Source: Lonely Planet
Mountain-lovers are in luck with April’s adventure offerings. Ski-tour some of the Alp’s finest terrain on the Haute Route; discover geological wonders among Kwazulu-Natal’s mighty mountains; hike to Everest Base Camp to revel in the start of the climbing season; or soak up the stunning scenery as you tackle the epic Appalachian Trail.
Tackle an Alpine classic when conditions are best
The 75-mile (120 km) Haute Route links Chamonix/Mont Blanc and Zermatt/the Matterhorn via some of the Alps’ finest terrain. It ticks off two countries, skirts beneath most of the range’s highest summits, crosses cols, traverses lakes and descends glaciers. Simply, it is the crème de la crème of ski-touring, and only for those with experience.
Long days at high altitude (it tops out at 12,434ft (3790m) Pigne d’Arolla) make it a challenging prospect. The main Haute Route ski-touring season runs from mid-March to late April. This is when the glaciers are safely covered in powder, the weather is generally milder, and the mountain huts are open, heated and cooking up hearty hot meals. Don’t ski? Come back in summer to do it on foot.
- Trip plan: Skiing the Haute Route takes six days. Allow time in lively Chamonix and Zermatt too.
- Need to know: You will need both euros (France) and Swiss francs (Switzerland).
- Other months: Mar-Apr – best snow conditions; Jun-Sep – route hikeable; Nov, Feb & May – conditions not ideal for either.
Discover flowers, festivals and on-foot adventures in Nepal
Quick! You can just squeeze in a trip to Nepal before the summer monsoon renders it hot, wet and treacherous. Indeed, March to April is a great time to explore the Himalaya: the rhododendron trees are in full and fabulous bloom, painting the land in incredible reds, pinks and purples, turning to white higher up.
Long, warm days also make this an appealing time to hike. In particular, there’s a buzz in the Everest region as hardcore mountaineers start gathering (most summit attempts are made mid-May); tackle the Everest Base Camp trek to rub shoulders with the climbing elite. The Kathmandu Valley is lively too – Bisket Jatra (Nepali New Year) is celebrated in mid-April, most exuberantly in Bhaktapur, where a god-toting chariot is dragged through streets and tug-of-war contests are held.
- Trip plan: Fly to Kathmandu. Explore the temples and towns of the Kathmandu Valley, where there are also good short walks. Lukla, gateway to the Everest region, is a 35-minute flight from Kathmandu; the Base Camp trek takes 14 days.
- Need to know: If trekking, take out travel insurance that covers you at higher altitudes.
- Other months: Oct-Nov – clear, pleasant; Dec-Feb – cold; Mar-Apr – flowers, warm; May-Sep – hot, wet.
Visit KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, for stable weather, mighty mountains, moving history and massive mammals
For an excellent South African all-rounder, look no further than KwaZulu-Natal. The province has golden Indian Ocean frontage, the country’s highest peaks and brilliant big-game parks (including some of Africa’s best rhino-spotting). Its earth is soaked with history too, most notably the bloody skirmishes of the 1879 AngloZulu War, best appreciated on guided trips to the battlefield sites of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift.
Soak it all up in the austral autumn, when the weather is still warm (24°C; 75°F) and the skies dry. Conditions are generally stable in the spear-like Drakensberg Mountains too, opening a world of wonderful walking of all levels, via geological amphitheatres, pools and waterfalls, imposing spires and San rock art.
- Trip planner: Head inland from coastal Durban to the Drakensberg (Lesotho is an easy detour, country-tickers). Continue to the battlefields for guided tours. Finish with a safari in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi game reserve.
- Need to know: In Durban, try local speciality bunny chow, a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry
- Other months: Sep-Nov & Mar-May – stable weather; Dec-Feb – hot, thunderstorms; Jun-Aug – cold, snowy.
Avoid the crowds on this epic American hike
You’re going to need about six months and a lot of grit and stamina to complete the 2190-mile (3525 km) Appalachian Trail. But, wow – just imagine if you do? Tackling one of the world’s longest marked footpaths unravels 14-states-worth of impressive scenery, and spending that long carrying your kit, camping wild, and dealing with blisters and bears is also life-changing stuff.
Most northbound thru-hikers start at Georgia’s Springer Mountain between March and mid-April, to ensure they’re finished before winter descends on the end of the AT, at Mt Katahdin, Maine. However, better is to start late April/early May, to avoid both the chances of late snow in the south and the log-jam of other thru-hikers all setting off at the same time.
- Trip plan: Start slowly to avoid injury (around 7 miles, or 12 km, a day), and build from there. Note: only one in four thru-hikers successfully completes the AT. If you’re short on time, walk a section. Maybe 100 miles (161 km) through Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)? Or a 2-mile (3km) hike to Anthony’s Nose (New York), from where you can see the NYC skyline.
- Need to know: Avoid starting on 1 April, the most popular start date; weekdays are typically less busy than weekends.
- Other months: Mar-May – thru-hike start time; Jun-Oct – warm, snow-free (for short sections); Nov-Feb – largely cold.