Five treks with views to take your breath away
Five treks with views to take your breath away
Trekking is an awesome way to experience the world. You can explore some incredible natural environments, interact with the local people in a slow-and-steady way, and get some exercise at the same time. But the great reward of the trekking itself is the views. Here's five of our favourite trekking view points – with views that will take your breath away.
This is a classic trek to the summit of Africa's highest mountain – the mighty Mt Kilimanjaro – in the heart of Tanzania.
The trek: A tough but rewarding trek straight up the mountain
Ascending Mt Kili by the Marangu route takes a total of five trekking days – three-and-a-half days up and one-and-a-half days down. On the third trekking day, you'll hike up through rugged and rocky terrain to Kibo Hut. Bed down for an early night, because your trekking guides will be waking you at 11pm for supper and the final ascent to summit. You'll hike through the night, making slow progress in the thinning air, to reach the summit in time for sun rise.
The viewpoint: The summit of Uhuru Peak
5896 metres above sea level is some serious altitude. And this is a mountain that sits alone on the Tanzanian plains – so, as you may be able to imagine, the views are vast and sprawling. At close range is the ice, snow and rocks of the rim of Kibo crater. Looking beyond the mountain itself, the horizon is a perfectly straight line, bathed in brilliant orange as the sun starts to show its face.
You will be totally done in, but that will be irrelevant. Exhaustion will be utterly irrelevant as you bask in your achievement of bagging a summit and soak up the glorious beauty of the changing African sunlight.
Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is a winding 800 kilometre pilgrims' trail across Northern Spain. Most Camino tours pick out highlight sections of the walk to provide a taste of this magnificent traditional pathway.
The trek: A Spanish extravaganza of culture and landscapes
It's not hard-core blisters, sweat and tears when you sample the Camino. It's a trail studded with ancient towns, local restaurants, art galleries, churches, and tapas worth hiking for. Each day is different as you meander through the countryside, stopping along the way to absorb the local way of life.
The viewpoints: Mont de Gozo and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Mont de Gozo is the very last hill of the Camino de Santiago. As you climb the hill, you can almost hear the echoes of the thousands of pilgrims that have walked this trail before you – who may have trekked for months to reach this point. Mont de Gozo means 'hill of joy' – named after the cries of elation pilgrims emitted as they caught their first glimpse of their pilgrimage destination – the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
At only 370 metres high, the views are not astounding, but they are certainly deeply symbolic. From here it's only about an hour's walk down towards the town, then through the beautiful old streets to the spectacular cathedral itself. Reaching the pilgrimage destination – looking up at the spectacular, towering Cathedral – should also be counted as one of the best viewpoints of the Camino trail.
The Annapurna range in western Nepal is one of the Himalaya's most popular trekking areas. This hike into the heart of the Annapurna massif is a classic.
The trek: Get right amongst the towering white peaks of the Himalaya
The trek into the Annapurna Sanctuary is a strenuous ten days of hiking bliss. You'll stay in small hillside villages, hike through pastures and rhododendron forests and stroll beside rushing rivers. Higher up, you'll trek past massive glaciers and the towering mountains all around will make you feel small on this big planet.
The viewpoint: Annapurna Base Camp
Annapurna 1, at 8091 metres high, is one of the eight-thousanders – the 14 highest mountains in the world. It is just one of the peaks in the huge line-up of monster mountains that makes up the Annapurna massif. At the western end, the massif encloses a high glacial basin, with a narrow entrance that takes you into the heart of the massif itself. Annapurna Base Camp is inside this sanctuary.
After the final tough ascent to Base Camp, bed down for the night. The next morning, waking up to watch the golden light of the rising sun reflecting off the surrounding peaks is incredible. It's a fitting reward for a solid week of trekking into this remote mountain haven.
Croatia is the perfect destination for an active trip. There's hiking, cycling, climbing and snorkelling to be done amidst spectacular natural scenery.
The trek: A day hike amongst rock formations, waterfalls and canyons
Croatia is famous for its coastline, but head inland and you'll find some brilliant national parks. A day hike through the stunning rock formations and waterfalls of Paklenica National Park will take you through lush meadows, past clear, spring-fed rock pools, and along rocky forest trails.
The view point: The lip of Velika Paklenica Canyon
This is a hike of beautiful moments. Stopping by a clear stream to dip your hands into the water. Looking out for colourful wildflowers in the lush meadows. Watching a rock climber make a slow journey up the canyon wall. A highlight is visiting Sklopina, a 17th century village, where the houses have been built into cracks in the rock.
But it's when you hit the rim of the the Velika Paklenica Canyon that the broad views of the national park open up before you. The rocky grey canyon walls seem to bulge and tuck – sometimes sheer cliff, sometimes studded with outcrops of green. The length of this dramatic canyon can be appreciated for the first time as you walk along the rim, before descending into the canyon itself to stroll along the cool valley floor.
The Inca Trail
High in the misty mountains of Peru lies the hidden city of Machu Picchu – a spectacular Incan stronghold that can be reached by hiking the Inca Trail.
The trek: Four days of ups and downs along ancient Incan pathways
Along the 45 kilometres of the Inca Trail, your thighs and knees will feel the strain – it's a trail with a lot of steep ascents and descents. As you hike, you'll be walking in the footsteps on the ancient Incas and the pathways are studded with reminders of their empire. There are stone buildings, remains of villages and sacred sites, stairways hewn into the granite and paved footpaths that have stood the test of time. The peaks of the Andes surround you and each day's hike reveals new snowy summits and deep valleys.
The viewpoint: Inti Punku, the Sun Gate
On your fourth trekking day you'll need to get up early to be on the trail by 5.30am. Your aim is to reach Inti Punku, or the Sun Gate, in time for sunrise. Inti Punku is an ancient stone structure nestled in a high pass over looking Machu Picchu. It would have been the perfect lookout point for Incan sentries watching over the stronghold to keep it secure.
This is your first view of the incredible site of Machu Picchu, and as the sun rises, its rich morning rays illuminate golden stones and create deep shadows in the ruins. Some days Machu Picchu is shrouded in morning mist which swirls across the city, giving tantalising views, revealing it little by little. After watching the sun rise, head down the trail and into the incredible archaeological wonderland of Machu Picchu for a big day of exploring.