If you're looking for a trip guaranteed to challenge and reward you with breathtaking, once in a lifetime views, you've come to the right place. Whether you're seeking personal achievement or love the outdoors, these five hikes around the globe are well worth the adventure.
Located in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. One of the seven summits, Kilimanjaro welcomes approximately 25,000 people every year to attempt the 19,341-foot climb. Hikers can choose one of the seven major routes, the most popular being the 7-day Machame, 8-day Lemosho and 9-day Northern Circuit routes.
Regardless of your path, you'll pass five distinct climate zones on your way to the "Roof of Africa." If Kilimanjaro is on your adventure bucket list, do your research and make sure your trekking company is associated with Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), a non-profit which monitors the ethical treatment of guide teams on Kilimanjaro. KPAP ensures proper treatment of the crew, which includes minimum wages for the guides, crew, and cooks; three meals a day for the entire team; proper gear; appropriate sleeping and space accommodations and more.
2. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
There are different ways to get to the iconic UNESCO World Heritage site, but nothing beats the experience of hiking the historic Inca Trail. Trekking through 15 different eco-systems, exploring small villages that appear almost frozen in time, while traversing a mountain pass at 15,000 feet, the unique opportunity to experience this Land of the Incas will be challenging and enlightening.
Thinking of traveling to the crown jewel of the Inca Empire?
A few things to keep in mind: Entrance into Machu Picchu is only possible with the accompaniment of an officially registered tour guide. With a capacity of 2,500 visitors per day, pre-booking well in advance is essential.
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The Dolomites of northern Italy are a longtime favorite and for a good reason. With options for every type of outdoor enthusiast from short, flat hikes to challenging trekking with significant elevation changes, travelers can choose between day hikes to multi-day excursions.
Get tired along the trek?
Riding a gondola part of the way is a popular option, with many rifugios (huts for overnight hikers) accessible via gondola. Whatever option you choose, don't forget to take in the views. The trails boast dramatic mountain peaks, wild alpine meadows, and scenic valleys. A multi-cultural region, it's common to encounter different languages and cuisine, predominantly Italian, Austrian, and Ladin.
4. Mount Gimie in Saint Lucia
A truly unique island experience, hiking enthusiasts can arrange a guided day hike up Mount Gimie, Saint Lucia's tallest mountain. Volcanic in origin and covered by lush tropical rainforest, the mountain's peak reaches 3,117 feet and can be summited anywhere between 5-9 hours, depending on the speed of the hiker.
Trekking through two valleys, along a creek and up and down on a barely visible trail, the steep terrain requires proper hiking gear and steady footing. Reward your hard work at the spa of one of Saint Lucia's luxury resorts.
5. W Trek in Patagonia
Chilean Patagonia is home to the stunningly breathtaking Torres del Paine national park. Best experienced on foot, the remote region is home to the famous W Trek hiking route. Typically done in less than a week, with options to camp at designated campsites or booking a bunk bed at a refugio.
The highlights of the national park are Valle Francés, Base of the Torres del Paine Towers, and Glacier Grey. Particularly busy in December and January, those looking for solitude on the trails should try earlier in the season. Though hiking is arguably the most popular activity, there is also kayaking (later in the season), horseback riding and mountain biking activities available in designated areas of the park. Need a pro tip for your Patagonia adventure? Invest in a durable windbreaker. Patagonia is known for windy conditions where wind speeds throughout the year are typically between 10-13 miles/hour.
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