For most people who enjoy walking and trekking, there are places that hold a special place in their hearts and on their maps. And there's always a list of new places to fantasise about.
Whether it’s because of the joy of being surrounded by soaring mountains, the lure of reaching a summit or simply to gain bragging rights, there are routes that stand out from the pack and draw visitors back year after year. Here are ten that you really shouldn’t miss.
The Inca Trail (Peru)
It’s no surprise that the Inca Trail bags a space in our top ten. Meandering its way through ever-changing scenery and peppered with Inca ruins, the grand finale of the trail is stepping through the Sun Gate to catch your first glimpse of Machu Picchu.
With the challenge of some steep ascents and full days of walking, the classic four-day trek is nevertheless perfectly achievable for anyone who is reasonably fit and healthy.
Inca Trail Trek (PQ)
The Great Wall of China (China)
There is a famous Chinese saying that goes ‘You are not a man until you have stood on the Great Wall of China’. This architectural colossus is truly iconic and something that everyone should set foot on at least once.
Treks along the wall can last anything from hours to days depending how far you travel. Although it’s not possible to walk the entire length due to missing sections, the detours that you take will only add to your overall experience.
Everest Base Camp (Nepal)
Follow in the footsteps of some of the world’s most famous mountaineers as you trek to the foot of the world’s mightiest mountain. The tough but eminently rewarding route takes you through magnificent Himalayan scenery where mountains soar in every direction. An ascent of Kala Pattar is well worth the effort; from here, if the weather is kind, you can enjoy stupendous views of Everest.
The grand finale is arriving at Base Camp itself for close up views of the notorious Khumbu Ice Fall. Here you can truly appreciate the dangers faced by those who dare to cross it as they embark on their acclimatisation treks and summit attempt.
Everest Base Camp (EB)
Annapurna Circuit (Nepal)
One of Nepal’s classic treks, the route takes in a variety of scenery from rhododendron forests right up to barren passes of snow and rock. The endless panoramic views of the mighty Annapurna are a constant companion with the best of all revealed at the top of the Thorong La Pass (5416m).
Local culture adds to the magic with remote shrines and wild passes adorned with colourful prayer flags frayed by the wind.
Annapurna Circuit (AN)
Tour Du Mont Blanc (France, Switzerland, Italy)
Straddling the borders of France, Switzerland and Italy, the Mont Blanc massif features outstanding mountain vistas punctuated by green, rolling valleys. The Tour du Mont Blanc – a full circuit trek around the massif – is one of the most rewarding treks in Europe. With five major passes, turquoise Alpine lakes, soaring glaciers and views of Mont Blanc’s jagged west face, every day brings rich rewards.
The High Atlas (Morocco)
Running through central Morocco, the High Atlas Mountains form a dramatic contrast with the country’s coastal regions and the arid Sahara Desert. There are countless trekking options including the chance to trek to the summit of Mount Toubkal – at 4167m it is North Africa’s highest peak.
Dotted with traditional Berber villages, trekking in the High Atlas also gives you a glimpse into a traditional way of life that has changed little for hundreds of years.
Kilimanjaro has an almost mythical place in trekking folklore. Standing high above the African plains, the summit of the mountain soars 5895m above sea level, making it the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is not for the faint-hearted, but once you reach the top, all those aches, pains and blisters will quickly be forgotten as you take in the magnificent view and reflect on your achievement.
The Lycian Way (Turkey)
Following Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline, The Lycian Way leads you to traditional villages, Roman ruins and ancient ports, and through some of the country’s most impressive countryside.
If you thought Turkey was all holiday resorts and sun worshippers, this walk reveals a more intriguing and enigmatic side.
Spice Trails of Petra (Jordan)
Though witness to 2000 years of history, Petra’s most recent claim to fame is as the setting for the final moments of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Think back to those scenes and you’ll begin to get an idea of the unique setting and extraordinary architecture of this ancient city. The ancient trade routes and unique landscape that make up these walks can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Spice Trails of Petra (TP)