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12 of the World’s Top Trekking Destinations

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Any serious trekker or backpacker is going to have their own version of the world’s top trekking destinations.

My choices are based on experience, reading, chatting with fellow hikers and what’s still on my wish list. In my mind the treks have to offer great beauty and at least three days worth of walking.

Here’s my version of 12 of the World’s Top Trekking Destinations

North America

  • West Coast Trail in British Columbia

The West Coast Trail is a physically demanding 75 kilometer hike stretching from Port Renfrew in the south to Bamfield in the north along the west coast of Vancouver Island. If you’re lucky enough to have sun for the entire hike then this is a glorious introduction to temperate rain forests and the stunning beaches of Canada’s west coast. In rain it’s a tough slog through mud. Ideally allow 6-8 days.

"One of the beautiful beaches along the West Coast Trail"

One of the beautiful beaches along the West Coast Trail

"One of the many ladders on the West Coast Trail"

One of the many ladders on the West Coast Trail

  • Chilkoot Trail in Alaska and British Columbia

The Chilkoot Trail begins on tidewater in Alaska and climbs up and over mountains in British Columbia. It presents a unique backpacking opportunity, as this is a trail rich with history. It was the main trail used in the famous Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800’s. An international crowd of literally tens of thousands, fuelled by dreams of riches, used the Chilkoot Trail to chase the gold in the Yukon. Most suffered incredible hardship, many never even made it and only a few got rich. Today on the trail you’ll find plenty of reminders of their epic journey. You’ll also enjoy fantastic scenery, picturesque campsites and an international border at the top of the pass. Allow 4-5 days.

"The Canadian side of the pass on the Chilkoot Trail"

The Canadian side of the pass on the Chilkoot Trail

South America

  • Cordillera Blanca (Alpamayo Circuit) in Peru

The trek through Peru’s Cordillera Blanca takes you within walking distance of Alpamayo, a spectacular mountain called by some the most beautiful on earth. It’s a remote trek and all food must be taken with you. Donkeys and a donkey driver can be engaged for nominal fee at the trailhead. You reach altitudes of over 15,000 feet and cross many passes so acclimatization is important. Hike in June, July and August when it’s consistently sunny but be prepared for bone chilling nights. Allow 8-10 days.

"The beginning of the trek - with Perferio our donkey driver/guide and 2 donkeys"

The beginning of the trek – with Perferio our donkey driver/guide and 2 donkeys

  • Paine Circuit in Chile

Torres del Paine down in southern Chile offers a 5-10 day hike (depending on which version you do) through an area of soaring granite peaks, lakes, glaciers and forests. UNESCO world heritage status has been conferred upon the park because of its unique landscape and ecosystem. The area is known for its fierce winds (in excess of 100 mph) and uncertain weather. Hike between the months of October to April for long hours of daylight.

Europe

  • Tour of Mont Blanc in France, Italy and Switzerland

The hiker’s Tour of Mont Blanc is a 168 kilometer loop tour around the base of Mount Blanc which is the highest peak in western Europe at 4810m or 15,782 feet tall. Hikers usually begin just outside of Chamonix, France if they’re hiking the traditional counter clockwise direction or they start in Champex, Switzerland if it’s the clockwise direction they’re doing. No matter what, you hike through three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland over a 9-11 day period.

  • Alta Via 2 in Italy

The Alta Via 2 takes you through the stunning scenery of the Italian Dolomites and begins just south of the Austrian border. It’s a 75 kilometer trek that usually takes 6-8 days. If you’re challenged by exposure then this hike might not be for you especially on the sections known as the via ferrata -the road with irons. You have the option of staying in mountain huts rather than camping and much of the food can be purchased along the way.

  • West Highland Way in Scotland

The West Highland Way is Scotland’s first official and now famous long distance walk. It stretches 95 miles (152 kilometers) from Milngavie in the south to Fort William in the north. You can enjoy some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery on this walk – including the views from Conic Hill and Devil’s Staircase, desolate walking across Rannoch Moor and plenty of Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond views. It’s a 5-8 day trek and best done between May and early October.

"Views of Loch Tulla and the wooded islands"

Views of Loch Tulla and the wooded islands

Africa

  • Toubkal Circuit in Morocco

The Toubkal Circuit is primarily a summer trek through the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Spectacular scenery is the order of the day – from the Tichka Plateau through to gorges, forest and remote Berber villages. Allow about two weeks, and a day or two more if you plan to climb Mount Toubkal.

Australia and New Zealand

  • Overland Track in Tasmania

I did this trek well before it was discovered by the mainstream backpacking crowd (30 years ago) and what a stunning trek it was complete with wallabies at nighttime at the huts. Go prepared for inclement weather and lots of hiking in mud. You’ll pass by spectacular Cradle Mountain, numerous lakes and interesting vegetation. Allow 5-7 days to complete the 73 kilometers. Our Hiking Blog, an Australian blog offers an ebook on how to hike the Overland Track. I guess it’s a lot more complicated now.

  • The Milford Track in New Zealand

I don’t think flying over the Milford Track counts but because I did do that I know that there is superlative mountain and fjord scenery on offer. It’s one of New Zealand’s most popular treks, taking on average four days to trek 53 kilometers. Hike through temperate rain forests and through groves of beech trees. Book well in advance as the walk is highly regulated and the huts fill quickly.

Asia

Although the trek sees throngs of hikers you can’t help but be wowed at some of the highest mountains on the planet. Drop dead gorgeous mountain scenery and the sherpa culture conspire to make this a winning two week trek. It’s been cleaned up considerably in the last few years too. You’ll also get the chance to visit a Buddhist Monastery in the middle of the Himalayas.

  • Snowman Trek in Bhutan

You’re going to need a month to do the Snowman Trek and to allow a few days for rests. Plus you’ll have to hike with a tour company. What you get in return is a hike through a pristine landscape of rhododendron forests and big mountain scenery plus the chance to pass through small villages and Buddhist monasteries.

Further reading that might be of interest include:

 


Author Hike Bike Travel

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 45 Comments

  • Erin says:

    Wow, some amazing looking treks here.

    We aren’t hardcore hikers so loved the 5 day hike we did in the Annapurna region of Nepal. You stay at little guesthouses on the way so don’t have to carry camping equipment and food, and you can go at your own pace. The scenery is spectacular.

  • I agree, seems like there are enough tips for the rest of my trekking career.
    I was happy to find West Highland Way in Scotland on the list, since I am about to go there this summer. I wanted to do the trip earlier during the spring, but friends of mine persuaded me to postpone it as the weather in the mountains may get unpleasant around this time of the year.

  • Hey Leigh,
    This is a great list. Thanks for including the Overland Track in Tasmania (and our guide)
    It has not really become a lot more complicated to do now. We initially wrote the guide to help time poor people organise the trip from outside Tasmania.
    It is a bit tricky to organise flights, transfers, passes etc so we packaged it into a step by step guide to help people get organised with the least amount of hassle.

    The other thing we really tried to emphasise (trying not to do a sales job here) is the best gear, food and tips we could give people. The Overland Track is often many peoples first long, unsupported multiday walk. Many do it totally unprepared and get into trouble with blisters, heavy packs, hypothermia etc……

    P.s. MUST get over to BC, the walking looks great!

    Frank

  • Tijmen says:

    Lots of great hiking trails, hopefully I can do the West Coast trail this year. I would also add the Kungsleden in Sweden to the list :)

  • Juan Pablo says:

    Great selection you have made, very helpful for deciding where to go.
    There is also an interesting list in Wikiexplora.com,
    they have a top 10 list, a top 50 and an honorable mention list.

    The specific link is:

    http://www.wikiexplora.com/index.php/Best_Treks_/_Hikes_of_the_World,_top_100.

    Good luck and thanks for this nice selection

  • Juan Pablo says:

    Maybe you should consider to include the Haute Route in France/Switzerland

    • The Haute Route looks like a fantastic hiking experience. The only reason it wasn’t included was because I was trying to bring more geographic breadth to the list – and I didn’t want to be too Euro centric.

  • Trekking planner in Nepal trekking Guide Recommended in Nepal www.nepalguideinfo.com says:

    I had to post this in the forum column after returning from our trek since my boyfriend and I had the absolute best time trekking in the Everest region!
    His name is Sanjib Adhikari and his email is sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com, he is licensed by the country of Nepal and has been a trekking guide for over 12 years.
    I found him through the posted forums when I was inquiring about trekking since my boyfriend and I only had 5 days to trek and really wanted to see mount Everest. He was able to customize a plan to get us as close as possible. We had a blast!!! I’d love to send you photo’s of our trek and trust me there was a part when we were climbing the hill to get to Namche and I thought I was going to die!!!!! Sanjib was so patient and his knowledge of the mountain area and all of Nepal is commendable! We met up with a couple of other people trekking and had a blast hanging out in one of the places to stay and even the other people were asking Sanjib about routes to take and length of time it would take to get to base camp.
    He is a smart, honest and genuine person and guide! Even after the trek we met up in Thamel and hung out for 2 days seeing the sights around Kathmandu and Patan. Sanjib not only knows the Everest region but all around Nepal and I highly recommend him!!!!
    Please contact me if you need more info or would like to see pictures from Facebook-:
    Sanjib-adhaikri@hotmail.com

    My boyfriend and I also used this guide whilst we were out in Nepal – we were recommended by a friend who used him when she did Everest Base Camp. We decided to do the Annapurna Circuit plus base camp.
    We met with Sanjib in Kathmandu when we arrived in Nepal and we told him what we wanted to do and how much time we had etc. He told us about a few trips that were possible and we eventually came up with this one.
    It was the most amazing trip and wouldn’t have been the same without him and Ram our porter (
    We spent 20 days trekking in November 2011 and Sanjib was able to answer all of our questions from the birds to the trees to the mountains and religion. It was a very cultural trek with so much history.
    Some people say that it is possible to do the trek without a guide, which may be true but you miss so much when you are on your own and we learnt such a lot from Sanjib which meant that we understood so much more of Nepal when we visited different areas.
    We paid all of our money to him up front, which we were dubious about at the start as we didn’t know him but I wouldn’t say that this was a problem at all.
    He made sure we were happy and safe and had full bellies at all times and made sure that we knew everything about altitude sickness which we didn’t get in the end thanks to his slower pace higher up and aclimatisation walks. We also took Diamox, under his recommendation and we were both fine and only suffered a bit of tingling in our faces (a side effect of the drug)!
    I would recommend Sanjib to ANYONE that was thinking about going trekking in Nepal, I would love to go back and visit him and do another trek with him when I have the time! There are so many guides out there that claim to do everything that he does but I wouldn’t choose anyone without a recommendation because you hear so many stories about dodgy guides and it would be so sad to lose your money and have a bad experience.
    Feel free to email me if you have any questions and enjoy your trek!
    Email to him-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com

    http://www.nepalguideinfo.com
    http://www.nepaltreckingguide.jimdo.com

  • Alan Curr says:

    Really decent selection and rather disappointed that I’ve only done one of these! Would definitely reccommend the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan – IO went there with http://www.wildfrontiers.co.uk last year and while it is expensive, it really is as unique as they come. For mountain scenery, the trek up to K2 Base Camp in Pakistan is seriously special too – rivals anything I’ve done in Nepal.

    • @Alan There’s a never ending supply of great hikes to do isn’t there. That’s an out there kind of trek you did last year. Did you feel safe? I bet the scenery was outstanding and rarely seen by a westerner.

  • Emily says:

    Great post, got to make a point of visiting one of the listed locations in my life time.

  • Silvana says:

    title: “a perfect trip…….not to be missed “

    “This year at the end of february i went in Nepal for 18 days for the second time and i did a small trekking in the Annapurna region, I went to visit Pokhara, Kathmandu, Bakthapur and Nagarkot and I saw the National Park of Chitwan and in this trip I had the pleasure to meet Sanjib Adhikari.

    He is an independent trekking guide and tour operator in Nepal and he has already obtained trekking guide license from the ministry of tourism, government of Nepal.

    In his work Sanjib Adhikari is a person very responsible and serious, very helpful and attentive to his customers, he knows very well the mountain because he has many years of experience and is also an excellent guide for visiting the cities, the best thing for me is that he loves his country very much and loves his work and always manages to convey all his enthusiasm with simple ways and always with the smile.
    Sanjib is also a very funny person and after this experience we became a very good friend

    For these reasons I am very glad to report the site of Mr. Sanjib Adhikari

    http://www.hikehimalayas.com
    email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com
    Mobile No+9779841613822
    Silvana”

  • Thank you for mentioning Cordillera Blanca (Alpamayo Circuit) in Peru. We invite you to experience the contact with the highest chain of tropical mountains in the world. Huascarán National Park and the Cordilleras Blanca and Huayhuash with the most beautiful and impressive peaks of South America will welcome you..
    There are recognized routes with categories of severity, according to geography, altitude and duration: Alpamayo circuit, Vaqueria Santa Cruz, Taullipampa Huaripampa Llanganuco Santa Cruz, etc. The most appropriate season is between April and October, if you’ll encourage for one of these treks there are shorter walks that last one day or less that will help you to acclimatize the high altitudes (over 12139feets above sea level)
    Vaquería is a small village and crossing point for hikers of the routes above mentioned, at the entrance of Vaquería you will find Illariy, the first lodge opened there, this 2012, it is a nice refuge in a place surrounded by mountains, among them the snowcapped Chopicalqui Yanaraju. It is a good idea to stay there while you acclimate or finish your walk, apart from the comfort and warmth of the accommodation you can taste traditional food and breakfasts, plus you can find souvenirs or appreciate an artistic event . Any additional info:
    email: illariy.vaqueria@gmail.com
    Blog: http://centroturisticoillariyenvaqueria.blogspot.com/
    Magaly Rojas

  • Toubkal says:

    Explore Central and Southern Morocco the way YOU WANT TO in a unique, customized Adventure Holiday
    I love All destinations
    More info about Morocco please email me at moroccomountains@gmail.com
    http://www.trekkingmoroccomountains.com

  • John says:

    Love this. I was trekking in Nepal last year. Surprised that the Annapurna trail in Nepal wasn’t on there. There are so many wonderful treks in Nepal. I can’t wait to go back. Some of those treks in South America and Europe look fantastic too.

    • @John It’s hard to whittle down the best trails to 12. I couldn’t agree more that Nepal has many of the world’s best trails. Hopefully one day I’ll get a chance to see hike more of them.

  • Explore Central and Southern Morocco the way YOU WANT TO in a unique, customized Adventure Holiday
    I love All destinations
    More info about Morocco please email me at moroccomountains@gmail.com

  • Elliot B. says:

    All these places look amazing! I certainly hope I get to see some of them, if not all, one of these days. Thanks for sharing.

    Elliot
    We Are Adventure

  • Thank you very much for hike Bike Travel for informative information. Yes Nepal is also one of the best and top Adventure for any type of adventure holiday.Nepal offers diverse programs and packages including all travel related services such as Trekking in Nepal, Peak Climbing, Mountain Expedition, Hiking, Nepal tour packages and sightseeing, transportation service, Hotel and Ticket Booking and many others.It will best best travel destination in the world.

  • Rijan says:

    Nepal, mentioned as the trekker’s paradise, offers once in a lifetime opportunity to visit remote parts of the country and get acquainted with lifestyle of its people.

  • MAria, says:

    The info in the site is very good.Still is better to book some accommodation during the treks in PAine, Chile. I offer the trek of two valleys all included starting in Puerto Natales, all meals, and refugios from 800 u$ based in 4 people. 4 night .
    Cheers,Ma

  • toubkal says:

    Thanks for sharing this very great post about the top trekking destinations in the world!

  • nepal says:

    Glad to see Mt. Everest on the list, but I thought it would be on top :) Enjoyed reading the list though.

    How about creating another list of like 20’s best trail for mountain bike ride. I am sure Nepal have few best trails for extreme hardcore mountain bikers.

    Thanks
    Raj

  • Wow! Some serious and awesome hikes here! Janice’s mother hiked Nepal to Everest base camp and beyond with her ladies hiking group from Calgary a few years ago – and absolutely loved the whole experience (though it was physically challenging).

    • @Sand In My Suitcase My daughter also did the Everest base camp hike and found it hard but she also said it was the best thing she’s ever done. I still have a long list of hikes I’d like to do around the world – and it never gets shorter. This year I’ll be doing the Long Range Traverse in Newfoundland.

  • jameshards says:

    Glad to see Everest base camp trekking in the list. But there are many other Popular Trekking Regions in Nepal. Like Annapurna Circuit and base camp, Langtang Region, Mustang and Kanchanjunga Trek. Other interesting list goes here :) http://www.uniquetreks.com/nepal/trekking_in_nepal/nepal_trekking.php

  • Rapsey Vagi says:

    Please add me. I need to promote Kokoda Track on this page.

  • Morocco, mainly. The Atlas mountains stretch for 1,200 miles from the Atlantic port of Agadir to the Tunisian capital, Tunis. But Morocco is, arguably, where the Atlas range is at its most interesting. Within Morocco, the Atlas is divided into several parallel ranges – the Anti, Middle and High Atlas. Of these, the High Atlas attracts most visitors, many of whom come to climb Jbel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa at 4,167m.

    All the usual mountain activities are on offer in the Atlas but be prepared for them to be Moroccan-style. Don’t expect to find the sort of tourist infrastructure you find in the Alps, or even the Pyrenees.

    Trekking is the main draw, with thousands of French, Spanish and British walkers visiting each year. Weird geology, warm weather and a colourful local population make the Atlas one of the world’s great trekking environments. Guides and pack mules can be hired cheaply and easily at all major trail- heads. Finding maps and accommodation, however, can be a little more difficult.The four main trekking areas are Toubkal, M’goun, Sirwa and Sahro. Each is very different. Mount Toubkal is the highest and most easily reached from Marrakesh. M’goun is lush and densely populated. Sirwa and Saghro are lower, hotter and more isolated.
    more info please check our website – trekking-toubkal.com

  • Peruvian Mountains says:

    Peruvian Mountains Treks & Expedition is run by professional Trekking & Mountain Guides, tour guides of English, Spanish, since year of establishment 2008.
    We provide Expedition, Climbing, Mountaineering, adventure travel and trekking Operator company for operating expedition, in the Cordillera Blanca Santa Cruz trek circuit cedros, Llanganuco, Ulta Chavin climbing Alpamayo, Huascaran Chopicalqui, Pisco Artesonraju Cordillera Huayhuash full Huayhuash trek Diablo Mudo climb Cordillera Raura circuit Lima Churin Raura Cajatambo Cuzco Inca Trail Salkantay Machupicchu Choquequirao Cordillera Real Pequeño Alpamayo Huayna Potosi Khotia trek Ecuador Cotopaxi climb, Chimborazo climbing , illiniza.
    We are always ready to assist you to organize climbing expeditions to scale the mountains Peru – Bolivia – Ecuador. We have fixed departure for any adventure trip, so you can join with our any our program.

    Visit Peruvian Mountains is one of the best trekking and tours agency in Peru; Run by Mountain trekking & hiking professionals Guides. Offering the best adventure and holiday on the land of Peruvians. We organizes Trekking in Peru, , Adventure Holiday in Peru, Family tour & trek, Peak climbing, Huayhuash trek, Blanca trek, Tours in Peru, cordillera blanca cordillera huayhuash cuzco peru

  • What a very interesting list. I think the most exciting and thrill part of the list is the Everest Base Camp. It is one of the hardest mountains to traverse and I am very proud there are already a lot of Filipinos who had successfully climbed on Mt. Everest.

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