The ultimate challenge for many hikers is to trek in the greatest mountain ranges of the world – the Himalaya in Asia, the Andes in South America, the Alps in Europe, the Atlas Mountains in North Africa or perhaps to the summit of the world’s highest free-standing peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Trekking in these ranges, through some of the most impressive mountain landscapes anywhere, is an experience second to none. It is also a serious challenge as the altitude significantly increases the level of difficulty. However with the right physical and mental preparation, along with the right equipment and a trek leader who properly understands the safety issues, there’s no reason why any reasonably fit hiker cannot take on the challenge of high altitude trekking.
For safety reasons it’s important that you ascend slowly, acclimatising gradually to the thinner air and lower pressure. A measured ascent will allow your body to adjust properly, significantly increasing your chances of completing the trek and also your ability to enjoy it rather than just endure it.
In the Nepalese Himalaya the most famous high altitude treks include the route to Everest Basecamp, the Annapurna Circuit, the less well known Manaslu Circuit, the High Passes of Everest and the two classic trekking summits: Island Peak and Mera Peak. In the India Himalaya the Lamayuru Trek is equally challenging. All of these routes will take you over 5000 metres above sea level, often for several days in a row.
In Peru the Inca Trail is less demanding, but nonetheless the 4200 metre Dead Woman’s Pass’ is a significant challenge for most hikers, especially if you’re not used to trekking at high altitude.
Trekking peaks including Mount Toubkal in Morocco, Mount Ararat in Turkey, Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa and the Mera and Island Peaks mentioned above are fantastic high-altitude treks for anyone who loves the challenge of not just hiking at altitude but also the achievement of bagging a peak along the way.