Best Treks in the World

Read our roundup of some of the best treks in the world, be it taking you to the top of the world at Everest or exploring the stunning landscapes of the Inca Trail.

Best Treks in the World

From scaling mountains to traversing through rainforests and from exploring a citadel to following ancient trails leading to a rich cultural revelation, today’s world has a vast network of hikes with each promising a different adventure.

Be it standing on the top of Everest or walking along the coastlines in Europe, these hikes offer different kinds of experiences based on individual preference and the experience of the trekkers.

Amidst the uncountable trekking routes and trails spread throughout the world, some of them stand out as global favorites as they offer an unparalleled exploration of some of the most majestic landscapes of our planet.

In this blog, we have shortlisted some of such best treks in the world that will test your limits and leave you awestruck and breathless as you wander through them.

What makes a trek unforgettable?

The definition of the ‘best hike in the world’ truly depends on individual preferences. However, certain trails hold a standard reputation and appeal all thanks to the subjective experiences of the previous visitors.

The deciding factors in labeling a hike as unforgettable are the likes of breathtaking scenery, cultural significance, accessibility, unique features, appropriate level of challenge, commitment towards sustainability and conservation, and diverse experiences.

A perfect tandem of all these factors is what earns a hike the title of being the ‘best in the world’ as they create an unforgettable experience for the trekker and enrich their personal growth due to the interactions and sense of achievement that they gain during the trek.

Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal

In the discussion of the best treks in the world, an unmissable name is the iconic Everest Base Camp trek which is a legendary adventure taking you to the foothills of the highest peak in the world and gives you a taste of the Himalayan majesty minus the technical skills.

Located in the Sagarmatha National Park in the Khumbu region of Nepal, the trek begins in Lukla at 2,840 m, the trek takes you at the maximum altitude of 5,555 m at Kalapathhar. If you are skipping Kalapathhar, the highest altitude is 5,364 m at the Everest Base Camp.

On the trail to Gorakshep with Mt. Pumori in the background
On the trail to Gorakshep with Mt. Pumori in the background

It is a 14-day adventure covering 130 km within 12 to 14 days. The trek traverses through different landscapes starting with a scenic flight to Lukla ascending towards the verdant valleys and finally reaching the stark alpine landscapes beyond the tree line.

However, the trek is truly a Himalayan challenge as the length is pretty daunting and you start from a high altitude already. Therefore, one must be thoroughly prepared with good physical fitness and acclimatization is of utmost importance to prevent altitude sickness.

Sunrise view from Kala Patthar
Sunrise view from Kala Patthar

Once you conquer the challenges, the trek is an unparalleled experience as you witness the spectacular views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Thamserku, Cho Oyu, Khumbu glacier, Khumbu icefall, and several other Himalayan giants.

Along with that, immense cultural immersion awaits you as you get to interact with the guardians of the Himalayas- the Sherpas in the local Sherpa villages like Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, and more.

At Thukla Pass: Where mountains meet prayer.
At Thukla Pass: Where mountains meet prayer.

There are many more fun facts about the Everest Base Camp trek that highlight why this legendary trek should be a must-have on your list.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

One of the best treks in the world, the Inca Trail is often regarded as a journey through time as it takes modern-day adventurers to explore the ancient civilization of the Incas and its fascinating culminating point at the citadel of Machu Picchu.

This trail is an all-in-one adventure with a small distance of merely around 45 kilometers starting from Km 82 marker at 2,600 meters in Cusco and going all the way up to Machu Picchu at 2,400 m which can be covered within four days.

Machu Picchu - Peru
Machu Picchu – Peru, Photo: Unsplash/Alexander Schimmeck

The highest point of this trek is at Warmiwanusca at 4,200 meters which makes it a moderately challenging adventure. However, the trail boasts high historical significance, many archaeological ruins, and rich wildlife including orchids, hummingbirds, and even bears.

As you traverse through the historical pathways, you witness the true prowess of the Incan architecture in ruins like Llactapata, Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, and Phuyupatamarca. In places like the Urubamba Valley, a rich cultural experience awaits you.

The trail is nothing short of majestic as you traverse the beautiful Andes Mountain ranges along with other high-altitude mountain passes to stunning cloud forests. The final stop is at Intipunku or the Sun gate at Machu Picchu.

The experience of reaching here at dawn and witnessing the sunlight illuminating Machu Picchu shrouded in mist is an experience often described as transcendental by the visitors.

Tour du Mont Blanc, Europe

Known as the crown of Europe in terms of treks, the Tour du Mont Blanc is a legendary long-distance hiking trail that circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif, the highest peak in Western Europe.

It is a true European adventure, and it passes through countries including France, Italy, and Switzerland starting from Les Houches in France and reaching picturesque valleys like Chamonix (France) and Val Ferret (Italy).

The trek begins at an elevation of 1,008 meters (3,307 ft) and reaches the highest point of the standard route, 2,532 meters (8,307 ft) at Grand Col Ferret between Switzerland and Italy.

Tour du Mont Blanc
Tour du Mont Blanc, Photo: Unsplash/Nicolas Weldingh

Although not very demanding in terms of altitude, this almost 170 km long trek covered within 10 to 14 days is considered strenuous as it features daily ascents and descents along with regular fluctuation in elevation. One needs to have proper physical strength and preparation to conquer this trek.

However, the experience is worth the challenge as you get to spectacular mountain sceneries like Mont Blanc, vast glacier and craggy peaks of the Alps, Grandes Jorasses, Aiguilles Rogues, as well as rugged mountain passes like Col du Petit Saint-Bernard featuring heavenly views.

Along with that, you get to experience the cultural camaraderie of three different countries including the charming villages of France, the culinary traditions of Italy, and the alpine and mountain scenery of Switzerland.

Mount Kilimanjaro Trek, Tanzania

Known as the roof of Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro features a trekking route that is considered one of the most challenging yet best hiking trails in the world as it takes you to an elevation of 5,895 meters in Tanzania.

One of the seven summits in the world, Mt. Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano, and several routes can take you to the top of the peak. The trek takes you through five ecological zones from cultivated farmlands to the icy landscapes at the summit.

Along with the dramatic landscapes, it also presents the chance for wildlife spotting where you can see Columbus monkeys in the rainforests as well as the elusive snow leopards at higher altitudes.

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, Photo: Unsplash/Crispin Jones
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, Photo: Unsplash/Crispin Jones

The trek is a difficult adventure and requires you to properly acclimatize as there are chances of altitude sickness. However, the sections are not too technical, meaning you can conquer them with proper preparation and fitness.

Cultural experience is also a part of the Mt. Kilimanjaro trek as you get to interact with the local Chagga People. When you reach the summit at Uhuru Peak (5,895 m), you will feel like you are at the top of the world as it is the highest point in Africa and boasts spectacular views.

The trek has several routes like the Marangu route, Machame route, Lemosho route, Rongai route, and the Northern Circuit. Each one features different levels of difficulty, landscapes, as well as duration. So, make sure to pick one that fits all your requirements and fitness levels.

John Muir Trail, USA

Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, the John Muir Trail is a premium hiking trail that is known to traverse through some of the most spectacular and picturesque landscapes of California.

It is a popular trail for all sorts of activities like camping, backpacking, and hiking and covers a distance of around 340 km within 14 to 21 days depending on the fitness level of the trekkers.

The John Muir Trail starts at Cottonwood Pass and traverses through Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park along with Inyo and Sierra National Forests and John Muir and Ansel Adams wilderness areas.

Beyond all this, it reaches its highest point at 4,421 meters (14,505 ft) at Mount Whitney which is also the highest peak in the contiguous United States. The lowest point on this trek is Devil’s Postpile at 2,332 m (7,562 ft).

John Muir Trail, Photo: Unsplash/Clarisse Meyer
John Muir Trail, Photo: Unsplash/Clarisse Meyer

The journey is a panoramic marvel as you get to witness granite cliffs like Half Dome and El Captain, the Evolution Basin, waterfalls like Vernal and Nevada Falls, and many more. Wildflowers dot the landscapes, especially in meadows like Tuolumne meadows.

You will also feel timid amidst the massive groves like Mariposa Grove and Grant Grove. Glacial lakes are one of the highlights of the trek including the likes of Thousand Island Lake and Rae Lakes.

The trek is considered a challenging adventure given its distance and the steep climbs that it features at mountain passes like Muir Pass (11,955 ft) and Forester Pass (13,200 ft). Glacial valleys like Lyell Canyon depict the glacial might of Sierra Nevada.

All in all, the John Muir trail is an adventurous and picturesque escape from modern civilization full of hustle and bustle.

Milford Track, New Zealand

Known as ‘The Finest Walk in the World’ because of the unparalleled natural beauty of the trail, the Milford Track is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the finest hiking trails in the world.

This 53.5-kilometer trek, running from Lake Te Anau to Sandfly Point in Milford Sound, is located in the southwest of New Zealand’s south island and makes its way through the heart of Fiordland National Park in the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area.

This trek has been active for over 130 years and explores some of the most untouched landscapes in the world. Starting from lush beech forest alongside Clinton River, the trail features everything from ancient rainforests, alpine passes, pristine rivers, and cascading waterfalls.

You will also come across the tallest waterfall in New Zealand- Sutherland Falls. Endemic species like the kea and the flightless takahe accompany you on the trek. Because of the fragile and unique ecosystem, this trail is a controlled route.

The highest point of the track is at the Mackinnon Pass at 1,156 m where you get a spectacular vista of surrounding peaks and valleys.

The main highlight of this trek is Milford Sound, a world-famous fjord, which is known for its unique water composition and the spectacular view of Mitre Peak rising from the dark waters. This dramatic fjord is said to have been carved during the last ice age.

Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Another addition to the list from the majestic Himalayas of Nepal is the world-famous Annapurna Circuit trek circumnavigating the Annapurna massif and offering a breathtaking panorama of the Himalayas along with the challenge of the world’s highest accessible mountain pass.

As opposed to the other hikes, it is a more off-the-beaten-path experience. It is located in the Annapurna Conservation Area and covers a distance of around 160 to 210 km depending on the route taken and the side trips.

Capturing Moments along the trail
Capturing Moments along the trail

This trek is a rollercoaster of altitudes as it features lots of fluctuations in elevation starting at an altitude of 1100 m at Syangje and going as high as 5,416 m at the Thorong La Pass and is considered a strenuous trek that pushes your limits.

Trekkers require a good level of fitness and preparation for the Annapurna Circuit trek but the rewards are equally enchanting. The highlight of this trek is the spectacular views of the Annapurna Range, Dhaulagiri Range, Manaslu, iconic Fishtail Peak (Machhapuchhre), and more.

Trekkers traverse the rugged path to Thorong La Pass.
Trekkers traverse the rugged path to Thorong La Pass.

Along with this comes the challenging yet thrilling feeling of crossing the Thorong La Pass to witness a stunning panorama amidst a moon-like Himalayan landscape. The feeling is equally spiritual as the region is dotted with fluttering prayer flags.

The trek is a spiritual and cultural journey too as you experience the serenity of temples like Muktinath and many small and big ancient monasteries, mani walls, and chortens. The local communities of Gurungs, Thakalis, and Manangis are welcoming with their warm hospitality.

Landscape of Manang Valley.

Natural wonders like the natural hot springs at Tatopani are also a great addition to the rewarding nature of the trek. For more information, continue reading 10 reasons to trek the Annapurna Circuit.

Torres del Paine Circuit, Chile

Located in Torres Del National Park in Chile’s Patagonia, the Torres Del Paine Circuit (often known as the O circuit) is a 110 to 130 km circular route around the Paine massif which takes around 9 to 12 days to complete.

The trek begins at an elevation of 500 ft and goes up to a peak elevation of 3,800 ft. It also comprises the ‘W’ trek which is another famous trek in the same area passing from the heart of Cordillera Del Paine.

It is a bucket list for many adventure enthusiasts as it traverses through various landscapes like vast pampas, dense forests, windswept Patagonian steppes, lenga beech forests, rocky paths, and several river crossings.

The iconic sights while on this trek include the iconic granite towers ‘Torres Del Paine’, the dramatic ice formations of Grey Glacier, French Valley, John Gardner Pass, and the stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

Larapinta Trail, Australia

Stretching over 223 km, the Larapinta Trail is a unique and premier trekking experience located in Australia. The beauty and solitude of Australian outbacks combined with the exploration of the ancient beauty of Australia makes this trek one of the best experiences in the world.

Divided into 12 sections, it starts at the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station and goes all the way west to Mount Sonder, one of the highest peaks of the territory, while traversing through Tjoritja/West MacDonnell Ranges National Park.

The base altitude of the trek is 600 metres and its highest point is at 1,379 m at Mt. Sonder. The Larapinta Trail is a challenging adventure and completing the entire trek takes somewhere around 20 days.

Although demanding, the trail features beautiful views including the dramatic red rock formations, towering gorges, and vast desert plains of the ancient mountains in the West MacDonnell Range.

It is further enhanced by the stark beauty of the Outback and high ridgelines. The trek also gives a glimpse into the culture of the Western Arrernte people and their aboriginal history.

All the while, you are accompanied by local wildlife like kangaroos, black-footed rock wallabies, wallabies, echidnas, and beautiful birds like parrots and kookaburras. At the same time, keep an eye out for snakes and spiders!

The Laugavegur Trail, Iceland

A final addition to this list is the majestic Laugavegur trail situated in the heart of Iceland which is a unique journey through a landscape forged by ice and fire as you traverse the different terrains and geothermal activity.

This 55 km trek starts in Landmannalaugar at an altitude of 539 meters and reaches the maximum altitude of 1,110 meters at Hrafntinnusker. The concluding point of the Laugavegur trail is at Skogar.

This trail connects Landmannalaugar to Porksmor which is near a famous volcano. The main highlight of the Laugavegur trail is the beautiful rhyolite mountains with volcanic activity that are adorned in the hues of red, orange, yellow, and purple.

You will also see the geothermal activity at the steaming geothermal vents, hot springs, and bubbling pools in the region. Contrasting the colorful mountains are the desolate black sand deserts formed by the volcanic ashes.

Another fascination of the trail is the Icelandic flora and fauna that you will come across including the Arctic foxes and reindeer. Although difficult, the trek is truly a testament to the beauty of the volcanic majesty of Iceland.

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