With all the stresses of daily life adding up, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking to stay at a yoga retreat on their travels. Yoga retreats are not just about improving fitness and strength, but about calming your mind and connecting you to your spiritual self.
Guatemala is known as the Land of Eternal Spring, for its active volcanoes, rainforests, ancient Mayan sites, Spanish colonial towns, and the iconic Lake Atitlan which is surrounded by gorgeous nature spots. With all this nature, you’ll be nestled in a landscape that exhales calmness and tranquility.
Imagine a deep, cobalt lake surrounded by dozens of tiny villages and looming volcanoes. That is Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Its shores have been attracting hippies and hedonistic travelers for decades.
It is no secret that Guatemala grows some of the best coffee in the world. If you know a little about coffee, then you know that the best coffee grows at higher elevations.
Antigua Guatemala is known as the best-preserved Spanish colonial city in Central America. Stroll the cobblestone streets, lounge with the locals in Central Park on sunny afternoons, or hike up one of the volcanoes overlooking the city for amazing views. Antigua used to be the capital of Guatemala until a damaging earthquake caused a switch to Guatemala City. As harrowing as the earthquake must have been at that time, some of the remains of Antigua’s stunning colonial buildings still stand today.
18. November, Saturday - Day 1: Transfer from the La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City to Antigua City. First night in Antigua.
19. November, Sunday - Day 2: Acatenango Vulcano overnight hike
We depart Antigua early in the morning in a private shuttle for a comfortable one-hour drive to the Mayan village of Soledad and the Acatenango trailhead. The drive from Antigua to the start of the Acatenango trek takes around 1 hour depending on traffic, police checkpoints and animals on the road, etc.
The 1525 m ascent winds its way up through four distinct ecosystems, starting with a tapestry of fertile agricultural fields where local farmers harvest corn, flowers, and snow peas. From there, the trail rises into an old-growth tropical cloud forest that harbors a diversity of flora and fauna, and also provides hikers shade and comfort as they push up the steep slope. Emerging from the cloud forest, we enter a sparse high-alpine forest that reveals views of six additional volcanoes, making it a great spot for a scenic trail lunch.
After lunch, we make the final push of the day and climb above the tree line into the fourth microclimate wind-swept and mystical volcanic terrain.
The campsite is already set up at 3600 m.a.s.l., we do not need to carry any of the camping gear. The tents are for 2-3 people. Each tent has a pillow, – 6°C sleeping bag, an extra blanket, and a 5″ or 12cm comfortable mattress, under the matt all over the tent is a waterproof carpet to isolate the cold from the bottom, also there is an extra tarp to isolate the cold from the top. They provide also a clean inner sleeping bag and the campsite got its own outhouse.
Now we can relax, stretch, and take in the sweeping views of the Antigua Valley and Volcan Fuego before being served a hot dinner followed by coffee, tea, and marshmallows over the campfire. The campsite looks directly over Volcan Fuego, and your evening is spent splitting time between gasping at volcanic eruptions and staring into a mesmerizing sky full of stars above. Fuego is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America and has erupted more than 60 times in the last 500 years.
20. November, Monday - Day 3: Wake up call at 04.00 am. We begin a 90-minute ascent up to Acatenango’s summit (3976 m) to watch the sunrise. It is a steep but rewarding climb through dwarf pine trees and gravel scree that leads to the top of the world. From the summit, we will find 360-degree views of Volcan Fuego, the Antigua Valley, and the distant Guatemalan highlands that stretch all the way to the border of Mexico.
Breakfast is at 8.00 at the base camp.
We are back in Antigua early afternoon (~1:00 pm) with plenty of time for a celebratory beer, cappuccino, or a siesta! Overnight in Antigua.
21. November - Day 4: Shuttle to our yoga retreat location near lake Atitlan, where we have an evening yoga class and dinner.
Lake Atitlán sits at an altitude of just over 1550 meters above sea level. The surrounding Lake Atitlan is world-renowned for its Cacao and Coffee plantations.
22. November - Day 5: Morning yoga class, breakfast, relaxing by the lake, paddleboarding or kayaking, lunch, evening yoga class, and Sacred Mayan Cacao Ceremony.
It was believed that the gods gifted cacao to the people directly. The scientific genus name for cacao is theobroma, which translates to “Food of the Gods,” and the Maya believed that cacao was a key ingredient in restoring balance and connection to the divine.
23. November - Day 6: Morning yoga class, breakfast, Tzununa permaculture farm tour, Love Probiotics, and a short hike to local waterfalls. Lunch at Tzununa. Evening yoga and dinner at the retreat center.
Love Probiotics produce healthy, live, locally sourced, fermented probiotic foods and beverages (various types of raw sauerkrauts, raw vinegar, organic black, green, and white tea kombuchas, ginger beer, sparkling water kefirs, jun tea, organic kefir yogurt, Lacto-fermented hot sauce, super-food bliss balls, sourdough bread and more!), and they also offer a variety of hands-on fermentation workshops.
24. November - Day 7: Morning yoga class, breakfast, visit Panajachel, evening yoga, and dinner at the retreat center.
Panajachel, known as Pana, is home to several restaurants featuring local and international cuisine, coffee shops, street food vendors, and more. The town's main street, Calle Santander, is where visitors can shop for textiles and artisanal pieces handmade by indigenous people from around the lake. Panajachel offers a spectacular view of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes.
25. November - Day 8: Indian Nose Sunrise hike with a local guide, brunch, dinner, relaxing, and evening yoga at the retreat center.
The Indian Nose is the mountain on the northwest shore of Lake Atitlan. Also called Rupalaj K’istalin, this 2550 meters tall mountain presents one of the most rewarding climbs of Lake Atitlan. In addition to viewing the sunrise over a chain of volcanoes and then onto the pristine waters, this climb provides great views over the San Juan and San Pedro la Laguana villages. The climb takes about 30 minutes. The peak of Indian Nose is at just over 2200 meters elevation.
26. November - Day 9: Morning yoga, breakfast, and transfer to El Paredon on the Pacific coast to watch the release of baby sea turtles. The drive is about 4 hrs, 180 km.
Pacific Coast beaches typically have black volcanic sand. El Paredon is a very laid-back village with a spectacular black sand beach and ocean waves that are perfect for surfers and skilled swimmers. From September to December, every morning at 5.45 am baby turtles is released into the wild from the Driftwood Conservation Project on Playa El Paredon. The number of turtles released depends on the number that hatch. And that depends on the weather – fewer turtles hatch when it’s rainy.
The Pacific coast is famous for its beautiful sunsets. We will have a meditation walk at the beach and time to admire the sunset. Dinner at the restaurant and overnight at the El Paredon Surfhouse.
27. November - Day 10: Shuttle to the La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City and say goodbye.
Very early bird (booking 6 months in advance) until May 18
Shared room 1200 USD
Private room 1700 USD
Shared room for 2 persons 2200 USD (1100 per person)
Early bird (booking 3 months in advance) until August 18
Shared room 1400 USD
Private room 1900 USD
Shared room for 2 persons 2600 USD (1300 per person)
Last-minute booking (less than 3 months in advance) from August 19
Shared room 1600 USD
Private room 2100 USD
Shared room for 2 persons 3000 USD (1500 per person)
We ask for a deposit of 350 USD per participant to reserve your spot in this yoga retreat.
50% of the remaining balance should be paid 60 days before the retreat starts (September 2023).
The remaining balance should be paid 30 days before the retreat starts (October 2023).
Cancellation less than 30 days before the start of the retreat: 100% cancellation fee (no refund)
Fees are completely non-refundable and non-transferable.
You can make your reservation and pay your deposit by clicking here.
This awesome yoga and hiking retreat between the fjords of Norway is a real adventure and mental detox, that will nourish your body, soul, and spirit.
The yoga retreat days will start with walking or driving to the local yoga studio for morning yoga and pranayama. The walk is around 7 minutes from Thon Hotel or 10-20 minutes from your accommodation. If your accommodation is not so close, you will be together with other people and have a car to drive to the yoga studio. Don't worry if you don't drive, you will be accommodated together with someone who does. We use rental cars that have insurance included. The rental car fee is included in the price.
Molde is a city and municipality in Møre and Romsdal county, Norway. It is a small town by the Moldefjord with a population of 26822. Molde is a very calm and relaxing city, famous for its amazing views. It is surrounded by fjords and is close to several remarkable hiking trails and viewpoints. Book your flight to Molde, Årø airport.
We will pick you up from the Molde airport on the day of arrival, but it is best to arrive on the 16.45 or 17.00 flight from Oslo. It is not a problem when you arrive earlier on that day or by bus. Transfer from the airport or bus station is included in the price only on that day. On the first day, we have a welcome dinner all together at 18.00.
Our yoga classes will be suitable for all levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners. We will practice vinyasa flow yoga in the morning to energize our body and mind, and yin yoga in the evening to relax and restore our muscles. We will also incorporate meditation and breathwork to enhance our awareness and connection with nature.
Our hiking trails will vary from easy to moderate, depending on your preference and fitness level. We will hike for about 3-6 hours a day, exploring different landscapes and viewpoints. We will see waterfalls, meadows, villages, and wildlife along the way.
Day 1, Friday
Arrival day. Pick up from the airport, settle into accommodation, introduce the program, meet other guests, dinner.
Energizing morning yoga session, breakfast, pack lunch.
Hiking Tusenårsvarden 523 m.a.s.l. or Varden viewpoint 407 m.a.s.l. 6-10 km.
After the hike, we return to the yoga studio for an afternoon yin yoga session and dinner.
Strengthening morning yoga session, followed by breakfast, packed lunch, and snacks.
Troll Church 484 m.a.s.l., consists of three exciting limestone and marble grottos with underground streams and a beautiful waterfall. On the surface, to the west of the uppermost cave, there is a lake with white marble "jetties". Braver hikers can swim in the mountain lake.
The mountain behind the Trolls' church is very distinctive, with jagged points and spires. Sometimes we hike only to the caves and lake, 8 km, but with real adventurers, we will hike further over the mountain ridge (832 m.a.s.l.) and make a loop back to the cave. Guests can choose how long of a hike they want this day. After the hike, we return for a restorative yoga session and a delicious meal.
Morning yoga, followed by breakfast and pack lunch.
Jendemsfjellet 633 m.a.s.l. is a mountain near Molde with a breathtaking 360-degree view over the fjords and mountains. We can choose between the shorter or longer trail, 4-6 km. Afternoon yoga session followed by a delicious meal in the accommodation.
Morning yoga, breakfast, and packed lunch followed by a ferry trip and driving to Trollstiegen.
Trollstiegen or the Troll ladder/road is a famous mountain road with narrow curves and sharp hairpin bends. The road has 11 hairpin curves and an elevation of 850 m. Every bend has its name. The road is narrow with a gradient of 9 % but passing pockets have been incorporated and traffic normally flows without a problem. An impressive bridge of natural stone carries it across the Stigfossen waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Norway. Stigfossen is an unregulated and powerful waterfall with a total height of 240 m, from which 180 m is almost a single drop.
Guests can choose if they want to drive up or hike. Kløvstien hike - the path is preserved as a cultural heritage, and a lot of effort has been put into maintaining the path. Stone steps and chains are making challenging parts more accessible and safer.
After morning yoga, breakfast, and packed lunch, we take off on a road trip to the Atlantic Road.
The Atlantic Road has National Tourist Route status, and the entire stretch between Bud and Kristiansund is one continuous experience packed with coastal scenery, culture, and history. The road that crosses this “infamous stretch of the ocean” was hailed as the world’s best road trip by the British newspaper The Guardian. In 2006. The 8.3 km (5 miles) road, with 8 bridges of a total length of 891 meters, is built on several small islands and skerries and is spanned by eight bridges and several landfills.
Sjurvarden, 667 m.a.s.l. is the mountain that stretches out to the sea, giving a powerful view of Hustadvika, the Atlantic Ocean, and the coastal landscape from Sunnmøre in the west and Smøla on Nordmøre in the north.
We will enjoy a final morning yoga session and breakfast before guests depart.
All good things must come to an end but only till next time! We transfer you to the airport and say goodbye!
Depending on participants' comfort level and the weather, this itinerary is subject to change.
You can choose between a hotel room or a single or double bedroom in an apartment together with other retreat participants. The hotel is located in the city center and the comfortable but simple rooms include a private bathroom, shower, toiletries, and free wireless internet. You can choose between a single or a double room. The hotel's name is Thon Hotel Moldefjord, address is Storgata 40, Molde. If you want more privacy and time alone we strongly recommend you choose to stay at the hotel. If you prefer a more luxurious room, please let us know.
Accommodation in an apartment is a local home. You will share the bathroom with 2-4 other participants. Those accommodations are located in different parts of the city.
If you are looking for an eventful holiday with lots of yoga, fun, and mountain air, Norway is the place for you. Expect relaxed group dynamics and the opportunity to integrate more balance and health into your life.
A Youtube video about yoga and hiking Trolltindene is here.
Guided tours take you into the heart of world-renowned wilderness destinations like countless number of waterfalls, Troll Church, Atlantic Road, Romsdalseggen, or some smaller mountaintops with amazing views over the fjords. Sometimes we will have yoga, pranayama, and meditation outdoors, on the top of the mountain.
If you are ready to reconnect with nature and yourself on this amazing yoga and hiking retreat in Norway, don’t hesitate to book your spot now! Spaces are limited and filling up fast. For any questions or inquiries, please email us at email@example.com.
You can also follow us on Instagram @yogaandhikingwithpillemitt to see more photos and stories from our past retreats.”
Yoga retreats are temporary breaks from the daily routine that typically last from the weekend to a week or more. The purpose of a retreat is to allow yogis to deepen their practice without the distractions of life. A yoga retreat is an amazing opportunity to meet others who are passionate about yoga.
Yoga and hiking retreat is a combination of yoga and physical activity outdoors. A retreat starts and ends on a certain date, which means that you will be with the same group of people every day. You go to the same classes, have meals together, and spend a day outdoors hiking together. This gives you the opportunity to actually get to know them and develop a friendship. Yoga and hiking retreat is not just another vacation, it is a powerful experience.
A yoga retreat will help you:
If you are a beginner or not so passionate about yoga, a yoga and hiking retreat will offer you the opportunity to start with regular practice and find out how yoga can help you find balance in your everyday life.
"Going back to nature is going back to the origin of life, to the origins of ourselves." This is what the philosopher Henry David Thoreau said about connecting to your inner self. There is plenty of time for self-reflection during the long hours of walking. We will encounter quite some obstacles, being far away from home and out of our comfort zone. But we might also realize what truly matters to us in our lives and what the purpose of our lives may be.
The question "Who am I?" is the ultimate question in yoga philosophy. This is exactly why connecting with nature and practicing yoga simultaneously form a perfect combination. Both will help you learn about your true self. The yoga and hiking retreat is a simple way to reconnect with your inner self and understand yourself better.
Walking the Camino de Santiago has been and still is on a bucket list for many people. Yoga and hiking retreat is like walking the Camino but it is a softer version of the Camino way. You know where you are going to sleep every night and you always have wi-fi when you need it. You will also prepare your body for a long day outdoors with morning yoga sessions, stretch and relax your tired muscles every evening and eat healthy and nutritious food during the journey.
However, yoga and hiking will give you many of the Camino walk benefits. Additionally, spending days in the fresh air will prevent you from becoming infected with viruses and will strengthen your immune system.
Camino de Santiago, known in English as the way of St. James, is a network of pilgrims' ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Spain.
Many pilgrims walk to connect and discover the deeper meaning of life, to spiritually connect with nature or themselves, or walk to find answers to deep questions.
Disconnect to reconnect
In a world of busyness with too many obligations and long workdays, many of us have become disconnected and disillusioned. We all say we would like to disconnect a bit but typical vacations are anything but answering e-mails at the pool and watching or reading the news after dinner, we seem never to have the opportunity to truly "get away from it all". At first, it may seem strange to not constantly think about what is going on in your country or not check your phone every 15 minutes but soon you find peace and silence in the journey. It takes a few days to adjust but the reward is clarity and a feeling of peace.
Exercise and well-being
The majority of people have little to no experience in walking long distances over many days. A popular saying is "your Camino begins when you sign up". You begin to research what shoes to bring, how to train and prepare your body, and what you should pack. Many people start training, to become healthier and more fit for the trip.
Estonian bogs have gone through a large-scale transformation from being seen as a horrific place to becoming one of the most loved landscapes. Our bogs are the top-of-the-list attraction for every tourist willing to discover the Estonian countryside and wildlife.
The bog is the oldest organic landscape in Estonia, reaching in some cases up to 10 000 years of age. The first bogs started to emerge here right after the last ice age. As the 1km, the thick glacier ice sheet was melting towards the North pole, the meltwater as a leftover was collected in depressions previously created by the glacier ice.
Over the next thousands of years, plants grew and died within those shallow and oxygen-deprived meltwater lakes. As a result, the dead plant material didn’t become decomposed but rather created ever-lasting peat/turf and turned the water acidic. Every year, one layer of partially decomposed organic material is accumulated underneath the mossy surface of the bog and this effect has taken place since the very beginning!
In Estonian bogs, the pace at which the peat accumulates is roughly 1mm annually. In most Estonian bogs, the peat layer is 5-7 meters on average, which equals about 5000-7000 years of age. Over the course of thousands of years, this landscape goes through a series of transformations. At the very beginning, this peat accumulation landscape does not have a significant effect on plants – the peat layer is just too thin and flora is able to reach the nutrient-rich groundwater. After millennia or two, the peat layer becomes thicker and filters out more demanding plants. The visual of the landscape is about to change. Birch trees will give up and pines will slowly start to take over. This middle stage is called transitional mire.
Later the peat layer gets just so thick that only the toughest plants will survive. The third stage is called bog or raised bog. Here you can see a lot of bog pools or lakes inside this huge organic sponge. The landscape is entirely independent, meaning that the plants don’t have access to nutrient-rich groundwater and all they have is rainwater stored in the ground. Bogs can be seen as huge sponges that can store huge amounts of water. Mainly because the sphagnum moss, also known as the “bog builder plant” is able to absorb almost 20x its body mass. So in some ways, bogs are also giant water reservoirs.
Bog operates as a carbon sink and therefore mitigates the effects of climate change. And as we know today, it’s a perfect place for aesthetic experiences.
Since the Estonian bogs were “rebranded” decades ago, their popularity has skyrocketed. The State Forestry Agency has built a lot of boardwalks and forest trails to provide easier access to all the people interested in enjoying the silence and minimalistic landscapes.
Suddenly, bogs have become the symbols of our country. 100 years ago it was unheard of to say, think or write anything pleasant about our swamps or bogs. Today, people still have some sort of unconscious “itch” inside them when they get off the trails and feel this spongy ground. But walking on boardwalks has become so popular, that on the weekends you could encounter more people in bog than in a shopping mall. So if interested in peace and silence, you have to choose your destinations carefully.
As you may guess, every season has its pros and cons. Although I see some benefits in visiting bogs in particular time periods, I still think everything depends on your goals. Is it to see wildlife? To swim in a bog lake? To pick berries? To skate on the frozen lakes?
Spring (March-May) is probably the best period to encounter birds and animals. For example, male black grouses are having battles in the bogs at the sunrise. Of course, it’s something that needs preparation and setting up a hide to witness those rare moments. The cranes are arriving from Africa and many birds are stopping by to continue their journey to polar regions. Many plants, including mystical labrador tea, bloom in May-June. I love spring because at that time we don’t have mosquitoes here.
I don’t suggest going to the bog on the hot summer days (nights are ok) – because of the dark ground, it gets really hot and there is nowhere to hide from the direct sunlight + you potentially have to deal with horseflies. In the summer, the best time to go to the bog is right before sunset or sunrise. You will then have the least problems with insects + the view is magical. Especially when the sky is clear. and you can enjoy the water that feels especially warm when the air temperature starts to drop.
August-September-October is perfect! Starry skies, misty mornings. Berries – blueberries, lingonberries, bilberries, cranberries, and cloudberries. Mushrooms! Chanterelles! In the autumn, the mosses covering the ground turn into colorful “carpet” + you’ll see the yellow-red colored trees on the horizon. Perfect time for camping and staying overnight as well.
With winter it can go both ways – you either have snow in Estonia or you don’t. When you do, you can go skating on bog lakes, hike with snowshoes over the frozen lakes, make a fire, camp either in a hammock or in a glamping tent. Catch fish on the ice. Fullmoon hike on glowing white snow? No mosquitoes, no crowded camping sites. Silence!
Read more about our Estonian retreat here.
"There is no bad weather, only bad clothing" - Swedish and Norwegian proverb
Here I will share some tips on how to choose good hiking clothes to keep you warm, dry, and happy during your adventures in Norway or Alaska. I will not recommend any specific brands because in different regions you can find similar products from different manufacturers.
When I moved to Norway in 2013, I started hiking in my jeans, aerobic leggings and top, running shoes, and a light jacket. Although Norwegians thought it was strange (jeans are especially despised), I was not disturbed by it. My hikes were usually short and close to home. With time my hikes became longer and more complicated and I started to buy special hiking equipment. I discovered that the little improvements really made a difference! For example, my backpacks got bigger but lighter and I replaced all my pants and jackets with ones that have ventilation zippers.
You start to notice the importance of clothing when you hike for several days in a row, your hike lasts for the whole day, or the weather changes suddenly. When you hike uphill you always get hot and sweaty. The contrast becomes clear when you reach the top of the mountain which is usually windy and cool. If you want to sit down to eat, relax and enjoy the view, you instantly feel the cold creeping in. On the way down your legs are already tired so you must take extra care not to stumble and fall. That means hiking at a slow pace with sweaty clothes and rubbing shoes. Suddenly you may find that hiking is not so enjoyable anymore. Fortunately, all this is avoidable when you take advice from experienced hikers.
The most important thing about hiking clothes is layering. This tried-and-true strategy helps you to regulate temperature by slipping layers on and off as your activity level or the weather changes. You may not want to wear a lot of layers at the start of your hike but it’s a good idea to take them with you on every outing - you can peel off layers when you get hot but you can’t put on layers that you didn’t bring along.
I am not going to talk about underwear which should be comfortable every day, not only when hiking. But I want to talk about T-shirts. Wool is very popular in Norway: summer wool, merino wool, smart wool, old fashion wool, etc. If I'm honest, I don't go along with fashion trends easily, but buying myself a light, summer merino wool T-shirt was a very good idea.
When hiking with a backpack, your shirt must have sleeves. It is very uncomfortable to feel the backpack strap under a sweaty armpit on a warm summer day. A cotton T-shirt is not the best choice because it dries slowly. I recommend light wool or synthetic T-shirt for warm weather or a long-sleeved shirt for cooler weather. Choose materials that insulate, wick moisture, and dry quickly.
The same goes for socks. A hiking sock is crucial to prevent blisters. A hiking sock, unlike a cotton sock, provides significant protection against rubbing that your boot might cause. Low-cut socks are not a good choice for hiking, choose crew socks instead.
Of course, it all depends on the weather but you should always have a long-sleeved sweater or a fleece in your bag. I love fleece hoodies because I always forget my hat at home and they help to keep my head warm. I prefer light hoodies that breathe well. Pullover hoodies might be difficult to put on, so I prefer ones that have zippers.
Down-insulated jackets are my favorites because they are highly compressible and easy to pack in your bag, also down offers more warmth for its weight than any other insulating material.
The outer layer (or shell layer) protects you from wind, rain, and snow. Shells range from pricey mountaineering jackets to simple wind-resistant jackets. Most allow at least some perspiration to escape; virtually all are treated with a durable water repellent finish to make water bead up and roll off the fabric.
Your outer shell is an important piece in stormy weather because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to inner layers, you can get really cold. Pit zips under the armpit are again important. The ideal would be lightweight, wind, and waterproof material but usually, if you want significant protection against the rain and wind then you might need to make a trade-off on weight.
I think I would love hiking pants that can be turned into shorts by unzipping the long pant legs. Unfortunately, I do not have them yet. But I have several breathable, windproof hiking pants with ventilation zippers and I really love them. It is important for me that they also have pockets with zippers - the more the better. Otherwise, my keys, phone, and other things would disappear fast. The material of hiking pants is also crucial. Your pants should be lightweight, soft, stretchy, and windproof. I also have a pair for heavy rain. It is important that you do not have to take your boots off when you pull on your rain pants. That means a zipper on the side of the pants.
One of the most important things you wear on the trail is shoes. Low-cut models with flexible midsoles are excellent for hiking on a warm summer day. I prefer lightweight, flexible, mid or high-cut hiking boots with a good grip. My boots are not 100% waterproof but they are water-resistant. Always wear your new shoes at home or on short hikes before going out on longer hikes. After hiking remove the insoles of the shoes and clean them properly. Remember to also reapply for a DWR treatment every once in a while.
The life of a freelance yoga instructor, self-defense teacher, and adventure sports writer involves a lot of free time. I used to devote an embarrassing amount of that free time to trawling the Yoga Trade website. The secret to using the site well is to know when to daydream about an opportunity, when to seize it, and to love what you find. So when I saw a listing looking for yoga teachers to assist hiking retreats in Norway, I knew it was time to pounce. I just didn’t know that pouncing would change my life.
I’ve always wanted to visit Norway but it’s notoriously expensive and I’ve never had the money to go. I’ve lived above the 60th-degree latitude so I knew what I was getting into. I’ve worked as a hiking guide, I’m a natural history nerd, I have wilderness first responder training, I’ve been teaching and practicing yoga for over 30 years. I knew I was perfect for the job. I just had to convince the woman running the retreats that I was perfect for the job.
I was at a yoga retreat in Bali when I saw the listing, so I had limited internet access and no cell reception. I crafted a carefully worded letter of introduction, gathered my CV and a few yoga photos, and tried to send them off. The message didn’t appear to land, so I bombarded this poor woman at every portal I could access: YogaTrade, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and her personal email. I don’t know if she was impressed or annoyed, but she called me within a day. After a week of communication, I was able to convince her to stop looking at other applications and bring me to Molde for the month of August.
I neglected to research my remarkable hostess. Pille Mitt was born in Estonia when it was part of the USSR. She grew up under an authoritarian regime that denied the most basic freedoms I often take for granted- the ability to choose where I want to live, travel, and pursue an education or career. With the collapse of the Soviet Union Pille was able to offer exercise classes and eventually open her own gym. Online dating brought her to Molde, Norway, where she lost the guy but found a new home. A yoga teacher training in Rishikesh opened new windows, and now she teaches at both yoga studios in town and offers yoga and hiking retreats in various locations throughout the year. “I have to stop having such a good life!” she jokes. “Time flies when you’re having fun, so my life is passing too quickly!”
I also neglected to research the hikes. The first day we warmed up with a casual stroll out of town which led to the ascent of a nearby peak. Then we hiked a mountain overlooking the next day’s destination, with the option of climbing a nearby twin summit. One day saw us ascend steep muddy slopes to the Troll’s Church, a limestone cavern with a 40 ft waterfall inside. We traveled by ferry and car, climbed mountains, crawled through caves, jumped in alpine lakes, and swam in the frigid Atlantic. Each day brought stunning vistas, the option to picnic and relax or hike as hard as we could. One day was a glorious road trip up a series of hairpin turns to a precariously perched restaurant and café. We dispersed like a flock of birds and came back together to meditate on a quiet ridge.
The first group was all female, and we bonded like the loving family I never had. Two Lebanese women and an Israeli woman broke bread together every day; they are not allowed to travel to each other’s homes and would probably never have met otherwise. We pushed each other to hike harder and relax more deeply, comforted and inspired each other, learned from shared stories of triumph and failure. I’ve led groups from southeast Alaska to Southeast Asia and never experienced one with more authentic love or less bitchy drama.
Over the following month my life fell into a simple rhythm: wake up, meditate, plan yoga classes, do yoga, eat breakfast, hike all day, teach yoga, eat dinner, fall asleep, wake up and do it again. Rainy days invited a road trip, a philosophy discussion, an extended yoga class, a shorter hike. After the first group left, Pille and I had two half days free. We scheduled an outdoor community yoga class, shopped for food, and went for a hike. When you’re doing what you love, you never want a day off.
Pille and I cried when I boarded the bus for Oslo. We are both intense athletic tomboy powerhouses and were afraid we wouldn’t meet another kindred spirit until our paths crossed again. Fortunately, that won’t be long. We plan to lead yoga and hiking retreats together in Alaska, Norway, and California in 2020. Guests from last August have already signed up, eager to hang out with us again. We are considering offering yoga teacher training together in 2021. The only bummer is I don’t have time to daydream about opportunities offered on Yoga Trade anymore. I’m too busy living them! Love what you find!
Read more about our yoga and hiking retreat in Norway here.
Romsdalseggen ridge is one of the world’s most scenic hikes (Lonely Planet 2011). This hike through the dramatic landscape features many highlights. From the ridge, you can see the majestic Trollveggen cliff, surrounded by a number of well-known mountains. Romsdalseggen ridge is one of the most spectacular backdrops in the world, not far from the mountaineering capital Åndalsnes.
The ascent is hard-going and steep, but the view that awaits you at the top is well worth the effort! From the ridge, you look directly at the legendary Trollveggen cliff, Europe’s highest perpendicular rock face – crowned by rugged mountains. To the southeast, you can see the Dalsida landscape protection area, which extends all the way to the Dovrefjell and Sunndalsfjella mountains, with the highest peak Snøhetta.
The mountains Romsdalshorn and Store Venjetind tower-like spires into the sky. It is not hard to understand why this sea of jagged peaks, ridges, and wild precipices has drawn mountaineers to the area for centuries. To the southwest, you can see Reinheimen National Park and the well-known mountains Bispen, Kongen and Dronninga. From Romsdalseggen ridge, you also get a view of Romsdalen valley, with the Rauma river winding its way through the lush landscape out to the fjord and Åndalsnes.
Romsdalseggen ridge hike is not circular. It starts in Venjesdalsetra and finishes in Åndalsnes. You can take a special bus from Åndalsnes or you need two cars. The bus runs daily in the summertime, from June until September. You can book your ticket here. It is easy to find the bus stop, it is in front of the Climbing Museum or Norsk Tindesenter/Tourist Information/train station.
The trail is easy to follow, marked, and signposted with red dots. Besides the red trail marks, there are additional posts showing the progress of your hike.
If you are not particularly fond of airy ridges, you can take an easier path that bypasses the steepest and airiest sections. It also starts at Venjedalssetra and only forks from the main trail at 2,5th kilometer, at the plateau, and is signposted to Høgnosa. It joins back the main trail on the 7th kilometer. Taking this trail will add 2 extra kilometers to the hike. but to tell the truth, all descents and ascents which could be challenging, are secured with chains which are very helpful.
At the end of the ridge, Nesaksla has located an old, cute stone hut, a brand-new Eggen restaurant, and Romsdalens Gondola. From here it is a steep and hard descent from over 700 meters down to Åndalsnes. Despite the Sherpa steps (steep stony steps built in 2013 by Nepalese Sherpas), it can be a struggle to walk down, painful and hard on the knees.
In May 2021 opened Norway's longest skylift - The Romsdalens Gondola. Romsdalsgandolen is the longest cable car in Norway, the idea of this cable car appeared in 1964 and the ride takes about 5 minutes. The maximum speed is 10 m/s, and the climb reaches 73 percent. The cabins are able to carry 45 passengers and depart every half an hour, but it is promised to run it continuously if awaiting passengers will appear. The gondola departs from the town center of Åndalsnes (next to the Tindesenter museum) and goes to the top of Nesaksla mountain. Once at the top, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of your surroundings, including the famous peaks Romsdalshorn, Store Vengetind, and Kirketaket. Indulge not only your sense of sight but your sense of taste as well and visit Eggen Restaurant at the top of Nesaksla. The restaurant offers traditional, seasonal, and local cuisine with unobstructed views over Romsdalen. Walk along the nature paths before heading back down to Åndalsnes. You can choose to ride the gondola back down or hike down the mountain which allows you to visit the famous Rampestreken viewpoint on the way. The gondola runs year-round and is suitable for people with disabilities.
Would you like to join us in the Romsdalseggen hike? You can see a selection of our guided day hikes here.