Sicily and Malta with Mountain Spirits by Dr. Christopher Zook

My wife and I, and one other couple, recently went on a trip with Kim and Pete at Mountain Spirits that was off the chart amazing, beyond even our lofty expectations. Though I am an older and very experienced global traveler (with over 20 trips to India under his belt, for instance), what we experienced in our hiking and traveling with Mountain Spirits was nothing less than life changing.

Our trip lasted for two weeks – 8 days on a catamaran sailing through the Aeolian Islands and 7 days travelling through Sicily, Malta, and the remarkable island of Gozo, staying in charming local hotels. The theme of the trip was built around a brilliant concept we would never have thought of on our own –visiting and hiking volcanos and volcanic islands in the region – some dormant (Vulcano), some erupting with huge masses of lava rolling down into the sea (Stromboli) and some active and throwing debris into the air (Etna). Our trip brought us eye to eye with one of the most primal phenomena on the earth – the place on our planet where you are closest to the molten core and see first-hand the immense power of nature.

Our typical day started with waking up on our boat, docked in a hidden cove looking up at high cliffs or watching perfectly shaped volcanos. We felt like in a movie set for a James Bond film as we slipped into the clear bright blue Mediterranean water for our first swim of the day, sometimes taking boards or our dingy or snorkels to explore the natural cave formations and its sea creatures.

After that we would devour an incredible breakfast of fresh local produce, to make sure we were correctly fortified for the daily hike. On each island Pete and Kim had researched the best route balancing challenge, beauty, and experience levels of each of us. One day, some of us hiked up to 10,000 feet on Etna. Another day we made our way along the rim of the great crater on the island of Volcano, looking down into the core of the earth. One night we even docked our boat and watched nature’s light show of shooting lava on the island of Stromboli. How cool is that?

The afternoons would include another swim to cool down, as we got ready for the evening – dinner on the boat with great conversation, food, and even music-sing along nights with guitar under the stars or, on other days, a trip into a small village to eat at a local family restaurant and experience the best of the local culture. Somehow, Kim managed also to fit in tours in Sicily and Malta ranging from the famous Blue Grotto to the rock formations in Gozo featured in iconic scenes from over 20 movies, including James Bond.

The camaraderie of our group never flagged, despite being together for every meal and activity over two weeks. In fact, we could have happily had it go on forever. Every day was filled with laughter and positive energy. We returned refreshed, with new friends, amazing experiences, a surge of energy, and a real appreciation for how amazing our earth is.

One thing I like to do is photography. And, of course, this trip was a photographer’s dream from the cliffs of Gozo to the narrow streets of Valetta in Malta to the salt flat remains of ancient people in Gozo.

We are grateful to Kim and Pete for all that they do to pay attention to every detail and for conceiving this remarkable two weeks, hiking the great volcanos in the Mediterranean. Thank you! We can’t wait to go somewhere else with Kim, Pete and Mountain Spirits.

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