If you have some time and trekking is your passion or you simply want to tackle that bucket list, exploring remote locations through an unforgettable adventure can be a life enhancing experience. If you ask a group of hardened hikers for the best trek in the world, each will give you a different answer but there are several trails that are always on everyone’s list.
This demanding 15-day 104mile trek through Corsica is legendary for the diversity of landscapes it traverses. There are forests, granite moonscapes, windswept craters, glacial lakes, torrents, peat bogs, snow-capped peaks, plains and névés. It’s not an easy hike, the path is rocky and sometimes steep, and includes rickety bridges and slippery rock faces. GR20 is not only counted amongst the world’s top scenic treks, but also the most demanding for both professionals and beginners. Experience the Shepherds lifestyle en-route as you meander through tricky passages and enjoy the pristine views.
The 20-mile ancient trail to the hilltop citadel of Machu Picchu was laid by the Incas and brought to mainstream attention by Hiram Bingham when he ‘discovered’ it in 1911. In the centuries since, millions of hikers have flocked to catch a glimpse of the ‘lost city.’ Daily hikers on the trail were restricted to just 200 in 2018. The result is a more tranquil experience for those fortunate enough to get permits, and increased protection for the archaeological site. The view of the erstwhile affluent Peruvian city is simply intoxicating when you stand at the majestic Sun Gate. The trail to the 15th-century city starts from the Sacred Valley, winding its way up and down and around the mountains and taking in three high passes en route. Be prepared for a lot of ascending and descending when you sign up for one of the best hikes in the world.
Treks to Everest continue to captivate the imagination of trekkers across the globe. Reaching a height of 18,193ft at Kala Pattar, this two- to three-week trek is extremely popular, thanks, in part, to its spectacular scenery and the romanticism involved with successful hikers able to proudly say they’ve stood at the base of the world’s highest mountain. This trek originates from the Khumbu region in Nepal Himalayans, where the three majestic mountains namely, Mount Everest, Lhotse Sar, and Mount Lhotse spellbind you. En route, get close and personal with oldest Buddhist Monasteries and Sherpa villages. Be warned: prime trekking season brings serious crowds.
See the stunning subalpine scenery of New Zealand’s South Island surrounding this this short yet splendid 20-mile three-day trek. At the base of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, the trail passes through two national parks: Fiordland and Mt Aspiring. Highlights include the views from Harris Saddle and atop Conical Hill – from where you can see waves breaking on the distant beach. The main challenge for this popular hike is securing a place among the limited numbers who are allowed on the track at any time.
Tasmania’s prehistoric-looking wilderness is most accessible on the 50mile, five- to six-day Overland Track. Snaking its way between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair, the well-defined path passes craggy mountains, beautiful lakes and tarns, extensive forests and moorlands. Those who want more can take numerous side hikes leading to waterfalls, valleys and still more summits including Mt Ossa, 5,305ft – Tassie’s highest. You will view the opulence of Mother Nature, with a diverse alpine ecosystem thriving here.
Leading from Chamonix in France through the southern Valais to Zermatt in Switzerland, the Haute Route traverses some of the highest and most scenic country accessible to walkers anywhere in the Alps. The summer Haute Route walk takes around two weeks to complete. It mainly involves ‘pass hopping’ and demands a high level of fitness, with every section containing a high strength factor. This enchanted route offers picturesque views of the highest pathways available to hikers. This physically demanding European Alps hike is well worth the challenge.
This corridor of ice leads to the colossal peak of K2, 28,251ft, the world’s second-highest mountain. This incomparable trek in Pakistan traverses some of the most stunning scenery on the planet. What starts with a trail following icy rivers into the main part of the Baltoro Glacier transforms into a path to the granite pyramidal mountains, including Paiju, 21,686ft, Uli Biaho, 21,053ft, Great Trango Tower, 20,623ft and ultimately K2. If the 15 days havent discouraged you, take amazing side trips to more moraine-covered glaciers. It’s worth noting that treks here must be organized with a registered tour operator. Additionally, the Foreign Office currently advises against travel to many parts of Pakistan so prepare well.
Circling the Paine Massif (the towers) and exploring much more of the national park, the Circuit or ‘O’ trek is the most taxing but rewarding of the trails. An 80-mile route, it delivers on all of the park’s most celebrated sights. Exploring the northern side of the park before finishing by following the ‘W’ route to the towers, the Torres del Paine Circuit trek encompasses its fair share of beautiful landmarks. One of the most exceptional parts of the route includes the descent from the John Gardner Pass. Here, a 180-degree view of Glacier Grey awaits trekkers and this vista is considered by many visitors to be the main highlight of the trek. Hikers normally start from the entrance of the park and camp overnight in Campamento Serón, as walking the route counterclockwise avoids the powerful headwinds that can be felt on the trail. Walking the Circuit in this direction also allows hikers to reach the base of the towers on the final day at sunrise; a welcome treat after a long but rewarding hike.
One of the most well-known landmarks in South America, Mount Fitz Roy has been an emblem of Patagonia for many years. At 11,075 ft, the soaring rock formations stand out like jagged peaks, creating one of the most dramatic landscapes on earth. Also known as Cerro Chaltén, Mount Fitz Roy is located on the border between Argentina and Chile near the village of El Chaltén on the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The mountain was first climbed by French alpinists Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone in 1952 and remains to this day, one of the most difficult ascents on the planet. The Fitz Roy trek is generally around 20 miles in length and takes 3-4 days to complete depending on how much walking you wish to do each day. Whilst the landscape is one of rugged beauty, the weather is just as rugged with high winds and frequent storms. Make sure you bring the necessary gear to deal with this.
The Appalachian Trail is one of the most famous long-distance hikes in the United States and the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The trail runs 2,190 miles through 14 states. Thousands of thru-hikers attempt to do it each year, but only a handful complete it. On average, it takes them about five to seven months to reach the end. Some sites you’ll see as you walk include Bear Mountain in New York, Killington Peak in Vermont and the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Down south, you’ll also wander through the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee and Springer Mountain in Georgia. The trail is regarded as the granddaddy of them all, in part because it’s the most user-friendly.