5 Epic Hikes Worth Getting Fit for

Published 08 December 2016

Angela Griffin

Angela Griffin

So you’ve been working out, pounding the pavements, walking to work and taking the stairs instead of the lift. You’ve developed a taste for egg white omelettes and sacrificed your daily latte in favour of a strange sludge-like protein shake. Congratulations, you’re ready to take on a hiking challenge! But which one? We’ve chosen five of our favourites to help you decide.

Be warned: a degree of physical fitness is required to complete these hikes, but we assure you the sense of achievement and scenery along the way will make your aching muscles and the pain you’ve put yourself through worthwhile.

Hikers on Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia

More of a challenge than it first appears, Kinabalu’s summit trail begins in the lush jungles of the Bornean rainforest, but becomes barren and rocky once you pass the treeline. Trekkers stay halfway up the mountain in a basic but warm rest camp, before rising at silly o’clock for the final push to the top in time for sunrise. The last few hundred metres are very steep, with fixed ropes required to haul yourself to the peak.

Length: 5.5 miles

Maximum altitude: 4,095 metres

Minimum time required: Two days

Challenges: Hiking at night, steep gradient

When: January to mid October

Insider tip: It’s not over when you reach the summit. Speaking from experience, the descent is the hardest part – we could barely walk the next day!

Climb Mount Kinabalu with Round the World Experts’ Best of Borneo Journey

Hikers on the Inca Trail

Inca Trail, Peru

Follow in the footsteps of an ancient civilisation on the world-famous Inca Trail, a stone pathway through the Andes leading to the mountaintop settlement of Machu Picchu. Nothing quite prepares you for your first glimpse of the crumbling ruins, looming out of the mist, surrounded by dramatic peaks, and all the more satisfying because you walked there yourself.

Length: 26 miles

Maximum altitude: 4,200 metres

Minimum time required: Four days

Challenges: High altitude, heat

When: March to January

Insider tip: Book as far in advance as you can – Inca Trail permits are limited to 500 per day and often sell out months beforehand. If you miss out, don’t despair, alternative (and some say better) treks to Machu Picchu are available.

Walk the Inca Trail with Round the World Experts’ In the Shadow of Machu Picchu Small-Group Journey

Torres del Paine and Glacial Lake

W Circuit, Chile

This excellent hike through Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park is made up of three sections, the Grey Glacier, the French Valley and the Base of the Towers. The route is shaped like a W, hence the name, and is usually walked from west to east, finishing with the undeniable highlight of the Torres themselves, looming majestically over a green glacial lake.

Length: 44 miles

Maximum altitude: 1,200 metres

Minimum time required: Five days

Challenges: Snow, ice, wind, rain

When: September to June

Insider tip: Camping might be cheaper but believe me, when I hiked to the Grey Glacier with my husband in a blizzard, we were very glad to return to a warm and cosy refugio, with a hot meal, wood-burning stove and comfy bed.

Chat to your Round the World Experts consultant about adding the Torres del Paine into your Chile Journey

Hiker on the Abel Tasman Coast Track

Abel Tasman Coast Track, New Zealand

Tramping is a big thing in New Zealand and this is one of the best tracks in the country.  Walk from bay to cove, delve into lush, bird-filled forests, cross golden sands and paddle in crystal clear lagoons. Accommodation ranges from basic camping to upmarket lodges, so take your pick. Don’t forget to stop for a break at Tonga Island, where you can snorkel the azure waters and keep an eye out for penguins.

Length: 32 miles

Maximum altitude: 200 metres

Minimum time required: Three days

Challenges: Tides, mud

When: Year-round

Insider tip: Keep an eye on tide times – you’ll cross various estuaries en route, which may involve a lengthy wait for the water to retreat if you don’t time it right.

Hike the Abel Tasman Coast Track on Round the World Experts’ South Island Wildlife & Wine Journey

Hikers in the Himalayas

Everest Base Camp, Nepal

Unless you are Ranulph Fiennes, this epic hike is pretty much the closest you’ll get to Everest. Trek through snowy mountain passes, glacial valleys and discover the most breathtaking scenery in the world. You’ll stay in Nepalese teahouses and learn the ways of the Sherpa, who are genetically adapted to live in the high Himalayan altitudes.

Length: 38.6 miles

Maximum altitude: 5,545 metres

Minimum time required: 12 days

Challenges: Altitude, snow, ice, cold

When: March to May and September to December

Insider tip: Use suncream. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you wont get sunburnt, and the UV effects are magnified by the snow.

Chat to your Round the World Experts consultant about adding Nepal to your Journey

You might also like:

4 Alternatives to the Inca Trail

The Best Places to Pitch a Tent Worldwide

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