Viktoria is a restless adventurer with personal experience in all of the outdoor activities that Iceland has to offer. She has backpacked all over Iceland and she loves to inspire others to make a deep connection with the country during their travels...
If you have a bucket list of hikes to complete, the best day hikes in the world should be on it. Venture out of your comfort zone by exploring the best Mother Earth has to offer. Some of these hikes are extremely challenging while some aren’t much more than day walks, but all earn a spot on our list for a reason.
Travelinghasgreat benefitsfor our mindsets. It disconnects us from our daily lives andopens our horizonsby allowing us to experience completely different cultures and liveincredible adventures. It puts life in a new perspective, broadens our understanding, challenges our preconceptions, positively affects our interactions with others and increases our level of humanity toward the rest of the world.
If you want tomake the most of your travels,combine them with hiking. This will give you the most powerful personal development strategy you could possibly imagine. Besides theobvious physical benefitsof hiking in nature, this simple activity has been scientifically proven toreduce stressand tofight depression, anxiety, and negative thought patterns. It canimprove our mood, ourmemory, and evenboost our creativity. In short, walks in nature have a huge impact on the quality of our lives and our well-being.
Exploring our world along with our inner selves is the essence of our existence. Here’s a little inspiration for those who want to take their adventures to the next level:the 19 best day hikes in the world, hand-picked by our hiking experts!
THE BEST DAY HIKES IN THE USA
1. Angels Landing
Location: Zion National Park, Utah, USA Distance: 5 mi. (8 km) round trip Duration: 4-5 hours Difficulty: Challenging
This is probably the most scenic as well as one of the scariest hikes in the USA. The trail is located in the beautifully scenic Zion Canyon. While the hike is quite short, in some parts, it’s incredibly exposed. Over 2.5 mi. (4 km), there is an elevation gain of approximately 1500 ft. (460 m).
The view from Angels landing
The first section is fairly level as it follows a river and crosses through the bottom of the canyon. The most exciting part of the hike is the final climb along a hair-raising narrow ridge with deep abysses falling hundreds of meters on either side. The combination of thrilling views over the massive sandstone cliffs, the sections with strenuous chain-assisted rock scrambling, and the vertigo-inducing heights attract the adventurers from all over the world.
Colorful canyons, forested mesas, striking deserts, and enormous sandstone cliffs in cream, pink, and red await exploration in Zion National Park. From the top of Angels Landing, you’ll be able to take it all in just one splendid panoramic view. No wonder why this is one of the most famous short hikes in North America!
The chain-assisted climb around the end oh the hike is hair-raising
2. The Wild Pacific Trail
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
Distance: 3.9 mi. (6.4 km)
Duration: 3 hours
In the Canadian hiker’s paradise of British Columbia, Vancouver Island is considered among the finest areas for hiking thanks to its warmer climate. The island features a diverse landscape and biosphere. Lush temperate rainforests and hundreds of kilometers of rugged coastlines await visiting hikers.
The Wild Pacific Trail is aneasy day-hike route that curves along the rocky shoreline of the Ucluelet Peninsula on the west coast of Vancouver. It offers views of forested inlets, craggy sea stacks, whale-filled bays, and the open Pacific Ocean.
Despite its name, this hike is not wild at all. The walking path is easily accessible, family-friendly, and well maintained. It’s made of gravel walkways and picturesque wooden boardwalks. The first leg of the trail cuts through the lush rainforest and runs along the rocky coastline, providing dramatic views of the island-filled Barkley Sound andgreat opportunities for whale spotting.
The path then leads up and down small hills through forests full of hemlock, Sitka spruce, and giant red cedar. It passes by a protected sea lion pool before returning to the coastline and its incredible views.
This hike isgreat for forest and ocean lovers. Some sections are even wheelchair accessible.
3. The Half Dome Hike
Location: Yosemite National Park, California Distance: 17 mi. (22.7 km) roundtrip (via the Mist Trail) Duration: 10-14 hours Difficulty: Challenging
Half Dome, an enormous and distinctive granite rock dome, is Yosemite’s most iconic attraction. As one of the most memorable hikes in all of the USA, the Half Dome trail is a must-do on every American adventurer’s bucket list!
The distinctive Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
Even though there are several routes to the top of the Half Dome, the most popular is the one that approaches it via the Mist Trail. On this hike, you’ll get to see the spectacular Vernal and Nevada Falls and cross through the mysterious, shady forests of giant Sequoia trees.
The most scenic section of the trail – also the most exposed and strenuous – is the final climb up the Half Dome using fixed cables. This 400-foot (122-meter) climb is so steep that it’s more like pulling yourself up the ropes than actually walking on your feet. From the top, however, your reward will be one of the best views in all of Yosemite!
The last part of the trail: climbing the Dome
4. The Plain of Six Glaciers
Location: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Distance: 9.7 mi. (14.6 km)
Duration: 4–6 hours
The Canadian Rockies obviously deserve a spot on the list of the world’s best hikes. Its photogenic scenery may have gone viral on Instagram recently, but the area has always been a beloved hiking destination among locals and visitors. Banff is Canada’s oldest national park as well as its most famous, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Plain of Six Glaciers is probably the most scenic short hike in the national park. The trail offers expansive vistas of the turquoise Lake Louise and the immense peaks of Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria, and the Victoria Glacier.
The first leg of the route runs along the shoreline of Lake Louise before climbing steadily up to a panoramic plateau. Herearustic tea house waits, offering well-deserved snacks, relaxation, and unmatched panoramas before you head back.
The hut was built by Swiss guides in 1927. They chose the most scenic location they could find with a view over the valley. The Plain of Six Glaciers was named after the view that could be seen from the Tea House meadow. Sadly, most of the glaciers have since melted.
This lively hike features avariety of delicate alpine flowers and vegetationas well as excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Encounters with elk, moose, mountain goats, marmots, ground squirrels, and chipmunks are quite common, but bear sightings also aren’t unheard of.
5. Kalapana Lava Viewing Hike
Location: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Big Island of Hawaii Distance: Varies Difficulty: Varies
There are not many places on Earth where hikers can approach a lava field that is still being formed and see a volcano actively erupting up close and personal while staying (relatively) safe. Fortunately, in Hawaii, the volcanoes erupt at a very calm pace – most of the time – making it possible to get close to the action.
There are five active volcanoes on Hawaii, of which four are located on the Big Island. Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983, which makes it one of the most active volcanoes in the world. However, there are regular periods when there are no fresh lava flows on the surface.
Slow flowing lava on Hawaii
Because the location of the lava flow changes constantly, there is no specific trail to refer to. Local authorities put up freshly updated information and set up trail markers according to the actual conditions.
The lava viewing trail is not open every day, even if there is an ongoing eruption. Access to the flow can be restricted if the conditions are unsafe. If wind, for instance, blows volcanic gasses towards the viewing area, the authorities close the trail. Ignoring the closure could lead to serious injuries and even arrest. The safest option to visit the eruption site is by taking a guided tour.
Until 2015, this almost 5-mile (8-km) trail in southern Spain was considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. El Caminito Del Rey (The King's Little Pathway) is a 100-year-old, 5-foot (1.5-meter) wide pathway that hangs off a sheer cliff face at a treacherously high 350 ft. (105 m) above the floor of the canyon below.
Hikers in the narrow path of El Caminito
The walkway was first constructed in 1905. Its purpose was to allow workers to reach the two hydroelectric power plants on either end of the canyon, but the path was not maintained for almost a century.
Large gaps opened in the concrete walkway and some parts simply collapsed, leaving only a few inches of narrow steel beam holding the walkway in its place. The hair-raising conditions combined with the shockingly beautiful views have attracted adrenaline junkies from all over the world. This notorious hike claimed the lives of five hikers until the path was finally restored in 2015.
Today, the entire route is safe and easy to walk. The old pathway can still be seen below the new wooden boardwalk. There are lookouts with glass floors, hanging footbridges and thrilling viewing points along the way. The feeling of walking on a narrow path hanging over a gorge that is hundreds of feet deep with the view of the cyan-blue river beneath your feet will definitely cause any adventure lover to have an adrenaline rush!
A scenic hanging brige
7. Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop
Location: The Dolomites, Italy Distance: 6 mi. (10 km) Duration: 3-5 hours Difficulty: Easy
The jagged limestone peaks of the Italian Dolomites are one of the most distinctive natural landscapes in all of Europe. Located in the southeast corner of the Alps, these massive rocky prominences tempt adventurers with their fantastic hiking opportunities.
There are hundreds of walking, backpacking, and via ferrata routes in the area. The best of the shorter hikes is definitely the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop, which circumnavigates three colossal towers framed by lush green valleys. The hike can be completed in either direction, but many find the counterclockwise version to be more scenic.
This incredibly rewarding hike has barely any elevation gain, making the walk especially easy and comfortable. An endless array of verdant alpine meadows and the imperiously dramatic scenery of the Tre Cime (three chimneys) massif surrounds hikers all along the way.
A small lake gives an incredible opportunity to capture the reflections of the panoramic mountain mirrored on the water’s surface. To boost the joy of the hikers, even more, some insanely positioned rifugios (mountain huts) await them offering a refreshing drink or meal.
The three chimneys
8. The Volcano Hike
Location: Thórsmörk, Iceland Distance: 10 mi. (16 km) Duration: 6-7 hours Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Many say that Iceland is an entirely different world. It is truly a land of contrasts, which is still being formed by fire and ice, volcanoes and glaciers. Even though it still makes up part of Europe, this mysterious island country has the characteristics of an extraterrestrial wonderland.
Iceland is home to only 350,000 inhabitants and has one of the largest untouched wilderness areas in Europe: the Icelandic Highlands. The interior of the country is uninhabited by humans and remains inaccessible for about eight months of the year. During the short summer, however, some parts of the Highlands become a hiker’s paradise. Out of these places, the lush valley ofThórsmörkis by far the most beloved.
Hiker on the Fimmvorduhals mountain pass
The area is filled with amazing hiking opportunities and long-distance trekking routes. The most varied and most scenic hike in Thórsmörk is theFimmvorduhals trail, which starts in a green valley and takes you over mossy ridges, up a striking mountain pass between two glaciers, all the way up to the two fresh volcanic craters that were formed during the infamous Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010.
There are two versions of the trail: a one-day and a multi-day trek. The longer version is called theFimmvörduhals Trekwhile the shorter version is often referred to as theVolcano Hike. This shorter one provides an instant adventure and some of themost thrilling views of Iceland, making it a perfect candidate for this list of the best hikes in the world.
9. The Five Lakes Walk at Matterhorn
Location: The Swiss Alps, Switzerland Distance: 6.2 mi. (10 km) Duration: 2-4 hours Difficulty: Easy
Switzerland is home to some of the most fantastic sections of the European Alps. The country is covered in wild, towering peaks, sparkling glaciers, and idyllic alpine meadows and forests.
Some of the prettiest views in the country can be found near the Matterhorn, probably Europe’s most picturesque mountain peak. At 14,692 ft. (4478 m), the almost symmetrical pyramidal peak is one of the highest summits in the Alps and Europe as a whole. Reaching the summit requires professional mountain climbing experience and takes two days to complete.
Fantastic view from the trail
Regular hikers, however, can admire this extraordinary beauty from the nearby hiking trails, out of which the most rewarding is the 5-Seenweg (Five Lakes Trail). The hike begins at 8458 ft. (2578 m) in altitude – the trail’s highest point of elevation – and twists down into the valley.
As the name of the trail describes, the path leads by five picturesque alpine lakes, three of which provide stunning reflective views of the mountain. Hiking near the Matterhorn is certainly one of the best hiking experiences you can have in Europe!
Matterhorn Peak mirroring in a lake
10. BESSEGGEN RIDGE
Location: Jotunheimen National Park, Norway Distance: 8.6-10.5 mi. (14-17 km) Duration: 6-8 hours Difficulty: Moderate
With 46 national parks, more than 3,000 protected natural areas, and some of the most spectacular hiking trails in Europe, Norway is a major outdoor adventure destination. Out of its countless scenic trails, the Besseggen Ridge hike is one of themost famous day hikes in the Scandinavian country.
The highlight of the Besseggen ridge hike
The ridge is located in the beautifully rugged Jotunheimen National Park. The park is home to many snowcapped mountains with Norway’s highest peak, Galdhøpiggen (8100 ft./2469 m), among them. Unbelievably turquoise alpine lakes and wild, unspoiled wilderness await hikers on this trail.
The highlight of the Besseggen Ridge hike is the surreal viewpoint from which you can see the two lakes close to each other, while at different elevations. The higher, dark blue Bessvatnet Lake lies at 4507 ft. (1374 m) and the emerald Gjende Lake lies nearly 1312 ft. (400 m) below that. The spectacular sight of these two lakes is something that you’ll definitely never forget!
THE BEST DAY HIKES IN ASIA
11. The Floating Mountains Hike
Location: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China Distance: Varies Duration: Varies Difficulty: Easy to moderate
China is one of the most underrated hiking destinations in the world. The natural treasures offered by this gigantic country are incredibly rich and varied. It has some of the most stunningly unusual forests and mountains anywhere.
China’s best-known hiking destinations are found in the colossal Himalayas in the south, boasting seven of the world’s 12 mountain peaks over 26,000 ft. (8000 m). This is why the Himalayas’ trekking routes have much-deserved spots on the lists of theworld’s best multi-day hikes.
The destination that landed on our list of the best day hikes is China’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site: the otherworldly Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. This surreal-looking panorama was the inspiration for and filming location for the floating mountains of Pandora in the famous Hollywood movie Avatar.
The scenic rock pillars – over 3000 of them – are made of light quartz and sandstone that has eroded over time, leaving these odd towers soaring into the sky. If you are lucky, the fog will get stuck in the rainforest below to allow the fantastic illusion of the floating towers to come alive in front of you. There are a great number of marked hiking trails in the area to allow walkers to enjoy the peace and silence of this extraordinary place!
Sunset in the mystical Zhangjiajie
12. PETRA TRAIL
Location: Petra, Jordan Distance: Varies Duration: Varies Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Jordan is a beautiful country in the Middle East that offers first-rate hiking destinations with striking landscapes filled with awe-inspiring archeological sites to explore. Out of its many ancient architectural gems, Petra is the most famous and, probably, the most beautiful.
This archaeological city covers a vast space in a barren desert. Petra was once the thriving capital of the Nabataean Kingdom from around the 4th century BC. An earthquake, combined with changes in trade routes, eventually led to the downfall of the city as it was ultimately completely abandoned.
An impressive carved temple in Petra
The impressive rose-colored cliffs with their carved temples and other remains were believed to be lost until a Swiss explorer discovered the site in 1812. Today, Petra is among the most famous archaeological sites in the world and Jordan's most valuable treasure.
The ancient city has a surreal Martian landscape. Many trails crisscross between the most attractive sights, some of them offering strenuous climbs with spectacular views. The Main Trail is 2.5 m. (4 km) each way. This is also the easiest trail of all and leads by the most stunning attractions in the park. However, it’s also the one that is most frequented by tourists.
Other trails vary from 0.5 to 2 mi. (1-3.5 km) in length. Since they are rated moderate or difficult, they are usually less crowded. Exploring this extraordinary site is definitely one of the most beautiful hikes in the world!
Bhutan is a mystical country hidden in the feet of the Himalayas. Filled with historical villages, rolling green pastures, secluded cliffside monasteries, dense forests, and sharp mountains, this gorgeous place provides the setting for some of the most beautiful hikes in the world.
The most recommended day hike in Bhutan is the walk to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This sacred Buddhist site consists of a small group of golden- and red-roofed buildings with distinctive white walls. This complex of temples and residential accommodation for the monks is perched on a thrilling cliff, 2950 ft. (900 m) above the lush valley below.
The Tiger's Nest Monastery
The monastery was built in 1692, near the location of the cave where Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, first meditated. According to the legend, the Guru was carried here all the way from Tibet on the back of a female tiger, thus giving it the name of the “Tiger’s Nest.”
The hike starts at the bottom of the mountain, right at the car park. The elevation gain is about 1700 ft. (518 m) over a relatively short trail, so expect it to be steep. On average, the hike takes between four and five hours round trip. In addition to the walk, allow yourself an extra hour or two to explore the monastery once you are there.
There is no doubt that this stunning beauty, with its extraordinary location, deserves its place on our list of the world’s best hikes!
14. Mount Bromo Hike
Location: Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Indonesia Distance: 4 mi. (6.5 km) round trip Duration: 2-3 hours (one way) Difficulty: Moderate
Just like Iceland, Indonesia has about 129 active volcanoes, making it incredibly diverse geographically, full of contrasts and surreal formations. Mount Bromo, in the eastern part of the island of Java, is a surreal place that looks as though it has come straight out of a dream. But it’s real and truly exists!
The breathtaking view of Mount Bromo and its surroundings
Surrounded by several other craters, sitting in one of the most otherworldly landscapes you will ever set eyes on, the 7641-foot (2329-meter) volcano deserves a spot on the ultimate list of the best day hikes in the world. It’s also easily accessible for hikers, which is yet another point in its favor.
The hike we recommend most takes you up Penanjakan Hill. From here, the view over the group of volcanoes is the most spectacular, especially during sunrise. After the 5- to 6-hour hike (round trip), you can extend your adventure by venturing up to the Mount Bromo crater itself!
From the top, you’ll be able to gaze into the throat of the active volcano as it steams and roars endlessly. It’s generally safe to hike up Mount Bromo, but conditions can change quickly. Always check for any local warnings before visiting an active volcano!
The hiking path around the crater of Bromo
THE BEST DAY HIKES IN AUSTRALIA AND THE PACIFIC
15. The Glowworm Tunnel Walk
Location: Wollemi National Park, Australia Distance: 5.6 mi. (9 km) round trip Duration: 3-4 hours Difficulty: Moderate
Australia is among the finest places on Earth to use your hiking boots in. One of the most interesting short hikes on the red continent leads through the massive wilderness area that is Wollemi National Park, part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The path leads past towering cliffs and wild rivers. It cuts through a tall forest, where the historic ruins of a century-old railway wait for hikers to explore it.
Bioluminescence glowing in the dark in the Glowworm tunnel in Australia. Photo: John Hartanowicz on Wikimedia
The 1310-foot (400-meter) tunnel once led to an oil shale mining facility. Walking into the darkness, hikers will have the opportunity to observe the rare luminous occupants of the now-abandoned tunnel: the marvelous glowworms.
Glowworms are the larval stage of insects belonging to the order Diptera. Incredibly, they emit a beautiful blue glow (also called bioluminescence) to attract the prey that they capture using sticky mucus. These little blue dots glitter in the dark, decorating the tunnel just like stars in the sky.
There is a short hike that is limited only to the tunnel and can be completed within an hour or two. However, we recommend the longer 3- to 4-hour loop that leads through a Jurassic-esque woodland alongside thrilling cliffs before going through the tunnel. If you’re lucky, you may spot a swamp wallaby or a koala on your way!
16. ULURU/AYERS ROCK BASE WALK
Location: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia Distance: 6.2 mi. (10 km) Duration: 3-5 hours Difficulty: Easy
With wild savannas, vast red deserts, towering seaside cliffs, impressive mountain ranges, and sprawling green rainforests, Australia offers so many great hikes that it was incredibly difficult for us to choose the best hikes for our list.
Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is Australia’s most well-known natural landmark. The massive sandstone monolith is widely regarded as Australia's red heart, located in the middle of the county’s great desert.
Uluru is sacred to indigenous Australians. The walking path around its base follows their ancestors’ footsteps. Hiking up to the top of the monolith is not recommended due to its spiritual value to the native people. There are free guided walks offered where rangers tell you about the history of the indigenous people.
The Uluru Base Walk is the longest walk that circumnavigates the rock. It leads through several sections that look completely different. Some areas are surprisingly green, filled with wildlife, diverse plants, woodlands, and waterways. Other sections, however, feel open, vast, and provide very little shade.
Circumnavigating Australia’s iconic monolith and exploring the holy ground is, without a doubt, one of the finest hikes on Earth to feature both geological and cultural significance. We highly recommend it!
Uluru - The Ayer's Rock
17. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Location: Tongariro National Park, New Zealand Distance: 12 mi. (19.4 km) Duration: 6-8 hours Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
New Zealand is one of the few countries on Earth that has deserts, rain forests, glaciated mountains, active volcanoes, vast wilderness areas, golden stretches of beach, and welcoming weather. It has all of this while having absolutely no harmful animals. This is pretty much what we would call a real hiker’s paradise, isn’t it?
The epic Tongariro Alpine Crossing has often been labeled as New Zealand's greatest day walk as well as one best single-day hikes in the world. The hike takes place in an area where the most recent volcanic eruption occurred in 2012.
The view from the highest point of the Tongario trail
The well-constructed path leads by freshly solidified lava flows, fiery red volcanic craters, steam vents, soda springs, and barren volcanic deserts. The landscape is dotted with spectacular emerald-colored lakes. The path is steep and loose in some places, but the view is absolutely magnificent!
The national park with its unearthly volcanic scenery has gained world fame since it became a major filming location for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, representing Mordor, the home of the arch-villain Sauron.
While the Tongariro Alpine Crossing has always been a popular hiking area in New Zealand, marching through the land of Mordor in the footsteps of Frodo Baggins quickly became a major bucket list item for fantasy fans all over the world.
The volcano erupted in 2012
THE BEST DAY HIKES IN SOUTH AMERICA
18. MIRADOR BASE DE LAS TORRES
Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile Distance: 12 mi. (19.4 km) Duration: 6-8 hours Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Patagonia has a fixed spot on the bucket list of adventurers and nature lovers. Shared by Argentina and Chile, the region features immense deserts, vast pampas, and the southern section of the colossal Andes Mountains, which display some of the most thrilling natural sceneries on the planet.
Torres del Paine
Among the most attractive spots of the Andes is Torres del Paine. These three distinctive granite peaks stretch up to 8200 ft. (2500 m) above sea level. The turquoise lake that lies at their feet is probably the most famed hiking destination in the entire region.
The trail to the most epic viewpoint at the lagoon measures 5.5 mi. (9 km), which adds up to 11 miles (18 km) roundtrip. Despite the fact that the hike is quite demanding, with its elevation gain of 3000 ft. (900 m), and has parts that are steep and technical, thousands of hikers follow the trail each season to see the three spiked granite towers mirrored in the blue-green lake.
Even though most hikers are sold on visiting Torres Del Paine after only seeing one photo, the scenery is absolutely gorgeous and varied all along the way, making it an exceptionally satisfying and memorable experience for any hiking enthusiast!
19. THE LAGUNA DE LOS TRES TRAIL AT MOUNT FITZ ROY
Location: Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina Distance: 15.5 mi. (25 km) Duration: 6-8 hours Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
On the Argentine side of Patagonia, there is another exhilarating hiking trail that offers a fantastic experience that is equal to the previously mentioned Torres del Paine hike. Argentina’s epic trail to the jagged Mount Fitz Roy has deservedly been listed among the most magnificent hiking trails in South America. Both trails have definitely earned their spots on our list of the best day hikes on the planet.
The best viewpoint of the trail
The immensity of Mouth Fitz Roy range is hard to describe with words. Its highest peak reaches up to an astounding 11020 ft. (3359 m). The tranquil beauty of the cyan-blue laguna at the feet of the scraggy towers and the breathtaking panoramas that spread out in every direction speak for themselves. It all looks like a scene taken directly out of a fairy tale.
The hiking path leads through a beautiful, thick forest before winding up and down the hills. The trail is well-marked, easy to follow, and not very technical – most of the way. Around the last hour of the hike, it gets quite tough with a constant incline of about 40% over rocks and boulders.
The final climb up to the viewpoint is tiring but extremely rewarding! This spot is arguably the best viewpoint in the entire national park, providing magnificent 360-degree views of the varied towers, peaks, and rock formations from the shores of the lake. This Mount Fritz Roy hike is a must for everyone who likes mind-blowing, untamed landscapes and relatively challenging hikes!
Fitz Roy from the distance
THE BEST DAY HIKES IN AFRICA
20. THE NYIRAGONGO VOLCANO TREK
Location: Virunga National Park, the Democratic Republic of Congo Distance: 10 mi. (16 km) Duration: 8-10 hours Difficulty: Challenging
The thick rainforests of Congo are alive with vibrant flowers, nourishing fruits, luscious green plants, giant gorillas, and other critically endangered, rare creatures. Impressive mountain peaks rise proudly above the green land with the vigorous stratovolcano, Nyiragongo, standing out as the most distinctive of all. Climbing this volcano is, without a doubt, one of the most extraordinary adventures anyone can have on Earth.
Nyiragongo aerial view. Photo: MONUSCO - Neil Wetmore - Wikimedia
Nyiragongo is often referred to as the world’s most dangerous volcano as it holds the world’s largest fluid lava lake in its open magma chamber. There are only four permanent lava lakes on Earth and Nyiragongo, with its incredible depth of 8900 ft. (2700 m), is the most active and largest of all!
The seismic activity of the volcano is monitored constantly. Based on these measurements, if conditions are considered safe enough, the wardens at the national park begin offering guided hikes to Nyiragongo’s famous lava chamber.
The hike to the top takes around six hours. The path cuts through a lush tropical forest, leading over lava-formed landscapes until it eventually stops at the thrilling edge of the crater. Staring into the depths of this bubbling lake of molten lava is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for sure!
The bubbling lava lake of Nyiragongo. Photo: Cai Tjeenk Willink (Caitjeenk) on Wikimedia
21. THE CHAIN LADDERS HIKE TO SENTINEL PEAK
Location: Royal Natal National Park, South Africa Distance: 7.5 mi. (12 km) Duration: 6 hours Difficulty: Strenuous
The famous Amphitheatre is the monumental cliff face of the Drakensberg mountains, situated in the Royal Natal National Park, South Africa. Climbing up this compelling plateau rewards visitors with some of the best views on the continent.
As if the view was not enough, the bravest hikers can climb the hair-raising 198-foot (60-meter) chain ladder up a vertical rock face to get to the top. This experience will make everyone’s heart race, for sure! Luckily for those who are afraid of being so exposed to the heights, there is another path to get to the top that will allow them to skip the chains.
Amphitheatre in the Drakensberg mountains. Photo: Diriye Amey on Wikimedia
To the astonishment of hikers, Africa’s highest waterfall falls from under their feet, from an elevation of 9751 ft. (2972 m) to a stirring depth of 3110 ft. (948 m). Tugela Falls is not only beautiful but the second-highest waterfall in the world. Seeing it plunge down below you is definitely not something you will forget any time soon!
The 7.4-mile (12-km) Sentinel Peak Hike is the best hike on the Drakensberg. It not only offers a view of the spectacular Tugela Falls but also provides several dramatic mountain viewpoints and breathtaking panoramas along the way.