Taking the high route involves more preparation, both physically and mentally. True, it’s not easy, but the adventure to the top will surely be worth it once you see the amazing view. So to help you get started, we listed below some of the world’s best high-elevation hikes that will take you to new heights while also possibly allowing you to discover something you didn’t know about yourself.
While there are other trails that can get you to the famous archaeological ruins of Machu Picchu, none or more famous than the Inca Trail. While you can get to the mythical citadel without making the trek, you will miss out on imposing mountain passes, snowcapped peaks visible along the route, cloud forest high in the Andes, and the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the Inca. The three- to four-day trek can only be done with an approved outfitter, and there are limits on the number of people allowed on the trail daily. Plan early as slots fill up fast.
Climbing to the rooftop of Africa can be a daunting task. While multiple routes exist to summit the continent’s highest peak (19,340 feet), the Machame and Marangu routes are the most popular. The trek can take between seven and eight days, depending on the route, and will take you through a multitude of ecosystems from tropical jungle to glacial snowfields on your way to the summit. If you desire to see the snow atop the peak, you better hurry, as they are expected to be completely gone within the next decade.
Whether you have a desire to climb the world’s highest peak, making the trek to Everest Base Camp can allow you to walk among giants, with views of Mount Everest being the highlight. The route will take you from Lukla, Nepal, through beautiful forests and numerous villages and will take you over 19,000 feet before descending back down to EBC. The trek takes about two weeks, so allow yourself ample time on the front end of your trip to stay and tour Kathmandu.
Crossing more than 10 passes above 14,000 feet (and some at 18,000 feet), this trek will take more than three weeks and is considered one of the most difficult in the world. Located along the Tibet-Bhutan border, this journey will take the most experienced of hikers to Buddhist monasteries perched on the side of cliffs and will let you experience some of the most dramatic landscapes you will ever witness.
As the name implies, this ambitious trek encircles the Mont Blanc massif, taking trekkers from France to Italy to Switzerland and back to France. Some 20,000 hikers attempt this adventure each year. While the trek can seem imposing, the trail is well marked, has multiple lodging options, and doesn’t require any real technical skills.
The Pacific Crest Trail ranges in elevation from roughly 110 feet above sea level near the Bridge of the Gods on the Oregon-Washington border to about 13,000 feet at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks. Its midpoint is near Chester, California (near Mt. Lassen), where the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges meet.
The Pacific Crest Trail is the longest continuous footpath in the U.S., stretching 2,653 miles from the Mexican border, past Lake Tahoe, through Oregon and Washington, before ending on the far side of the Canadian border. The elevation changes are significant. The trail climbs and descends over 140,000 feet in total. This trail is a challenging one, but it’s also a rewarding one. Hikers who complete the entire trail are known as “thru-hikers.” They earn the title of thru-hiker after hiking the entire 2,653 miles of the trail in one continuous trip.
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