Start searching for a trek online and before long you’ll be inundated with offers to go to Everest Base Camp, climb Kilimanjaro, hike the Inca Trail or tackle Morocco’s Jebel Toubkal.
While there’s nothing wrong with any of those trips, it gets a little bit frustrating when you’re looking for something new and makes the process of matching lesser-known treks with the time of year you want to go exhaustive.
So below is an easy-access guide to some of the best treks in the world (the ones you might not have already thought of), mapped out over 12 months.
If you know of an even better hidden gem for any of the months, let us know about it by leaving a comment at the bottom of the post, tweeting @Matt_LFA or visiting the Live For Adventure Facebook page.
Zanskar frozen river trek, India
This ancient trade route is home to one of the world’s most unique and demanding winter treks. The high passes that flank the river are closed by snow, meaning the only way through the valley is to walk on the ice of the frozen Zanskar River. Temperatures can be as low as -20 during the day and -35 at night, but the awe-inspiring scenery and warmth of the local people more than compensate on an unforgettable journey that can take between two and three weeks.
Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
There might not be snow and ice atop the high peaks of Ethiopia but that’s not to say you won’t encounter some of the most abstract and enchanting mountain scenery anywhere in the world. Vast canyons undercut highland ridges and summits that soar to over 4,000m, while wildlife and rich local culture are abundant in thrilling range that can be trekked for anywhere between four and 12 days.
Routeburn Track, New Zealand
Although only a short trek of about 32km and three days, the Routeburn combines the jewels in the South Island’s crown – the Southern Alps and Fiordland – and duly delivers a bewildering array of scenery, ranging from humbling mountains and rock faces to idyllic lakes, rivers and waterfalls.
Manaslu circuit, Nepal
Don’t be put off Nepal by the crowds that throng the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna trails. There are plenty of other equally stunning yet relatively untouched treks elsewhere in the country – and few more so than the Manaslu circuit. An 18-day hike will take you on one of the most spectacular and least-crowded Himalayan journeys and into a part if the mountains where Nepali culture is at its most vibrant.
Cordillera Real traverse, Bolivia
Bolivia’s trekking scene tends to get overshadowed by the classic routes of Peru and the appeal of its own relatively easy-to-climb 6,000m peaks. However, just north of La Paz lays the Cordillera Real and a feast of hiking opportunities. A full traverse of the range will take around two weeks, lifting you up on to the shoulders of Andean giants, over myriad high passes and beside picture-perfect lakes.
Greenland can too easily be overlooked as a destination only for polar explorers. Yet when the summer season begins, the outer edges of this giant country become home to some of the most magnificent and exclusive hiking anywhere in the world. Rolling hills, glaciers and fjords littered with huge blocks of ice punctuate this most wild of landscapes, where silence, solitude and space exist in abundance and treks can last as long as long or short as you like.
Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan
Until recently one of the best-kept secrets of the Himalayas, the remote Tien Shan mountains form one of the most unspoilt ranges on the planet and offer trekking through lush, forested valleys and past soaring snow-capped peaks, picture-book lakes and dramatic glaciers. Treks last for up to two weeks and also provide the opportunity to experience the unique lifestyles of the nomadic Krygyz people.
K2 Baltoro Glacier trek, Pakistan
Leading up to what Reinhold Messner called the “mountain of mountains” lies the trek of treks: a 60km road of ice flanked by some of the most famed rock formations on Earth, including the magnificent Trango Towers, and culminating at Concordia, home to the largest concentration of the world’s highest peaks. The journey can take between two and three weeks and can be combined with a trip to K2 base camp.
Widely regarded as the toughest trek in Europe and one of the hardest in the world, the 15-day GR20 takes walkers on a 180km vertical bisection of Corsica, over rugged and varied terrain and through awe-inspiring scenery. Some sections require scrambling and a head for heights as mental and physical stamina are tested to the limit on this most challenging of treks.
Snowman trek, Bhutan
Bhutan is one of the world’s most exclusive adventure destinations and the 24-day Snowman trek is the centrepiece of its outdoor offering. The testing trail takes you deep into one of the most remote, beautiful and least-visited parts of the Himalayas, reaching over 5,000m as it skirts soaring mountains while passing through fascinating villages and tranquil valleys.
Torres del Paine, Patagonia
No year of trekking would be complete without a trip to Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park is an unmissable highlight. This truly stunning corner of the world can be trekked in either a nine-day circuit or a four-day W-shaped route that is both varied in terrain and littered with spectacular vistas. The Torres del Paine, Los Cuernos and Glacier Grey are just some of the majestic sights to be enjoyed.
Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, Colombia
A relatively untouched and up-and-coming part of the Andes when compared with the likes of Peru but a no less stunning setting. A challenging, six-day trek will take you on a circuit around a series of 5,000m peaks that make up Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy. The route, which is mostly clearly marked, climbs over several high passes of up to 4,500m and past various picture-perfect glaciers and lakes.