5 Places in the World that are considered as Heaven for Hikers
Hikers often make a list of the most amazing places on the planet that they dream of visiting. Take a look at the top 5 hiking tours around the world and book your pass.
The Torres del Paine Circuit, Chile
Topping the list of the best hiking tours in the world is Torres del Paine National Park. With its characteristic walls of sawtooth pink granite reaching up to 10,000 feet (3,048 m), glaciers and lakes of clear, pure blue, it forces you to stop often throughout its 84 km of loops to take a picture or catch your breath. Complete the full trail in 10 days, take 5 days to hike the “W” circuit, or enter the park for day trips to highlights.
Altitude sickness won’t be a problem since the highest point in this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is 1219m (4000ft). But you’ll be close enough to the glaciers and you can even camp by a lake where the ice crashes into the water. You will see a lot of wild animals there, mostly birds, guanacos (a kind of llama), rheas (a kind of ostrich) and if you’re lucky, pumas. This is Patagonia at its best.
When to go: If you like to cover a lot of ground in a day, the best time is between December and January, when the sun doesn’t set until 10 pm. During this period and until March, it is the hottest season with little rain.
Difficulties: The course covers all technical levels. Some trails can be strenuous, but not particularly intimidating.
Note: You can sleep in a local inn near the entrance to the park or simply pitch your tent. A great way to go too, if you have money, is to stay in one of the adventure pensions, like La Remota, with top-of-the-range treatments and experienced guides every day.
2. The Appalachian Trail, United States
Bill Bryson euphemistically called his book on this impressive journey “a walk in the woods”. It’s hard to imagine that you are in the Eastern United States when you travel through this almost entirely wild region for 3,500 km. There are access points all along the Appalachian Trail, making it perfect for overnight or overnight hikes.
Following the mountain range, a walker can feel very far from civilization, leaving the deep forest only on rare occasions along the trail, from Georgia in the south to the north in Maine. The ultimate challenge is to cover the entire route during the summer season.
When to go: The best times are spring and fall. If you are attempting the all-around hike (over 9,000 people have done so), consider starting in the north so you have a little warmer weather towards the end of the trail, about 6 months after you start!
Difficulties: Some sections are flat and easy, others are of the uphill and downhill type that stimulates your heart rate. Other sections of the course require you to use your hands. Check guides and websites to make sure you know where the right segments are located for you.
Note: Some sections of the track can be quite “overcrowded”. Other sections can be muddy during rainy periods, or simply infested with mosquitoes. Find out about the portion of the trail you are targeting from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Rising to 5,895 meters, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak and number 1 on the list of hikers visiting the continent. A tour of at least 5 days will take you to the roof of Africa for the best viewpoint of Tanzania. The hike begins in the rainforest, continues into the plateau region, and then gets tough as it gains severely elevation on the last leg, through snow and glaciers at the summit.
When to go: Avoid going from March to May, as it is the rainy season. Otherwise, expect cool temperatures on the slopes all year round, but warm days at the start and finish. There are more weekend hikers arriving on Saturdays for a Sunday climb.
Difficulties: it is an arduous hike that involves certain risks due to bad weather and wildlife, but also due to acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness).
4. The Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
This 206 km, the horseshoe-shaped circuit takes in all that the Annapurna region has to offer. Rice terraces, jungle, pine forests, deep canyons, torrents, and, of course, the glorious snow-capped peaks that form, throughout your journey, an ever-changing backdrop. Add to it the typical people you meet along the way, the teahouses-inns, the yak cheese, the yak butter candles at nightfall. It’s a whole world unto itself in a setting that you will remember the rest of your life.
When to Go: October is the best month for warm temperatures and clear blue skies.
Difficulties: The climb is gradual and the track is good, but it takes about 3 weeks to complete the circuit and the highest points are over 5,000 meters.
Note: You must obtain a hiking permit which can be easily purchased in Kathmandu. Accommodation and food are facilitated thanks to the tea houses that can be found all along the track.
The Inca Trail, Peru
Another of the most popular hiking trails in the world: the site of Machu Picchu, perched high in the Andes, is a mythical place that is worth discovering. Is there a better way to do this than by trekking through the mountains? Disappear into cloud forests, cross valleys and ridges, and stop at archaeological sites along the way.
Plan the time of the last stretch in order to arrive in Machu Picchu for sunrise. And the trip does not end there: you still have to climb the Huayna Picchu, the green peak in the center of this typical photo of part of the ruins. At the very bottom, you will hear the Urubamba River winding around the base of the mountain.
When to go: It is better to go from April to October to avoid the rainy season. The track is closed in February.
Difficulties: More than a walk in the park, but less than an alpine climb. If you are in average shape this 4-day hike will be perfect. Wear good shoes, as it can be stressful on the ankles on a few occasions.
Note: You should spend some time in Cusco to get used to the altitude and thus avoid altitude sickness on the trail since the trail climbs beyond 4000 meters. Secure the services of an approved guide.
There is an entrance fee for the trail and for the Machu Picchu site. These costs should be included in the package of the hike, as should your return train ticket to Cusco. Obtain the trail pass well in advance as the number of hikers per day is limited.
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