We hadn’t really seen mountains before we started our travels back in 2008 and we certainly had no idea what it felt like to explore the great outdoors. It was something we’d never tried but we soon realised the beach towns didn’t give us the same amount of joy that a long hike through jungle to remote beaches did. It totally changed the way we travelled and our route became decided by where the National Parks were and trying to visit as many natural wonders as possible. Then we discovered mountains and alpine lakes and that’s when we found our happy place. So here’s some our favourite mountainous places we’ve hiked around the world.
It’s any hikers dream to visit this windswept, remote region of the world that’s shared between Argentina and Chile. It’s home to undeniably the most impressive pointy mountains…ON EARTH! They’re totally mind blowing and it’s the first time in 12 years of travel that I’ve said “It doesn’t even look real!”. The mountains literally looked like a green screen image that was made up for a fictional film. We preferred the hiking on the Argentinian side, mainly because it was FREE, the peaks were more spiky and you could literally start every hike from the town where we stayed, El Chalten, making it an ideal base. Chile was also wonderful, we loved our 5 day trek in Torres Del Paine National Park where we really immersed ourselves in the heart of Patagonia but it took a lot of planning and money, still worth it mind you.
A lesser known destination but a high contender for phenomenal hikes. The mountains here are massive, so you’ll be dealing with some serious altitude and feeling exhausted and out of breath while hiking at 3000 plus meters. In summer (the hiking season) local nomads move their yurt camps from the lower valleys up into the mountain plateaus, and these in theory become your camp spot for the night. It was ideal as we could hike without camping equipment, stay in a cozy yurt after an exhausting day on our feet and even have meals prepared for us. The scenery is spectacular from glaciers clinging to mountains and milky blue lakes to red rock deserts and lush green mountain pastures.
Another wild card but this country has some of the worlds most unique mountains and we had a blast exploring the national parks back in 2016. The hiking trails are much more developed than in other countries – think endless concrete paths, more steps than you can count and CCTV cameras watching every move you take. With that said it does lose the wild, remote feel like the other destinations I’ve written about have. We hiked past clouds as they drifted by the rocky mountains in Huangshan National Park, the epic pillars of Zhangjiajie which are said to have inspired the movie Avatar and we walked the ice-covered paths clinging onto the cliffs of Tianmem Mountain. We also loved the Li River and Guilin region where pyramid shaped mountains rise from the emerald river. It’s a massive country and we hope to return and hike even more of this fascinating country.
We’ve been to the Canadian Rockies three times and still we’re finding new hiking paths to explore. You really can’t go wrong with hiking here although my best tip, in fact with any hike in the world, is to pick a trail that gains altitude therefore your guaranteed some spectacular views. You can hike above a blanket of clouds, through wildflower filled meadows, take a midway dip in a crystal clear lake and navigate epic ridge-lines, it really is a hikers dream. If you want to escape the crowds of the popular national parks like Banff and Jasper then head to the northern part of the Rockies and explore Muncho Lake.
If you know me at all you know I’m obsessed with this country – and hiking here is bloody incredible. Take the Lofoten islands for example, where mountains rise straight out of the sea – they say its the Alps with their feet in the water, and that’s what makes them so amazing to hike, most of the pyramid shaped mountains are only 500-1000m in altitude which means you can summit a mountain in less than an hour!! The view from the top of the peaks will blow you away, this is serious jaw dropping territory looking across the turquoise edged sea way below and the jagged peaks rising out the water. Then in southern Norway you have the dramatic fjords where rock ledges drop dizzying heights.
Not a typical location for hikers as most people stick to the city medinas and Sahara desert, but Morocco has some wonderful hikes. The Atlas Mountains rise up to the highest point in North Africa, Jebel Toubkal at 4167m which we tackled with ice axes and crampons for rewarding views at the summit. There’s a variety of trails within the Atlas and Anti-Atlas Mountains where you’ll be treated to snow capped mountains and a glimpse of rural life as many trails pass through little villages. Further inland between the desert and the coast are impressive gorges and red rock formations to explore while the blue city of Chefchaouen in the north acts as a great base for hikes in the Rif Mountain Range.
The winner for variety of hikes is the States. It has every terrain imaginable and that’s what makes this such a perfect hiking destination. From the coastal mountains in Alaska and the peaks of Colorado to the autumnal colours through the Appalachian mountain range and the Pacific Northwest’s pointy peaks. Then there’s the lush forested slopes and volcanoes of Hawaii…trails leading to natural hot springs in Idaho and the milky glacial lakes in Montana.
It’s pretty common knowledge that Nepal is a hiking mecca and we can definitely vouch for that. We opted for 10 days hiking the Annapurna circuit through the heart of the Himalayas. The altitude kicked our butts and Craig almost didn’t make it to the 5416m pass, but hiking in the Himalayas isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. You’ll pass swing bridges wrapped in colourful prayer flags that lead across deep gorges and you’ll probably say “WOW” at every turn. Tiny villages are positioned along the hiking route so you can guarantee a mattress to rest yourself every-night and all your meals cooked for you…they even sell homemade apple pie, are you sold yet?
I could go on with this list adding New Zealand, Austria, Kazakhstan, Slovenia, Nicaragua etc, but some countries we didn’t hike enough of due to weather or time spent there and the countries I picked stood out to me as our favourites. Let me know what your favourite mountain hiking destinations are in the comments below.