Today’s article on the best hikes in the world comes from people who should know: certified mountain guides who do this for a living. So, inspired to find out where you should lace up your boots? Read on!
Few experiences satisfy as much as completing a world-class trek: but how do you pick the most fulfilling expedition?
At Explore-Share.com, an online booking platform for guided outdoor adventures, we surveyed some of our most trusted certified mountain guides in the business to put together the ultimate hiking list. From pristine alpine lakes to the steepest mountain ridge, check out our selection for the best hikes in the world:
Ausangate Trail (Peru)
This looping 70-kilometer hike follows the striking scenery of the Peruvian Andes. The route begins and ends in the mountain village of Tinqui and circles its spiritually significant namesake, Mt. Ausangate.
You can expect to see glaciers and lakes while under the watchful eye of llama herds. Don’t miss the Rainbow Mountains of Vinicunca, colorful sandstone peaks that will take your breath away. A Machu Picchu extension is also possible after the trek.
The route is moderate to difficult, perfect for seasoned trekkers. Ausangate traditionally takes six days to complete and at times rises higher than 5,000 meters. Participants should plan for acclimatisation. Aim for the dry season and take this trip from May to September.
Selvaggio Blu (Italy)
The allure of the Mediterranean is strong and deep, which makes the Selvaggio Blu in Sardinia a dream come true. Don’t let its moniker as one of Italy’s most difficult hikes fool you – its untouched terrain is something every seaside wanderer needs to experience in their lifetime.
The route begins in Santa Maria Navarrese and stretches over 50 kilometers to Cala Gonone. The undeveloped coastline is accompanied by mind-bending Mediterranean vistas with limestone gorges, cliffs, and caves. Surreal melting sunsets lead to beachside camping under the stars. Go in the spring and the fall to avoid crowds and adverse weather.
Abseiling, scrambling, and route finding make this a demanding endeavour. Generally a seven- or eight-day affair, you should be well-prepared for this invigorating trek regardless of your itinerary. For those who are, the reward is ever so sweet!
Laugavegur Trail (Iceland)
Some of the most breathtaking views on Earth come from the Laugavegur Trail. This 55-kilometer journey starts in the Highlands of Iceland, passing glaciated volcanoes, black sand deserts, and colourful rhyolite hills. The excursion lasts four days (or five) with charming nights in mountain huts from Landmannalaugur to Thorsmork.
The dichotomy of opposite natures will confound and impress you all at once. Perhaps more exhilarating than the hot springs are the Northern Lights while hiking in late summer.
The trail is considered moderately challenging. This route is available from June to September. The Laugavegur Trail is the epitome of Icelandic wilderness and one you don’t want to miss.
Tour du Mont Blanc (France, Italy, Switzerland)
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a feat fit for a king. Spanning 170 kilometers across France, Italy, and Switzerland, this is one of the most well-known hikes in the Alps. Beginning in France at Chamonix (of 1924 Winter Olympic fame), the trek loops around Mont Blanc and passes through Trient in Valais and Courmayeur in Italy’s Aosta Valley.
The intrigue of Swiss hamlets juxtaposed with the appeal of long-vaunted resorts makes this hut-to-hut trek so sweet. The charming Champex du Lac and skyward gondolas will certainly capture your heart. Keep your eyes peeled for chamois. They also enjoy a summer hike, precisely the time when this trek should be taken.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is traditionally completed in ten days. Ascending Monte Rosa (4,630m), Gran Paradiso (4,060m), or even Mont Blanc (4,810m) can also be included in your itinerary. The elevation change over the entire tour runs over 10,000 meters.
Annapurna Base Camp (Asia)
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek is traditionally a 12-day Himalayan journey around the world’s most imposing crags. Steeped in Nepali mountain culture, the hike plunges participants into the local hospitality of the villages. The strikingly green rice terraces of the Upper Modi Khola Valley are sure to leave a lasting impression.
The trail winds from Pokhara through terrain below Annapurna I (8,091m), Annapurna South (7,219m), and Gangapurna (7,455m), before circling back to the starting point. Ghorepani Poon Hill dishes up a mouthwatering view of the Himalayas. The rhododendron forests and the hospitality of Ghandruk are among the highlights of the trip.
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek is a moderate and sustained hike. Go in the spring and the fall to avoid severe weather and uncomfortable climate. Acclimatization and a complimenting level of fitness are required.
Seven Lakes in Slovenia (Slovenia)
Sometimes six lakes just aren’t enough, and nowhere is this more accurate than on the Seven Lakes in Slovenia hiking trail in the Julian Alps. Bucolic wonders abound in a valley landscape that features meadows, pastures, high cols, rocky hills, powerful panoramas, and, of course, pristine lakes.
The tough ten-hour trail is roughly 25 kilometers in length with many variations. The Triglav National Park is one of the most extraordinary wilderness experiences in Europe, thanks in large part to this hike. The Savica Waterfalls parking area starts and finishes the hike.
There are actually ten lakes in the valley – not seven. The hike is long but not extremely challenging, necessitating a basic fitness level. Enjoy it in spring, summer, and fall for the best results. The dynamic duo of pure lake water and a dense forest backdrop is unbeatable.
Related: Walking the Brecon Beacons, Wales
Tongariro Crossing (New Zealand, Oceania)
The stunning images of New Zealand’s nature possess an overwhelming allure, specifically the Tongariro Crossing. Within the UNESCO Dual World Heritage Area of Tongariro National Park, the trail quivers in the midst of active volcanoes, turquoise lakes, and the alpine desert.
The hike itself barely reaches 20 kilometers, consisting of seven to eight hours of trekking. The highest point lies at Red Crater (1,886m), roughly 700 meters above the starting point at Mangatepopo. The trek culminates at Ketetahi (800m) after passing peaks like Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe.
The best conditions for this trip are from October to April. If you are proficient with ice climbing tools, like an ice axe and crampons, then Tongariro might be right up your alley for a winter expedition!
Related: The Best Places to Travel in 2019
Daisetsuzan (Japan, Asia)
Hiking through the Daisetsuzan in Hokkaido is an idyllic adventure that combines deep-rooted culture with influential terrain. The region is home to fields of alpine wildflowers in the shadow of tall mountains. This trek accommodates participants with nights in huts or camping beneath the stars in a national park of the same name.
The expedition begins in Asahidake and approaches exciting objectives like Chubetsudake (1,963m) and Hakuundake (2,230m) on our way to Tomuraushi. Asahidake (2,290m) is the highest mountain on the island and one of the most popular points on the skyline.
Wildlife is active and abundant, including brown bears and deer. Visit during the summer for the best conditions. A three- or four-day hike allows ample time to appreciate the lush landscape. The journey itself is moderate with availability and access for most.
Related: What to pack on a walking holiday
Chilkoot Trail (Alaska, Yukon, USA, Canada, North America)
The Chilkoot Trail crosses the Coast Mountains between the United States and Canada on a historic route. Once used to access the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 19th century, the construction of a railway rendered it useless until nearly 100 years later. The trek begins in the ghost town of Dyea, passing through old camps and settlements and coming to Lake Bennett.
It covers 53 kilometers over five days, limiting access to 50 hikers a day. This is rugged terrain, loaded with mountain lakes and rivers well-hidden within immense forests. Finnegan’s Point is a compelling site that compliments the natural beauty of the pristine wilderness.
The best time to head off on the Chilkoot Trail is in the summer, from June to September. A general fitness level should be enough to get you through the tour. There is no better way to experience the Klondike.
Southern Patagonia Ice Field (Argentina, South America)
A seven-day excursion on the Southern Patagonia Ice Field takes you to the edge of the Earth. It ranks third behind Greenland and Antarctica as the largest extension of continental ice. Consisting of 49 glaciers, notably the Upsala, Viedma, and Perito Moreno, it is an exhilarating trek for prepared ice hikers.
The journey traditionally takes seven days with extra days for adverse weather. Most treks begin in El Chalten and the immense Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre mountains before continuing to Circo de los Altares and Paso del Viento. The journey may even include a zip line across the Tunnel River to reach Camp Laguna Toro. The hike finishes where it started in El Chalten.
Participants should be in good shape for the sustained glacier trek. While the southern hemisphere spring and summer (November through March) provide suitable conditions for the journey, some glacier traversing experience is necessary.
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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