There’s nothing quite like stepping into the wilderness and embarking on a epic hiking journey that takes you away from the bustling cities and up close to some of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders.
From ancient forest trails in coastal Japan, to the jagged peaks of Chilean Patagonia, we explore some of the best hikes in the world.
Trans Bhutan Trail, Kingdom of Bhutan
For the first time in 60 years, the Kingdom of Bhutan is opening its sacred Trans Bhutan Trail, giving visitors the rare chance to follow this ancient pilgrimage. Up until the 1960s, it was the only way to travel across the South Asian country and now, after extensive restoration work, the trail is opening to visitors in September 2022.
Adventure travel company G Adventures will be the first group adventure operator to take travellers along the Trans Bhutan Trail in October, which covers 403 kilometres across the country from the western area of Haa to Trashigang in the East. “Our new trips cover the highlights of the trail as hikers traverse forests and meadows and travel through rural settlements around the Dzongs,” says Yves Marceau, vice president of product at G Adventures.
Larapinta Trail, Australia
Looking to experience some of the world’s most ancient metamorphic rock, 600 species of flora and some jaw-dropping natural attractions including Ormiston Gorge, Simpsons Gap and Ellery Creek waterhole? The Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonnell Ranges is an extended walking track in the Northern Territory of Australia. Its total length covers 223 kilometres from east to west, with the eastern end at Alice Springs and the western end at Mount Sonder, one of the territory’s highest mountains.
The trail is one of Australia’s most spectacular trekking experiences, and is considered one of the top 20 treks in the world. Divided into 12 sections which vary in difficulty and length, winter is considered the best time to walk the Larapinta Trail as most days have clear blue skies, low-mid 20°C temperatures and cool breezes.
Routeburn Track, New Zealand
It’s hard to pick which of New Zealand’s Great Walks is best, but the Routeburn Track is definitely up there. Boasting forests, alpine lakes, waterfalls and countless panoramic views of its surrounding mountains and valleys, this three-day trek is one of the best hikes in the world.
Situated in two of New Zealand’s top national parks – Fiordland and Mount Aspiring – the well-maintained track takes you through some of the South Island’s most breathtaking scenery. The huts along this track are also fantastic, with one positioned alongside a waterfall and another at the edge of a lake (perfect for a refreshing dip after a day’s walking).
Kumano Kodo, Japan
As one of only two pilgrimage routes deemed a World Heritage site, the Kumano Kodo network of trails in Japan’s Kansai region is undoubtedly one of the greatest hikes in the world. Established centuries ago as a sacred route to the Kumano shrines on the Kii Peninsula, the area features a number of trails through lush bamboo forests, terraced rice fields, dramatic coastlines and pristine beaches. Popular hikes include the Nakahechi Route which can be hiked over multi-day treks or shorter walks.
Mount Assiniboine, Canada
Nicknamed the ‘Matterhorn of the Rockies’ Mount Assiniboine in Canada’s British Columbia is one of the most stunning sights in this world-class hiking region. While there are many other epic mountain views in the rockies, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park has the unique appeal that it can only be accessed via hike or helicopter, meaning it is much less crowded.
Two hiking trails (40km and 26km) lead into this remote alpine spot where you can pitch a tent, stay in modest huts or book a room in the lodge. Once there, you can explore the many trails around the park, including the famous Niblet viewpoint which offers epic views of the spectacular lakes and mountains.
Torres del Paine, Patagonia
The towering granite peaks of the Torres del Paine is one of the most iconic sights in Chilean Patagonia and draws in visitors from around the world to hike this epic trails.
There are several hikes you can choose from in the Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most popular being the W hike, a 4-5 day journey that brings you up close to the mighty mountain peaks.
Via Alpina, Switzerland
Hiking is certainly one of the best ways to experience Switzerland’s natural beauty up close. The Via Alpina network of trails, established in 2002 under an intergovernmental treaty, is one of the longest and most spectacular hiking trails in all of Europe and not only showcases some of the most lovely parts of the country, but also connects to Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Slovenia.
Spanning approximately 5,000km, the Via Alpina covers the whole of the Alps mountain range and more. The trails are accessible to all walkers (except in snowy conditions) and follow ancient paths through breathtaking scenery and fascinating villages. There are more than 300 accommodation options on the trails, and you can’t go more than a day without finding at least one of them.