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There’s a first time for everything. And if you’re ready for your first summit walking adventure, the choices couldn’t be broader. From far-flung exotic peaks to something a little closer to home, there’s no shortage of ideal mountains which offer plenty of excitement without overwhelming the newbie.
Forget struggling with maps or compasses, an experienced mountain leader will take of the directions so all you need to do is the walking. There are comprehensive packing lists in the trip notes so you’ll not get caught short, and you can prepare yourself by downloading our fitness guide to get to grips with any training you may want to do.
Capture that whirlwind mixture of trepidation and excitement – and know there’s nothing easier than being in expert hands, leaving you free to concentrate on your trek.
Walking in Sri Lanka
Height: 2,243m Activity Level: Moderate Summit day: 4 hours ascent
One of the most sacred summits on the planet, Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka is perfect for a first-time mountain sunrise. Spiritually speaking you can’t go any higher: named after Adam, the first man, and a holy place of pilgrimage, expect to share this summit with many mountain and religious devotees.
Although the most famous peak in Sri Lanka, it’s only the fifth-highest at just over 2,000m and not too strenuous, though expect a pleasing tingle in your legs towards the top.
You ascend at night, a magical experience as you follow paths lined with candles and tea lights, a swaying string of head torches bobbing slowly upwards. Your reward is a spectacular sunrise across the clouds – and tradition dictates you ring the bell to sound out your success.
Find out more: Walking the Highlands of Sri Lanka
Hiking in Eastern Europe
Height: 2,386m Activity Level: Moderate/Challenging Summit day: 4 hours ascent, 9 hours full day walking
Off the beaten track, less famous but equally enticing peaks abound. Eastern Europe is an ideal starting point – these may draw less attention than the headline acts, but have no less beauty or intrigue.
Maglic Mountain is a magnificent beast. Soft, mossy greenery rises through deciduous forests up to hulking limestone rocks, brilliantly bright in the sun. Your route is lined with gorgeous, shimmering lakes – including the famous heart-shaped Trnovacko Lake, a lovely spot to cool your feet.
Find out more: Walking in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Trekking in Morocco
Height: 4,167m Activity Level: Challenging Summit day: 6 hours
Jebel Toubkal is popular for first-time peak baggers, and rightly so. From the heat and energy of Marrakech’s famous souks to the hot and dry valleys dotted with dusky pink villages and splashes of green.
Up past tiny stalls selling sweet orange juice pressed in front of your eyes, to the summit itself, crowned with the distinctive triangular sign at the top: this is a rewarding and satisfying trek.
Attempted in summer, it’s a non-technical walk with glorious views over the scree slopes and peaks of the Atlas Mountains. In winter, it’s a challenge with even more bite as crampons and ice axes are needed up to the snow-shrouded summit.
Find out more: Mount Toubkal Climb
Trekking in Africa
Height: 5,895m Activity Level: Challenging/Tough Summit day: 11 – 15 hours full day
Kilimanjaro: for some, the ultimate trekking achievement – for others, it’s just the beginning.
It’s often someone’s first serious trek, and although undeniably challenging, it’s not technical and accessible to fit, determined summiteers.
What makes the standalone summit of ‘Kili’ special (you can only call it Kili once you’ve summited) is the people, both your fellow trekkers – usually a mix of experienced walkers and bucket-list adventurers – and the Tanzanian guides, assistant guides and porters who look after you on trek.
From advice on your first time at altitude to setting the “pole pole” pace you’ll need to reach that famous sign, they have your backs – every step of the way.
Find out more: Kilimanjaro Climb Lemosho Route
Height: 4,985m Activity Level: Challenging/Tough Summit day: 3 – 4 hours ascent, 6 hours full day
Kilimanjaro isn’t the only summit. The underrated, much quieter neighbour Mount Kenyais considered by many die-hard trekkers as the more beautiful mountain: more greenery, rich with bizarre-looking endemic flora and varied wildlife, mostly monkeys and birds.
At the summit, the triple peaks make for a more unusual view – Kilimanjaro may have the bragging rights, but Kenya is the arthouse film to Kili’s blockbuster. If you want to beat the crowds, Kenya is the answer.
For more about the different activity levels, see our Activity Level Breakdown or if you want to get fit for your first summit, why not look up our walking and trekking fitness guide for advice and exercise plan.
Find more of our summit walking adventures below.