The following post is presented in partnership with World Expeditions
Glacier-fed pools, soaring mountain peaks shrouded in a swirling, ethereal fog, ridges so brightly-coloured it looks like the landscape is bathed in rainbows, and cascading waterfalls. These are just some of the mind-blowing sights travellers will discover on the world’s best adventure treks, and many are accessible enough that you don’t even need to be a seasoned hiker to get to them. Here are some awe-inspiring hiking spots around the globe to add to your must-see list.
Trek the Himalayas: Nepal and India
When it comes to the best hikes in the world, there’s perhaps nowhere as iconic as trekking tours through the Himalayas—after all, the range is home to the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest.
One way to follow in the footsteps of the world’s most elite mountaineers is through Everest base camp trekking, which is surprisingly accessible and some mountain trekking operators even offer family-focused itineraries (recommended for kids aged 12 and up, with strong outdoor experience). However, this unforgiving area means adventurers should tackle the trails with experienced guides like World Expeditions, which started its operations back in 1975 by leading Himalaya trekking excursions. Their itineraries focus on responsible tourism and giving back to local communities, and smaller groups sizes mean less environmental impact and a more intimate experience.
World Expeditions offers nearly two dozen Everest base camp trekking trips, and highlights include the pristine Gokyo Lakes set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Himalayas and visits to a monastery and Hindu shrines, culminating with an expedition to the world’s most famed mountain.
More than just jaw-dropping landscapes, the Ladakh region in northern India is considered one of the world’s best places to backpack thanks to its array of activities. Cycling down extreme roads is a hit for adrenaline junkies, history buffs love exploring the hilltop forts in the bustling city of Leh, and those who time their visit right can experience one of Ladakh’s elaborate religious festivals. Bordering Tibet, the area is deeply spiritual and home to towering Buddhist monasteries including Lamayaru, and known for its prayer flags which provide a welcome pop of colour against the sometimes desert-like scenery.
Encompassing such a large swath of the Himalayas, there are endless options when it comes to Ladakh trekking, and popular routes through the Markha Valley or Nubra Valley take at least a week to conquer. High mountain passes, snow capped peaks and serene azure lakes are par for the course here, and those looking for a challenge will want to try summiting Stok Kangri, a stunning peak that soars soars six-thousand metres high and is considered one of the Himalayas’ hallmark climbs.
The Patagonia region stretching between Chile and Argentina is one of earth’s most diverse landscapes, revealing a new topography at seemingly every turn. From glacial fjords and the soaring Andes mountain range to bone-dry deserts and arid steppes, this rugged region truly has it all.
Most travellers choose to tackle either the Argentine or Chilean sides, though it’s possible to see both by combining the Torres del Paine circuit with a hike through Los Glaciares National Park, which usually takes about a week. On that Patagonia trek, hikers starting in Chile’s Torres del Paine pass through lush valleys, marvel at the spellbinding Grey Glacier and camp in virgin forests en route to Mirador Los Torres. The trio of majestic granite peaks is the park’s crown jewel, best admired from trails including Base de las Torres or the nearby Campamento Torres campsite.
Crossing over to the Argentina side brings gargantuan icebergs and glaciers, notably Perito Moreno which takes up more than 254 square kilometres and is one of only a handful of glaciers in the world that’s advancing rather than receding. An unforgettable way to explore it is to book an ice-trekking excursion, which feels like walking on a giant snow cone. After clasping on a pair of crampons to dig into the slick surface, visitors can scamper around, duck into snow caves and even get to fill up their water bottles directly from the glacier pools while soaking in the spectacular scenery.
The most iconic spot in Los Glacieres National Park is Mount Fitz Roy, which is particularly enchanting at sunrise when its peak is bathed in a rose-hued glow. This part of the Patagonia trip typically takes two or three days, and includes stops at the aqua-marine Laguna Torre and Laguna Capri which is dotted by ice floes, before passing through a lush valley complete with waterfalls to end up in the small town of El Chaltén, bringing an end to one of the best treks in the world.
Hiking the Inca Trail
Another iconic trek in South America needs no introduction: the Inca Trail, the route to mystical Machu Picchu which is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Starting off in the Sacred Valley near the lively heritage city of Cusco, hikers follow the trail that winds through pristine valleys, past centuries-old ruins and through cloud forests before arriving at the iconic site just in time for sunrise. Guided hiking tours along the Inca trail take at least two days, but many groups stretch it out to at least four to account for stops in towns like Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes, which is at the base of Machu Picchu.
While manageable, the Inca Trail isn’t for the faint of heart as travellers may have to deal with inclement weather, no facilities other than what’s carried in, and some difficult steep mountain passes not suitable for those who are afraid of heights. The effort is worth it though once the first glimpse of Machu Picchu and its Lost City comes into view, which will likely be surrounded by an ethereal fog. It’s well-worth adding on a climb up Huayna Picchu as well (a separate permit is required, which should be secured well in advance), for unforgettable vistas of the archaeological site spread out below.
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