For the last decade we’ve explored amazing hikes and epic locations around the world. From the snowy plains of Antarctica to the rolling deserts of Iran, we’ve been lucky enough to experience some of the planet’s most phenomenal landscapes on foot.
Here’s our list of 8 of the best hiking trails from our travels.
1) The ‘O Circuit’ – Torres del Paine, Chile
Patagonia is a trekker’s Mecca, and Torres del Paine National Park is where thousands of adventurers flock to every summer.
The best way to see the park is on foot, and while the W Track is the most famous trail, the O Circuit is the pinnacle of hikes in Patagonia. Circling the park over eight days and 110km, the trail gets you alongside sparkling lakes, towering peaks and jagged glaciers in what may just be the most visually inspiring place in all of South America.
Only 80 people a day are allowed on the backside of the park, so make sure you book your campsites early. You can either stay in basic refugios (cabins), or do what we did and camp along the way. This will keep your budget down and give a real sense of accomplishment at the end.
2) Abel Tasman Coast Track – South Island, New Zealand
The Coast Track in Abel Tasman National Park is one of New Zealand’s remarkable Great Walks, which puts it amongst the best trail in the country. This 60km trail can be done in sections or completed as a 3–5 day adventure, with nights spent next to some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.
When you’re not hanging out in isolated coves and private beaches, the trail twists its way through lush forests and over rocky hills giving amazing views of the marine-rich waters around Abel Tasman National Park.
As it is one of the most popular hikes in New Zealand, make sure you book your campsites early on the DOC website.
3) ‘The Plank Walk’ – Mount Huashan, China
Mount Huashan is one of China’s holiest mountains, and every year thousands of people flock to the peak to climb to its tea houses on the summit.
But Mount Huashan is home to more than just tea houses. It is also the location of the infamous ‘Plank Walk’, or what is more commonly referred to as the ‘world’s most dangerous hike’.
A 30cm wide walkway made of planks of timber is bolted to the side of a cliff with a precarious 2000-foot vertical drop directly below it. Chains are installed at head height, so intrepid hikers can traverse along the planks while trying to hold on for dear life. In recent years harnesses have been given out to hikers and fatalities have dropped considerably. But with the breezy views literally right beneath your feet its still an exhilarating, if terrifying, trail.
4) Colca Canyon Trek – Arequipa, Peru
A few hours from the beautiful white city of Arequipa in southern Peru is the Colca Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world, and home to one of the country’s best treks.
Spread out over 2–3 days, this hike starts at 3300m above sea level and descends to the bottom of the canyon at 2100m. It’s a steep, dusty trail but the views make up for the challenge, with the canyon walls rising near-vertically on both sides of the gorge and condors flying majestically overhead.
The night is spent in a small oasis village at the bottom, with palm trees and natural spring pools contrasting beautifully against the red cliffs. The final day is a difficult slog back to the top in only 6km, so make sure you’re feeling fit and have acclimatised properly before tackling it.
5) Keskenkija Loop – Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan has developed a reputation for being a trekker’s paradise, with untouched valleys, pristine alpine lakes and 7000m+ mountains found throughout the country. Tourism here is so raw that new hiking trails are being created every year, and one of the best recent ones is the Keskenkija Loop in the small village of Jyrgalan.
We were lucky enough to be the people to mark this 3/4-day trek, exploring the isolated terrain with local horse guides and a bucket of paint to lead the way for future hikers. It’s a diverse and stunning trail, and you’re almost guaranteed to come across nomadic families tending to their livestock out in the wilderness. A great way to combine nature and culture in one trek.
6) Mutzagh Ata Trek – Western China
In China’s far west, near the border of Pakistan, is the 7546m tall mountain, Mutzagh Ata. It has been drawing mountaineers for decades who long to summit the peak, but if you don’t have the time for a full expedition you can instead trek up to the glacier and back over three days.
A sparkling lake sits at the base, and it is from here you begin your mission. You sleep in yurts or in shepherds’ huts along the way, often with the entire family and guests in the one open room, which is a unique experience in itself. The glacier is beautiful and well worth spending a few hours exploring before beginning the descent back to the lake.
7) Royal National Park Coastal Track – NSW, Australia
Australia’s most popular national park is home to one of the best seaside treks in the country, the Coastal Track.
This two-day jaunt follows New South Wales’ epic coastline, with huge cliffs, unique rock pools endemic species found along the entire way. If you hike this trail in the wintertime as well, you also have the chance at seeing migrating humpback whales just off the headlands.
This was one of the best hikes we tackled last year, and it is an excellent trail to do with friends, family or beginners.
8) Kalaw to Inle Lake – Myanmar
Inle Lake is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Myanmar, and the crowds can be overwhelming compared to the rest of the otherwise off-beat nation. If you want to escape the masses though, consider hiking the 3-day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake.
You’ll spend the night in traditional homestays in remote villages along the way and have the chance to dive right into fascinating Burmese culture as you go. It’s also a very cheap trek to go on, and you can sign up for a tour for less than $50, all-inclusive.
We're big fans of adventure travel and regularly hike and camp as we go. Grab some of our tips on how to travel with camping gear and start planning your next adventure.
Alesha and Jarryd are professional photographers, writers and the founders of Australia’s biggest adventure travel blog, NOMADasaurus. They’ve been exploring the world together since 2008, searching for culture and adventure in off the beaten path destinations.