Hiking into nature is one of the best ways to escape the modern world and get away from it all.
I love hiking – it’s like a walking meditation.
I got in touch with some travel and hiking bloggers I know to get their opinion on what some of their favourite hikes are, to give you some ideas for your own hiking.
This is what they had to say –
Ahead, my ancient police-escort, the multi-talented Baba, leads a path through the snow, the blues, silvers and greys of the mountains beckoning us onwards as we make our ways towards Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth highest mountain… It’s February, the wrong time of year to be in Pakistan; everything is still, the air is crisp, the snow is deep, I have not seen another foreigner in nearly ten weeks but this does not trouble me. Back at our camp, we have a warm fire, a chicken and potatoes, a cheeky smoke and endless mugs of chai to keep us warm. I plunge forwards, my shoes filled with crystals of stabbing ice, my chest is slightly tight – whether it is the altitude or the endless smoking (an unavoidable part of the culture in Pakistan) is up for debate.
The trees, huge and ancient, provide a brief respite from thigh deep snowdrifts and I sit, staring in genuine, spell-bound wonder at Nanga Parbat, it’s peak scratching the very edges of space and time itself; an immovable and ancient object, defiant in the face of a changing country, a changing world. Only in the mountains does time truly stand still, for me; the mountains represent a unique opportunity to reconnect with something primal, something real. For an experience that is truly out of this world, head to Pakistan…
One of the best hiking places we have ever been to is Zhangjiajie – a town located in Hunan province in China. Here you can hike probably the most beautiful mountains in the world where the Avatar movie was filmed. Although the hike we did here was truly unforgettable for the sake of stunning views, it was a long and challenging experience for both of use. You have to work hard to be welcomed to the world of Pandora but we know one thing for sure – it was so worth it!
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most famous attractions; however have you considered walking it?! The Great Ocean Walk allows those with an enthusiasm for hiking an opportunity to venture to parts of the area where the road doesn’t lead. It’s a 104 kilometre (56 mile) trail which stretches from Apollo Bay to Glenample Homestead, which leads through gum and eucalypt forest, sand dunes, beaches and cliff-top tracks.
The views are absolutely to die for – the Twelve Apostles (above photo) are one of the most photographed natural landmarks in the world – and the beaches are some of the best in the country.
If you’re not keen on completing the whole track, there are many points along the road which have been designed for short hikes, day hikes and overnight hikes.
Patagonia provides for a trekking paradise, so we simply have to suggest one of our favorite hikes from this awesome region is South America. There are some incredible routes such as Chile’s famed “W” trek in Torres del Paine and Argentina’s hike to the jaw-dropping Fitz Roy peak. While those are justifiably popular for good reason, we instead would like to introduce you to this lesser-known gem and one of our favorite hikes ever: the Arco Iris Trail in the Río Cochamó Valley.
We love this trek because it’s among of the most challenging one-day hikes we’ve ever been on. Just to get to the Arco Iris trailhead, you must embark on a separate hike a day prior to journey into the Camcho Valley. The next day, dozens of kilometers of single track await your ascent of over 1,000 meters, for a sunrise-to-sunset, full day adventure. Arco Iris is also one of the most technical treks we’ve ever been on. You are forced to use ropes to hoist yourself up several sections of the loosely defined trail. Other segments bring you scrambling across enormous rock faces with sheer drop-offs. And many parts of the trail are washed over with icy snowfields, even in the middle of the summer.
But we don’t only love Arco Irish for its technical challenge. It’s also one of the most stunning treks. As you get above the tree line, you’re rewarded with incredible 360-degree views of the Andes Mountains soaring up from the Comachó Valley below. You’ll discover scenes such as blue alpine lakes spilling out onto the cliffside to form a spectacular waterfall. It’s these awe-inspiring natural displays that really make Arco Iris an amazing trek to tackle.
One of the best hikes we’ve done is the Ciudad Perdida (“Lost City”) trek in Colombia. This is a challenging 4-5 day hike through the Colombian jungle and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. You definitely feel like you’ve earned each piping hot bowl of stew at the end of the day, and the basic hammocks for sleeping are a welcome reprieve for limp legs. Fortunately, there are infinite “wow” moments on this hike that distract from the hills and humidity. From jumping into pristine blue water speckled by butterflies, to watching fog lick the tree-covered mountains before you – it is pure magic.
The hike concludes in the “Lost City” itself – a collection of ancient ruins only discovered 40 years ago. The Cuidad Perdida is even 650 years older than Machu Picchu, and has a curious history. You set foot on grounds used for human sacrifices and wander where shamans once roamed in drug-induced hazes to determine who should be sacrificed next. What is amazing is just how hidden these ruins are in the thick jungle. The intensity of this hike combined with its epic views, small group size, and overall off the beaten track vibe (in comparison to other hikes like the Inca Trail), is exactly why it’s one of our favourite treks to date.
You might say this is where it might have all started for me. A young Boy Scout from Rhode Island making an annual trip up to New Hampshire every September to climb the most climbed mountain in the US. I also returned every January to camp at Monadnock’s base in the snow, enjoying the peace and solitude of the winter in the small town of Jaffrey. They say you always remember your first mountain. Monadnock was mine. Since my days as a Scout, I have traveled back to New Hampshire many times. I asked my wife to marry me on it’s peak. I have brought my young daughters up and down the mountain telling tales of old as other Boy Scouts travel up the trail ahead of us.
In New England, Mount Monadnock is something of a right of passage for those in scouting or the youth oriented outdoor community. I love the mountain, especially in the fall. But I love the mountain more because she gave me the outdoors that I love and cherish today. Also knowing that thousands more each year climb this mountain and get hooked on the experience and carry on into a new life of the outdoors, brings me great joy.
Many African countries are paradise when it comes to hiking, but my favorite hiking area remains in Usambara mountains around Lushoto region in Tanzania. I call this evergreen gem an African Switzerland. Most of the hikes are easy level and will take you through rural villages on 1600 m of sea level, while view points on the edges of cliffs will reward you with vast panoramic views of massive Usambara mountain range, even a Rift Valley on a clear summer day!
Along with scenic factor there is more, Usambara region has also tropical Magamba forest, where rare Black and White Colobus monkeys reside while in almost every bush along the walks you can spot funny chameleons. This area is still on the cheap side in comparison with other more popular destinations in Tanzania, which makes it perfect place for travelers on a budget.
One of my favourite hikes to date would have to “The Tower of Babel” in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, a place I hold near and dear to my heart. In the Western province of Alberta, the tower overlooks the pristine waters of lovely Lake Moraine. Few tourists venture off the path beyond the lake’s veranda, so the hike is quiet and the wildlife plentiful. Though the 5 km hike itself is short (at approximately two hours to the top) the vast majority of the trail is loose rock over a steep incline, requiring some scrambling. Hiking boots, poles and a helmet are recommended, though not necessary.
At 2360 metres up, you will discover why the hike has earned its name. It yields fantastic views of the rolling foothills beyond and of the turquoise lake down below. There is even a ‘rock couch and TV set’ someone took the liberty of making, so sit back and enjoy the view. You will surely feel like a king or queen looking down from your castle!
EquiTrekking – Darley Newman
Driving through the plains outside of Laramie, Wyoming, you might be surprised to come upon a large series of rock outcroppings. These granite rock formations seem to appear out of nowhere, and are a source of fascination and recreation for locals and travelers alike. Thought to be named after an Arapaho word meaning “earthborn”, Vedauwoo is a popular hiking and climbing spot where otherworldly hoodoos and outcrops delight at ever turn. Part of the Medicine Bow National Forest, Vedauwoo has several trails that are easy for beginners and for those who want to get their heart pumping, scrambling up and around the boulders here will definitely up give you a full body workout.
Start out on the Turtle Rock Loop Trail. With only small changes in elevation, this is a good pick for families and those seeking a leisurely hike through diverse and stunning scenery. Consider bringing a snack to Vedauwoo and soaking in the sunset from atop a rock or taking the time to watch locals crack climbing. A specialized type of climbing where climbers follow cracks in the rocks, crack climbing is an acrobatic and sometimes intense off trail experience that’s popular here. Even if crack climbing is a little too challenging for you, grabbing a seat on a rock and observing is a memorable experience.
Kyrgyzstan is an incredible country for hiking, from 7,000m+ mountains that tower over scores of miles of glaciers in all direction to desertified landscapes that seem more suited to the Middle East than to Middle Asia. Of all the adventures all over the tiny country, some of which are well up in ‘best hike ever’ territory, it’s a little valley called ‘Issyk Ata’ just outside the capital that I can actually call my favorite.
At the foot of the valley, an old Soviet-era health resort (and some hot springs that make a great post-hike soak) shares real estate with nomads’ yurts that hawk fresh fizzy horse milk during the summer. From the small settlement a single-track dirt path runs uphill to the foot of a perfect, beautiful, beautiful, wedge-shaped peak that stands like a sentinel at the confluence of three separate valleys. Along the way, in easy lazy-daytrip territory, a couple of small ravines with waterfalls run off to the side. Beyond, the stuff of horseback riders or overnight hikers, glaciers and lakes and passes into other valleys and more adventure. No matter the season, no matter the mood, it remains one of my favorite hikes in any country.
Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is called the rooftop of Africa. Towering at 19,340 feet, it is one of the Seven Summits of the World. Our hike was a 7 day adventure on the Machame
Route. It is one of the most scenic trails on this beautiful mountain. Starting in the rainforest and ending on the summit in the arctic zone, our incredible journey took us through 5 climate zones. Most days were low mileage hikes, yet the altitude made
the hike challenging. The most difficult segment was the push to the summit. Beginning at
midnight, our goal was to reach the summit at
sunrise. While a certain level of fitness is helpful, this hike is also a mental challenge.
Kilimanjaro was the most memorable and life-changing hike I’ve done. Each day new views and surprises awaited with the ever changing climate zones. Our knowledgeable guides tailored
the experience for each of us by sharing information on our interests. For me, it was the beautiful flowers and interesting plants. My absolute favorite part of the hike was pushing past every limit I’ve known and not giving up. Reaching the summit has made
all obstacles in my life since seem easier to conquer. I thank Mt. Kilimanjaro for that strength, and for being a richer person from that experience.
One of my favorite hikes to do is the Butterfield Trail in Devil’s Den State Park, just south of Fayetteville, Arkansas. This 15 mile loop has the perfect blend of nature while exploring parts of the Ozark National Forest. Most hikers will split up the journey overnight by stopping at one of the two intended campsites set up next to the river, however I have known some who decide to complete the loop trail in a day. The Butterfield Trail gets its name from the historic stage coach route, The Butterfield Overland Express. This stage coach route was used in the mid 1800s to carry passengers and mail between Missouri and Tennessee all the way to San Francisco, CA.
Part of the reason I enjoy this trail so much is because it was the first trail I ever backpacked overnight solo. It is not by any means the most difficult hike I have done, but it is a challenging and rewarding one. The mix of forest, rivers, and caves that you will come across on this hike bring out the uniqueness of the Ozarks. I will always go back to this trail because of the fond memories and beauty it possesses.
The Yuksom Dzongri trek in Sikkim, a remote area of northeast India, was a challenging high-altitude hike that literally took our breath away – both the altitude and the scenery. We began at Kanchenjunga National Park in a small village called Yuksom. On the first day, the trail shot straight up to the trekking village of Tshoka where we overnighted in a rustic hut. The air at Tshoka is noticeably thinner but the views were absolutely stunning! The following morning we continued the uphill climb to Dzongri where we spent a few restless hours in Dzongri Trekker’s Hut before rising at 4am for the final stretch for a stunning sunrise at Dzongri Peak.
After a painful ascent in the thin mountain air, we stood at the top, soaking up the incredible Himalayan mountainview with the sound of prayer flags flapping in the wind. My friend commented: “Wouldn’t a cup of hot tea make this even more perfect? My response: “Yeah, right. Dream on!” Moments later we heard a sound just behind us – a Tibetan porter, wearing only flip-flops and a light windbreaker, was running up to the summit with a pot of steaming hot tea. We sipped our tea and savored the perfection of that moment – hot tea and the Himalayan view at nearly 14,000 feet.
I’m not gonna lie, I rarely go on long hikes when I’m traveling. I don’t really know why. I actually really enjoy them, but always seem to find myself partaking in other activities. But when I was staying on Gili Trawangan in Indonesia, and my friend asked if I wanted to join her on the infamous Mt. Rinjani 2-day trek, I couldn’t decline such an adventurous invitation.
We took the boat over to Lombok, spent the night at the base of the mountain, and began our trek in the dark around 4 A.M. I don’t think I quite knew what I was getting myself into — because this was by far the most challenging and rigorous trek I’ve ever done. Up, Up, and Up. Insanely steep. My whole body was exhausted.
But when we finally hit the top, and set-up our campsite at the rim of an active volcano — I knew it was all worth the experience. The sunset and sunrise were two of the most magnificent views I’ve ever seen, and it’s something you truly have to see for your own two eyes. The way down was a bit easier, but I somehow managed to trip and fall, and wound up with a beautiful black eye. That was a souvenir I didn’t quite want, but definitely made for a good story.
Gunung Batu in Bandung, Indonesia , totally tops my list of hikes. Overall Bandung is a lovely city with pleasant weather and mountains on all sides, making it ideal for short and long hikes. There are several clubs for expats which take you through thick and thin of Bandung for runs, hikes, treks and cycling.
I just noticed the hike info posted on a random Couchsurfing event board and decided to hop on. It was an experience to remember – lush green paddy fields and misty mountain / valley views made my day.
So called The Millenary Olive Trees route (“Ruta de los olivos milenarios”) is a circular hiking trail from the city of Canet lo Roig towards the monumental olive trees. Some of these have more than 2000 years old and have been present in the region since the times of the Roman Empire. For centuries, these olive trees were a source of olive oil for the locals. It´s unbelievable how many generations have passed away during these 2000 years and these giants are still there.
However, some olive trees in Crete are estimated at over 3000 years old, so it appears those at Canet lo Roig still have a lot to catch up on. And no one knows how may years will they remain there and how many generations will they witness… So, for all the nature lovers and explorers – this hike is highly recommended. It´s relatively unknown yet, so you will not meet the crowds of tourists everywhere taking pictures, which is a huge plus: 5,8 km(1,5-2h) of nature, history, silence and peace.
So hopefully some of these hikes will appeal to you.
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