Freedom. Fresh air. Exploration. Adventure. We could write an ode to trekking a page long, but instead we’ve condensed our love for putting one foot after the other on a weathered trail into three long-distance treks. One’s in Europe; one’s in North America and the third is in Asia.
The Haute Route
Route: Chamonix, France – Zermatt, Switzerland (or in reverse)
High alpine meadows, hanging glaciers, snow-capped peaks, crystal clear lakes, fairy-tale forests and the luxury of staying in refuges with breakfast and dinner included. But don’t be lulled into thinking it’s easy, however, just because you’ll get a warm bed each night. The trek itself can be demanding, notably because of the constant ascending and descending of often steep alpine trails. But the views and the opportunity to meet like-minded fellow trekkers make it worth all the effort. Seeing both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn in one trek means you get the ultimate bang for your buck.
The Pacific Crest Trail
Route: US/Mexico border – US/Canada border
Difficulty: tough, but can be broken down into segments
The PCT has to be one of the world’s greatest through-hikes. The scenery is constantly changing; the path itself ranges from relatively easy to incredibly tough; the wildlife is definitely on the wild side. The diversity and dynamism of this trek offers make it virtually unsurpassable.
If the full distance sounds daunting, you can break it up into sections, which are doable in a few days or weeks. (More on that here: https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/day-and-section-hiking/) Most commonly, people walk northwards because of the weather (to avoid route-blocking snowfall, mostly); but if you’re experienced and want to avoid the crowds, try walking south instead.
Just as some (crazy) inspiration, the fastest time for trekking the entire PCT is 52 days, eight hours and 25 minutes. But we recommend taking your time to fully enjoy all this magical trail has to offer.
The Three Passes Trek
Route: Lukla, Namche Bazaar, Renjo La, Cho La, Kongma La, Dingboche, Namche Bazaar, Lukla
Distance: Roughly 165km/18 days with acclimatisation
Difficulty: tough, particularly with the altitude
Nepal, the Shangri-La of trekking. Mountains reach skyward; gushing rivers snake past terraced fields and single-story stone houses; trails stretch up, up and over high-altitude passes, into deep valleys and through well-worn villages. Trekking in Nepal is a truly wonderful experience and most people long to return as soon as they arrive home. This trek is challenging: most of your time is spent above 4,000m. The path is often exposed and very steep; sometimes it’s rocky and uneven. But it’s far quieter than the Everest Base Camp Trail (of which you will walk part of on your return to Lukla from Lobuche).
Take your time to acclimatise and soak up every aspect of the culture and landscape. If you can’t imagine visiting Nepal without seeing the mother of all mountains, then this trek offers the possibility of extending your route up to Everest Base Camp. You won’t be alone, by any means; but then again, when the view is of Mount Everest up close, it’s a view worth sharing.
Text & images: Sarah Benton
Additional images: Adobe Stock