11 epic treks for first-time hikers

Written by Radha Vyas

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In the mood for a good ol’ trek? Here’s 11 epic hikes that will have you reaching for your boots!

We’ve all been there. You set off on your two-week holiday with big ambitions to spend time pounding the local trails. We visualise returning home with toned thighs and buns of steel… And then you spot the white sandy beach and the all-you-can-eat buffet laden with exotic goodies, and your big plans have quickly gone down the pan – true story!

No-one wants to give up their hard-earned beach time to hike the length and breadth of a whole freakin’ island – or reach the summit of anything taller than an ice cream sundae – so let’s not pretend for a moment that a 10-day hike is on the cards.

That said, walking is like a bubble bath for the soul and we always include a day or two of hiking in all of our itineraries.  After months stuck in the office or dodging traffic in the city, we all need a little time to reconnect with nature and let our minds wander. Hiking doesn’t have to take centre stage to still be an unforgettable experience, so we’ve put together this list of 11 epic hiking trails that take one – two days, max.

Related: 5 mountain ranges to conquer before you’re 50

Epic Hikes: Medicine Grizzly Trail, Montana, USA (1 Day)

Medicine Grizzly Trail, Montana, USA

Medicine Grizzly Trail, Montana, USA

Skip The Narrows, and don’t even bother with the Grand Canyon, if it’s vast landscapes and a taste of the great American wilderness you’re after, head to East Glacier Park in Montana and spend some time soaking up the varied landscape along the 12 mile hike from Pitamakan Pass to Medicine Grizzly Lake. As the name suggests, you might spot a grizzly bear along the way, so be prepared!

Epic Hikes: Sapa, Vietnam (1-2 Days)

Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam

The lush green valleys of Sapa in Vietnam are best known for their iconic rice paddies and distinctive terraced slopes, which makes for ripe stomping grounds with breathtaking scenery and hidden waterfalls at every turn. As part of The Flash Pack tour you’ll also get to explore the remote Northern provinces – home to the Black Zao, H’mong and Tay people – and visit a vibrant Coc Ly village market to fully immerse yourself in the unique culture.

Read more: Vietnam & Cambodia group adventure for solo travellers

Epic Hikes: Skaftafell National Park, Iceland (1 Day)

Skaftafell National Park, Iceland

Skaftafell National Park, Iceland

Skatafell National Park – or Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður as it’s known locally – is an area of protected land east of Reykjavik. The stunning volcanic and glacial scenery will be your reward as you scale Kristínartindar, a fairly challenging 10-mile hike. For an easier hike, consider the amazing Hengill Volcano.

Epic Hikes: Kakku, Burma (1 Day)

Kakku, Burma

Kakku, Burma

There are few sights in the world as visually arresting as the Kakku ruins in Burma – which is why we couldn’t help but work it into our Burma adventure holiday! After being closed to visitors for so long, it almost seems rude not to experience this mysterious corner of the world.

Epic Hikes: Choro Trek, Bolivia (3 Days)

Choro Trek, Bolivia

Choro Trek, Bolivia

If you don’t fancy the crowds and over-inflated prices associated with neighbouring Peru and the Inca Trail, why not set your sights on Bolivia, the heartland of South America. The three-day hike is a lesser-known alternative to Machu Picchu, and you’ll be still be walking along paths paved by the Incas.

Related trip: Head to Bolivia after our Peru group tour

Epic Hikes: Malham Cove, Yorkshire, UK (1 Day)

Malham Cove, Yorkshire, UK

Malham Cove, Yorkshire, UK

A little closer to home, Malham Cove is an easily accessible full-day hike located in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Expect to see waterfalls, lakes, the spoils of a collapsed cave, and a mind-bending limestone pavement.

Epic Hikes: Gran Parque National Sierra Maestra, Cuba (2 Days)

Gran Parque National Sierra Maestra, Cuba

Gran Parque National Sierra Maestra, Cuba

Follow the revolutionary trail and see where Che Guevara cut his teeth. Start at Alto del Naranjo in Granma Province and work your way up to the summit of Pico Turquino over 2-3 days. Take it Comandancia de la Plata and see where the Cuban revolution got its foothold in the hills.

Epic Hikes: Arrabida National Park, Portugal (1 Day)

Arrabida National Park, Portugal

Arrabida National Park, Portugal

Just 30 minutes south of Lisbon – and away from the crowds – you’ll find Arrabida National Park, a mountainous region facing the Atlantic and taking full advantage of that delicious ocean breeze. Take the circular 10-mile Moinhos Track from Palmela, and enjoy views of Lisbon from the summit.

Epic Hikes: Te Araroa, New Zealand (2 Days)

 Te Araroa, New Zealand

Te Araroa, New Zealand

Although in its entirely the Te Araroa trail stretches 1860 miles along the length of New Zealand, it’s easy to pick up part of the trail for a one or two day hike. The 12.5 mile Cape Reinga Coastal Walkway from Cape Reinga to Ninety Mile Beach is the perfect two-day jaunt to punctuate your trip to New Zealand.

Epic Hikes: Toubkal National Park, Morocco (2 Days)

ATLAS_MOUNTAINS_MOROCCO

Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Climb the highest point in Northern Africa with this two-day round trip from Imlil, just a short drive south of Marrakech. You’ll climb to the summit of Mount Toubkal, which is an impressive 4167m, all while enjoying panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains. Swoon!

Related: Join us hiking in the Atlas Mountains on our group adventure for 30 & 40 somethings

Epik Hikes: Dogon, Mali (2 Days)

Dogon, Mali

Dogon, Mali

Exploring the Flintstones-esque Dogon area of Mali should feature high on every bucket list. Tours can last anything up to nine days, but we’d recommend spending a few days getting to know the area with a guide to help you navigate the local customs, and avoid unintentionally offending anyone.

So there you, 11 epic hikes to be conquered! Get out there and explore…


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