There is no better feeling than putting your feet up at the end of a hard day’s walking and sharing food and drink with your fellow walkers. As the summer is rolling in Swide picked the top 5 treks in the world. Now go!
1. Appalachian Trail - Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine, USA.
This huge trail is over 3,500 km long and traverses 14 states. Not that you would ever walk the whole thing, but over 3 million people walk a portion of it every year. So if you want to experience ‘God’s Own Country’, and experience America’s wildlife in its most untouched state this one is for you. The trail is usually hiked from South to North (Georgia to Maine) rather tan the other way round.
Hikers usually begin in March or April and finish in late Summer or Autumn. The trail is typically a sub-alpine climate and is dotted with lakes and rivers, weather can change from extreme heati n the South to extreme cold in the North and on higher elevations, and everything in between. The trail does cross the habitat of the American brown bear, but sightings are rare.
2. Camino Frances - St. Jean Pied de Port, France, to Compostela, Spain
Originally a religious pilgrimage, the Camino di Santiago di Compostela (or Way of St. James) comprises a series of walks or ‘caminos’ starting in Northern France and converging on Compostella in Southern Spain. These days it attracts all kinds of people from all walks of life, young old, religious or non-religious, it is a mid-range trek and manageable for everyone. Although the trek is just a holiday for most, people who complete it often refer to the ‘spiritual element’ enjoyed.
Walking brings people together and creates bonds and when you stop for the night in the little hostels along the way, enjoy humble local food and wine and the pure pleasure of good company, as well as the comforts of a warm shower and a real bed. If your feet you aren’t up to walking i you can do it by bicycle. The Camino di Santiago di Compostella is highly recommended.
3. Mount Kilimanjaro - Tanzania
It is simply breath-taking to see the clouds break, revealing the snow-covered peaks of the majestic Kilimanjaro rising from the lush grasslands of Tanzania’s National Park. A dormant volcano, it is the highest freestanding equatorial mountain in the world. But what makes Kilimanjaro special is it’s accessibility for trekkers with little or no climbing experience.
Altitude is an issue and sickness can slow progress but an unusually high success rate of 97% means it is one of the most popular climbs/treks in the world. Although anyone can do it, it is a feat of physical endurance and it is recommended that you work on your fitness levels before attempting it. It takes 5 days to reach the summit and come back down.
4. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu - Peru
Follow the banks of the white water Urubamba river, before a steep ascent through cloud forest to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman Pass) and past the ruins of the Runkuracay and along ancient Inca paving stones that lead you through the Inca fortresses of Sayamarca and Winay Wayna. The trek climaxes at Intipunktu – the Sun Gate, at the site of Machu Picchu.
This is a 30 km four day trek that is at once inspiring in its beauty and unsettling in its mysterious atmosphere. The Peruvian government last year limited the numbers that can do this trail due to the damage caused by the visiting hordes, so book at least four months in advance.
5. Tiger Leaping Gorge - Yunnan, China
Tiger Leaping Gorge is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River, running into the Yangtze, in the Yunnan province of south-western China. Officially opened to foreign tourists since 1993, the trail had been attracting serious trekkers since the 80’s. It is possible to walk the full 22km of the entire gorge and it can be done on the high road or the low road.
Generally locals are very helpful and welcoming and consist mainly of the indigenous Naxi people. There are many hostels and lodges along the way, but don’t expect to stay in luxury, the shoddy nature of these dwellings means it is inadvisable to stay during the rainy season. But don’t let that put you off, the scenery is stunning and this walk offers you s rare glimpse into rural life in the oldest civilization in the world amidst some of the most beautiful views in China.
by Hugo Mc Cafferty