10 of the world’s best treks that need to be on your hiking bucket list

Nov 21 2019, 7:50 am

If your idea of a vacation is more mountain views and hiking boots than poolside cocktails and flip flops, consider a trek for your next trip.

You’ll have to put in some physical effort and break a sweat, but that will just give you a greater appreciation for the local landscape and culture. From challenging mountain summits to rugged coastal trails, here are 10 of the world’s best treks to add to your hiking bucket list.

Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal

 

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While you need to be a serious mountaineer to climb Mount Everest, any fit hiker can make it to Everest Base Camp. It’s a 12-day trek through the snow-capped Himalayas. The trail passes through remote Sherpa villages and visits ornate Buddhist monasteries. Most trekkers go with a local guide and you can hire porters to carry your bags. Each night you’ll stay at family-run teahouses: rustic hostels serving a home-cooked mix of Western and Nepali meals. Although the hike itself is only moderately difficult, the high elevation ups the rating to very challenging. Altitude sickness is a real danger, so most itineraries on the 130 km trek include rest days for acclimatization.

Milford Track, New Zealand

 

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This 53.5 km hike starts at Lake Te Anau and finishes at Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island. In between, hikers will traverse rainforests, wetlands, and a mountain pass in Fiordland National Park. Highlights include 580-metre-tall Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand and stunning mountain views from MacKinnon Pass. Most hikers take 4 days to complete the journey. You can trek independently and stay in rustic huts with bunk beds or go with a guide and stay in private lodges. Although it’s a mountain trek, by New Zealand standards, it’s only moderately challenging.

Inca Trail, Peru

 

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You’ll finish this 40-km-long hike by walking through the Sun Gate at sunrise into the grounds of Machu Picchu. It’s a pretty epic ending to a trek full of history. The four-day trail follows part of a traditional Inca pilgrimage route that includes a lush cloud forest and countless Incan ruins. Local regulations require you to walk with an organized tour. Porters will carry your gear, set up your tent each night, and cook all your meals. It’s a challenging hike thanks to the steep terrain and the high elevation. Savvy travellers should spend a few days acclimatizing in the city of Cusco before their trek.

West Coast Trail, Canada

 

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Stretching for 75 km along the wild coastline of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, the West Coast Trail will challenge all but the hardiest of hikers. The rugged route roughly parallels the shoreline. It winds through the temperate rainforest, climbs in and out of gorges on wooden ladders, and navigates slick rocks inches from crashing waves. There are several backcountry campsites along the way and campers must be totally self-sufficient for the entire journey. The only exception is a hard-earned meal at the Crab Shack. It’s a First Nations-run restaurant for hikers near the halfway point of the seven-day journey.

Tour du Mont Blanc, Switzerland, Italy, and France

 

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The 11-day trek circumnavigating Mont Blanc is Europe’s most popular hike. It passes through three countries (Switzerland, Italy, and France) on a 170 km route in the heart of the Alps. The trail undulates between high mountain passes and picturesque valley bottoms. It’s a challenging hike with lots of steep ascents and descents, but you can make it easier or harder by taking the many alternate routes. You can also sleep and eat in relative luxury: There are several mountain villages along the way with hotels and restaurants. Or you can eat and sleep at remote dormitory refuges high in the mountains.

Torres del Paine W Trek, Chile

 

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There are several popular hiking routes in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, but the most popular is the W Trek. It’s an 80 km W-shaped route that travels past some of the most beautiful sites in Patagonia. You’ll walk alongside glaciers and gaze up at 2,500-metre high granite rock towers. There are campsites and dorm-style refugios spaced at regular intervals along the five-day trek — many of them even offer showers and restaurants. While you will be surrounded by mountains for the entire trek, you don’t have to climb up and over them so the hike is moderately easy. However, the temperamental Patagonian weather may add the challenge of fierce wind and rain.

Laugavegur Trail, Iceland

 

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Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice. If you hike the Laugavegur Trail, you’ll experience both firsthand. The 55 km long route passes glaciers and traverses volcanoes as it winds through the remote Icelandic Highlands. Most hikers complete the moderately challenging trek in four days. You can camp or stay at rustic huts along the way. The huts have dorm-style beds and sell snacks. Plan to add an extra day to your itinerary to soak in the hot springs at Landmannalaugar at the northern trailhead.

Kilimanjaro Trek, Tanzania

 

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Imagine standing on the tallest mountain in Africa just as the sun rises. The trek to the top of 5,898-metre high Mount Kilimanjaro starts deep in the jungle where you’ll spot monkeys and birds. It’s a stark contrast to the mountain’s snowy and rocky summit. There are several different routes up the mountain, all of which require a guide and porters. Most routes include tent accommodation, but the Marangu Route has huts with bunk beds. It will take between five and eight days to complete the trek, depending on which route you choose. The trek is moderately challenging and over 90% of hikers summit. However, altitude sickness is a real concern so there is a higher success rate on longer treks with more time to acclimatize.

Overland Track, Australia

 

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The Overland Track crosses a high mountain plateau in Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state. The 80 km route threads its way in between peaks and beside waterfalls through the heart of Cradle Mountain National Park. Wildlife is common and includes wombats, possums, and wallabies (a member of the kangaroo family). Along the way, you can follow side trails to the summits of many peaks, including Mount Ossa, the tallest mountain in the state. Hikers on the week-long trek can opt to go with a guide and stay in private huts. Or you can walk independently, packing your own tent or sleeping in rustic communal shelters.

John Muir Trail, United States of America

 

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If you’ve got three weeks to hike, consider tackling the 340 km-long John Muir Trail. It traverses some of the most stunning terrains in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. You’ll start in Yosemite National Park and finish on the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the Lower 48 at 4,421 metres. In between, you’ll tackle several challenging mountain passes and spend time in both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The entire trail is in roadless wilderness, with only a few opportunities to hike off-trail to resupply.

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