Ask five hardened hikers their favourite hiking destination and each will give a different answer. Nevertheless, a handful of locations crop up time and time again. This article explores five unforgettable treks.
1. Peru: The Inca Trail
This 20-mile ancient trail encompasses the iconic hilltop citadel, Machu Picchu. It draws millions of hikers every year. In 2018, local authorities capped the maximum number of daily hikers at 200. This creates a more tranquil experience for those lucky enough to obtain a permit, as well as increasing protection for this world-famous archaeological site, which was starting to suffer under the strain of its own popularity.
The trail begins in the Sacred Valley, meandering up and down through mountain ranges, incorporating three high passes en route. Visitors undertaking this, the world’s most famous short trek, enjoy superb views across the cloud forests and white-tipped mountains, as well as experiencing the magic of this renowned settlement, perched on its misty mountain peak.
2. Nepal: Everest Base Camp
With numerous tour operators offering organised treks in the area, hikers can take part in 15-day tours of one of the most revered hiking destinations in the world. They can challenge themselves to discover both the majesty of the mighty Himalayan Mountains, and realise their own potential.
Walking in the shadow of the world’s highest mountain range, visitors can watch the sunrise over Everest, while learning all about the Sherpa way of life. In addition to the immense mountains, the region provides a diverse range of stunning scenery. From glacial plains and alpine lakes, to frothy rivers and blossom strewn valleys. The area is popular with nature enthusiasts and photographers.
3. United States: The Narrows
Located in Zion National Park, Utah, the Narrows has established a reputation as one of the world’s best canyon hikes. This trek follows the Virgin River through the narrow canyon. With trails available to suit all ability levels.
First time river hikers are recommended to start with just a short time in the park. The trail is classified as easy to moderate in the summer, depending on the water flow. But the trek is not recommended for children less than 4 feet in height. Numerous local tour guides operate in the region, enabling hikers to explore the Narrows at their own pace while benefitting from the knowledge and experience of a professional guide.
4. France/Switzerland: The Haute Route
The Haute Route has established an international reputation as one of the world’s finest treks. Starting at Mont Blanc and finishing at the Matterhorn, the hike incorporates 10 of the Alps’ highest peaks.
This challenging trek boasts stunning scenery, with numerous quality hotels nearby. Guided tours provide luggage support, as well as the reassurance and expertise of fully qualified guides.
This classic route links to mountaineering capital of Chamonix with Zermatt, culminating in a trek covering 111 miles of some of the most picturesque mountain scenery in the world. The route from France to Switzerland encompasses fertile alpine valleys, flower-strewn meadows and pretty mountain hamlets, as well as affording spectacular views across glaciers and 10 of the highest peaks in the Alps.
5. Australia: Overland Track
The Overland Track is a significant undertaking, reserved for well-prepared, experienced walkers with a high level of fitness who understand the hazards of trekking in remote alpine areas. The weather can be highly changeable. Even in the height of summer, trekkers have been caught out by unexpected wet, windy, cold weather. The Overland Track is therefore not recommended for children aged under eight years of age.
The track pass for this one way, 6-day hike costs 200 Australian dollars, with concessions for seniors and entrants aged 17 years and under. This exhilarating journey starts at Cradle Mountain, ending at Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake. En route, trekkers pass through the awe-inspiring Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site, as well as alpine meadows, ancient rainforests, glacially carved valleys, and fragrant eucalyptus forests.
Most walkers end their journey at the Narcissus Hut, where private ferries are available to Cynthia Bay. With optional side-trips to nearby Mount Ossa, the Overland Track has secured a reputation as one of the greatest wilderness bushwalks in the world. As a travel enthusiast, sports coach Richard Mallet has a special interest in trekking holidays, having trekked in Argentina, Peru, Japan, Tanzania, and Nepal. Mr Mallet is currently training for Ironman UK 2020.