5 trails that should be on every hiker’s bucket list

6 September 2019

Every hiker knows that the best way to see certain places is to take the scenic route. No distractions, no schedules – just natural beauty all around. These five incredible walks take scenic routes to the next level, winding through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

Cotswolds Way, England

The Cotswolds way is a National Trail that stretches all the way from Chipping Campden in the Northern Cotswolds down to the city of Bath. It’s over 160 kilometres long, but is split into smaller sections for easy exploring – many choose to focus only on the northern part, for instance. The Cotswolds have been officially declared an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’ and they are one of England’s most spectacular places to visit. Walkers are treated to well-marked footpaths, rolling hills, lush pastures, and gorgeous honey-coloured stone buildings.

The attraction of the Cotswolds doesn’t just lie in the surrounding scenery, but the fairy-tale villages you’ll visit on the way. For those that like to take a leisurely place and enjoy the quaint towns, you can stop along the way at some quintessentially British pubs. There, you’ll find beer gardens, snoozing dogs, and traditional pub food; steak and ale pie, fish and chips, and warming roasts to name but a few.

 

Cotswolds Way:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Mar 28, 2019 at 7:34am PDT

 

Inca Trail, Peru

The Inca trail is one of the world’s most iconic hikes, beginning in the Sacred Valley and winding its way up and down mountains, culminating in breath-taking views of Machu Picchu. It’s dotted with Andean peaks, mountain passes and dense forest interspersed with ancient ruins. There’s plenty of cultural significance, with the trail being the pilgrimage route that the ancient Incas used to reach their citadel.

Due to the popularity of the route, the trail has now been limited to a maximum of 200 hikers per day, making it a far more peaceful experience for those who are lucky enough to get their hands on permits. It’s not particularly long, taking around four days, but it’s otherworldly. On the final day, hikers alone are treated to the magical experience of watching the sunrise at Sun Gate with Machu Picchu in the background.

 

Inca Trail:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Otter Trail, South Africa

You didn’t think we’d do this list without a South African contender, did you? The Otter Trail is probably SA’s most famous multiday hike and takes participants through some absolutely gorgeous parts of our country, stretching from the Tsitsikamma forest at Storms River Mouth to the end point in Nature’s Valley. Only 12 people are permitted to start the hike each day, and you often need to book a year in advance, which gives you an idea of exactly how popular the Otter Trail is. The benefit? You won’t run into anyone else and will have the scenery all to yourself.

The Otter Trail is only 42 kilometres long, but a reasonable degree of fitness is required to make the most of it as there are plenty of climbs and you’ll be carrying heavy backpacks for the duration. The trail never strays far from the shore, so you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of the craggy Wild Coast beaches, side streams for swimming, steep cliffs and canopied forests.

 

Otter Trail:

 

Fitz Roy Trek, Argentina

This 58km hike takes you through Los Glaciares National Park from El Chalten to Laguna Electrica. The Torres el Paine is a better-known trek through Patagonia, but the Fitz Roy hike is undoubtedly more beautiful and as a bonus, is also fairly flat and suitable for more Novice hikers. Los Glaciares National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of Argentina’s most treasured attractions.

During your hike you’ll wind your way through glaciers and frozen lakes, waterfalls, granite peaks, forests and open plains before laying eyes on Fitz Roy Massif, instantly recognisable as the outline on Patagonia clothing. The jagged peak is one of Argentina’s best-known landmarks, but there are also some striking rock formations and a huge variety of fauna and flora to keep you occupied until you reach Fitz Roy itself.

 

Fitz Roy:

 

Basho Wayfarer, Japan

This self-guided six day tour explores Japan’s northerly Tohoku region. Inspiration for the route was taken from acclaimed Japanese poet Matsuo Basho and his renowned travelogue ‘Narrow Road to the Deep North.’ This is a walk, a slice of history, and a cultural immersion all at once.

Following in the footsteps of Basho, the walk begins in Sendai and finishes in Yamadera. Along the way, walkers will stay in humble accommodation with local families, eat hearty and authentic cuisine and spend the evenings soaking in traditional Japanese hot springs or onsen. You’ll wander through deserted forests in rural villages, visit temple complexes and fortresses, and look out over Japan’s beautiful coastlines.

 

Basho Wayfarer:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

Often touted as New Zealand’s best one-day hike, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a trail of ever changing landscapes, including Mars-like terrains, semi-dormant volcanoes, lava flows, and emerald-tinted lakes.

The Tongariro National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the 19km hike will take you on a journey worlds away from the usual lush greenery of New Zealand’s north island. In winter, you’ll need special alpine hiking skills and a guide as the landscape is blanketed in snow and ice. In summer though, it’s anyone’s game.

 

Tongariro Alpine Crossing: