Regardless of the level of intensity, long-distance hiking requires physical training and mental preparation. Toughing it in all-weather conditions with nothing but a backpack is possibly the best way to experience the great outdoors. Though it may seem like a slog, the overall experience is something that will last a lifetime. Here’s four of the toughest on the planet.
Snowman Trek, Bhutan
Spanning over 200 miles, the Snowman Trek is only recommended for experienced hikers and it takes at least 25 days to complete. This journey takes its name from the abundance of snow, ice and rock that cover the surface of the terrain, and you’ll probably need the body of an Adonis to complete it – as less than half the people who attempt the trail actually finish it.
Top tip: October and April are considered the most ideal months for this trek, though be warned – it could end up costing you, as Bhutan requires its visitors to stump up hefty fees to enter its borders.
Fitz Roy Trek – Patagonia, Argentina
Many outdoor adventure seekers already have Patagonia down on their bucket list, and the 36-mile Fitz Roy Trek is as tough a route as any you’ll find in South America. Lago del los Tres, the highest point of the trek, stands at a staggering 2,900 feet. Experienced hikers tend to take between five and seven days to complete the journey, though there are plenty of ice fields and steep cliffs to provide dangerous obstacles.
Top tip: The best time to set out on this hike is February or March, and there are some great spots for camping en route to lap up the scenery after a long day on your feet.
Appalachian Trail – Eastern USA
One of two hardcore backpacking trips in the USA, this trek is in the east of the country. And by hardcore, we mean hardcore – the Appalachian Trail is approximately 2,185 miles long, with an average hiking time of five to seven months. If you have the time and legs for it, this is a wonderful way to discover much of America as it traverses through fourteen states including Massachusetts, New York, and West Virginia. Long distance hikers who do commit to this mammoth journey will pass Civil War battle sites, national parks, forests and wild lands.
Top tip: Many trekkers start off at Springer Mountain in Georgia at the beginning of spring and reach Maine by early October.
Simien Mountains – Ethiopia
Given its proximity to the equator and all the heat that comes with it, Africa may not immediately spring to mind when planning a long-distance trek. However, the continent is full of some unbelievable hikes, including one set in the highlands of Ethiopia that takes you through the Simien Mountains National Park. 83 miles long and lasting around ten days, this is a great way to experience a UNESCO World Heritage Site with breathtaking mountaintop views.
Top tip: Boasting a route marked by boulders, foliage and gorges, as well the chance to see exotic primates in their native habitats, this trek is best hiked between September and March.