Our 5 Favourite Mountainous Treks

Lauren Curd

Mankind has always loved a challenge. Challenges breed creativity, intelligence and an understanding of our limitations. Naturally, we want to push past these limitations, better ourselves individually and as a race. For many, holidays spent climbing mountains are a test of strength, endurance and agility. We strive to climb higher, walk further and not just reach the summit but reach our own potential.  Here is our hand-picked list of the 5 best mountain trekking holidays from around the globe.

Mount Everest, Himalaya Range – Border of China and Nepal

Where better to start than the tallest mountain on earth. For those who are experienced enough, a good start for this achievement is the base camp at Kala Pattar. Reaching a height of 18,193ft you can experience the undulating valleys, spectacular scenery and the dizzying view of the peak while accompanied by Sherpas and fellow trekking junkies. Everest stands at 29,029ft and any attempt to reach the summit should be made with plenty of practise, acclimatisation and safety precautions which could include ropes, axes and contained oxygen. There are least 100 mountains with heights over 7200 metres (23,622ft) above sea level, all of which are located in southern and central Asia. Other notable mountains and excellent climbing opportunities are K2 in the Himalayas, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount McKinley in Alaska, Aconcagua in Argentina and Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn in the European Alps. 

everest panorama

Grand Canyon – Arizona, USA

277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a depth of 1,800 metres (6,000ft), there is far more than meets the eye in this natural wonder of the world. While not necessarily a mountain, it is nonetheless a very steep and wonderful climb both descending and back up again. The Colorado River cuts through layer after layer of rock and winds at the bottom of the canyon on its way to the Gulf of California. Thousands of years have shaped the landscape and a descent into the rim can be taxing but the rewards are well worth it. Numerous paths range from the gruelling Primitive Trails like Deer Creek and Lava Falls, to the frequently tread Corridor Trails, such as the Bright Angel or South Kaibab. There are secret caves, hidden tracks and routes that can’t be considered trails due to cross-country hiking or animal use. Walks and hiking trails exist within the Grand Canyon National Park but do not venture below the rim. Helicopter tours are very popular, as is the newest addition; the Grand Canyon skywalk, a transparent horseshow-shaped cantilevered bridge with an 800ft vertical drop. Nearby, The Narrows in Zion National Park are dramatic canyons carved by the Virgin River. This hike is the actual river so you get a completely different view as you wade, swim and gorge-walk through 16 miles of beautifully tranquil waters and rock formations.

Inca Trail – Peru

The most famous trail in the whole of South America, the Inca Trail is a 20 mile pathway laid by the Incas leading from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. It winds up and down the mountains; taking three high passes en route and due to the Andes peculiar environment, trekkers will pass through cloud forests, alpine tundra as well as many ancient Incan ruins. Machu Picchu is an ancient, and arguably the most famous, estate of the Inca civilisation. Built around 1450, it was abandoned a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Thousands flock here every year to get a taste of old world history and the Inca Trail is the best way to see each ruin in all its glory. The Incas inhabited the whole area and thus, small villages are situated regularly along the walk.  The Peruvian government has limited the participation due to overuse and worry that the path will be destroyed by foot traffic so book well in advance as it is very popular and trek permits are limited each day.

Climb a Volcano – Worldwide

Climbing a mountain and trekking each slope takes on a more difficult but exciting turn when you incorporate a gaping hole at the top. For many people, an adventure is only so if there’s an element of danger and what could be more dramatic than climbing a volcano, whether it’s active or not? Reaching the top not only gives you a sense of wonder at the world’s natural beauty but you may also get to peer into the molten crater bubbling away. The most popular volcanoes to trek are the mostly dormant Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Etna and Vesuvius in Italy, Fuji in Japan, Mount St Helens and Mount Rainer in the USA and Pico de Orizaba in Mexico. The world’s biggest volcano in terms of mass and volume is Mauna Loa in Hawaii whereas the highest active volcano is Ojos del Salado in the Andes, straddling Argentina and Chile, at a height of 22,615ft. Any treks should be well researched and planned in advance.

Three Peaks Challenge - Britain

To round up, we thought we’d move a little closer to home. The best mountain trek of the British Isles is undoubtedly the Three Peaks Challenge, in which you climb the tallest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales… all in 24 hours! Many people do this for charity, helping to raise money by completing this prestigious test. It requires patience, stamina, endurance, strength, courage and a lot of fuel. Start your ascent at Ben Nevis in the Grampians of the Scottish Highlands (4,409ft). Try and squeeze in a little time to see the ruins of the old observatory at the top. It makes sense to start at the most northern mountain as Ben Nevis is the easiest to descent in fading light and you can drive through the night down to the next mountain, Scafell Pike in the Lake District of England (3,209ft). As the smallest of the three, it shouldn’t take too long to get up and down again and you can hopefully start driving down to Wales before midday. Snowdon (3,560ft) is the third and last challenge and is considered the busiest mountain in Britain. There are a number of well-known paths to the summit and each one varies in length, steepness and difficulty. At the top is a visitor centre which houses a restaurant and a station for the train that ascends regularly. You should have reached the base of the mountain by the time you started Ben Nevis the previous day. Mission complete!

 

**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**