Hike your way around the world

If like me, you love a good adventure then this is probably for you. Hiking is a great way to thoroughly experience a place… you get a real feel for the people, culture and wildlife. When on foot you might bump into a local farmer who will show you the best coconuts, you’ll be able to smell the fresh coffee growing in the plantations or get spectacular views that just aren’t accessible any other way. Hiking isn’t just about marching up a mountain and exhausting your legs, it’s a way to immerse yourself in a place. Give it a try in 2018.

 

1. Torres del Paine ‘W’ circuit – Chile

Hike Your Way Around the World
This is a place to be amazed by skyrocketting mountains, emerald glacial lakes and enchanting forests. This hike takes you through all of this in the Torres del Paine National Park. There are stunning views all around, the perfect way to explore Patagonia.

Distance: 37-50 miles
Duration: 4-6 days
Best time: October to April

 

2. Inca Trail – Peru

Hike the Inca Trail
One of the most well-known hikes in the world. You trek through jungle, mountains and Inca ruins before ending at Machu Picchu for sunrise. If you want a more rustic, less trodden experience hike the Salkantay trail instead. Its slightly tougher but well worth it.

Distance: 26 miles
Duration: 4 days
Best time: May to September but anytime is good

 

3. Nebaj to Todos Santos – Guatemala

Nebaj to Todos Santos hike
See the best of what Guatemala has to offer. This trek takes you through remote, rural villages steeped in Mayan culture, finishing at the highest non-volcanic point in Southern America, La Torre.

Distance: 40 miles
Duration: 6 days
Best time: year round

 

4. Angels Landing – USA

hike Angels Landing
This is a relatively short one but world-renowned. The end takes you along a steep ridge with chains bolted in and a sheer drop either side. I can say from experience… this section isn’t for the faint-hearted and many people find themselves turning around here. If you push through you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Zion Canyon.

Distance: 5 miles
Duration: 4-5 hours
Best time: year round

 

5. Appalachian Trail – USA

Appalachian Trail hike
This is one of the longest continually marked footpaths in the world, so most people don’t complete it all in one go, but why not if you can… It takes you through 14 states, starting in Maine and finishing in Georgia.

Distance: 2,200 miles
Duration: 5-7 months
Best time: year round

 

6. Three Peaks Challenge – United Kingdom

Three Peaks Challenge
If you’re looking for a challenge this is definitely for you. Climb the three highest points in England, Scotland and Wales in just 24 hours. You scale Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon. You can join organised events which will help with accommodation and travel between the hikes.

Distance: 23 miles
Duration: 24 hours
Best time: April to September to avoid snow

 

7. Mont Blanc – France, Italy and Switzerland

Mont Blanc hike
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.” John Muir
This hike shows you the best of the Alps. You’ll cross into 3 different countries and endless mountain passes, alpine meadows and beautiful valleys. One not to be missed.

Distance: 105 miles
Duration: 10 days
Best time: July to mid-September

 

8. Blyde River Canyon – South Africa

Blyde River Canyon hike
Blyde River is one of the largest canyons in the world and certainly the greenest. You can walk, bike or even take a horse along the trail. Keep a lookout for the ‘Three Rondavels’ that rise out of the walls of the canyon, the highlight of the hike.

Distance: 37 miles
Duration: 5 days
Best time: good all year round

 

9. Mount Kilimanjaro – Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro hike
For any hiker, this one is not to be missed. There are 7 different routes up Kilimanjaro and multiple camps to rest at. The best way to do it is as part of a guided tour to reach the beautiful views at the highest point in Africa.

Distance: 35 miles
Duration: 7 days
Best time: January, February or September

 

10. Spice Trails of Kerala – India

hike the Spice Trails of Kerala
Hike through the beautiful hills, forests, beaches and tea and spice plantations of Southern India. One of the best ways to take in the culture of India, you’ll get a real flavour of the country. There are a variety of trails that vary in duration and distance. Be aware that you’ll need to do this as part of an organised hike.

 

11. Everest Base Camp – Nepal

Everest Base Camp climb
One of the most famous treks in the world takes you right into the heart of the Himalayas. Along the way you get the opportunity to meet the people that inhabit these slopes and learn about their culture. Let’s not forget getting face-to-face with the highest point on earth too.

Distance: 70 miles
Duration: 10-15 days
Best time: March-May, September-November

 

12. Great wall of China

Great wall of China hike
There are many different ways to hike the Great Wall of China. The newest section available for exploration takes you from Jiankou Great Wall to Xizhazi village. It’s a picturesque hike along forested mountain edges. Make sure you take a local guide.

Distance: 12 miles
Duration 1-3 days
Best time: avoid winter, December to February

 

13. Mount Kinabalu – Borneo

Mount Kinabalu hike
This is a great one for people of all ages and abilities. It’s a spectacular climb with changing scenery and you’ll reach the summit to watch the sun rise through the clouds.

Distance: 6 miles
Duration: 2 days
Best time: year round

 

14. Bay of fires – Tasmania

hike Bay of fires
This one is less climbing and more coast oriented. You’ll come across endless white beaches, turquoise water and famous red rocks coated in lichen. The Bay of Fires is a trip that you can only do with a guide but it is 100% worth it.

Distance: 16 miles
Duration: 4 days
Best time: October to May

 

So, where are you going to start?

Your gap year is about having new experiences, doing something you’d never thought of, seeing remote parts of the world, getting an understanding for different cultures, pushing yourself and finding out who you are. There’s no better way to do that than on foot. Dust off your walking shoes, grab that reusable water bottle, find your camera and head out into nature.

Alice Baker
Alice Baker
Alice joined The Leap team in 2017 to give expert gap year travel advice. She previously spent a couple of years living in Madagascar and ran The Leap project out there. Alice will be one of the people you get through to if you get in touch with us about our programs.
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