The world is full of wonderful treks. There are the great classic treks we recommend anyone to do at some point in their lives. Then there are lesser-known treks which offer equally great experiences. So what are the world's most popular hikes and which can you do as an alternative? Read on to find out what treks are the most popular and which are great alternatives.
Peru: Inca Trail - Moonstone Trek
Offering an unrivalled combination of history and dramatic scenery, the ancient Inca Trail winds its way from the powerful Urubamba River, across mountain passes and through cloud forests, passing several crumbling fortresses before reaching the lost city of Machu Picchu. The remote high altitude Moonstone Trek takes in a number of recently discovered Inca and pre-Inca archaeological sites and there are practically no other tourists along the route.
Patagonia: Torres del Paine - Fitzroy
There are no views like it on earth - the towering granite pillars of Paine, reflected in the waters of Lago Nordenskjöld. Combine it with the expanse of Glaciar Grey, the azure lakes, the hiking and trekking routes meandering through forests and over mountain passes, the large herds of guanacos and the overwhlemng sense of being in the wilderness, and you begin to understand why Unesco protected Torres del Paine is a must-see for every visitor to Patagonia. Often overlooked and located just outside the homely village of El Chaltén in Argentina, the Fitzroy range offers worldclass hiking and camping amidst some of the most spectacular mountain scenery you will see anywhere in the world.
Alps: Tour du Mont Blanc - Haute Route
On the Tour du Mont Blanc,m a 2-week classic trek, you'll enjoy unrivalled views of the Alps and Mont Blanc itself as you cross the borders of Switzerland, Italy and France. Traverse beneath huge glaciers, and meander through beautiful alpine meadows and picture-book villages.
One of the greatest alpine journeys, the Haute Route, stretches from Chamonix in the French Alps to Zermatt, in the Swiss Alps. For experienced trekkers only, this trek will take you off the main trails into the heart of the alps, trekking across glaciers with magnificent mountain backdrops such as the Matterhorn. Combined with a climb of Mont Blanc, this itinerary should more than satisfy the aspiring mountaineer.
Spain & Portugal: Camino de Santiago - Portuguese Camino
The Camino de Santiago, or Compostela Trail, has for centuries represented an important pilgrimage route from France, across the Pyrenees and the north of Spain to the tomb of St James in Santiago de Compostela. Considered the most spiritually connected pilgrimage route, the Portuguese Road will take you from the lively city of Porto through small hamlets, past eucalyptus and pine woods, over ancient bridges and through larger market towns to Santiago.
Greece: Greek Islands - Northern Greece
The Greek islands offer archaeological treasures, history, culture, dramatic landscapes overlooking an azure coloured sea and, of course, delicious food. Visit beautiful Naxos, before heading to Santorini and Paros enjoying gentle walks through picturesque villages, lush valleys and sandy beaches. Far less known are the stone-built villages of Zagoria, an unspoilt region of the Pindos Mountains. This is a dramatic wilderness of 2500m peaks, deep chasms, and extensive natural forests. In spring, the mountain meadows are a mass of colour with crocus, orchids and gentians. Enjoy some truly incredible scenery, swim in crystal clear springs and walk to beautiful Dragon Lake on the edge of the great limestone cliff that borders the Aoos Valley.
Italy: Cinque Terre, away from the crowds
The Cinque Terre or 'five lands' is a stunning coastal area running along the Ligurian coast in Italy. It consists of very steep rugged hillsides, which plunge dramatically into the sea. Quite unexpectedly, and against all odds, five vibrant fishing villages cling to the bottom of these hillsides just above the sea. There really is no area like it in the world but for that reason the villages themselves get very busy. We will be sure to take you up into the hillsides and away from the main tourist footpaths, where you will walk through forests and vineyards, enjoying spectacular views down to the coast.
East Africa: Kilimanjaro - Mountains of the Moon
Part of the Seven Summits Circuit, the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro, is a challenge many like to undertake at least once in their life. There are many different routes to the top, some of which get extremely busy. If you go, we recommend the remote Northern Circuit.
The Rwenzori Mountains, or the Mountains of the Moon, are easily Africa's best kept secret. Rarely visited and isolated, they contain much of Africa's permanent ice and the most varied mountain scenery as you climb from tropical rainforest, through alpine valleys to the glaciers. Attempt the ascent up to the summit of Margherita from where you will you look across Albert Peak to the Congo then east across the chain of the Rwenzori Mountains.
Nepal: Annapurna Circuit - Annapurna Dhaulagiri
The Annapurna Circuit - rightly known as Nepal's classic trek - offers superb views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri and an amazing variety of landscapes ranging from sub-tropical through alpine peaks to an arid semi-desert akin to Tibet. The climax of the trek is crossing the iconic Thorong La Pass (5416m). The Annapurna Dhaulagiri trek offers incomparable views of the Annapurna and a sense of serenity as you gradually ascend through small settlements and dense forests to the alpine heights of Kopra Ridge. The views from Kopra are incredible, with the colossal ramparts of Dhaulagiri plunging to the misty depths of the Kali Gandaki - the deepest gorge in the world. mountain scenery on earth.
Nepal: Everest Base Camp - Gokyo and the Renjo La
Explore the villages and peaks that lie on the trail to Base Camp. Surround yourself with the greatest mountain scenery in the world as you hike through Namche and Khumjung and visit Thyangboche monastery. Ascents to Kala Pattar from where our guides will point out the classic climbing routes to the summit. Then hike to Everest Base Camp from where expeditions prepare to climb the world's highest peak. Gokyo and the Renjo La is the perfect trek for those who wish to avoid the busier trails in the Everest region but still gain stunning views of Everest. Trekking slowly through Sherpa villages and yak pastures, emerge into the stunning Gokyo region with its beautiful lakes and some of the finest views of Everest and surrounding peaks. Descent along a rarely trodden trail where you are unlikely to see other trekkers.
Thailand: two ways of experiencing hilltribe country
Fancy some outdoor activity in a tropical paradise? Launch into the highlands of Northern Thailand from Bangkok, one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities. Travel into steamy rainforests on foot to visit colourful hilltribes, cruise down the River Kwai on kayaks and explore the lesser-known side of Chiang Mai from a bicycle. The diversity of exciting outdoor options makes Thailand a haven for adventurers. The Remote Hilltribes of Northern Thailand offers intrepid travellers an unparalleled insight into the region's rich biodiversity, cultures and customs. Traversing over ridgelines and through forest covered hills and mist-enveloped mountains, travellers will trek through some of Thailand's most remote natural areas and be rewarded with sweeping panoramas of lush forests and wildlife-spotting opportunities in the mountains. Evenings on the trek are spent amongst the locals providing an opportunity to learn about traditional culture and a life style unchanged for generations.