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19 Epic Hikes for 2019

Make 2019 the year you conquer an amazing trek. There's a whole planet out there full of incredible, life-changing hikes that will transform your 2019 into an incredible adventure. These are no ordinary hikes - all have something extra special, whether that's a phenomenal environment, an iconic goal, or a physical challenge. 

1. Torres del Paine

 Dramatic silver-grey mountains, spearing upwards towards the sky. Gnarled, fairytale forests swirling with mist, their eerie twisted silhouettes emerging with each footstep forward. Wind-blasted viewpoints jutting out over iceberg-dotted lakes. Long, vast stretches of uninterrupted space and glorious, almost-empty grasslands. These are the landscapes of the Torres Del Paine W-Trek, a four-day point-to-point trek in one of the most remote and captivating places on our planet. Bruce Chatwin called it “Somewhere to live when the rest of the world blew up.”

Classic Patagonia Treks

2. Tour du Mont Blanc

Six high passes with views so spectacular they cross into neighbouring countries, seven idyllic valleys echoing with cowbells, and ten perfect days amongst the fine alpine landscapes that have captured the imagination of mountains and walkers for generations. Circumnavigating the highest peak in Western Europe is no mean feat, but following this famous loop is a pleasure too, passing chocolate box chalets decorated with colourful window boxes and mountain huts serving slabs of calorific cake to ensure you make it over the next hill. Mighty Mont Blanc is the regal epicentre of this mountainous court, surrounded by the wealth and majesty of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps.

Mont Blanc Highlights

3. Annapurna Sanctuary

The natural amphitheatre of the Annapurna Sanctuary is your goal on this eleven-day trek into the majestic Himalaya mountain range, one of the finest places on our planet to feel small. Staying in traditional Nepalese teahouses and passing Tibetan Buddhist gompas gives you a glimpse into life for the Sherpa communities who make the Himalaya their home. You’ll spend eleven days immersed in the heart of the Annapurna range, ringed by such giants as Annapurna 1, Glacier Dome, Gangapurna, Fang and Machhapuchhare, or Fishtail Mountain). Sunrise on Poon Hill counts as one of the most treasured memories for hikers on this route, a perfect moment of peace in a hectic modern world.

Annapurna Sanctuary

4. The Inca Trail

The spiny ridges, airy summits and snow-capped bulk of the Andes is a heart-stopping backdrop for the iconic Inca Trail. South America’s most famous hike is four days of atmospheric Cloud Forest, high passes and history – intriguing ruins of the ancient civilisation of the Incas dot the trail, where you can walk amongst the relics of an ancient world. For many, the highlight will always be arriving at the Sun Gate, the fantastic finale and the moment you first see iconic Machu Picchu spread out beneath you. But for others, it’s waking up and peering from your tent pitched above the clouds to see a magnificent cloud inversion sunrise.

The Inca Trail

5. The Great Wall of China

China’s imperial might is hard to understate. The Great Wall is testament to an ambitious dynastic power, the sheer scale of which is hard to comprehend. The wall is immense, with more than 13,000 miles of honeycomb stone snaking across China’s green mountains and sandy deserts in varying states of repair. Hiking this incredible feat of human engineering is one of the finest ways to comprehend its magnitude, contrasting the popular restored sections with the wild, rugged and romantic sections where nature has begun its reclamation.

Walking the Great Wall

6. Spice Trails of Kerala

A legacy of empire traces its lines across the beauty of southern India. These trails wind through both past and present, connecting a bygone era of colonial hill stations to a vibrant, modern nation. The scenery stretches from fertile, green tea plantations to the coast where busy ports whisk desirable goods away to eager buyers all over the world. Follow the rolling hills where rich, aromatic spices grow down to the backwaters near Cochin, where the boats once used to transport valuable commodities to export now enjoy a new lease of life as converted houseboats. You’ll end your trek with a lazy drift along the waterways on an overnight houseboat, enjoying a delectable curries steeped in spices grown on the surrounding hills.

Spice Trails of Kerala

7. Via Dinarica

The Via Dinarica certainly is epic: the full route is nearly 2,000km, crossing the borders of countries that within living memory didn’t even exist, let alone open their borders. Starting in Albania, whose borders were basically closed until the 1980s, and crossing into what was once war-torn Yugoslavia, this brand new specially created route casually takes in multiple previously inaccessible countries. It’s been described as embryonic by locals; this is not a well-developed tourist trail. Aside from the history, there’s the natural splendour of the mountains: miles and miles of remote shepherds’ huts, rural rambling and airy mountain ridges to take in. Expect to be in the wilderness – no frills or life’s little luxuries await you here, simply miles and miles of a Europe few of us ever get to see.

The Best of the Via Dinarica

8. Petra & Wadi Rum Trek

The full length of the Jordan Trail traverses 400 miles in a country-crossing route that runs north-south across Jordan; we’ve selected the best bit, the finest eight days of desert trekking across the Wadi Rum towards the Rose-Red City of Petra. Your days will be defined by the reds and golds of the mighty jebel rock formations of the desert, rolling sand dunes stretching out towards the hazy horizon. Nights are spent camping on the soft sands, gathered around the campfires as the sunset blazes across the warm sandstone rocks, before being lulled to sleep beneath a blanket of a million desert stars.

Petra & Wadi Rum Trek

9. Ladakh: The Markha Valley

Think Himalaya, and for many, the immediate thought is Nepal. But spare a moment – or preferably seven days – to contemplate the striking, overwhelming stark beauty of the Indian Himalaya. The Markha Valley is the Indian Himalaya’s classic trek, leaving behind surprisingly cosmopolitan Leh with its Wi-Fi and coffee shops and heading out into the mountains. This is a route you won’t have to share with many others; Ladakh remains an underrated trekking destination, one created by the forces of nature over millennia. Expect raw, exposed rock faces sculpted by whistling winds that reveal ribbons of colour, geological marvels that are barely touched by human habitation, and stunning scenery overlooking the vast might of the Himalaya in all directions. If you want that get away from it all feeling, this is the trek for you.

Ladakh the Markha Valley

10. The Walk of the Gods, the Amalfi Coast

A day walk of epic proportions. The Walk of the Gods is deservedly popular: a winding walk along Amalfi’s majestic cliffs overlooking the crashing waves, picturesque fishing villages and gnarled olive and lemon groves that make up this beautiful section of Italian coastline. This stunning spot retains its crown as Exodus’ most popular holiday for yet another consecutive year – more proof if ever you needed it of its enduring appeal.

Walking the Amalfi Coast

11. Manaslu Lodge Circuit

To the east of the more famous Annapurna Circuit, spitting distance from the border across to Tibet, the incredible Manaslu Circuit is a string to the bow of the more adventurous trekker. It’s only in the last ten years that teahouses and lodges have appeared in these remote mountains, and the pull of this phenomenal route is not just its beauty, but its tranquillity. Expect a mere tenth of the trekkers you might spot on the more popular routes.

Manaslu Lodge Circuit

12. Kilimanjaro

For iconic, bucket list treks, it’s harder to find more a more exciting summit than Kilimanjaro. The Roof of Africa is a host of superlatives: its height, its status, its unmistakable, perfect stratovolcano shape makes it just too tempting a goal for most of us to resist. The glaciers, the climactic zones, the drama of seeing sunrise on the rim of a volcano, the only place on dry ground you can see the curvature of the Earth – it’s all here, and too good to miss.

Climb Kilimanjaro

13. Everest Basecamp

Everest holds a unique place in the hearts of trekkers. It must be one of the most documented peaks on the globe, revelling in a dream-like status only enhanced by the many stories that surround it. To trek here is to follow in the footsteps of mountaineering royalty, to breathe the same thin, high altitude air as the legendary explorers once did, to see these same charismatic peaks all around. It takes twelve days to trek to Everest Base Camp. It’ll feel infinitely longer and yet flash by all in a second.

Everest Base Camp Trek

14. El Caminito de Rey (the Kings Pathway), Andalucia

It looks precarious. A suspended pathway, clinging to the cliff face nearly 100m above the valley floor beneath, traversing along the wall of the El Chorro gorge with nothing but air between the wooden boards and the valley a hundred metres below – there’s no shortage of epic here. But the drama of the King’s Pathway is undermined somewhat by the rigorously high safety standard set for this route since its re-opening in 2015. The history stretches back to 1901, when building began on the route for hydroelectric dam workers – so in just one day, you can walk through nearly 120 years of history.

Walking in Andalucia

15. Tre Cime de Levada Loop, Dolomites

They say good things come in threes, and that’s certainly true of the Tre Cime, the remarkable trio of limestone pinnacles that stand sentinel over the Sexten Dolomites. This could be Italy’s most iconic viewpoint, the three silver-grey shards spearing skywards in a landscape that is shaped by history – this was once the front line in a vicious battle of attrition during the Great War, and that legacy still lingers along these routes. There’s no shortage of fine walking near the Tre Cime, but a loop walk that takes you up to the best vantage points away from the crowds, before drawing you in close to the base of the towers to see them from all perspectives? That’s the best way to see this beautiful scene.

Classic Dolomites

16. Simien Mountains Trek

Ethiopia may just be the most underrated trekking destination in the world. The Simien Mountain stun and surprise at every turn: unexpectedly green, wide exposed plateaux and huge volcanic plugs that earned this landscape the nickname The Chess Pieces of the Gods. What makes this trek epic isn’t just the scenery, though it certainly merits the adjective for that alone, but its wildness. These mountains are vast and untamed; you’re far more likely to bump into a troop of bleeding-heart Gelada baboons than other trekkers.

Simien Mountains Trek

17. Laugavegur Trek

Iceland’s number one trek is like a love letter to the surreal volcanic landscapes of southern Iceland. Full of passion and feeling, this route is a tempestuous one with a rollercoaster of highs and lows, crossing volcanic fissures, gaping craters and rushing rivers. There aren’t many hikes where you can walk on black ash and obsidian shards all day and then camp out under the stars, but here it feels like anything is possible. You can’t expect solid sunshine on this one – these cooled lava flows and many-coloured mountains are too unpredictable for that. What you are guaranteed is six days walking through the kind of scenery that’ll make your heart sing.

Iceland's Laugavegur Trek

18. Camino de Santiago

The Camino is more than just a route, it’s a series of interlinking stories that stretch back thousands of years. Since medieval times people have plodded along the Camino Frances, the most popular of the many varied routes into the cathedral town of Santiago de Compostella in northern Spain. It’s a way that’s open to all – Catholics, atheists, spiritualists, even cyclists these days – and its appeal is simple: the chance to get back to what’s important, to walk through some of the richest cultural heritage these rolling hills have to offer, and to follow in the steps of a fellowship of walkers that stretches back thousands of years.

The Camino de Santiago

19. Mount Aspiring Heli-Hike

In a country renowned as a world-famous hiking destination, how can you pick one hike out from the crowd? New Zealand has some tricks up its sleeve. We're not ones to throw around words like unforgettable, but this trek surely qualifies. Deep in the heart of mountainous South Island, in the fantastically named Mount Aspiring National Park, your trek begins in style: on board a helicopter! Soar over the mountains for a birds-eye view before your landing in the excitingly named Siberia Valley. Here the trekking begins, with an adventurous ascent to the Siberia Hut - but that's only the base camp. Your destination is further on: the glacial lakes which characterise the region. Sun yourself on the edges of Crucible Lake, where huge chunks of startling white ice float in an impossibly bright lake. Swim, if you dare! 

Trekking in New Zealand

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