While hiking is great exercise, there is a richness much deeper than physical strength that we gain from setting out into landscapes that awaken our souls. In places of such indescribable beauty, our lives are put into perspective and the things we find meaningful are stripped down to their core. Of all the hikes in the world, here are seven that send our hearts soaring every time.
1. Dolpo, Nepal
Nepal is a land of such splendor and mysticism that we often use fictional terms to describe it—Narnia, Shangri-La, even Neverland. There are treks in Nepal that are well-known and well-traveled, and rightfully so. And then there is Dolpo. Remote, ancient, ethereal, and delightfully unheard of by most. Tucked high in the Himalayas in Western Nepal, the Dolpo region is a soulful realm of transcendent trails, cliffside monasteries, ancient villages, sacred peaks, and Phoksundo Lake—a vast body of turquoise water surrounded by soaring slopes. The best part? None of it is fiction!
2. England Coast to Coast
Among the world’s legendary landscapes and classic trails, our journey from the Irish Sea to the North Sea across England remains one of our favorites. We hike from west to east through the romantic Lake District’s landscape of sapphire lakes and craggy peaks, through wooded Yorkshire valleys into charming villages, along moorland escarpments, and onto narrow cobbled alleyways flanked by looming castles. The scenes are reminiscent of 18th century paintings, and we have the privilege of stepping right onto the canvas.
3. Everest Base Camp
There is a reason why the trek to Everest base camp is on so many bucket lists: it is pure magic! With years of experience on this world-renowned trail, we’ve discovered the most sacred, secluded, and sublime spots along the way. From small Sherpa villages of stone-built houses, to celestial peaks studded with prayer flags, this trek through the illustrious Himalayas to the base of Everest, “the goddess of the sky,” as it is known in Nepali, is every bit as life-altering as you might expect.
4. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
While there are many places of natural beauty that have been enhanced by the hands of humans, no other place comes to mind as quickly as Machu Picchu, Peru’s fabled lost city of stone perched high above the Sacred Valley. We begin to understand the power of the Incas right from the start in Saqsayhuaman, a fortress overlooking Cusco. The magic continues along our five-day trekking route that takes us into places as romantic as their names—Phuyupatamarka, “Town in the Clouds,” Wiñay Wayna, “Forever Young,” and Intipunku, “Gate of the Sun.” We top it off with an overnight at the only hotel right at the base of the ruins—simply stunning.
5. Camino de Santiago
Spain’s Camino de Santiago is special. It’s not just a walk, or a hike. It’s a pilgrimage. It is a spiritual path that people have been drawn to for more than a thousand years. No matter your beliefs, this is a path where you can ponder your purpose, interact with others who’ve come for the same reason, and gain insights into your own and other’s spirituality. And, contrary to what you may think, you don’t have to sacrifice anything. You can admire the rolling Spanish countryside and charming villages by day, and stay in cozy hotels and paradors by night. After an enriching day of walking, dip your toes in the pool, sip a glass of sangria, and feast on sumptuous Spanish cuisine. Salud!
6. Climb Kilimanjaro
The tallest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet, Kilimanjaro rises dramatically from the surrounding plains, keeping watch over the plants, animals, and people who are graced with her presence. To get to the celebrated “snows of the summit”, we make our way through savanna, tropical jungle, desert, subalpine terrain, and finally to the snowy glaciers above the clouds, where we can see the sun rise over Africa.
7. Tour du Mont Blanc
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” – John Muir. There is no wilderness haven more rejuvenating than the trails and valleys that encircle western Europe’s highest mountain. On our Tour du Mont Blanc, we traverse through France, Italy, and Switzerland on foot, cross meadows blanketed with wildflowers, stroll through classic alpine hamlets, and climb to epic glaciers where jaw-dropping views are all encompassing. Our fulfilling days on the trail are complemented with cozy nights in mountain hotels and inns where we taste each country’s culinary delights. It truly feels like home in the wilderness!