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The Traveller's Magazine
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You’d have to be a serious walker to take on a trek for your summer holiday but if lazing around for a week doesn’t interest you and climbing a mountain, traversing crests, testing your fitness and seeing the world from above does, then take maybe a different kind of holiday is in order this year.

Trekking is more rigorous than walking but not as demanding as rock climbing. It’s the best of both worlds actually. Active holidays are becoming more and more popular and with tons of great mountains and landscapes in Europe, you don’t have to travel far to find yourself at the top of the world. If you want to go global, here are the best 5 treks around the world. Are you up for the challenge?

Inca Trail – Peru

Inca Trail

This ancient trail which runs for 33km from the Sacred Valley all the way up to Machu Picchu was first walked by the Incas. It twists and turns around rocks and boulders, winds itself around mountainsides and takes trekkers across three high mountain passes before reaching the site every travellers hopes to see at least once in their life. Along the way are stunning views of (if the season is right) snow-capped mountains and plenty of ruins to explore along the way. There’s no doubt about it, this is the most famous trail in all of South America.

Hiking time: between 2-6 days, average hikers need 3 days (from Huayllabamba to Machu Picchu).

Flights to Lima

The Haute Route – France/Switzerland

The Alps

For something closer to home, head to France this summer. The Haute Route goes from Chamonix (France) through the southern Valais and ends in Switzerland in Zermatt. This trail goes through some of the highest and most scenic parts of the Alps accessible on foot. This 180km undertaking needs preparation though, not for the casual walkers! Each pass gets tougher and tougher so if you’re in shape and are looking for a challenge, this is it.

Hiking time: around two weeks.

Flights to Geneva

Routeburn Track – New Zealand

Routeburn track

New Zealand’s South Island has a lot to boast about it and its sub-alpine scenery is one of them. The Routeburn Track requires a medium level of fitness to complete the 32km trail. The trail, which starts at the back of the Southern Alps goes through two national parks, Fiordland and Mount Aspiring. There are no views compared to those from Conical Hill and Harris Saddle. The main difficulty here is making sure you have a place among the limited number of trekkers who are allowed on the trail at the same time.

Hiking time: 3 days.

Flights to Christchurch

Pays Dogon – Mali

Pays Dogon

As one of Africa’s most spectacular regions, the land of the Dogon people is a great trek if you have kids. The trek can take either a couple days or it can be spread out over a week, depending on which path you take and how long you stop along the way. It traverses the Bandiagara escarpment which is dotted with abandoned cliff houses that are out of this world! The Dogon villages along the way are known for their stilt dancers, carved doors and stone houses that are built ride into the side of the escarpment, an excellent way to experience the uniqueness of Mali culture!

Hiking time: 2-10 days, depending how often/long you stop along the way.

Flights to Bamako

Everest Base Camp – Nepal

Everest base camp

Every serious climber dreams of ascending the tallest mountain in the world, which requires a lot of preparation, equipment and time. A great alternative, especially if you’re not “professional” is reaching Base Camp located at 5,545m at Kala Patter.The trek takes a few weeks and once complete you will have the honour of being able to say you made it to the base of the world’s tallest mountain. The trek is difficult but the scenery is worth it. Hire sherpas from the local village to carry your things and watch out for altitude sickness. The trail cuts across hills, peaks and valleys and training beforehand is extremely recommended.

Hiking time: 3 weeks.

Flights to Kathmandu

Getting ready to trek

While all of these trails require different levels of fitness, if you plan to undertake any trek at all, you should begin training at least 6-8 weeks in advance. Get comfortably walking everyday. In most cases you’ll be on your feet between 4-8 hours a day, carrying a backpack. At home, you should also train carrying a backpack that weighs around 5-7kg. Stairs and hills? Even better!

Have you ever taken a trekking holiday? What advice would you give to novice trekkers?

Imgs: j0055, Ianz, Daroczy Laszlo, katclay, Martijn.Munneke, huwowenthomas / Flickr cc.

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