Expect sea breezes, mango trees and encounters with local Carib communities. The walk: Guatemala has many volcanoes to climb and lakes to amble around, but this hike across the remote Cuchamatanes is the top off-beat choice.
You’ll traverse flower-covered plains, pine forest and barren plateaus, while viewpoints might afford glimpses of peaks erupting in the distance. The walk: In the 18th century, the Spanish forged a trail to access their silver mines, located deep in the Utopias Canyon.
Today that remote path is used only by local Tarahumara Indians (famed for their long-distance running prowess), a few plucky trekkers and their load-bearing burros. This is frontier territory, hiking via scree slopes, forested passes, cool pools and caves; there’s also the possibility of meeting Tarahumara farmers en route.
Explore the 100 km of dramatic trails that weave between a clutch of Zapotec villages. The walk: South Africa’s first official hiking trail is a treat.
The route, through gorges, fanboy and the Tsitsikamma Mountains, is testing, but each night ends in an equipped hut, while a porter age service can lighten your load. Highlights include ocean views from Nature’s Valley, gazing into Bloukrans River Gorge and wildlife from bulbs and goshawks to even leopards.
Learn more: Wanderlust's editor-in-chief Lynn Hughes explores the twisting woodland paths, mountains, wildlife reserves and wild coastline of South Africa's Eastern Cape. There are six routes: Macrame (49 km) is tough but dramatic; quieter Ronnie (65 km) allows for more acclimatization and has a high success rate.
Whichever you pick, altitude is the biggest concern, and sweat, tears, carbs and camaraderie are guaranteed. The walk: The summit of North Africa’s highest peak is a relatively simple hike up from the Neither Refuge.
This is African hiking, across rugged volcanic escarpments seemingly untouched by time. Routes vary, but often include a summit attempt on Ra's Dashed (4,620 m), the country’s highest peak, and stops at village mud-huts to drink coffee like a local.
The walk: The Path of the Gods traces one of the Mali Coast’s most handsome sections. Following old mule trails, it skirts vineyards and rolls over valley sides cloaked in hold oak and heather, offering views down the cliffs to the Med beyond.
The Blue Trail between Liguria’s five coastal villages is a compact Italian classic. Difficulty: Moderate to tough, with plentiful refuges and villages accessible from several points.
There are stiff climbs, some steep ladders and snow is always possible, but plentiful accommodation choices mean you can tackle it at your own pace. Difficulty: Long but moderate if paced, with allergies and villages to stop over in.
There are six huts en route, with dorms, tent pitches, toilets, showers but no food. Peaks come in reds, yellows, greens and purples; blinding-white glaciers creak, hot springs burble, lakes and rivers glitter.
The trekking season is short (mid-June to early September), so the trail can get busy, but the wonderful weirdness of Iceland’s geothermal geography is more than compensation. If you like this, try... Borgarfjörður EISTI, an inlet in eastern Iceland that is riddled with walking trails and elvish legends.
It’s riddled with coves, caves and brilliant beaches; and it’s infused with the scent of wild strawberries, juniper and pine. Camping is possible, but best is to stay in guesthouses, to meet the locals who call this handsome coastline home.
Follow in the saint’s footsteps for 500 km, from Merge, near Antalya, to Alva, close to Lake Girder. Difficulty: Moderate but short, with huts en route and trains/cable cars at each end.
Accessed by 19th-century cog railway from Wilderswil, it offers views over blue-turquoise lakes Thun and Brain to one side, the amassed peaks of the Bernese Overland on the other. Green, curving valleys, dramatic ridge walking, a 2,680 m-high mountain lodge (a good refreshment stop) and mirror lakes are added extras.
A scenic cable car from First to Grunewald even saves the walk back down to the valley floor. For a longer Swiss stroll, try the tough but magnificent 145 km route around this iconic mountain.
There are also rivers to ford, gullies to cross, ladders to climb, bears to avoid and inclement weather to contend with. But the rewards are many: this is North America at its most pristine, where the trail runs via old-growth forest, untouched beaches, caves, coves, cliffs and incredible sunsets.
The walk: It’s fitting that the man who spearheaded the national parks' movement should have such a world -class wilderness-traversing trail named after him. Muir loved Yosemite, where this backcountry adventure starts; the route then wends further into the Sierra Nevada, where highlights include meadows strewn with wildflowers, remote Evolution Lake and the pretty pools at Rae.
Chamberlain’s Ranch to the Temple of Sinatra, Zion NP, Utah, USA The walk: Breathe in for this squeeze down one of southwest USA’s most dramatic slot canyons.
If you like this, try... Paris Canyon to Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness (Utah to Arizona). Set off from Wire Pass trailhead to check out the weird and wonderful rock formations such as The Wave.
Doable as a long day-hike, there are campgrounds en route for those who want to linger; for even better hiking, use the camp at the lake as a base for forays into the surrounding wilds. The walk: The ‘Inca Trail of the Middle East’ wends from the wildlife-filled forests of Dana Nature Reserve to the rock-hewn ‘lost’ city of Petra, with some truly intoxicating desert in between.
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia with spectral overnight hikes in the Jordanian desert. The walk: Many a traveler hauls themselves up 2,285 m Mount Sinai for sunrise, a two-to-three-hour hike in the dark from St Catherine’s Monastery.
However, the entire peninsula is scored with old pilgrim paths and mule tracks that could occupy several days. You can summit Mount Saint Catherine (2,641 m), Sinai’s highest peak; hike into El Sh egg Gorge to bathe in nearby pools; or climb to the ruined Ottoman castle on Mount Abbas Pasha.
Throughout, the desert terrain is wild, and rich in biblical and Bedouin intrigue. Camp and hike out amid the weird chalk formations of Egypt’s Western Desert, on the fringes of the Sahara.
Guided options are available (including a ‘posh’ version using private huts) The walk: Starting from Cradle Mountain and passing wizened rainforest, glacier-gouged valleys, towering eucalyptus and golden moorland, this classic sums up the Cassie wilderness.
At Lake Sinclair, finish with a ferry ride, or extend your trip by walking an extra 17.5 km around its shore. Saunter in style on a luxurious four-day guided hike across Cassie’s pristine east-coast isle.
This 46 km Great Walk explores North Island’s lesser-visited Te Brewery National Park, rich in Maori history. The walk: Australia has many trails but this is perhaps the most quintessentially ‘Oz’: starting from the Red Center capital of Alice, it goes bush along the spine of the West MacDonnell Ranges, incorporating red rocks and desert, deep gorges, cooling creeks, termite mounds and star-filled skies.
It’s broken into 12 sections, and each trailhead is vehicle-accessible making short forays easy to arrange. Difficulty: Tough, but humid with jungle camps, homestays, and villages en route.
The walk: In 1942, this jungle trail was the site of fierce fighting between Japanese and Australian troops; today it’s filled with hikers battling humidity, bugs and torrential rain. This isn’t a comfortable undertaking, involving steep, slippery ascents, raging rivers and sticky conditions, but pay-offs include fascinating Second World War history, tribal encounters and Technicolor birds of paradise.
This mammoth hike across the Nepalese Himalaya is formed of 10 connecting sections (two to three weeks each), so the less gunshot can still have a go at a bit of it. Also, there’s a ‘cultural’ version (1,500 km), which uses gentler, lower altitude trails, and where small guesthouses offer a warm namaste each night.
Spend five or six days looping around the culturally distinct villages of eastern Bhutan. The walk: A circumambulation of Baileys won’t just test your legs, it will sort your karma: Buddhists, Boys, Hindus and Jain's all believe that a lifetime’s sins can be expunged by completing a circuit (Korea) of the unmistakable 6,714 m mountain.
Starting or finishing at Mew To, the route feels far from the metropolis, taking in temples, beaches, fishing villages and gardens. This 100 km trek traverses Hong Kong’s New Territories for more alternative city views.
The walk: From Gandalf, the 3,636 m zenith of this route near the tea terraces of Darjeeling, you can look out over the world’s highest peaks: Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Everest. As you trek between tea houses, you’ll stop en route to admire Hindu temples, prayer wheels and red pandas.
The walk: Although it weaves amid remote, spectacular mountains, this is no wilderness adventure. Dubbed the ‘tea house trek’, you’ll interact and stay with the varied ethnic groups that live here.
As well as high passes (peaking at 5,416 m Throng La), lonely steps, lush paddies and barren moonscapes, there are yak herders, reviving hot springs and guesthouses serving curry and cake. Options abound too: cut the trek in half by flying into/out of midway Folsom.