After over a decade of touring around the globe and going trekking on six continents, what are a few of our favourite treks and hikes? This Offbeat Trekking Guide consists of 15 of our really useful unknown or lesser-known treks — some multi-day, others day treks — that you just may not be contemplating, however ought to. These treks and hikes are price a glance in case you are enthusiastic about uncommon and immersive experiences, each in nature and native tradition.
I solely went out for a stroll and at last concluded to remain out until sunset, for going out, I discovered, was actually stepping into. — John Muir
When we first set out on our journey years in the past, trekking — particularly of the lengthy, multi-day trek selection — weren’t a precedence on our exercise record. Sure, we loved day hikes and walks, however trekking wasn’t one thing we actively sought out. Over the years, nevertheless, we’ve discovered ourselves more and more drawn to long hikes in the mountains that enable us to disconnect from the busy world whereas connecting extra with nature and finally ourselves. These days, we make an effort to take at the very least one lengthy trek yearly as a approach to recharge and refresh.
We don’t all the time want to disconnect fully from humanity once we go trekking. Instead, we are sometimes drawn to treks or hikes that function a cultural element, one the place we encounter and interact with native individuals, usually by means of homestays. This sort of trekking not solely problem us bodily by pushing us to do greater than the standard, however they usually stir us emotionally by forcing us to widen the cultural lens by means of which we view the area and our world.
Finally, this strategy offers us the chance to contribute to the local economy and community by staying with native households.
Having completed fairly a number of day and multi-day treks during the last decade of our travels around the globe, we have been fielding questions on treks or hikes that we’d suggest, particularly as we have a tendency to decide on ones which might be lesser recognized, typically in unusual destinations.
Without additional delay, right here is our Offbeat Trekking Guide with 15 of our favourite offbeat treks from around the globe!
Note: This put up was initially printed on July 27, 2015 and up to date on December 29, 2019 with a number of new treks.
Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro: Peaks of the Balkans:
Distance: 200 km / 124 miles
Why: To expertise difficult climbs and beautiful views from peaks in a comparatively unknown a part of Europe, whereas staying with native households of their farmhouses and shepherd huts alongside the way in which.
This trek by means of the Accursed Mountains (typically known as the Albanian Alps) reminds us that typically the areas with probably the most stunning landscapes are additionally those most tough ones to dwell in. The Peaks of the Balkans, a comparatively new idea path, lets you enterprise into areas and throughout borders that had beforehand been no-go zones for many years. The deserted bunkers and border guard towers you’ll discover alongside your means stand testomony to this.
Update: We have printed the Peaks of the Balkans Beginner’s Guide with all you must know concerning itineraries, really useful routes, packing, lodging, and different sensible particulars for this trek.
HOW WE DID THIS TREK: We booked our Peaks of the Balkans trek and information with Zbulo! Discover Albania.
Ethiopia: Gheralta Mountains, Tigray Province
Distance: 10-15 km / 6-9 miles, however the problem is extra within the free climbing
Why: To see 1,000-year previous Ethiopian Orthodox church buildings carved excessive into the cliffs in a panorama paying homage to the crimson rock deserts of Arizona and Utah. In order to succeed in these church buildings it’s essential to do some free-form mountaineering. The expertise features a few sheer drops that may ship these with vertigo into a brief, protecting fetal place (We communicate from expertise, by the way in which).
However, there are rewards. In addition to the beautiful views all through the climb, you’ll have the chance to go inside distant cliff-side church buildings whose interiors are coated with 600-800 year old frescos – all with a monk or priest in as your information. Although there are a number of treks on this space, the 2 we opted for had been these as much as the Daniel Korkor and Maryam Korkor church buildings. We counsel climbing them in that order, since tackling the previous will assist put together you for the latter.
HOW WE DID THIS TREK: We did this trek as a part of our G Adventures tour in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, the tour itinerary has modified and not consists of these treks. However, you may work with the native tour firm so as to add trekking within the Gheralta Mountains onto the opposite tour. It’s so price it.
Lost City Trek: Sierra Nevada Mountains, Colombia
Days: 4 (5-6 day treks are additionally out there)
Distance: 46 km / 28 miles
Why: To trek by means of the jungles of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada Mountains to succeed in Teyuna, the capital of the traditional Tayrona civilization. When vacationers take into account trekking in South America, their ideas most frequently go to Machu Picchu and Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia. While we are able to suggest each of those treks, we recommend the Lost City trek if you happen to search an expertise of the type that may be a little much less developed, rather less recognized.
Our Wiwa indigenous information additionally shared tales with us that had been handed on to him by the shaman (holy males) concerning the historical Tayrona civilization and town of Teyuna. This mixed cultural and historic context added to your complete expertise.
HOW WE DID THIS TREK: We did the Lost City Trek with G Adventures. They work with the native Wiwa indigenous neighborhood as native guides and for a neighborhood lunch and go to.
Kyrgyzstan: Heights of Alay Trek, Alay Mountains
Days: Three nights/Four days
Distance: 48 km/30 miles
Why: To really feel as if you happen to’ve landed on a distinct planet. The landscapes on the Heights of Alay trek in southern Kyrgyzstan, particularly on day one whereas crossing Sary Mogul Pass (4,303 meters/14,120 toes), are actually otherworldly. And you’ve gotten unbelievable views over Peak Lenin (7,134 meters / 23,406 toes) and the Pamir Mountain vary alongside the way in which. You even have the native cultural expertise of participating with native shepherds alongside the way in which and have the choice of consuming at shepherd’s house for breakfast or dinner.
There can be an extended variation of the Heights of Alay Trek that’s 5 nights/6 days (87km) that takes you over Jiptick Pass (4,185 meters) and ends in Sary Mogul village. And, in case you have restricted time take into account the Koshkol Lakes day hike close to Sary Mogul. You can take a look at all the small print on this Trekking in the Alay Mountains: The Ultimate Guide.
HOW WE DID THIS TREK: We did this trek with Visit Alay and suggest selecting them for high quality guides, gear and expertise. In addition, that is a part of the Community Based Tourism community in Kyrgyzstan the place a portion of the income goes again into neighborhood growth. Talant Toksonbaev and his workforce in Osh may also help you with something you would possibly want to prepare a trek within the Alay Mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
Other really useful treks in Kyrgyzstan:
We may also suggest the Boz-Uchuk Lakes Trek in Jyrgalan Valley organized by Destination Jyrgalan exterior of Karakol. If you are enthusiastic about a horse trek check out the two evening/Three day horseback riding out to Song Kul Lake, however we hear that has turn into extra standard and crowded over the previous couple of years.
Ladakh, India: Markha Valley Trek
Distance: 75 km / 47 miles
Why: To problem your self within the excessive deserts of the Indian Himalayas by crossing 5,000 meter (16,400 foot) mountain passes, all whereas studying about conventional Ladakhi Buddhist tradition by means of your native information and host households. Ladakh options a few of the most beautiful surroundings we now have ever encountered.
We embody this trek right here as most vacationers suppose “Nepal” once they take into account trekking within the Himalayas, and rightly so, because the Annapurna Circuit trek we did there stays certainly one of our high experiences of all instances. However, Ladakh gives a extra distant, much less explored trekking different. It’s additionally essential to notice that a number of trails and treks exterior of the than Markha Valley can be found in case you are search one thing much more far-flung and strange.
HOW WE DID THIS TREK: We booked our Markha Valley trek and information with Ecological Footprint Ladakh in Leh, Ladakh.
Peru: Cordillera Huayhuash Trek
Distance: 113 km / 70 miles
Why: To immerse your self in some of the beautiful and dramatic mountain ranges on the planet, the Cordillera Huayhuash in central Peru. Each day of this trek takes you over 4,800 meter (15,750 toes) to five,100 meter (16,400 toes) mountain passes with snow-covered peaks as much as 6,200 meter (20,340 toes) throughout you. You go by a number of turquoise alpine lakes every day whereas condors soar above. It’s actually a lovely a part of this world.
Although the altitudes on this trek are excessive, do not be discouraged because the ascents should not technical — you simply want togo gradual and regular, one foot in entrance of the opposite. You can take a look at all the small print on this Huayhuash Trekking Guide.
HOW WE DID THIS TREK: We did this 10-day Huayhuash Trek with Quechuandes in Huaraz, Peru. The help on this trek was nice and included an skilled trekking information, prepare dinner and all meals, donkeys to hold our gear, tents, help employees, and extra. And, the value is affordable given the standard of the service.
Republic of Georgia: Svaneti, High Caucasus Mountains
Distance: 45 km / 28 miles
Why: To trek by means of the High Caucasus Mountains to Ushguli, purportedly the best inhabited village in Europe at 2,100m / 6,900ft, and stick with native Svan households alongside the way in which. Our trek in Svaneti was our first multi-day, house keep trek that enlightened us as to how trekking couldn’t solely be an immersive expertise in nature, but in addition in native tradition. We had been hooked.
To say that native Svan individuals, who view themselves because the protectors of those mountains, are intense is probably an understatement. You’ll discover the individuals of Svaneti welcoming — simply as fierce of their present-day hospitality as they’re of their historic resistance to outsiders. Just watch out for your liver, because the countless toasts every evening with native wine and firewater can add up.
Guatemala: Xela to Lake Atitlan
Days: Three days
Distance: 37 km / 23 miles
Why: To trek by means of mountains and hill villages between two of Guatemala’s hottest vacationer locations — Xela and Lake Atitlan — and to complete with a lovely dawn view of the lake from above. We had been advised that this path was developed by a veteran of the Guatemalan civil struggle (resulted in 1996) as a way of stealthily shifting concerning the area.
Along the way in which up and down the volcanic mountains and into the valleys, you keep in easy visitor homes (typically faculties or neighborhood buildings) or with households, together with one which lets you attempt their conventional Mayan sauna. On the ultimate morning, you’ll take pleasure in breakfast at dawn from above Lake Atitlan. This trek would possibly afford you a brand new appreciation for each the city and the lake after making the trouble to trek the highlands between the 2.
How we did this trek:
HOW WE DID THIS TREK: We booked the Xela to Lago Atitlan Trek with Quetzal Trekkers.
Sikkim, India: Lake Khecheopalri to Yuksom
Distance: 20-25 km / 12 – 15 miles
Why: To get a style of Nepali and Bhutanese tradition whereas nonetheless in India, and to understand a view of majestic Mount Khangchendzonga, the third highest mountain on the planet (8,586 m /28,169 ft). When we first determined to go to Sikkim, a semi-autonomous area in northwestern India that borders Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet (China), our plan didn’t embody trekking.
Only after seeing the mountains and listening to that the paths had been simple to observe, did we set off with a daypack to discover the world round Lake Khecheopalri and Yuksom. We stayed in household guesthouses and loved all of the interactions and tea stops in villages alongside the way in which.
Note: If you have an interest in a extra strenuous journey on this area, take into account the path to Goecha La (4,940 meters) from which the very best views of Mount Khangchendzonga are reportedly had.
Kazakhstan: Trek to Big Almaty Lake, Tian Shan Mountains
Distance: 20 km / 12 miles (a method)
Why: To get a fast look into the Tian Shan Mountains, attain the turquoise waters of Big Almaty Lake and spend the evening at a cool, former Soviet astronomical observatory. While the lake is gorgeous and the hike up is nice sufficient, the spotlight of this trek was the surreal expertise of spending the evening on the Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory. During our go to, we felt as if we’d landed on a film set, a time-frozen remnant, wild west outpost of the Soviet Union. Scientists nonetheless dwell and work up there, nevertheless, they usually hold the high-powered telescopes going. If you pay $5-10, certainly one of them will open the telescope and present you the celebrities.
Please don’t do what we did on our second day and use a Lonely Planet guidebook map to information your return to Almaty over the mountain go and down by means of one of many river beds. The path to Kosmostancia, one other weird scientific outpost up the mountain from the observatory, is straightforward. After that, nevertheless, we misplaced the path and virtually didn’t make it out of the mountains in any respect (right here’s that full story). So, phrases to the sensible: study from our mistake. Return down the mountain to Almaty the identical means you got here. Otherwise, carry a usable trekking map, use a map app with trekking route overlays in a position, or rent a information so you may take pleasure in your self and return with out pointless drama.
Haiti: Pic la Selle and Parc National la Visite
Distance: 25-35 km / 15-29 miles
Why: To expertise Haiti’s countless layers of mountains (the nation’s title means “land of mountains” within the native indigenous Taino language) and its sudden pure magnificence whereas having the prospect to fulfill and interact with individuals all alongside the way in which. You’ll meet faculty kids on their means house, ladies carrying items on their heads to market, and farmers plowing the fields.
Haiti’s cities may be busy and frenetic, so spending a number of days within the hills of Parc National La Visite with a stroll down native paths in the direction of Port-au-Prince offers an opportunity to gradual all of it down and soak up this fascinating but sophisticated vacation spot otherwise. Not to say, spending the cool evenings within the hills consuming Haitian scorching chocolate and listening to konpa music is one thing we’ll always remember.
Myanmar (Burma): Kalaw to Inle Lake
Distance: 61 km / 38 miles
Why: To trek by means of the hills of Myanmar’s Shan State between the city of Kalaw and the favored vacationer vacation spot of Inle Lake, and get a really feel for rural life in Myanmar by staying with households and in a neighborhood monastery. What made this trek stand out for us was the interplay and engagement with individuals alongside the way in which, from the grandmother harvesting ginger roots to the ethnic Pao ladies who needed our water bottles so that they had one thing to drink from whereas working the fields.
Walking to Inle Lake makes you recognize the work of hill village locals who carry their their items a number of instances every week to the lakeside weekly markets.
HOW WE DID THIS TREK: We booked our trek and information with Sam’s Family Trekking in Kalaw, Myanmar.
Idaho, United States: Sawtooth Mountains
Distance: 10 – 24 miles
Days: day hikes
Why: To be shocked by the sweetness and variety of landscapes and alpine lakes of the Sawtooth Mountains. Who knew Idaho was this stunning?! Each day trek we did, together with the Pettit and Toxaway Lakes Loop (20+ miles), Sawtooth Lakes Hike and Bench Lakes (remember to proceed to the 4th lake), simply blew us away for the vistas and contours.
We additionally timed our go to for the shoulder season on the finish of September and early October in order to keep away from the crowds. As a end result, we had the paths to ourselves and had been in a position to benefit from the small city Stanley and its scorching springs with out numerous different vacationers round.
HOW WE DID THIS TREK: We primarily based ourselves in Stanley, Idaho and took day hikes every day. This allowed us to benefit from the mountains in the course of the day and heat meal and mattress at evening. We stayed at Mountain Village Lodge and totally loved their complimentary 1-hour scorching springs soak that comes with the room. Just remember to ebook your scorching springs time earlier than you permit within the morning in your day hike so that you’re assured a soak time whenever you return. SO good after an extended hike.
Malta: Southern Coast of Gozo and Malta Islands
Distance: 6-12 miles / 10 – 20 km
Days: day hikes
Why: To benefit from the dramatic cliffs and brisk coastal winds of Gozo and Malta islands. Although Malta isn’t actually recognized for its mountaineering, it must be given dramatic coastlines on each islands. And, hitting the paths are an effective way to keep away from the crowds that typically hit the islands.
Our favourite hike was the 9-10 km path alongside Gozo’s southern coast, from the ferry terminal in Mgarr to Xlendi. We handed by means of the village of Sannat and found much more beautiful cliffs alongside the way in which on this coastal route. Gozo is smaller than Malta Island, however it’s extra rural and with extra (non-road) mountaineering trails. Our solely remorse was that we weren’t spending a number of nights on Gozo in order that we may have continued with a longer coastal circuit.
On Malta Island we hiked 12+ miles/20 km alongside its southern coast from the favored Blue Grotto to Dingli Cliffs after which as much as historic Mdina city (we mixed several routes here). This was a pleasant combination of trails alongside the coast and thru farmlands and small villages. It actually made us recognize the contours of the island a lot extra having walked a piece of it. Some of the route goes on slender nation roads, however there wasn’t numerous visitors so it wasn’t a difficulty. Highly suggest strolling as a lot of Malta as you may.
Nepal: Tamang Heritage Trek
Distance: 29.5 miles / 47.5 km
Days: 4.5 days
Why: To hike by means of Tamang (ethnic Tibetan Buddhist) villages with views of snow-covered Langtang Lirung and Ganesh Himal peaks (each above 7,200 meters/24,000 toes). The Tamang Heritage Trail was developed within the final decade as an alternative choice to the extra standard and well-known Langtang Trek. It is a form of cultural trek so vacationers may study extra about Tamang (Tibetan Buddhist) tradition as they hiked by means of, and stayed in, totally different Tamang villages. Its intention is to be embody extra inclusive of various communities in order that extra might profit from all of the trekkers and vacationers coming to this area.
What additionally makes Nepal such an incredible trekking vacation spot, together with the Tamang Heritage Trail, is the infrastructure of tea homes and household visitor homes in villages alongside many trails that make it simple to interact and stick with native households. This means you understand your cash is staying native and also you’re often getting recent meals immediately from the backyard. This additionally means you don’t want to hold tents, meals or any tenting gear, making group a lot simpler (and lighter).
What have we missed? Is there an offbeat trek you’d add to this record? Please tell us within the feedback! We – and our readers all the time recognize extra trekking inspiration.