Five of the world’s best hikes
1 Nov 2016
It’s no secret that we’re outdoor addicts. For as long as I can remember, getting out into mountains, valleys, fiords and rivers is what has always made me feel most alive – that’s one of the reasons why Steve & I love running Trips & Tramps! While Te Anau has got to be one of the best places in the world for hiking adventures – it’s right up there on the world stage – there are plenty of other tracks all over the globe that inspire hikers just as much as our own backyard.
We were curious to see what people would rate as the best hiking experiences in the world, so we asked family and friends for their suggestions. Below are what we think might be five of world’s best hikes - what better way to inspire you to lace up your hiking boots!
Tonquin Valley, Canada - 3 to 5 days
Possibly one of the wildest places on our list, Tonquin Valley is found deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Think grizzly bears, towering mountains and mirror-like lakes – the sunrises you’ll experience hiking this trail will be mind-blowing. This large loop starts at Portal Creek, heads up and over the McCarib Pass to Tonquin Valley and then out via the pretty Astoria River.
Distance: 43km (27 miles)
Make it happen: Plan to hike this trail from July to September – heavy snow is common
Annapurna Circuit, Nepal – 15 to 20 days
Yes, it’s well known, and yes, it can be a tad busy; but we just couldn’t put together a ‘top 5 world hikes’ list without including this famous trail! Steve and I hiked the Annapurna Circuit in 1999, and it took our breath away. Himalayan giants, Nepali culture, narrow canyons, and rhododendron forests – this trail throws up the most wonderful surprises. One of the things we loved most about this trail is that it just keeps getting better – it starts with a jungle, climbs through rice terraces then shows off snowy mountain giants in tantalizing sneak peaks. The highest point of the trail, which you’ll encounter on the 10th day or so, unveils an absolute sea of sky-scraping peaks. This is one for the bucket list.
Distance: 160km (100 miles)
Make it happen: The Annapurna Circuit begins in Besi Sahar, near Pokhara. If the full trail is too long for you, consider Poon Hill – a 4-day out-and-back hike where you’ll enjoy similar views.
Santa Cruz Trail, Peru – 3 to 4 days
The Cordillera Blanca, found in Peru, is one of the most intensely concentrated collections of big peaks in the Southern Hemisphere. It comes as no surprise then that the Santa Cruz Trail – which cuts through the heart of these mountains in just 3-4 days – is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Ultramarine coloured, glacier-fed lagoons, lupins, golden valleys, llamas and a 4,750m mountain pass (15,580ft); the Santa Cruz trail includes a little bit of everything and is a pretty manageable distance for most.
Distance: 45km (27 miles)
Make it happen: Bus to Huaraz, north of Lima, the capital, before catching a minibus to Vaqueria at the start of the trail (an experience in itself!)
Cinque Terre, Italy – 1-2 days
While not quite as rugged or wild as our other choices, the Cinque Terre – a string of ancient seaside villages, clinging to the edge of the Italian coastline – is a long-standing favourite. For those that love a little comfort, history and indulgence (Italian meals by the ocean, yes please!) but still want to stretch their legs, this hike is perfect. I loved the harbours filled with fishing boats, the colourful houses and the vineyards clinging to the cliffs. The trail can easily be walked in around 6 hours but most prefer to give it at least 2 days to enjoy the architecture, food and views.
Distance: 11km (6.8 miles)
Make it happen: Begin in Riomaggiore, easily accessible by train from La Spezia
The world’s best hikes - Milford Track, New Zealand – 3-4 days
I couldn’t help myself – I had to include the Milford Track in this list! After all, it’s been referred to as the ‘finest walk in the world’ and we would have to agree. The views are grander than you can imagine, especially when it’s been lightly raining and there’s a huge collection of waterfalls tumbling down the cliffs everywhere you look. The climb to McKinnon Pass and the scenery from the top is a treat, and rumbling Giant Gate Falls – which hikers are rewarded with on the last day – is a beautiful place to relax and stop for a cuppa.
Distance: 53.5km (33.2 miles)
Make it happen: The Milford Track is a point-to-point trail, so you’ll need to organize transport. If you’re not keen on the full trail, our one-day Milford Track Guided Walk is a great option.
Inspired to explore on foot after reading our list? Sometimes, a multi-day hike doesn’t fit into your itinerary or you would prefer something shorter. We’ve got heaps of options for guided day walks on a number of beautiful Fiordland trails, including our Great Walks – the best of both worlds!