Chile’s top national park is noted for its jagged peaks and Patagonian scenery – from glaciers to lakes and the three famed granite towers of Cordillera del Paine. You can walk the popular W route in five days, taking in the highlights, or go for a full circuit, which requires about a week. Well-kept lodges offer respite from unpredictable weather.
2. Haute Route
Europe’s two great mountaineering centres, Zermatt in Switzerland and Chamonix in France, are linked by this trail that takes in the highest peaks in the Alps – starting at Mont Blanc and finishing at the Matterhorn. A summer hiker’s route cuts through Swiss hamlets, where you can stay in traditional lodges. You don’t need to carry much, but don’t underestimate the route, as it gains and loses more than 1,000m of elevation almost every day. The full 188km route is usually completed in less than two weeks.
3. Grand Canyon rim to rim
One of the only hikes in the world where you go downhill first, before climbing all the way back up, makes crossing Arizona’s Grand Canyon a challenge, even for the fit. From the North Rim, you’ll descend almost 2,000m in 23km, then climb about 1,400m over 15km the next day. The scenery shifts from pine trees and snow to hot desert at the bottom of the canyon. Soften the knee-jarring journey by riding a mule and bedding down at Phantom Ranch, one of America’s most exclusive lodges. Rejoice, you’ll be part of the less than 1 per cent of visitors to the Grand Canyon who cross it on foot.
4. Everest Base Camp
Why do this one? Well, as British mountaineer George Mallory said, “Because it’s there”. The hike to Everest Base Camp is awe-inspiring, to say the least. You’ll see the greatest concentration of Himalayan peaks in the world. While the trek doesn’t involve anything extremely challenging, the high altitude – you’ll spend several days at heights of more than 4,500m – can wreak havoc on your system. And you’ll need at least 10 days, even with flights in and out, to complete the trip. Less experienced hikers can hire porters to carry their gear.
– TEXT BY DAVE STAMBOULIS
PHOTOS: 123RF.COM, CONAF, ZERMATT MATTERHORN, GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.