10. Fitz Roy Trek, Patagonia, Argentina
Monte Fitz Roy (also known as Cerro Chaltén, Cerro Fitz Roy, or simply Mount Fitz Roy) is a mountain in Patagonia, on the border between Argentina and Chile. It is located in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, near El Chaltén village and Viedma lake. It was first climbed in 1952 by French alpinists Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone.
The first Europeans recorded as seeing Mount Fitz Roy were the Spanish explorer Antonio de Viedma and his companions, who in 1783 reached the shores of Viedma lake.
Argentine explorer Francisco Moreno saw the mountain on 2 March 1877. He named it Fitz Roy in honour of Robert FitzRoy who, as captain of HMS Beagle, had travelled up the Santa Cruz River in 1834 and charted large parts of the Patagonian coast.
Cerro is a Spanish word meaning hill, while Chaltén comes from a Tehuelche (Aonikenk) word meaning “smoking mountain”, due to a cloud that usually forms around the mountain’s peak. Fitz Roy, however, was only one of a number of peaks the Tehuelche called Chaltén.
9. The Haute Route, France-Switzerland
The Haute Route, (or the High Route or Mountaineers’ Route) is the name given to a route (with several variations) undertaken on foot or by ski touring between Chamonix in France and Zermatt in Switzerland.
First charted as a summer mountaineering route by members of the English Alpine Club in the mid-19th century, the route takes around 12+ days walking (or 7+ days skiing) for the 180 km from the Chamonix valley, home of Mont Blanc, to Zermatt, home of the Matterhorn. In the spring, summer and fall, this route is safe, entirely non-technical (requires no ropes, crampons, or protection devices, unlike the actual Haute Route) and while challenging because of its daily elevation gains and distances, is achievable by any hiker in reasonably good physical condition.
The original Haute Route has large portions of glacier travel, for which suitable mountaineering gear and experience is necessary. In the winter, ski touring gear is required, and depending upon the weather and route chosen, may require crampons, ropes and avalanche protection gear.
8. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
This circuit is considered one of the best treks in the world though road construction is threatening its reputation and its future as a classic trek. Yet no one disputes that the scenery is outstanding: 17 to 21 days long, this trek takes you through distinct regional scenery of rivers, flora, fauna and above all – mountains.
There are four regions that are passed through on the trek; Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi. Lamjung and Myagdi of the lower elevations are both predominantly Hindu and with lush green subtropical valleys with villages and terraced farming.
The trek goes counter-clockwise from Besisahar to Nayapul and reaches its summit in Thorung La (pass) at the height of 5416m, or 17,769 feet. The route goes past the following mountains: Manaslu (an 8,000-plus meter peak), Langtang Himal, Annapurna II and IV, Annapurna III and Gangapurna, and, of course, Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri — passing through the world’s deepest gorge in between those two 8,000-plus meter peaks. Poon Hill, at the end of the trek, affords views of those two mountains, as well as South Annapurna and Macchupucchre, the “Fishtail Mountain.”
From Dharapani to Kagbeni you will be walking the Annapurna section of The Great Himalaya Trail, a long distance trekking route that connects Nepal from East to West.
7. The Narrows (Zion National Park), USA
The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park, Utah. Situated on the North Fork of the Virgin River and upstream of the main canyon, The Narrows is one of the premier hikes in the park and on the Colorado Plateau. The Narrows refers to both the 3.6 miles (5.8 km) bottom-up hike from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Springs, as well as the 16 miles (26 km) top-down hike from Chamberlain’s Ranch back to the Temple of Sinawava.
The through-hike can be done in a day or as a two-day backpack trip. Chamberlain’s Ranch is accessed by the dirt North Fork Road east of the Park, and is situated in a rolling forest of aspen and scrub oak. No sign of the gorge ahead can be seen from the ranch. The hiker proceeds down the river and into an ever-deepening gorge, eventually getting to The Narrows and ending at the Temple of Sinawava. The hike is 16 miles (26 km) long and is very tiring because it is in the river itself. Permits are required before hiking the Narrows from the top and can be obtained at the Zion National Park Wilderness Desk. Reservations should be made ahead of time as permits can be difficult to get during the summer months.
6. Grand Randonee 20 (GR20), France
The GR 20 (Grand Randonee 20) is a GR footpath that crosses the Mediterranean island of Corsica running approximately north-south, described by the outdoor writer Paddy Dillon as “one of the top trails in the world”.
The whole trail is about 180 km long with 12,000m of elevation gain, clearly waymarked throughout, the walk for most for most of the 10,000-20,000 hikers per year takes around 15 days. The trail is considered to be the most difficult of all the GR routes and consists of two parts: the northern part, between Calenzana and Vizzavona and the southern part, between Vizzavona and Conca.
Along the trail there are mountain huts described as “refuges” or gîtes. The standard and price of accommodations and food varies from refuge to refuge. One can sleep in a tent near the refuge, but it is not permitted to pitch tents along the trail.
The GR 20 is an advanced trail. Other less difficult but beautiful trails on the island include the Mare e monti (from sea to mountain) and the Mare a mare (from sea to sea) trails.
5. Overland Track, Australia
The Overland Track is an Australian bushwalking track, traversing Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It’s walked by more than nine thousand people each year, with numbers limited in the warmer months. Officially the track runs for 65 kilometres (40 mi) from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair however many choose to extend it by walking along Lake St Clair for an extra day, bringing it to 82 kilometres (51 mi). It winds through terrain ranging from glacial mountains, temperate rainforest, wild rivers and alpine plains.
There are several well known side tracks, including walks to the summits of Cradle Mountain and Mount Ossa, the tallest mountain in Tasmania and a group of tarns called The Labyrinth. Known for its pristine environment and beauty, the Overland Track is listed by Lonely Planet as one of the best treks in the world.
The walk can be done independently, with six main public huts maintained by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife and five private huts for commercial groups only. Bushwalkers usually complete the track in five or six days, usually from north to south. The record time is seven hours and 25 minutes, achieved by Andy Kromar during the Cradle Mountain Run.
4. Routeburn Track, New Zealand
The Routeburn track is a tramping (hiking) track situated in the Fiordland and Mt Aspiring national parks, in the South Island of New Zealand. Its origins are in historical maori walking tracks used to walk between locales.
The Routeburn track is 32km long. Entry to the track is at approximately 200m altitude, and the highest point is approximately 1255m at the Harris Saddle.
The track may be walked in either direction: either from The Divide to Routeburn Shelter, or vice-versa. The ends of the track are some 350km from each other due to the very large mountain range the track traverses.
The track features ranger-occupied accomodation during peak summer months. These must be booked in advance through the Department of Conservation.
3. Chadar Trek, India
The Chadar Trek or the Zanskar Gorge is a winter trail in the Zanskar region of Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Traditionally the only means of travel in the area during the harsh winter months, the trail has become popular with international adventure tourists.
Its walls are near vertical cliffs up to 600 m high and the Zanskar River (a tributary of the Indus) is only 5 metres (16 ft) in places. The overall distance is approximately 105 kilometres (65 mi) – an average trekker walks 16 kilometres (10 mi) per day.
The best time to do the Chadar trek is January to February, when the temperature during the winters drops sometimes to -30 to -35 degrees.
Chadar trek starts from Chilling however with time the organisers tend to drive ahead to about 1 km away from the first camp at Tilad Sumdo (10,390 ft ). Over the next days the trek moves to higher camps till Nerak (11,150 ft) .This is the return point of the famous trek. There are other variations of the trek which go till Lingshed while a bigger version will take you to Padum over almost 14 days.
2. Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Peru
The Inca trail is one of the most popular treks in Peru and South America. It starts from Chillca and follows a route to Machu Picchu, The Lost City of the Incas.
Many countries have mountain ranges with beautiful scenery and Peru itself is richly blessed in this respect with many other areas for hiking. However the scenery is only one of the elements responsible for the magic of the Inca Trail. Can there be any walk anywhere in the world with such a combination of natural beauty, history and sheer mystery and with such an awe-inspiring destination? The various ruins along the way serve to heighten the hiker’s sense of anticipation as he or she approaches what would surely find a place in any new list of archaeological wonders of the world – Machu Picchu.
Walking the Inca trail can be very rewarding and is possible for all ages as long as you are fit. Over the course of the Trail, you gain and lose 1000 meters several times, all of which is over 3000 meters where oxygen is noticeably thinner. Acclimation to the altitude is a must, with generally a minimum of 2 days advised before starting the hike, and good physical condition advised. The journey winds through the valleys and hills of the surrounding area, taking you through the scenic landscape, from high alpine to cloud forests.
The Inca Trail is part of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, a protected area of 32,592 hectares, managed by the National Institute of Natural Resources, INRENA. Every visitor must obey park regulations that prohibit littering, cutting or damaging trees, removing or damaging stones of ruins and the Trail, removing plants, killing animals, lighting open fires or camping in the archeological sites (only authorized campsites can be used).
1. Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal
Famous for its spectacular mountain peaks and the loyalty and friendliness of its inhabitants (the Sherpas), the Everest region (Khumbu) is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Nepal. While many of the routes through the mountains are arduous, there are ample places to rest and enjoy a meal along the way. Furthermore, don’t worry about getting lost. Just ask a local the way to the next village on your route, and they will direct you. Most Sherpas under the age of fifty can at least understand basic English, and many speak it fluently.
While trekking is possible in this area the whole year round, the best times to visit are from the beginning of March to mid May and from the beginning of September to mid November. The winters are very cold and snow may make it difficult to travel higher than Tengboche, and also lodges may be closed above this altitude. Summers, on the other hand, are wet, and the spectacular peaks are often lost in the clouds. April and early May is a good time to see the hedgerows and trees bursting into bloom, with Rhododendrons, in particular, adding a spectacular splash of colour to the landscape. The views are much better after the summer monsoons have cleared the atmosphere of dust, but the days are shorter and cooler.
Fly to Lukla Airport from Kathmandu. There are several Airlines operating dozens of flights everyday. Among them Tara Air (aka Yeti) is generally considered the most reliable company flying the route. Sita Air also operates two flights every morning from Kathmandu Domestic Airport to Lukla at 7AM and 8:20AM. The flight takes around 25 minutes. During the summer rainy season, there may be substantial delays of flights, even a wait of one week is not unheard of. For the return journey, the flights leave Lukla at 7:40AM and 9AM. Helicopter Charter service is also available on demand and mostly used for rescue operation.
Alternatives are to fly to Phaplu airport, 2-3 trekking days south of Lukla, or to walk in from Jiri. These alternatives take more time and therefore are less popular, but are very peaceful and pleasant – and much safer than flying into Lukla.
Tourists can reach Tibet Everest Base Camp by flying to Lhasa. Afterwards rent a private car from Lhasa to Tingri(520km) along Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway, before turning south to Himalaya Natural Reserve about 100km to Everest Base Camp.
Travelling from Lhasa to Tingri, the land travel itself is an amazing journey, with going through three famous tourist cities Gyantse, Shigatse, Sakya and some stunning scenic spots like Yamdrotso Lake, Karola Glacier.
There are many flights from Mainland China to Lhasa, Tibet. Chengdu is the biggest air hub to Tibet, about 10 flights a day from the early morning to the evening.