Multi-day treks can be gruelling on the body and some of the big summits will push your mental threshold further than ever before. But with the right training, preparation and help from guides, there’s nothing stopping you from reaching the finish.
When it comes to discovering the greatest mountains in the world, height isn’t everything. There are lots of different difficulty factors to consider, and some of the tallest peaks are relatively easy to complete. In fact, there are some incredible climbs that almost anyone can do as long as they’re fit and healthy and have a training plan in place.
Additionally, you’ll find some great circulars and long-distance linear treks that are just as challenging and exhilarating. No matter your hiking level or altitude experience, there’s a journey to suit you. Here are 18 of the best treks in the world to test your strength, determination and endurance.
1. Kanchenjunga Trek in Nepal
Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world, with an elevation of 28,169 feet (8,586 metres). It is situated in the eastern Himalayas and is one of the greatest trails of the mountain range.
Our Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is a 26-day trip, with 21 days of actual trekking. There’s a gradual climb, giving great acclimatisation. However, the route itself is long and strenuous. It’s vital that climbers are physically fit and train with a backpack to prepare their bodies for the heavy load of carrying a backpack for three whole weeks.
2. Manaslu Circuit Trek in Nepal
Quiet, wild and remote, the Manaslu Circuit is a great choice for climbers who don’t want an area with lots of traffic. Its beauty is unrivalled and in fact, many people compare this circuit to the Annapurna before it got crowded. Due to its location in a region that was closed to the public until 1993, it is lesser-known than other great climbs in Nepal.
Our guided Manaslu Circuit Trek is 21 days in total, with 17 days of trekking, and 13 of those days on the ascent.
3. K2 Base Camp Trek to Concordia in Pakistan (Karakoram)
This is considered by many to be one of the greatest treks in the world, with breathtaking scenery that is incomparable with any other high mountain. The Karakoram Mountains span the borders of Pakistan, China and India, and its northwest part of the range spans to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
The route follows a path decorated with rugged mountain scenery all the way from Askole, the last village in the Braldu gorge, to Concordia. While this is a high altitude walk that requires a good level of fitness, it is not a technical climb and can be achieved with some training.
4. GR20 across Corsica in France
The notorious GR20 is said to be the toughest long-distance trek in Europe. At the same time, it’s also one of the most beautiful, making every minute worth the hard work. This two-week-long hike journeys you along the backbone of Corsica, a sunny mountainous island in France. Most commonly completed from north to south, the route is a serious challenge even for the most seasoned of long-distance hikers. The terrain is rocky and there are some steep inclines to face. Under the heat of the summer sun, this can feel like a mission.
5. Routeburn Track in New Zealand
Located inside the jaw-dropping Fiordland National Park on the South Island of New Zealand, the Routeburn Track is a favourite for many. Expect to see soaring mountains and huge valleys, as well as beautiful waterfalls and large glistening lakes. The full route links Fiordland National Park with Mount Aspiring National Park and is around 32km in distance.
Most walkers take between 2-4 days to complete, usually staying over at Lake Mackenzie and the pre-booked huts at Routeburn Falls. This route is best tackled from November to April, as facilities are greatly reduced from May to October. Walking the track outside of the main seasons should only be done by experienced hikers too as the weather conditions can be challenging and sometimes dangerous.
6. Altai Trek in Russia/Mongolia
Take in the views of the remote Altai Mountains of Russia and Mongolia, a range that promises untouched valleys, hidden lakes and a rare glimpse at sadly shrinking glaciers. Parts of the range are included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, presenting the most complete sequence of altitudinal vegetation in central Siberia.
From the Russian side, the area, in general, is a popular holiday destination for nationals, but is rarely ever visited by international visitors. Our Altai Mountain Trek begins in the Russian town of Gorno Altaysk, passing through Kucherla, the last populated area on the way to the mountains.
Plan your trek in July or August to witness the alpine meadows in bloom, or travel in September for the deer mating season.
7. The Narrows at Zion National Park in the USA
The Narrows is aptly named being the narrowest part of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park. This Utah based trekking route is a popular trail that takes you along the Colorado Plateau. A quintessential slot canyon hike completed by people of all ages – including kids – it’s an easy win to tick off your list. In saying this, good fitness levels are still required.
Although just 16 miles long, the hike is demanding physically for children. You’ll we wading through water that’s waist deep and there may be some light scrambling.
8. The Haute Route in French Alps
A strenuous summer hike with outstanding scenery, traversing through the Swiss and French Alps. The route can actually be done on foot or via ski touring from Chamonix (France) and Zermatt (Switzerland). This is one of the best hut to hut hiking trails the Alps has to offer, and it makes it to the top of many people’s bucket lists.
There are 13 route variations to choose from. But no matter which one you take, there will be eleven mountain passes, with somewhere between 21,000m (69,000ft) and 28,000m (93,000ft) of total elevation.
9. Santa Cruz Trek, Cordillera Blanca, Peru
Northern Peru’s Cordillera Blanca is a famous destination for mountaineering and the Santa Cruz Trek is the most popular route. Sublime mountain vistas are the biggest draw with the mighty Huascarán in the background, and the difficulty level is still manageable even for those who aren’t that experienced.
Hikers get to dip their toes into high altitude climbing without having to push themselves to the limit. Trips are generally very easy to organise too, with easy accessibility from Huaraz.
10. West Highland Way in Scotland
Scotland’s long WHW stretch is one of the best self-guided walks, suitable for people of all levels. It will take between 5-8 days to complete for most with some great stops along the way, but there are some serious athletes who challenge themselves to run the entire distance (and in less than 24 hours). The entire 95-mile route goes from the southern edges of the Highlands to the heart of the Ben Nevis mountain range.
One of the biggest attractions of this route is the shores of Loch Lomond, as well as the beautiful Rannoch Moor.
11. Shackleton’s Route in South Georgia
Irish Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton, is one of the most legendary mountaineers, and he is a key figure in the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and Shackleton’s Route retraces his steps through the remote and inhospitable South Sandwich Islands.
The crossing on South Georgia varies from 35-50 kilometres depending on the chosen route, and you’ll be crossing large, crevassed glaciers and tough alpine passes. The route is epic, but ice and snow experience is a must. In good weather, this can be done in two days but always allow for three days in case of poor weather conditions.
12. Baffin Island Crossing, Nunavut, northern Canada
Crossing Baffin Island offers spellbinding views and diverse landscapes ranging from sand to ice. While there’s not too much elevation, the weather conditions can be extreme and very cold. You’ll be up against Arctic temperatures, even during spring and summer. The warmest month is July, but hiking during this time is not recommended due to the danger of the breaking ice.
Hikers will also need to train with heavy loads to prepare their bodies for what they’ll be carrying. Baffin Island is the largest island in Canada, stretching 1,500 km long and up to 700 km wide.
13. Copper Canyon in Mexico
Formed by a series of canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains, Copper Canyon is a popular hiking paradise. There are a number of hiking options ranging from 2-3 days to 7-8 days, as well as some routes in between. Information about these routes aren’t always widely publicised but you can find the maps you need when you get to Creel.
It’s essential to keep an eye on the weather here as the rainy season can make river levels rise, causing great difficulty for hikers.
14. The Snowman Trek in Bhutan
Bhutan’s glorious Snowman Trek is an extension of the Laya Gasa trail, taking hikers from Laya to the high altitudes of the Himalayas. Best suited for advanced mountaineers, this route promises to be tough yet rewarding. Journeying into the Lunana region, Gangkhar Puensum and Bumthang means getting the best views, and you may even get a sighting of snow leopards while you’re here.
This is undertaken only by a handful of climbers each year, and ice and snow trekking experience is vital.
15. Tour du Mont Blanc in France
One of Europe’s most famous treks, Tour du Mont Blanc offers spectacular views away from the crowds. This trail is the perfect step up for keen hikers looking for a bigger challenge, and there are some great mountain huts to stay in along the way.
Our Tour du Mont Blanc Trek is an 11-day trip, covering areas like Chamonix, Tre-le-Champs, Col de Forclaz, Champex, Col de Bonhomme, and Cotnamine Valley. The trekking itself will take 9 days in a clockwise direction and with 10-12kg backpacks. So practising hill walks with a heavy load is essential.
16. Laugavegur Trek in Iceland
Iceland’s Laugavegur Trek starts in Landmannalaugar, an area famed for its geothermal hot springs and unique rhyolite mountains. From here, you will journey deeper into the highlands where you will get to feast your eyes on glaciers and glacial rivers, black sands, waterfalls and geysers, as well as volcanoes.
Typically, this is a 4-day trekking adventure and can be done by all ages. There’s a minimum age of 8 years in camps and 14 years in huts. This is a moderate yet challenging trek for families.
17. Toubkal Circuit in Morocco
Our 14 day Toubkal Circuit Trek takes in some of the most remote and rugged landscapes of Toubkal National Park and Africa’s highest peak. The two-week journey will take you on an ascent of the narrow summit crest of Jebel Toubkal, but with an extended itinerary so trekkers can really enjoy and experience the region and its unique culture.
The gateway to the mountains is the colourful, vibrant and beautiful Marrakech. This incredible city is a fantastic base for exploration, and we recommend spending a few nights there once you complete the course.
18. Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal
A taste of Everest but with a much higher success rate, the Everest Base Camp Trek is one that attracts climbers at all levels. There’s something extremely seductive about approaching the world’s tallest mountain, and with around 90% of climbers being successful at Base Camp, it’s easy to see why this journey is so popular.
Our Base Camp trip is 17 days in total in groups of 15 or less, and will give you a flavour of the greatest peak on our planet as well as first-hand insight into Tibetan culture and Buddhism. Experience awe-inspiring views of the mountain and achieve this very feasible goal, suitable for most fit hill walkers.
To find out about our guided treks, get in touch with our team.