“In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the wonder and majesty of the mountain landscapes I often admired but took for granted. Despite my adventures in the airline industry, it wasn’t until I became a parent living along the scenic border between Oregon and Washington, that I came to fully appreciate these rocky giants. When I felt isolated as a brand new mom, quietly gazing out at the mountains as I soothed my son, it was the view of Mt. St. Helens from my bedroom window and a towering Mt. Hood on journeys from home that filled me with a sense of peace and groundedness amidst the chaos. Hiking with my bundle of joy in a carrier helped me reconnect with nature, myself, and the world around me as I navigated matrescence.

Despite countless journeys through and around mountain ranges, it is in this phase of my life that I now truly appreciate how each new experience continues to evoke a profound sense of awe and connection with the world, echoing the timeless allure of these natural wonders. I know that no matter where I end up adventuring, just about any mountainous destination will leave me awestruck, grateful, and with stories for years to come. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what draws us as humans to mountain landscapes around the world and diving into some of the breathtaking adventures we offer at Journeys for enthusiastic explorers like me.

What Draws Us to Mountain Destinations?

They Evoke Awe & Wonder

Mountains are symbols of existential quests, challenges to overcome, and places of profound peace and spiritual solace. Their presence is commanding, and their historical and cultural significance is rich. Mountains invoke awe, a powerful emotion that diminishes ego and enhances our connection to something larger than ourselves. Research suggests that regular exposure to awe-inspiring landscapes can boost life satisfaction and decrease stress – which has been my experience. This emotional response is often accompanied by increased feelings of generosity and a sense of being part of a greater whole.

Physical Challenges & Rewards

Mountaineering, trekking, and hiking are activities that demand mental agility and physical endurance. The challenges presented by mountainous terrains encourage a state of flow—where skills are used to their utmost in response to immediate challenges, leading to heightened states of consciousness and clarity. In a flow state, individuals experience a deep focus that temporarily diminishes awareness of other needs and the passage of time. People feel fully involved and lose their sense of self-consciousness, contributing to a state of peak performance and heightened satisfaction. Flow is a powerful state for enhancing performance, reducing anxiety, and improving emotional regulation. A mountain terrain is the perfect place to find flow, and even in those years when I had a baby on my chest, a good hike could get me into that flow state.

Spot snow-spattered peaks and guanaco during your drive across PatagoniaMountains Host Essential Ecosystems

It’s no secret that mountain landscapes are critical for their biodiversity, climate regulation, and water resources, making them vital areas for ecological and geological study. The wildlife in mountain ecosystems is highly adapted to the terrain and conditions and can teach us a lot about our world, even if our animal encounters may be fleeting. For the plant-lover, sustainable foraging opportunities are often abundant and may boast several surprises and learning opportunities.

Historical Cultural Significance & Inspiration

Mountains hold sacred status in many cultures and can be steeped in rich folklore and mythology. For many indigenous communities, mountains are not just landforms but are living entities with spirits. They play central roles in narratives and ceremonies, serving as places of worship, sources of sustenance, and symbols of identity. The reverence for mountains can be seen in practices such as the Incan worship of Apus (mountain spirits) or the Japanese tradition of Yamabushi, who view mountains as places to seek spiritual solace. The stark beauty of mountains also inherently stimulates the aesthetic senses, inspiring artists, poets, and travelers alike.

The spark that started Journeys International was an adventure in the Himalayan mountain range in Nepal (read our story here), where Will & Joan Weber were first inspired to organize a small group trip led by a local Sherpa guide. From that one mountain adventure sprang 45+ years of building local relationships around the globe to facilitate connection & sustainable exploration.

Where to Go for “Peak” Adventure

Today, Journeys International reaches into the far corners of the globe, offering mountain adventures for a range of activity preferences and comfort levels. If you’re looking for an adventure that may get you out of your head, something to challenge and inspire you, one of our premier mountain destination itineraries might do the trick.

Porter & Mt.Everest (center) ,Mt. Ama Dablam(right) Nepal.see more photo of Nepal ...The Himalayas

The Himalayas stand as a symbol of awe and spiritual depth, stretching across five nations and home to the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest. This vast mountain range is not just a destination for trekkers and climbers; it’s a profound cultural heartland, rich with centuries-old monasteries and the mystic traditions of the Sherpa and other indigenous peoples. The Himalayas offer a journey through dramatic landscapes, from lush valleys and dense forests to the stark beauty of its towering, snow-capped peaks. Here, each step brings a new revelation, offering not only a physical challenge but also a profound personal transformation amidst some of the most spectacular vistas on earth.

Tiger's Nest Monastery sits perched on a cliffside in Bhutan.Nepal & Bhutan: Gateways to the Himalayas

Nepal and Bhutan offer access to high altitudes and the high spirits of local cultures and communities along the Himalayan mountains. This is just a taste of a few of the trip itineraries Journeys offers to travelers:

  • Everest Base Camp Trek and Annapurna Lodge Trek (Nepal): These treks are cultural immersions as much as they are physical challenges, offering an intimate look at the Sherpa community and the diverse ecosystems of the region. Mount Everest, or Mount Chomolungma, is the world’s highest mountain above sea level (29,029 ft) and a bucket-list adventure for explorers of many backgrounds and abilities. The Annapurna Lodge Trek is a great way to explore the Himalayas if you’ve already explored Everest or prefer to explore at lower altitudes.
  • Black Mountain Trek (Bhutan): This journey traverses ancient landscapes filled with sacred monasteries, pristine forests, and high-altitude lakes, offering a serene experience deeply rooted in Bhutanese spiritual traditions.
  • Festivals of Happiness Rare Journey (Bhutan): Explore what happiness means in Bhutanese culture and how Bhutan’s Nine Pillars of Happiness are woven throughout their lives.

The Andes

The Andes stretch majestically through seven South American countries, with Peru and Ecuador at the heart of its cultural and natural heritage. In Peru, the ancient Inca Trail weaves through cloud forests and past stunning archaeological sites, culminating at the world-renowned ruins of Machu Picchu. This path is a journey back in time, where each stone and passageway tells the story of a bygone civilization. Ecuador offers its own Andean marvels, most notably the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Here, adventurers can traverse the landscapes dominated by towering peaks such as Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, each offering challenging climbs and breathtaking views. These volcanic giants stand sentinel over rich valleys and traditional Andean villages, where life pulses to the rhythm of indigenous cultures unchanged by time. South of these vibrant cultural epicenters, Patagonia’s wild, untamed landscapes provide a stark contrast with its wind-swept steppes, massive ice fields, and the iconic jagged peaks of Torres del Paine in Chile, which continue to attract hearty travelers from around the globe.

Revel in the stunning vistas that abound in the parkChilean Patagonia, Peru and Ecuador: Gateways to the Andes

Journeys has several exceptional treks across the Andes, each infused with rich cultural history and awe-inspiring natural beauty. Explore the northern part of the Andes to appreciate famous wonders like Macchu Picchu. Or explore further south, where Patagonia offers a dramatic contrast with its remote, wind-swept landscapes.

  • Mountain Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu (Inca Trail, Peru): This world-renowned trek takes you through the heart of the former Inca Empire, culminating at the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu, nestled high in the Andes. Experience the ancient pathways where every step tells a story of the past, set against the breathtaking backdrop of rugged mountain scenery.
  • Ecuador Highlands Explorer (Avenue of the Volcanoes, Ecuador): Explore the scenic avenue lined with some of the world’s highest volcanoes. This route offers more than just trekking—it’s an immersion into the vibrant cultures of the Andean highlands. Each volcano presents a unique challenge and a story, revealing the dynamic nature of this land.
  • Patagonia Discovery Safari (Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia): Journey through southern Chile to the most scenic and exhilarating places in the Lake District and Torres del Paine National Park. Known for its iconic “W” trek, this park encompasses massive glaciers, bright blue icebergs, and dark granite peaks. It’s a place where the wild landscape alters your sense of scale and where every view is more arresting than the last.

These are just a sampling of some of the itineraries our team has put together for custom adventures.  There are many possibilities for any journey you have on your mind, so schedule a chat with an Adventure Specialist to plan anything from mountain trekking adventures to more low-key opportunities to appreciate these phenomenal destinations.

The Timeless Lure of Mountains

Mountains inspire a journey like no other—a journey into the self and beyond.  As someone who has experienced the intangible gifts these titans of nature have to offer in my own life, I have several spectacular mountain vistas on my travel bucket list, and I will forever encourage fellow travelers to consider new mountain adventures of their own. Journeys International is happy to help travelers delve deep into these monumental landscapes, equipped with expert guidance and supported by sustainable travel practices. Whether scaling the snowy expanses of the Himalayas or tracing the rugged paths of Patagonia, these mountain adventures promise to renew our awe and respect for the natural world with each step.