While it is easy to be impressed by the challenging treks available in the Himalayas, such as the Everest Base Camp trek and the Annapurna Circuit, the world is home to thousands of less arduous treks that offer equally stunning scenery and less demanding conditions.
Popular favorites include Peru’s Inca Trail, which leads trekkers to the mystical ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu, and the climb to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro. For fewer crowds, head to South Africa’s quieter Drakensberg Mountains.
The UK and Italy offer more sedate trekking scenes, with slow-paced rambling possible in England’s scenic Pennines and along the Grand Italian Trail, which stretches the length of Italy. All of the treks listed below offer en route accommodation for the convenience of trekkers.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal The hugely popular Mount Everest Base Camp trek draws thousands of climbers each year. There are a number of treks possible in the Khumbu region that will take you to the camp, with no technical climbing knowledge required. Treks normally take 8 to 10 days, including rest stops along the way to acclimatize. The base camp itself sits at 5,400m and on the way breathtaking views of Everest’s peak across the Khumbu icefall can be had from Kala Pattar, an easily climbable ridge on the way to the Base Camp.
Annapurna Circuit, Nepal This trek takes you between some of the world’s highest mountains, the Annapurna group and Dhaulagiri, and reaches elevations of 5,400m-plus. Considered one of the world’s best treks, the Annapurna Circuit is best tackled in the spring (April to May) or autumn (October to November), and there are plenty of comfortable tea houses and lodgings en route.
Inca Trail, Peru Peru’s best-known trek takes trekkers through sub-tropical jungle and high into the mountains, ending at the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. The wildlife and scenery en route is outstanding, as is the mystical ‘lost city’ of Macchu Picchu itself, making this one of the world’s favorite treks.
Grand Canyon - Arizona, US Trekking through the Grand Canyon, one of the globe’s most outstanding geographical formations, is an unforgettable experience. The expansive gorge was carved over millions of years by the mighty Colorado river.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania The highest peak in Africa draws experienced and inexperienced trekkers alike with its 4,600m high summit which requires no technical knowledge to ascend. There is a choice of routes to the top, with most trekkers taking about a week to complete a round trip from the base to the summit and back again.
Drakensberg mountains, South Africa The highest mountain range in South Africa, the Drakensberg, offers a number of treks that take in ancient rock paintings, awe-inspiring scenery and picturesque countryside. Treks here can last from one to seven days - depending on the route you take - and require no technical knowledge.
Great Walks, New Zealand The challenging trails that make up New Zealand’s Great Walks take trekkers through amazing scenery and past dramatic waterfalls, sandy beaches and roaring rapids. Trekkers can make use of well-equipped backcountry huts and campsites en route, with treks here typically spanning five days or more.
Yosemite and the High Sierra - California, US This Californian nature site is hugely popular among trekkers for its pretty Nevada Falls, imposing El Capitan peak and flat-faced Half Dome. Best tackled independently by experienced trekkers only, the area can also be explored on organized treks in a group.
Grand Italian Trail, Italy This 3,700 mile-plus hike covers the length of Italy, starting in Trieste and crossing the Alpine Arc and the Apennine mountain range before taking hikers to Sicily and Sardinia. The lengthy trail is made up of smaller trails, such as the Ligurian Mountain Trail, the Grand Alpine Trail and the Tuscan Grand Apennine Trail, with trekkers free to choose which sections they want to walk.
Pennines, England This small mountain range in England’s Peak District in Derbyshire is a magnet for ramblers. With the range spanning from the Scottish border, through the Yorkshire Dales and on to the picturesque Peak District, there are plenty of scenic stretches to choose from. The northern part of the range has been nominated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.