From the wilderness of Peru to the jaw-dropping heights of California’s Mount Whitney, we put our best foot forward to discover the world’s most rewarding hikes. By Farida Zeynalova
1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa
Trekking to Africa’s highest peak has become wildly popular, and sits firmly on top of every avid hiker’s bucket list. ‘The Roof of Africa’ soars into northeastern Tanzania’s sky at 19,340ft above sea level — the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Before joining the 50,000 people flocking to Kilimanjaro to tackle the hike every year, research is recommended to find the best route for you, as there are seven established routes. Hakuna matata.
2. Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage, France and Spain
Once the haunt of Spanish pilgrims, Camino de Santiago sprawls across the Pyrenees and ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the burial place of St James the Great. The most popular route, ‘The French Way’, starts at the French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and traverses 500 miles through the mountains and peaceful Galician countryside, passing through the cities of Leon, Burgos, and Pamplona.
3. John Muir Trail, California, USA
Ending up at Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the contigious US, is reason enough to head to this trail through the Sierra Nevada mountain range. At 211 miles long, it’s not for beginners, but the sights make the huffing and puffing worthwhile. Stretching from Yosemite National Park, hikers can meander through mesmerizing alpine scenery of 14,000ft peaks and forested valleys, with the entire route taking between two and four weeks to complete. Primary hiking season is July to September.
4. The Inca Trail, Cusco, Peru
Following in the footsteps of the Incans is the holy grail for many hikers. The citadel of Machu Picchu was abandoned around 500 years ago, then ‘rediscovered’ around a century ago. It remains one of the most celebrated finishing points in the world, and at 8,000ft above sea level, it’s quite literally breathtaking. Along the 26-mile walk, visitors can admire the colonial villages of the Sacred Valley, as the Urubamba River courses below at the foot of the Andes. Sodden hikes aren’t fun, so visiting between April and October is best to avoid rainfall.