting a debate in the mountaineering community in the process. Many climbers began to wonder just how young was too young, which later prompted Nepal and China to set strict age limits, requiring Everest climbers to be at least 18 years old. The move was applauded by many, although some felt that Jordan was proof that young climbers could do well on the world’s tallest mountains.

[Photo courtesy of Jordan Romero]