Whether you’re a novice hiker or an experienced backpacker, there are innumerable treks around the world that will inspire you to take to the mountains. Below find breathtaking hikes from each continent to trigger your wanderlust. Ramble on!
North America: Appalachian Trail
Test your endurance with the ultimate exploration of authentic America on the Appalachian Trail. One of the world’s longest continuously marked footpaths, this track stretches over 2,000 miles and winds through fourteen states from Georgia to Maine. These weathered peaks also comprise eight national forests and two national parks, and the route takes roughly six months to complete in its entirety.
South America: Santa Cruz Trek
Since its revelation to the international tourist market over a century ago, the 15th-century Inca citadel Machu Picchu has inspired millions to travel to South America. Whether you’ve already made the four-to-five-day trek along the Inca Trail to these magnificent ruins, or if the trail has reached maximum capacity, you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of excellent alternative hikes in Peru. The 30-mile Santa Cruz Trek is the most popular circuit in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, or White Mountains. Its incredible, varied landscape, running the gamut from thermal hot springs to snow-capped peaks, will thrill hikers of all levels over the four days it takes to complete.
Europe: Camino de Santiago
When you’re in Europe, you can hear about its centuries of history or you can experience it firsthand. Put yourself in the well-worn shoes of pilgrims past on the Camino de Santiago. Begin the medieval Christian pilgrimage in western France, among the Pyrenees Mountains. Over the next 500 miles, you’ll cross the border into Spain, drinking in breathtaking rural views and locally produced wines. This trek is especially good for solo travelers, as the path to Santiago de Compostela becomes a veritable tourism superhighway during peak season in summertime and eager new friends are easy to come by.
Africa: Mountains of the Moon
Conquering Kilimanjaro is a hugely popular bucket list item, but if you’re after an even more heart-stopping experience, travel across the simply surreal landscape of Africa’s Great Rift Valley to the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda. The highest range on the continent, these peaks include the dazzling week-long Mountains of the Moon trek. Where else could you find glaciers, elephants, and traditional Bakonzo villages within a few miles of one another?
Asia: Annapurna Circuit
The Himalayas are among the best known mountain ranges in the world, but if you’re not quite ready to tackle Everest, there are plenty of other amazing treks to be had in Nepal. The Annapurna Circuit in particular has charmed many a mountain-lover with its perfect level of challenge and stunning vistas. Trekking companies have exploded on the scene since the ancient trade route first opened to travelers in the late ‘70s and you’re best off purchasing from a local company upon arrival, rather than booking in advance. The shortest and easiest section of the full circuit is the Royal Trek, named for its popularity with the British royal family, which can take as little as a few days to finish. For the full monty, you should plan to devote two to three weeks to the trek.
Oceania: Milford Track
New Zealand is the ultimate in instant gratification for hikers and nature lovers – no matter what way you turn, you’re guaranteed stunning panoramic views. The towering peaks and glittering waters of Milford Sound, situated within Fiordland National Park on the South Island’s western coast, make a striking viewpoint, but for the best introduction to this postcard-worthy fjord, spend a few days tramping the Milford Track. It’s a grand entrance you’ll never forget.