Planet Earth’s Greatest Hikes
For some hiking is life. It’s the be all and end all of existence, and the exhilaration of the visualisations of the next chosen peak or a bucket list trail is constantly swimming in the thoughts of the trail obsessed. Yes, that’s you.
There are hikes that can take up your Sunday when you just want to explore your local surroundings or a new area and there are hikes that takes months of training, and are thousands of kilometres from your home to attempt, but no matter where the terrain that lies beneath your battered, well-travelled hiking boots, the truth is you feel free and truly alive when you hike.
For the purely obsessive hikers, you might have an idea of the trails you want to attempt before you can no longer walk, but we thought we would show you some of our favourite hiking trails from across the globe.
Inca Trail, Peru
The best place to start is at one of the most famous hikes of all time the Inca trail in Peru. This epic trail is one of the most popular hikes on the planet, and the basic Inca Trail takes you through over 40 kilometres of gruelling inclines and declines. Ancient ruins, jungles, beautiful mountain scenery, and Machu Picchu are all reasons to do this trail, however if you happen to want to go that extra bit further, you can go to Huayna Picchu or join the Ancascocha Trail which is often called the Hidden Inca Trail but is more strenuous and less travelled.
Snowman Trek, Bhutan
Anyone who has attempted this trail will claim that this is no doubt the hardest trail on the planet. So many are unable to finish because of the unpredictable weather in the high Himalaya, yet it still remains at the top of many hiker lists. It traverses 11 passes which are higher than 16,000 feet, and you can only attempt this hike with a guided tour.
Yosemite Grand Traverse, California
The Yosemite Grand Traverse trek leads you through some of the most exciting areas of Yosemite National Park including parts of the Cathedral Range and the John Muir Trail. This hike will have you trekking through waterfalls, sprawling meadows, granite basins, and the cable route through to the famous Half Dome.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Although this hiker bucket-list volcano reaches 20,000 feet, and can take a week to climb, Kilimanjaro remains one of the greatest achievements for the passionate trail lovers. It may be because the trek’s main routes up the mountain are really just walking routes, which means you don’t need to be a mountaineer to reach the top. There have actually been a few people who have climbed Kilimanjaro in wheelchairs.
The Larapinta Trail, Kakadu
The Larapinta trail in Australia’s Northern Territory is a 223 kilometre bushwalking trail that is fast becoming one of the most popular trails with hikers from across the globe. There’s very good reason too, mind you. With its jagged, prehistoric landscape, the trail is one of the most remarkable hiking experiences in the world. Situated in the heart of Central Australia, the Larapinta Trail begins at the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station and extends over along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges through a variety of desert habitats, sheltered gorges and rugged ranges. The 360 degree view from the summit of Mt Sonder is beyond remarkable, and more than worth the gruelling month or two off you could take to trek this trail.
Petra through the Back Door, Jordan
The Dana to Petra trek was esteemed as one of the world’s greatest hikes by National Geographic, and is certainly worth a trip to the Middle East to walk it. This outstanding trek takes you through ridges, gorges and rocky terrain and you can discover what lies in the amazing temples of this fascinating place; including the exquisitely carved facade of Al Deir, otherwise known as the Monastery.
Mount Hua Shan, China
Mt. Huashan is one of China’s five Great Mountains. For anyone with eyes, this particular mountain is most likely going to be completely terrifying. It features an insanely wild death-defying cliff-side mountain climb at a height of 2,160 metres, where a system of dangerous and flat out horrifying trails permits you to access the mountain’s five summits, each of which has a religious structure to count your blessings if you reach them.
In recent years, the paths have been strengthened (although somewhat unkempt) due to busloads of crazy tourists wanting to take selfies 2 kilometres above the nearest tree, and the mountain carries a solid reputation for fatal falls. To give you an idea how bad it is; they have named some of the more treacherous areas and Black Dragon Ridge, Thousand-Foot Precipice, and Hundred-Foot Crevice…well they sound like nice places to visit, don’t they?
Starting in Chamonix, France and finishing in Zermatt, Switzerland hikers who embark on The Haute Route will see the very best of The French and Swiss Alps. The Walker’s Haute Route (aka ‘the High Route’) is a legendary high level trek which begins at the foot of Mont Blanc and ends at the foot of the Matterhorn, Its quite a perplexing hike but is a highly cherished objective for hikers of the world.
Now, get out there and put your boots on and get moving. You’re only a plane ticket away from most of these destinations. Check them out and see which one is going to top your list next.