Take a Peak: Six Ultimate Hiking Destinations
There is something elemental about the mountains which elevates most people into another world. Nothing compares to the feeling of conquering an adventure in a new place and seeing the sights from a different vantage point. In fact, in a recent survey of global travelers, well over half (57%)* stated that being physically active is a personal motivation to travel. For those up for a challenge in the great outdoors, why not make the next vacation a hiking trip to remember? With a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, we have compiled a list of some of the most breathtaking treks around the world. From the mighty Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa to the Himalayas in India, these destinations all offer unforgettable experiences for hikers of all fitness levels – and unrivalled trips of a lifetime.
Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania is a true marvel of nature. The mountain is one of the world's seven summits and is the highest free standing mountain in the world at 19,340 ft (5,895 m) above sea level. Hikers can choose to experience a day hike, or to reach the summit which can take between five to seven days to complete and covers 35 miles (56 km). There are a number of different trails to take on this challenge, all of which are loaded with amazing views and wildlife. The city of Arusha is located at the base of the volcanic Mount Meru and is a gateway to Kilimanjaro and several magnificent safari parks. For those who would prefer a more leisurely hike with a culture fix, book a Waterfall and Coffee Tour from Moshi to experience the beautiful Materuni Waterfall and the coffee culture and local life of the Chagga tribe at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Where to stay: Kutoka Lodge is a calm and peaceful oasis situated just outside Arusha, and a great place to stay before or after you take on the incredible Mount Kilimanjaro. This traditional African lodge offers a superb restaurant serving delicious local cuisine such as beef stew and sweet plantains, and rooms boast impressive views of the mountains from the private balconies. A continental breakfast is available daily with fresh pastries and ripe fruits, while a barbecue in the garden allows travelers to eat alfresco amongst the acacia trees and enjoy the wide range of birdlife there from hummingbirds to herons.
Springer Mountain in Ellijay, United States
Springer Mountain is one of Georgia’s most popular hiking destinations, with its rocky slopes giving way to beautiful views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountain range. The Appalachian Trail departs from the summit and is one of the longest hiking paths in the world, taking hikers through 14 states from Georgia to Maine over a timeframe of five to seven months. The full trek is over 2,000 miles (3200 km) mainly through wilderness, but hikers have the option to do portions of the track in all the states it passes through. Considered a moderately challenging route, the 10 miles (16.1km) circular trail to the Springer Mountain summit is a popular trail for backpacking, birding and camping and travelers can enjoy solitude during quieter times of the day. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful through all seasons, showcasing wildflowers in the summer and colorful hues in the fall and winter. Dogs are welcome too and can be off lead in some areas, handy for the 60% of travelers who want to plan travel with their pet’s needs in mind.**
Where to stay: Nestled in the beautiful north Georgia mountains, the Villas at Gingershack Farms offer a remote stay where guests can immerse in the sounds of nature including a trickling creek and joyous birdsong. Ideally located just a short drive away from the Springer Mountains, each cabin comes with blissfully comfy beds, a fully equipped kitchen, washing machine and beautiful river views. Guests can feed chickens and goats at the small animal farm and enjoy the Appalachian arts and crafts on offer from the stay’s welcoming hosts, or gather together around a warming campfire toasting ‘smores at the end of the day.
The easy Nagarkot nature walk is one of the most popular day hikes in the Kathmandu valley, and loops around the village of Nagarkot passing terraced hills, forests and fields of mustard flowers. Hikers will walk through rustic mud brick farmhouses in the Tamang villages up to the Nagarkot viewing tower and be rewarded with panoramic views of the snow-capped Himalayan mountains and incredible sunrise views of Mount Everest. The heady scent of pine and rhododendron-filled woodland makes the ascent even sweeter. Travelers can maximize their vacation with a Full-day Tour of Kathmandu's UNESCO-listed sites visiting ancient Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries and stopping at local restaurants and markets to get a feel for the bustling capital city.
Where to stay: Located in the Kathmandu valley, ROKPA Guest House is just a short walk from the incredible Boudha Stupa, the holiest Tibetan Stupa and a UNESCO World Heritage site. This laidback guesthouse offers incredible views which guests can appreciate from the comfort of their beds, and a tranquil garden where they can tuck into breakfast. Its contemporary bistro-style restaurant and cafe is open all day and serves a variety of traditional Nepali and international meals, Himalayan coffee and baked goods to fuel up on. A great place to relax ahead of a hiking trip, there’s a library, a movie room and contemplative views of the mountains. This Booking.com Travel Sustainable property is also part of the ROKPA NGO charity and invests a percentage of its revenue to support local projects.
Morocco's Atlas Mountains holds the highest summit in northern Africa, standing 13,671 ft (4,167m) above sea level – and the Toubkal Circuit provides a trail that loops around the peak. One of Africa’s finest multi-day treks, this 37 mile (60 km) trail traverses oasis valleys, mountain passes and panoramic ridges and provides travelers with plenty of opportunities to take stunning photos, including the magnificent turquoise Lake Ifni. Popular itineraries range from between two to seven days in length and most hikers camp overnight, with some locals offering beds in their homes at low cost. Travelers can also experience Africa’s second highest peak, Mount Toubkal, on a guided tour around the High Atlas and Desert Agafay where they will discover cascading waterfalls and can immerse themselves in the Berber culture, visiting an indigenous community for tea.
Where to stay: The lavish Kasbah Tamadot hotel is perched in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, a short distance from the Toubkal Circuit and Marrakech and a popular location for hikers. Accommodations range from opulent rooms and suites to Berber-style tents, all featuring richly colored fabrics, Moroccan antiques and intricately carved wood. The hotel boasts a luxury spa, infinity pool, landscaped gardens with gazebos and an open-air cinema so guests can treat themselves to the ultimate relaxation after trekking. Moroccan and international dishes are served at the onsite restaurant on a terrace overlooking the rust-colored valley, and guests can end the day soaking tired muscles in their private plunge pools or hot tubs beneath a sky of dazzling stars.
Mae Salong Tea Trail in Mae Salong Nai, Thailand
Boucle Mae Salong is located in northern Thailand where hikers can try out a 1.9 mile (3.1km) trail near Chiang Rai. This easy yet rewarding route starts from Ban Mai Snati and runs through stretches of forest and tea plantations in the valley. The best times to visit this trail is November through to February where walkers can enjoy some solitude during quieter times of the day. There are various types of plants and wildlife to observe along the way, and chances to stop and try the leaves steeped in water for a refreshing tea made by locals. Travelers have the choice of hiking by themselves or experiencing this amazing adventure with a local guide. Mae Salong Nai is known for its famous golden triangle, and visitors can book a Chiang Rai and Golden Triangle Private Tour where they will visit the old riverside city of Chiang Saen and a traditional village to meet the Long Neck Karen tribe.
Where to stay: Surrounded by verdant forests, Katiliya Mountain Resort And Spa is nestled within the mist-shrouded hills of northern Thailand near Chiang Rai. This atmospheric hotel brings contemporary luxury to the secluded town, and its spacious accommodation includes large private balconies with magnificent views of the green valleys and mountain lakes. Guests can unwind at the spa which offers a variety of massages to soothe and revitalize tired muscles following a grueling hike, or feast at the roof-terraced restaurant with its selection of Thai and international cuisines made from organic food. Within the grounds of this Booking.com Travel Sustainable property is a sprawling nature park, home to over 100 animals and a macaw and bird sanctuary, while the hotel is beautifully decorated with locally-sourced materials including indigenous wood.
The Himalayas in Mukteshwar, India
The Himalayas is the highest mountain range in the world, known for its steep-sided jagged peaks and alpine glaciers that stretch uninterruptedly across the northeastern portion of India. Covering over 1,500 miles (2,400km) and passing through Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Bhutan and Nepal, the range features the highest peak on earth, Mount Everest. Rich in biodiversity, climates range from tropical at the base of the mountains to perennial snow and ice at the highest elevations. Situated in the foothills in India, the misty village of Mukteshwar is a popular trekking destination for travelers and is blessed with some of the most spectacular views of the Himalayan ranges. The enchanting forests and stone cottages give the village a unique identity, and allow travelers to get up close and personal with the Himalayas without having to trek for days or drive through dangerous terrain. Mukteshwar has several great multi-day hiking trails routes for all abilities including the famous Temple and Padampuri Stream Treks.
Where to stay: The guest house SHIVAYA since 1953 is situated in the serene village of Mukteshwar, a short drive away from the Bhimtal Lake. This boutique property provides guests with magical views of the Himalayan range close to where the hiking trails begin. Built in 1953, the family-run hotel has a rich history and features warm décor allowing guests to relax after hiking. The Booking.com Travel Sustainable property has an organic kitchen garden onsite and sources more organic produce from local farms. Guests can savor breakfast in the outdoor glasshouse, or take the weight off their feet and soak up incredible sunsets and mountain views from their private terraces. The hotel offers free bicycle hire for those keen to explore the surrounding area, from the nearby ancient Hindu Mukteshwar Temple to the beautiful Bhalu Gaad Waterfall.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 47,728 respondents across 28 markets (1,997 from USA, 1,987 from Canada, 1,999 from Mexico, 2,003 from Colombia, 1,996 from Brazil, 2,002 from Argentina, 1,994 from Australia, 985 from New Zealand, 1,993 from Spain, 1,993 from Italy, 1,993 from France, 1,984 from UK, 1,989 from Germany, 1,977 from Netherlands, 983 from Denmark, 986 from Sweden, 998 from Croatia, 1,997 from Russia, 999 from Israel, 1,997 from India, 1,992 from China, 991 from Hong Kong, 1,991 from Thailand, 1,977 from Singapore, 998 from Taiwan, 953 from Vietnam, 1,990 from South Korea, 1,987 from Japan). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in November 2020.
**Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.