20 Best Hikes of a Lifetime 2019

By: Heather Howard

Heather Howard has a passion for travel writing and marketing and loves inspiring people to explore new places. She has laced up her boots for many rugged hikes, from the Scottish Highlands to Alaska, Provence to Peru. She loves the fun of group travel and her top US travel tip is to explore Idaho's River of No Return Wilderness.

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October 5, 2018 | Adventure Experts

20 Best Hikes of a Lifetime

Each year, the travel experts at MT Sobek curate their top 20 hiking experiences for the year ahead. In 2019, this includes incredible trips such as our 50th Anniversary Everest Base Camp Trek, and retro adventures in Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash and Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland. It also includes new experiential adventures such as barefoot trekking! Following ancient paths, pilgrimage routes, inn-to-inn trails, and new routes that have been carved out across dramatic landscapes, you too can experience the thrill of the journey and the many rewards of making it to the end. Which hike is next on your list?

1. 50th Anniversary Everest Base Camp Trek

Shown in all its glory on the big screen in Everest, base camp is a place of wonder—even if you’re not heading to the top—and the journey through the Himalayan landscape to get there is nothing short of a true quest. Our 50th Anniversary trek is led by senior MT Sobek guides, Lhakpa Sherpa, Erik Perez, and Sergio Fitch-Watkins.

2. England Coast to Coast

There are few treks as satisfying to serious hikers as England’s classic 192-mile “Coast-to-Coast” trail. Beginning at the Irish Sea and ending at the North Sea, you’ll cross the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and North Yorkshire Moors.

3. Summit Kilimanjaro

This trek to the “roof of Africa” combines smart scheduling with spectacular beauty. Beginning in the rain forest at 6,400 feet, you’ll climb through magnificent alpine scenery, gazing at the mountain’s southern glaciers from the hauntingly beautiful Great Barranco Valley, before making your summit bid to 19,340 feet.

4. El Camino de Santiago

For over a thousand years, the faithful have journeyed across northern Spain to the shrine of St. James the Great in Santiago de Compostela. Known as the Camino de Santiago, this epic pilgrimage is an unforgettable adventure and among MT Sobek’s most popular.

5. The John Muir Trail

Tracing the spine of the Sierra Nevada, the long-distance John Muir Trail is nearly as celebrated at the naturalist himself! Take the strenuous version northbound to Yosemite National Park or go for an ultimate challenge, and head southbound to Mount Whitney.

6. The Paine Circuit

With its near-vertical spires soaring high above the plains, Chile’s Torres del Paine massif is a scenic marvel, a place where every serious mountain lover must go. On the famous “W” route, you’ll hike deep into the remote wilderness of southern Chile.

7. Machu Picchu Inn-to-Inn Trek

Our popular Inn-to-Inn itinerary, following the Salkantay route, lets you experience Peru’s most famous sites and was selected as one of National Geographic Traveler’s “Tours of a Lifetime.” Enjoy the challenge of a high-altitude trek with the comfort of well-appointed lodges.

8. The Chomolhari Trek in Bhutan

This memorable trek is one of our few ultimate challenges. Set in the magical kingdom of Bhutan, you’ll immerse yourself in Buddhist culture by visiting its famous dzongs (citadels) and monasteries, like the “Tiger’s Nest” and “The Temple of the White Dove.”

9. Trekking Peru’s Cordillera Blanca

Even die-hard fans of the Himalaya concede the extraordinary beauty of Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, the highest tropical mountain range in the world. Challenging? Yes, but a fantastic, bucket-list triumph for those whose hearts lie at the planet’s most impressive heights.

10. Tour du Mont Blanc

Having led trips to the Alps for over four decades has given us more than our fair share of bias, but the Tour du Mont Blanc is one of our favorite itineraries. Trek the classic 10-day circuit of the Mont Blanc massif—a “must-do” for every hiker!

11. Hiker’s Patagonia

This trip includes some of the most incredible day hikes in Patagonia. Take a path through the Ascenio Valley to the majestic slopes below Torres del Paine, hike beneath the jagged Cuernos del Paine massif, and take the cirque of the French Valley—all spectacular feats!

12. Across the Pyrenees

Join expert MT Sobek guide Erik Perez for an unforgettable adventure from Bilbao to Barcelona, through Aragon and Catalonia. Hike through the dramatic landscapes of the Pyrenees, including Ordesa National Park, known as the “Spanish Grand Canyon.”

13. Walking Japan

On the age-old Nakasendo trail, you’ll walk on undulating forested paths through the misty landscapes of the Kiso Valley, and enjoy the serenity of the route as it weaves its way beside rice fields and through pretty villages.

14. Hiking Wild Scotland

Experience the raw wildness of the Outer Hebrides and the gorgeous, windswept terrain of Cairngorms National Park on this exclusive itinerary full of heart-pumping hikes. Find yourself amid Scotland’s wildest, most beautiful and most far-flung corners.

15. Hiking Portugal’s Historic Villages

This adventure in Portugal includes an enchanting day hike through an ancient land of charming stone villages, including the medieval mountain-top village of Monsanto. Rocky cliffs and labyrinthine streets, flower-covered houses and panoramic views make this journey a guest favorite.

16. Trekking in the Cordillera Huayhuash

Challenge yourself with 11 days of high-altitude hiking over 16,000 feet on this historic MT Sobek circuit. We first hiked in the Huayhuash in 1982 and after many successful years in the region, we decided to retire the trip. We’re now bringing it out of the vault for our 50th year thanks to popular demand for our return to the Huayhuash.

17. Trekking in the Bernese Oberland

Hike 70 miles through the iconic landscapes of Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland: Jungfrau (Maiden), Monch (Monk), and Eiger (Ogre). Along the way explore postcard-perfect Swiss alpine villages, such as Lenk and Murren, and spend nights at charming hotels.

18. Lebanon Mountain Trail Adventure

Blend cultural immersion and hiking as you experience 23 miles of the Lebanon Mountain Trail, an incredible route that traverses nearly 300 miles from Andaket to Marjayoun. Emerge from sweeping cedar forests to explore ancient Phoenician cities, fortresses, monasteries, souks, and more.

19. Barefoot Trekking in Brazil

Barefoot trekking is possible–and sometimes necessary. In Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, the sand is so soft that it’s advisable to make the trip in bare feet or socks. Not only does it give you more stability, and minimize blisters from sand in your shoes, it feels amazing! Oh, and if you need a refreshing dip, lagoons spring up during the rainy season, thanks to the mangroves that lie beneath. Hike between 3 and 7 miles per day in a place that you need to see to believe.

20. The Bumthang Owl Trek

Traverse mist-covered mountains, scenic passes, suspension bridges, and fertile valleys as you enjoy three days on Bhutan’s Bumthang Owl Trek. Bookend the 30-mile hike with explorations of remote villages in Bhutan’s cultural heartland.

Interested in any of these hikes? Click on the images to learn more!