These trails will take you to destinations you've never seen before.

By Stephanie Walden
Updated: June 13, 2019
Benjawan Sittidech/Getty Images

Machu Picchu’s Inca Trail isn’t the only scenic hike worth the long flight and a trek up a mountain. There are plenty of gorgeous, highly sought-after hikes adventurous spirits will travel to the ends of the earth to experience (and document on Instagram).

For anyone who considers Merrell hiking boots and a Lifestraw water bottle must-pack items in their carry-on, there are countless corners of the world that offer unparalleled views and an invigorating adrenaline rush — without an onslaught of tourists.

These amazing hikes are guaranteed to appeal to any adventure traveler.

Hike a volcano in Indonesia

Tan Jee Kwong/Flickr Vision

Volcano hiking in Indonesia is an extraordinary experience. There are dozens of options to choose from, ranging in intensity from several-hour, beginner-level hikes to multi-day treks along active (sometimes very active) volcanoes.

Mount Bromo in Java is arguably the most popular Volcano hike in Indonesia, though some visitors complain that tourists and cars crowd the summit. Alternatives include Mount Kerinci in Sumatra, which is the highest volcano in Indonesia (a three-day, two-night hike; intermediate level); and sunrise hiking either Mount Batur (easier) or Mount Agung (more challenging) in Bali.

For truly unique natural scenery, the Ijen Crater in Java is home to the world’s largest acidic volcanic lake. The water shimmers a brilliant turquoise during the day, and after dark puts on an exquisite show of blue flames for hikers willing to brave the night. The hike itself is relatively beginner-level, although proper hiking boots are recommended.

Trek through the jungle in Central or South America

Simon Dannhauer/Getty Images

Meandering through Monteverde’s Cloud Forest is the very epitome of Costa Rican relaxation. Visitors can zip line, walk amongst the forest canopies via suspension bridge, and mingle with thousands of species of exotic birds, insects, and other wildlife. Though the Cloud Forest itself is considered “touristy,” the nearby Santa Elena Reserve contains eight miles of trails (of varying difficulty levels) with a fraction of the crowds.

For serious jungle hikers seeking more of a challenge, the trail to Colombia’s Ciudad Perdida (“Lost City”) is as stunning as it is storied. The trek’s main attraction, an ancient settlement of dilapidated ruins, was unknown to the Western world until the 1970s. It’s not possible to visit the ruins without the aid of a guided tour; it’s also worth noting that the entrance to the city is only accessible via 1,350 stone steps through dense jungle. This hike isn’t for the faint-willed.

Soak in the sights of the Norwegian Fjords

Simon Dannhauer/Getty Images

Hiking is one of the most immersive ways to get a glimpse of the natural landscapes Norway is famous for. With 44 natural parks and hiking trails that range from easy, self-guided hikes to steep, near-vertical climbs, Norway has something for nearly every type of trekker.

Beginner hikers will want to stick to day treks such as Preikestolen (“Pulpit Rock”), which takes around four hours; more advanced adventure-seekers might tackle glacier hikes and/or the 12-hour trek to Trolltunga (“Troll’s Tongue”), a challenging ascent that’s only accessible during Norway’s short summer season.

Navigate the Narrows in Zion National Park

iStockphoto/Getty Images

In Zion National Park, the canyon at the north fork of Virgin River is affectionately referred to as “The Narrows” — mainly because of the trail’s distinctive tapered paths surrounded by sheer cliffs. Trekking through the Narrows is a visually stunning experience featuring stark juxtaposition of teal waters and ochre canyon walls.

Trekkers can choose from several options: a casual “bottom-up” day hike for the beginners; a strenuous “top-down” 12-hour day hike; or a two-day backpacking trek through 16 miles of Zion’s most famous canyon. All “top-down” hikes — read: anything above beginner-level — require Zion permits. Keep in mind that the Narrows is often closed between mid-March and late May due to unsafe weather conditions.

Explore the “Mountains on the Moon” in Uganda

Guenter Guni/Getty Images

One of the longer and more rigorous hikes on this list, tackling the Rwenzoris is well worth it for serious adventure travelers—and it’s a less crowded, less expensive alternative to Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highly sought-after tallest peak. The Rwenzori mountain range borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. Mount Stanley is the highest peak in Uganda at 5,109 meters.

You may not think “ice” when envisioning Africa’s multifarious landscapes, but the Rwenzoris contain not only the lush flora and fauna the continent is known for, but also equatorial glaciers and otherworldly mist. Trekkers consistently cite the scenery as some of the most surreal they’ve ever seen.

There are multiple routes through the Rwenzoris that range in intensity, as well as several organizations to help you plan a guided trek; the average hike here takes around seven days to complete.

Knock Patagonia off your Bucket List

Graciela Pierre/Getty Images

Argentina’s jaw-dropping Mount Fitz Roy tops many serious hikers’ bucket list for a reason: The incredibly diverse landscape is truly a once-in-a-lifetime sight to behold. There are at least a dozen route options, that range dramatically in difficulty and time commitment. The trek circuits are clearly marked, and for the hardy hiker with his or her own gear, it’s not necessary to enlist the help of a guide.

Either in addition to Fitz Roy or in its stead, the Torres del Paine W Circuit is another hugely popular option among Patagonia-bound outdoors enthusiasts. The trail hits a number of highlights, including Los Torres, Los Cuernos, Valle Frances, Paine Grande, and Glacier Grey; it takes five- to seven-days, and trekkers can expect to hike five to eight hours per day.

Advertisement