From the Himalayas to the deserts of Jordan and the Amalfi Coast, London-based writer Millie Walton picks some of the world’s most spectacular walks.
1. Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal
It’s hard to describe the vast, breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas — it’s something that has to be experienced first-hand and although the idea of walking at such altitudes can be daunting, the paths that wind through these ancient mountains are of varying difficulties. The seven-day trek from Pokhara to Annapura Base Camp (ABC) begins in the foothills, where the undulating landscape is scattered with remote villages that become fewer and further between the further you progress into the mountains, giving way to purpose-built cabins that offer Nepalese thali and a comfortable place to sleep. Clinging to the craggy edge of mountainside, Chhomrong is one of last and most beautiful villages along the way. It’s worth planning to stopover for at least a night at the Chhomrong Cottage and tearoom, where, if you’re lucky, you might be able to bag one of two top-floors rooms which boast floor-to-ceiling windows and spectacular views of the snowy mountain peaks in the distance. Depending on your pace, it’s then a couple of day’s walk up to the base camp itself, which is best reached early in the morning. At 4,130 m, it’s a sparse landscape, made all the more strange and beautiful by the sun rising through low-hanging mist between the mountains.
2. Dana to Petra, Jordan
Sometimes known as the ‘Inca Trail of the Middle East’ this route runs from the wildlife-filled forests of Dana Nature Reserve to the astonishing ‘lost’ city of Petra, with vast stretches of desert in between where Bedouin-style camping adds to the dramatic atmosphere. A guide is a must as the route follows a range of old mule tracks rather than a set path, but it’s also a great way to learn about the landscape’s storied history.
3. Sentiero degli Dei, Italy
While there’s a certain pleasure to be had from climbing mountain peaks and traversing deserts, a different kind of enjoyment comes from meandering leisurely through picture-perfect bucolic scenes, which is exactly what Sentiero degli Dei — otherwise known as the Path of the Gods — provides. This leisurely eight-kilometre walk, stretching from Bomerano to Positano, encompasses some of the Amalfi Coast’s most beautiful scenery from undulating vineyards to heather-cloaked valleys with sweeping views over the azure waters of the Med. Better yet, when you reach Positano a plethora of picture-perfect coastal restaurants and luxurious hotels await including the legendary Il San Pietro di Positano carved into the rockface.
4. West Highland Way, Scotland
There are endless beautiful walks in the rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, and whilst there’s a certain joy to be found in wandering without a destination in mind, the West Highland Way route is a great option for travellers keen to experience the rich variety on offer. This six-day trail begins in Milngavie, just outside Glasgow, and meanders along old pathways and disused railways, across pastoral lowlands and around Loch Lomond to reach the wilderness of Rannoch Moor before delving into some Scotland’s great glens and finishing beneath Ben Nevis (1,344m), the highest mountain in the UK, the summit of which provides the ultimate finale.
5. Colca Canyon, Peru
While the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu is undoubtedly South America’s most famous trek, Colca Canyon — one of the world’s deepest canyons — is home to some of the country’s most captivating scenery and an array of wildlife including alpacas, vizcachas, pumas, and the majestic condor. There are also thermal waters to be found in lush, oasis-like gardens that provide a welcome break for weary limbs. Treks vary from two days to three days and can be done independently but it’s worth bearing in mind that the pathway becomes a little treacherous at times particularly on the final ascent back up to the tiny town of Cabanaconde.
6. The Pacific Northwest Trail, US
Thanks to its national trails system, the US boasts some epic routes that traverse vast stretches of American wilderness. The Pacific Northwest Trail runs 1,200 miles from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean and encompasses a rich variety of landscapes from the Rocky Mountains in Montana to the arid sagebrush country of the Okanogan, the coastlines around Puget Sound and sprawling nature reserves. It’s a long, challenging route that’s often unmarked but there’s something distinctly thrilling about the wild, remoteness of it all. One for the bucket list.
7. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica
With roughly a quarter of the country’s landmass protected, Costa Rica offers some of the best – and wildest – hiking in Central America. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve spans 4,000 hectares with six different ‘life zones’, each home to a slightly different ecosystem, and ten walking trails that each offer a slightly different perspective of the tropical landscape. Sendero Bosque Nuboso, the Cloud Forest Trail, is the most popular and one of the prettiest, winding through misty forest and past giant strangler figs while the Sky Walk takes walkers across all five of the reserve’s suspended bridges.
8. Kungsleden, Sweden
Kungsleden — the King’s Way — is a magnificent 280-mile footpath that crosses the Arctic Circle, runs through four national parks and the largest nature reserve in Europe. Lined with glacier-clad mountains, the route snakes its way through pine and birch forests and through Arctic tundra before finishing on the shores of Torneträsk lake. There are cabins along the way, although camping under the expansive, glittering night sky is an experience not to be missed.