Top 10 tough walks

For many long distance walkers, the tougher or longer the better, especially if the route covers a wide variety of terrain. The most iconic walks vary both topographically and geographically and stretch you physically and mentally, going into landscapes that are only accessible on foot. Then there are climbs, with plenty of iconic summits out there to please the peak seekers.

But it is the journey through these landscapes that really attracts the serious walker, with overnights under canvas, in hiking huts, remote lodges or homestays. You’ll often walk with guides from the local communities, generating income for them and helping you gain a greater understanding of local culture and their love of landscape. Here are ten of our tough trekking trails. They may have challenging moments, but they’ll also take you across some of the world’s most terrific trekking terrain.

1. Everest Base Camp

You may have heard of this one. It’s the Oscar of the trekking world, following in the footsteps of super skilled sherpas and mountaineers, you trek slowly from Lukla to Base Camp, which is over halfway up Everest at 5,364m, with some serious acclimatising to manage along the way.

When to go: September to November and February to May
Our top selling trip: Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal
See all our trips: Everest Base Camp holidays
Read more: Everest Base Camp travel guide and High altitude trekking guide

2. Via Ferrata, Dolomites, Italy

Located in the jagged peaks of the Dolomites, Via Ferrata translates literally as ‘iron way’, thanks to the system of iron cables that cling to the mountainside so that walkers, not just rock climbers, can take on the craggy challenges. Clamber up ridges and rock faces, clipped on to cables and climb up iron ladders and steps up to dramatic peaks, in a landscape that has 600 iron segments, some dating back to the early 1900s.

When to go: July to September
Our top selling trip: Via Ferrata holiday in the Dolomites, Italy
See all our trips: Walking holidays in Italy
Read more: Italy’s Via Ferrata and Dolomites Travel Guide

3. Waitukubuli Walking Trail, Dominica

The Caribbean’s first long distance walking trail covers 185km of the island. Created by the local community to bring tourists into the mountains and small communities, using trails that have been used by Dominicans for centuries, it is divided into 14 sections, and takes two weeks to complete.

When to go: December to April
Our top selling trip: Walking and sightseeing holiday in Dominica
See all our trips: Walking holidays in Dominica
Read more: Walking in Dominica and Walking the Waitukubuli Trail

4. Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea

100km of trekking at its most tropical, through rainforests and mountain trails of Papua New Guinea, where local guides and porters help you take on this extraordinary route through dense forest and over rivers. During WW2 this was the terrain of a very bloody battle between the Japanese and the Allied Forces.

When to go: April to October
Our top selling trip: Kokoda Track trekking holiday, Papua New Guinea
See all our trips: Kokoda Track holidays
Read more: Papua New Guinea travel guide and The Kokoda Track

5. GR20 Walking Trail, Corsica, France

This 200km long trek takes a good week to complete and is considered by many passionate promeneurs to be the toughest walk in France, as you stay in mountain huts and cross the island’s interior of granite mountains, snow-capped peaks, dramatic gorges, pine forests, plateaus and plains.

When to go: May/June and September
Our top selling trip: Grande Randonnée walking holiday in Corsica, France
See all our trips: Walking holidays in Corsica
Read more: Corsica Travel Guide and Walking Holidays in France

6. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

This possibly wins circumnavigation award, covering 125km and taking 16-25 days to complete. You’ll pass through valleys, alpine forest and subtropical jungles but the jewel in the crown is the Annapurna mother massif in the middle. The cultural trail through Nepalese and Tibetan villages is as uplifting as the natural one.

When to go: September to May
Our top selling trip: Mini Annapurna Circuit
See all our trips: Annapurna Circuit holidays
Read more: Annapurna Circuit travel guide and Trekking in Nepal travel guide

7. High Tatras Mountains, Poland

The High Tatras Mountains are one of Europe’s best kept secrets when it comes to long distance, hut to hut mountain trekking, with more than 250km of trails through spectacular limestone gorges such as the Koscieliska Valley and dramatic landscapes including the Valley of Five Lakes.

When to go: May to September
Our top selling trip: Poland Walking Holiday in the High Tatras
See all our trips: Walking Holidays in Poland
Read more: Poland travel guide and Walking in Europe travel guide

8. Markha Valley Track, Ladakh

Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is in the Himalayas, and proffers a wonderful, long distance walking alternative to Everest Base Camp. The trek still takes you through mountain passes at elevations of over 6,000m, but they aren’t as crowded as Everest, and also they don’t require alpinism skills.

When to go: May to September
Our top selling trip: Ladakh trekking holiday, India
See all our trips: Ladakh holidays
Read more: Ladakh travel guide and India Walking travel guide

9. Inca Trail, Peru

High in the Andes, the Inca Trail is a high-altitude battle against slippery rocks, steep ascents and erratic weather – yet its mystical appeal draws thousands to hike it every year. It takes three to five days or walking between five and seven hours a day to reach Machu Picchu.

When to go: June to September
Our top selling trip: High Inca Trail Trek in Peru
See all our trips: Inca Trail Holidays
Read more: Inca Trail travel guide and Peru Walking Holidays guide

10. Snowman Trek, Bhutan

A tough trail in Bhutan’s northwestern Gasa district that only 50 per cent of hikers finish - and those that do need a month to tackle. You’ll trek down the Himalayan spine between Bhutan and Tibet, crossing no less than 11 mountain passes, all at more than 4,500m.

When to go: September/October
Our top selling trip: Snowman Trek in Bhutan
See all our trips: Walking holidays in Bhutan
Read more: Bhutan Walking travel guide and Bhutan travel guide
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: STxxEN] [1. Everest Base Camp: Hartmanshouse] [4. Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea: Luke Brindley] [7. High Tatras Mountains, Poland: DzidekLasek]
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