Trekking through a new environment can be rewarding, immersive and utterly breathtaking all at the same time, which is why so many people include a long-distance hike in their trip. In fact, it could be the whole reason for your trip!
To inspire the intrepid adventurer within you, here are some of the best places on the planet to hike, trek and walk – all you need it the desire to experience something new.
1. Yosemite National Park
In a vast country known for its incredible national parks, it’s hard to pick just one that stands out for its hiking trails; Yosemite National Park, California, however, has it all. Spread out over nearly 750,000 acres of stunning scenery, the park is hikers dream; a verdant mecca in the heart of the modern world, this is a place you can truly lose yourself to the wild.
With over 800 miles of walking routes, the park is there to be explored at your leisure. You are really spoilt for choice when it comes to hiking here, and there’s something for everyone to have a go at. The 8.9-mile Panorama Trail offers stunning views, the Mist Trail takes in beautiful waterfalls and can be achieved in half a day and the Lukens Lake trek is perfect for those with only a few hours to kill.
Clouds Rest is a trek for serious walkers that takes a full day to manage, whereas the peaks of El Capitan is another trail that takes in some of the park’s best views.
2. Chiang Mai
For many hikers travelling to Thailand, Chiang Mai is the go-to hot spot for trekking. Not only does it offer a wide variety of different trips, but you can choose the length of the trek you want to embark on, which is ideal if you only have a couple of days to spare.
The northern Thai city is quite established on the tourist trail, but this doesn’t take away from the amazing experiences you can find here. There are many different tour companies that operate out of Chiang Mai, so you can take your pick of the one that suits your itinerary, fitness and personality best.
While most trips will take in a number of villages in the area – Karen being the most visited and popular – it’s possible to take quieter treks, but you have to look into what different operators offer when you arrive. Tours can be an overnight trip or a three-day excursion and some will include rafting trips.
Trip to choose:
3. The Inca Trail
Trekking through the majestic Andes towards the mysterious, ancient city of Machu Picchu is one of the most popular hikes in the world, and for good reason.
The Inca Trail combines dramatic scenery, education, traditional food and the joy of sleeping beneath the stars to perfect effect as you make this five-day hike towards the preserved ruins of Machu Picchu.
Although the city was built in 1450, it was not discovered by the outside world until 1911 and its purpose is still unknown except for some speculative guesses.
After your 26-mile trek, you will ascend the 2,000 stairs to the ancient city in the middle of the night. At first, you will be shrouded in cloud, but as the day breaks and the mist clears, you will be confronted with some of the best views you are ever likely to see.
4. Sapa Valley Vietnam
The small town of Sapa in Vietnam’s north-west has long held the crown for the best trekking in the country. Perched delicately amid stunning surroundings, the town boasts wonderful views, but it’s the trails that emanate from the Sapa that draw trekkers from far and wide.
Standing 3,134 metres tall, the impressive Mt. Fansipan of Lao Cai dominates the skyline, calling out to be explored. Vietnam’s highest peak is one reason people love to hike around Sapa, but there’s also the vivid-green rice paddies and the many indigenous villages that you can explore when hiking around the town.
From Sapa itself, you can hire a local guide to lead you through some of the region’s best treks and walks that last up to six hours. With Sapa village as your base, you can take as many trips as you like, or embark on one longer trip. By hiring a guide, you can have a much more intimate experience while still contributing to the local community.