The world’s most beautiful hikes
As the weather cools, it’s time to strap on your hiking shoes and take to the trails—but not the well-trodden paths of Hong Kong. Plan your next holiday to one of these beautiful destinations before it gets too cold to make your way to the top. By Sophia
Mount Rinjani, Indonesia
Total Journey: 3-5 days, from Senaru to Sembalun Lawang
Looming over Lombok island, Mount Rinjani is Indonesia’s second largest volcano— and it’s still very much alive. Hire a local villager as your guide from the trekking centers at the Senaru entrance to keep you safe on the unfamiliar tracks. While the middle reaches of the mountain are lush with green canopies, the land grows more rocky and desolate the higher you go. When you reach the volcano’s crater, climb to the rim and the turquoise lake is right below you, fringed by a chain of smoking mountains. Heading to the summit is optional, but do so and you’ll be rewarded with a fun dash down the ash fields to the hot springs at Aiq Kalak for a massage under the crashing waterfall.
Don’t miss… the pink beaches of Lombok, which get their color from crushed coral.
You can find one at Tanjung Ringgit on the east side of the island.
$17,440 entrance fee. Mount Rinjani, Sembalun Lawang, Sembalun, East Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Total Journey: 17-21 days, from Besisahar to Nayapul
Exploring the Himalayas is a rite of passage for die-hard hikers, and the formidable Annapurna Circuit is among the oldest and most beautiful trails of the range. The trek is famous not only for the diversity of its landscapes, from snow-capped peaks to the world’s deepest canyon at Kali Gandaki Gorge, but also for its intimate connection with Nepalese culture. Look out for the lines of colorful prayer flags, believed by Buddhists to send good fortune to the world via the wind. The climax of the trek is the crossing of the Thorong La Pass, which leads you to the highest point of the journey, at 5,416 meters.
Don’t miss… Nepalese dal bhat, consisting of lentil soup and steamed rice, for a mighty dose of carbs and protein to fuel your hike. As a local saying goes, “Dal bhat power, 24 hours.”
Start at various entrance points in Besisahar, Nepal.
Snowman Trek, Bhutan
Total Journey: 19-24 days, from Paro to Lunana
Notorious for being the toughest high-altitude trek in Bhutan, the Snowman Trek isn’t for rookies. For those up to the challenge, the trail, which weaves its way into the heart of the Himalayas, takes you past a handful of Buddhist monasteries and tiny villages. Expect to run into griffon vultures, Himalayan blue sheep (named for the sheen of their wool) and, if you’re lucky, some very amiable villagers as you trudge through the pine forests and yak herders’ encampments. You’ll be walking among wisps of clouds for most of the journey, staying at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters for a large portion of the hike.
Don’t miss... Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, perched on a cliff side and considered to be the holiest site in Bhutan. Start at Gunitsawa Village,
Paro Valley, Bhutan.
Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage, Japan
Total Journey: 1 day, from Takijiri-oji to Kumano Nachi Taisha
The paths that crisscross the southern Kansai region, better known as the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage, have been trodden by travelers scurrying between the area’s three sacred Kumano shrines for over 1,000 years. There’s no fear of getting lost here—English roads signs all over the well-beaten Nakahechi route will keep you on track. Pop into the Kumano Hongu Taisha grand shrine (8am-5pm daily, free) to ask for blessings, or simply to admire the traditional architecture. Walk another 30 minutes and you’ll find yourself at the foot of Daimon Zaka, a bamboo-lined cobblestone staircase with a pair of root-entwined “husband and wife” cedar trees at the end. Rent a kimono at the Daimonzaka-chaya teahouse nearby ($150-250 from 392-4 Nachisan, Nachi Katsuura, Higashimuro, Wakayama) and take a lazy stroll to the holy Nachi Falls, just as Japanese nobles did back in the 11th century.
Don’t miss… The UNESCO World Heritage onsen, Tsuboyu, a humble cabin by the creeks that is steeped in folklore and legends. You can even have the whole bath to yourself for half an hour ($60). Start at Takijiri-oji, Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.