Unmissable world treks: Hikes around the world for your bucket list

From the peaks of Peru to the trails of Tasmania, here are eight of the best bucket-list hikes
Your ultimate hiking wishlist

There’s nothing quite like a good trek. Stepping out into the great outdoors, feeling the ground beneath your feet, the sun – or rain – on your face, and the sounds of nature in your ears just can’t be beaten.

Hiking is a great way to explore a new place – you hear, feel and smell your surroundings in a way like no other. And the sense of achievement after ticking off a tough trek is something no tour bus can offer.

We’ve picked eight of our favourite treks around the world, all of which can be covered over multiple days, depending on ability. So whether your idea of a perfect trek is reaching Everest Base Camp or exploring Canada’s rugged backcountry, we’ve got you covered.

The Inca Trail, Peru

The most unmissable world treks

The sculpted terraces and granite buildings of Machu Picchu symbolise the might and ambition of the Incas. According to legend, these people emerged from the Island of the Sun on Lake Titicaca, and extended their power across the Andes to create the most powerful empire in the Americas. This former ceremonial site – Latin America's leading tourist icon and a Unesco World Heritage site – is best reached by foot, via the 43km-long Inca Trail.

The distance may appear on the slim side, but progress can be slow because the terrain is so tough, with plenty of steep ascents and descents. Hikers walk on the very stones the Incas laid six centuries ago as part of their walking route from Cusco to Machu Picchu, with magnificent mountain views to spur them on.

The highest point is Dead Woman’s Pass, at 4,200m – so you may need to chew on local coca leaves to ward off altitude sickness. The classic trail starts at the railway station known as Kilometre 88 before climbing steeply through cloud forest and culminating on the final day at the Sun Gate, overlooking Machu Picchu.

Distance: 43km

Time: Four to five days

Everest Base Camp, Nepal

The most unmissable world treks

If you’re serious about trekking, it’s hard to beat the Himalayas of Nepal. Seeing the highest point on planet Earth is spectacular – and that’s what’s in store if you hike to Everest Base Camp, located a lofty 5,380 metres up. In the sixties, the trek to Base Camp – the starting point for intrepid climbers hoping to summit Everest – was an almost 300km round trip. Now, you can begin by flying into Lukla, a town at the small town at 2,860 metres with a slanted airstrip that makes for a hair raising landing and take-off.

Though increasingly popular, this is still a bucket list trek – but it’s not without its risks. Many hikers suffer from altitude sickness and bronchitis. But the achievement of making it to Base Camp is hard to beat – not only do you get up close and personal with earth’s highest mountain, you also get to know the Sherpa people and visit ancient monasteries.

Distance: 130km (there and back)

Time: 12-14 days

The Pennine Way, England

The most unmissable world treks
Credit: Ellie Ross

Arguably England’s toughest walking route, the Pennine Way follows the mountainous ‘backbone of England’, from Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District to Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish border. It is also Britain’s oldest National Trail – and its creation in 1965 spawned another 14 long-distance walking, cycling and horse riding National Trails around the country.

Hikers get to glimpse the landscape changing as they follow the waymarked trails, crossing rusty-coloured fells, verdant valleys and and passing geological wonders, such as the glaciated landscape of High Cup Nick – where dolerite crags rim a great chasm near the Eden Valley. The toughest climb is Cross Fell, which at 893 metres is the highest point on the route. Expect a barren – though beautiful – landscape of red-tinted grass that inspired artists such as JMW Turner.

Distance: 431km

Time: 16-19 days

The Haute Route, France and Switzerland

The most unmissable world treks
Credit: Jonathan Fox/ Flickr - Creative Commons

There’s a high puff factor for this route, which crosses some of the highest and most beautiful country accessible to walkers anywhere in the Alps. The trail begins in the French ski resort of Chamonix and passes through the southern Valais to Zermatt in Switzerland – from the base of Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn, two of the world’s most famous mountains. Hikers need to have a decent level of fitness, as most of the route involves “pass hopping” – there are 11 passes to negotiate, gaining more than 12,000 meters. But it’s worth the effort –

After climbing the Pigne d’Arolla at 3,796 metres, you’re rewarded with one of the best vantage points in all the European Alps. Hikers stay in high refuges along the way, and pass through everything from icy glaciers to green alpine meadows.

Distance: 200km

Time: 12-14 days

The Appalachian Trail, United States

The most unmissable world treks
Credit: Anish Patel/ Flickr - Creative Commons

Ticking off the entire length of the Appalachian Trail is no mean feat. It runs through 14 US states, two national parks, eight national forests, and crosses some of the highest peaks of the Appalachians. No wonder only one in four hikers who attempt the whole thing actually makes it. Running between Springer Mountain, Georgia, and Mount Katahdin, Maine, it’s America’s longest hiking-only footpath, with an overall elevation gain equivalent to climbing Mount Everest 16 times.

As well as the fitness challenge, hikers face everything from technical scrambles up sheer cliff faces, isolation during the most remote stretches, plus potential threats from wildlife including black bears, poisonous snakes and disease-carrying ticks. There are around 250 shelters along the way where hikers can spend the night, protected from the elements and predators, while white blazes on tree trunks keep them from getting lost.

Distance: 3,500km

Time: Five to seven months

Routeburn Track, New Zealand

Unmissable world treks: Hikes around the world for your bucket list

Dubbed ‘the ultimate alpine adventure’, the Routeburn Track meanders through lush meadows, pretty gardens and past shimmering tarns – with epic mountain views to boot. Located in the central South Island, the hike kicks off at the base of the Southern Alps, passing through two national parks, Fiordland and Mount Aspiring. Hikers (or ‘trampers’ in New Zealand lingo) go right past Earland Falls – the perfect place to pause for a natural shower – and the cascade of Routeburn Falls.

Other highlights include the spectacular vistas from Harris Saddle and Conical Hill – from where you can see waves breaking on the distant beach on a clear day. With views this good, it’s easy to see why this is such a popular hike, and you’ll need to book huts to stay in along the way well in advance during the Great Walks season (October to April).

Distance: 33km

Time: Two to four days

Overland Track, Australia

The most unmissable world treks

Located in Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, this is one of Australia’s most famous bushwalking tracks, taking hikers through some of the planet’s most beautiful and wildest natural terrain. Expect a vast range of landscapes including highland mountains, alpine lakes, rainforest, and eucalyptus groves.

This is also an excellent place for wildlife watching, as animals including the wombat, platypus – and, of course, the Tasmanian devil – call Australia’s southern island state home. The trail weaves its way from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair (Australia’s deepest natural freshwater lake) via a well-defined path (with boardwalks in parts). Those keen to explore more can veer off on numerous sidewalks towards waterfalls, valleys and summits including Mt Ossa (1,617m) – Tasmania’s highest.

Distance: 65km

Time: Five to six days

Long Range Traverse, Canada

The most unmissable world treks
Credit: mrbanjo1138/ flickr - Creative Commons

This unmarked and rugged backcountry route in Newfoundland is one of Canada’s best hikes. Starting from from Western Brook Pond, it leads hikers onto the Long Range Mountains and south towards Gros Morne Mountain before descending into Ferry Gulch, with a number of campsites along the way.

Navigation skills are key – hikers need a map and compass to stay on track through the impressive wilderness, populated mostly by caribou and moose. The payoff is peace and solitude, clean campsites and the joy of travelling under your own steam through a most incredible landscape: clear water sparkles from coastal fjords, granite cliffs tower overhead and tiny tracks lead to secret lakes. The final day culminates with the high point – the 807m-high Gros Morne Mountain, perched high above the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Length: 35km

Time: Four to five days

Tags:   Trekking
Tagged   Trekking