The Best Hikes in the World
1. Corsica: The GR20
This is the most spectacular trail in Europe, as well as the hardest, crossing Corsica from the north-west to the south-east. It's 180km long with 10,000m of variation in altitude. There are snowy peaks, pine forests, glacial lakes and jaw-dropping views towards the Mediterranean. You can walk it in 15 days with overnight stops in mountain huts, which sleep up to 50 in dormitories. July and August are inevitably crowded and only experienced cross-country skiers can do it in winter, so June or September are the best months. What are you waiting for?
2. USA: the Appalachian Trail
The Daddy of hiking trails - this is 3500km long and stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Every year a few dedicated hikers (known as 'thru-hikers') complete the whole trail in about six months. There are bears, although fortunately few people actually meet them, deer, elk and, in the northern parts, moose. Rattlesnakes and copperheads are also common. The landscape is as spectacular as it is varied: the trail is both above and below the treeline, the highest point being around 1900m. Complete it and you get to become a '2000 miler' and join a club of only around 11,000 people.
3. Peru: the Inca Trail
Thirty years ago anyone could walk this trail, camping along the way and arriving at the 'lost city' of Macchu Picchu in the early morning before the first tourist trains unloaded their passengers below the city. Sadly, the city is a lot less 'lost' today and you will have to reserve a place on an organised tour for the 39km hike. It is still the greatest way to arrive at Macchu Picchu - seeing the city for the first time after 3-4 days of hiking is a magical experience. The trek may seem a long one, but the trail reaches over 4000m and altitude sickness can be a problem without proper acclimatisation.
4. New Zealand: Te Araroa
If you want to experience Frodo's journey in the Lord of the Rings, this is the best way to do it. Only completed in 2011, this 3000km trail stretches the whole length of New Zealand. It encompasses an incredible variety of landscapes, from rural to urban and from volcanic peaks to coastal plains. Very few people have completed the whole trail so be one of the pioneers and find out why New Zealand is such a remarkable place.
5. Nepal: The Great Himalaya Trail
The reward in this incredible hike is to see many of the world's most famous mountains including Everest. It is also a unique chance to encounter cultures that have hardly changed in hundreds of years.The 'GHT' will eventually cover about 4500km but for now you will have to focus on the 1600km section in Nepal (there is also a section in Bhutan). It's not just the distance that is challenging - the trail takes in at least three passes at over 6500m high.