Alta Via, Italy
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Picture-perfect scenery awaits on the Ligurian Coast of Italy where the Alta Via, or High Path, in the Cinque Terra National Park offers stunning coastal and sea views. Each of the five hamlets of Cinque Terra are located within spectacular surroundings – nestled against steep rock faces or perched on high cliffs and dotted with charming, colourful buildings. Explore the towns and all they have to offer along the 35 kilometre walk, including fabulous food and wine.
Trek to Petra, Jordan
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This hike can take between five and seven days and crosses quaint countryside, pretty valleys and mountain plateaus full of different flora and fauna, from the Dana Biosphere Reserve to the archaeological site of Petra. It culminates with a dramatic reveal of one of the region’s most famous icons: Ad Deir, also known as The Monastery, an ancient Nabataean building that has been carved out of sandstone in the style of Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), which you can also explore at the site. It’s ample reward for a hard day’s walk.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal
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Climbing Mount Everest might not be within reach (if not physically then perhaps financially – the royalty fees alone can reach about $13,400) but the trek to Everest’s South Base Camp from Lukla is definitely achievable, especially with the help of local guides and experienced Sherpas. The trek gets you a look at three of the highest peaks in the world – Everest, Lhotse and Lhotse Shar – plus a breathtaking view of the Khumbu Icefall and a chance to take in local culture. Being the Himalayas, acclimatisation is an important factor: expect the trip up to take eight days and the trip down to take only half that time.
Fitz Roy Trek, Argentina
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There are multiple treks to do from the town of El Chaltén in Argentinian Patagonia. It’s a stone’s throw from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (the second-largest body of ice outside of the polar caps) and longer treks can take in views of the ice field from Paso del Viento as well as the Viedma Glacier. Shorter trips go through similar rocky terrain and picturesque woodlands: see Mount Fitz Roy awash with the glow of an intense sunrise (from Laguna de los Tres) or the imposing natural spire of Cerro Torre from the iceberg-filled lake of the same name.
Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim, United States
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Start at one edge of the Canyon, descend into the chasm to see the Colorado Plateau’s amazing rock formations and colourful rivers, and come out the other side for more mind-blowing views of this true natural wonder. Either start super early and day-hike it, get a permit to camp overnight or try to get a reservation at one of the lodges for a more luxe experience. If you’re short on time, do a round trip from the accessible South Rim or the more isolated North Rim.
Inca Trail, Peru
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The most popular trek to reach Machu Picchu, the busy 43-kilometre Inca Trail is steeped in Incan history and is worth the rigmarole of booking through an authorised tour operator and adapting to the altitude before you set off. Walking through thick jungle and forested valleys, hiking up scenic ridges and taking in the fabled approach to the archaeological site is a breathtaking experience (in more ways than one). If you have the energy, climb Huayna Picchu for exceptional views of the site. Prefer the less-beaten path? Try the more easily accessible Salkantay Trek.
Kalalau Trail Hawaii, United States
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If a tropical, beachside trek is more your thing and you’re not afraid of a challenge, the Kalalau Trail on the island of Kauai is the walk for you. We’re talking jungle, beaches, steep cliff sides and waterfalls ¬– there are plenty of chances to get hot and steamy (and muddy) as you travel along 18 kilometres of the Nāpali Coast State Park, taking in the golden sand of Kalalau Beach and the lush greenery of the Kalalau Valley. And did we mention that you can camp on said beach?
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
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The sight of the snow-capped volcanic mountain of Kilimanjaro rising out of a flat wilderness has inspired many a traveller to conquer its peak. Africa’s tallest mountain affords the best views of Tanzania and includes rainforest, plateau, mountain and glacial environments as you ascend the 5889-metre-high peak. There are several routes to the top so do your research but factor in preparation for the climb, no matter which trail you choose.
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“The King’s Trail” is Sweden’s best-known trek and covers an astonishing 440 kilometres between Abisko in the north and Hemavan in the south. It’s broken into four more manageable sections, with the northernmost trail, to Kebnekaise, being the most popular. The trek leads hikers through the best the rugged Arctic landscape has to offer, from glaciers to birch forests and the highest mountain in the country, Mount Kebnekaise. The path is well maintained and marked, with bridges over the larger rivers and huts along the way, which serve as basic but welcome refuge from the elements.
Laugavegurinn Trek, Iceland
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If you had to describe this trek in one word, it would probably be remote. Expect rugged wilderness, icy conditions, volcanic landscapes, rhyolite mountains, striking canyons and rushing streams on Iceland’s most famous trail. You could start from the hot-springs town of Landmannalaugar but the trek is no cakewalk so get your spa in early and prepare for cold weather and spectacular scenery. Modify your trip to last anywhere between four and eight days and, if you’re feeling up to it, you can take on the hike to the magnificent Skógafoss waterfall.
Mountains of the Moon circuit, Uganda
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The possibility of seeing elephants in the Rwenzori Mountains is one reason you’d make the trip to one of the highest mountain ranges in Africa. An enthralling backdrop of otherworldly plant life, misty valleys, grand mountain passes, glacial landscapes and snow-capped peaks are another. Hard-core adventurers can take on Margherita Peak (the continent’s third-highest) or even climb one of the region’s glaciers.
Overland Track, Australia
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Tasmania’s unique wilderness is home to this six-day bushwalk, which runs between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair in the national park of the same name. It covers 65 kilometres of diverse terrain, from rainforests and meadows to eucalypt groves and valleys. It’s necessary to book and pay a fee during peak season (from October to May) but there’s rewarding scenery to be viewed along the way, including Mount Ossa and the impressive D’Alton Falls. For those who need creature comforts, a guided walk staying in private huts might be the way to go (read: hot showers, wine and three-course meals).
Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand
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You can choose to experience this 70-kilometre track, which lies within the Marlborough Sounds, in several ways: tramping, biking or day hikes, staying in tents, lodges or guesthouses. As you follow the ridge between Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru sounds, each new landscape is as beautiful as the last, from quiet secluded bays to dense coastal bush. Some days the distance may be long but the track is well marked and doesn’t vary more than 400 metres in elevation. Not convinced? Take the luxe route and stay in lodges along the way for all the mod cons.
Santa Cruz Trek, Peru
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This relatively short (50 kilometres) trek starts with a trip to the town of Huaraz: hiking central for this part of the Andes. After gathering your provisions and adjusting to the altitude, there’s a long drive to the start of the trek, which can be walked in either direction. You’ll follow scenic valleys to reach the Punta Unión pass, which sits at an elevation of 470 metres at the base of the awe-inspiring Mount Taulliraju. Prepare for spectacular views of the Cordillera Blanca and some of its most beautiful mountains.
Tonquin Valley Trail, Canada
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The Rocky Mountains are renowned for remarkable panoramas and unspoilt terrain – the type of incredible country that attracted the likes of Ansel Adams. This 44-kilometre trek in Jasper National Park is no exception and you’ll experience some of the best the Rockies have to offer whether you ski it or walk it – including a perfect view of The Ramparts mountains across pristine Amethyst Lake. If you’re an animal lover (or interested in personal safety) keep an eye out for local wildlife – grizzlies and black bears are local residents, along with caribou.
Torres del Paine Circuit, Chile
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The full circuit (approximately 120 kilometres) and the shorter W Trek (up to 80 kilometres) take in the wild and pristine glacial and mountain terrain of the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. To say the views are spectacular is an understatement. Watch the sunrise over the three striking granite peaks that give the park its name, take in the majestic Cuernos del Paine mountain and see the beautiful milky-blue lakes and the glaciers that feed them.
Tour du Mont Blanc, France/Italy/Switzerland
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Here’s a multi-country European hike that will let you tick off all of the Alpine region’s greatest hits: rolling countrysides, green valleys and perfect, white-peaked mountains. The route circles the highest peak in western Europe, Mont Blanc, and the surrounding mountains. Accordingly, you can enjoy glorious views of the mountains, as well as the comfort of huts and gourmet food. The 10- to 14-day hike covers about 170 kilometres and can be started at any point.
Up Next: The Top Bucket List Experiences in South America
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