If you’re a keen walker or hiker, then you’ve probably got your own bucket list for trails to explore before you have to hang up your hiking boots and put down that walking pole. There’s a whole world out there, after all, and despite increasing development, much of it is still mercifully covered in footpaths. Many of the most famous routes can, of course, get busy, so you won’t always be ‘getting away from it all’, but you will be embracing adventure, challenging yourself, and setting off to see stunning parts of the world only accessible on foot.
As all experienced hikers will tell you, not only is the training important when it comes to embarking on a long hike, so is the clothing and equipment you take along with you. There is simply nothing worse than realizing your boots don’t fit properly, or that you haven’t worn them in well enough. In the same vein, it’s important to invest in the correct clothing, such as compression pants. Some great examples of compression pants are the Tommie Copper brand, which get consistently great reviews and ratings when it comes to comfort, support, and protection.
Asia has some incredible treks and trails to recommend it. The Annapurna Circuit is to trekkers what Everest is to mountaineers; the golden ticket, the one to do before you die. While the circuit is certainly busy and overrun these days with fellow hiking enthusiasts, the spectacular, rewarding nature of the circuit remains undiminished. First opened to foreign tourists in 1977, this ancient trade route is between 100 and 145 miles in length, and can take anywhere between 15 and 20 days to complete. An extra bonus when considering the Annapurna is that camping isn’t necessary; there are cheap, simple hotels available all along the route.
Elsewhere in the Himalayas, hikers can traverse the Snowman Trek in beautiful Bhutan. Getting to Bhutan is no mean feat; tourists pay a ‘happy tax’ for every day they stay in the country, and all treks and tours must be guided. But the consensus seems to be in on Bhutan; it is uniformly euphoric and rhapsodic. This trek takes roughly 24-days to complete, and has to be done in October due to weather conditions.
For a shorter, but no less arresting trek, head to Sri Lanka, the beautiful island just south of India. Adam’s Peak, at the heart of the country is best climbed at night when the route (which is remarkably difficult considering its short length with 5,500 steps), is peppered with lights and tea stalls in order to encourage you up the side of the mountain fast enough to witness a life enhancing sunrise at the top. The summit itself is the stuff of legend and is one of the most popular places of pilgrimage in the country; this is where you will find the Sri Pada, a small compression in the land that is said to be Buddha’s footprint.
Europe’s footpaths are myriad. Many are ancient and legendary pilgrimage routes, such as the Camino de Santiago, which starts in France, and ends at Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain. The route is busy, but beautiful and beguiling, and promises good wine, and hearty meals along the way, in these famously foodie countries.
If you’re hankering after the high life, however, you can’t really do much better than the ‘Haute Route’ in the Alps. With views of both the Matterhorn, and Mont Blanc, the route is a 111-mile-long trek from the Chamonix valley in France to Zermatt in Switzerland. For those who prefer a little heat with their hiking, head to the Cinque Terre National Park on the Italian Riviera. A route dotted with stunning cliff side fishing villages only accessible by boat or on foot, this is a relatively easy trek with a variety of routes.
Further east and you can enjoy a trek to the ancient town of Petra, carved out of the vivid red rock of Jordan’s desert landscape. Made famous by countless movies, not least of which is Indiana Jones, a trek such as this is the journey of a lifetime, as much about going back in time, and experiencing a completely different culture, as it is about the hike.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of places, and trails to explore, and you may notice some rather auspicious absences (such as Kilimanjaro), but all of the treks listed offer a challenge, a different view of the world, and a stunning experience.