From trekking through the highest mountain range in the world, to stumbling upon the most breathtaking picnic spot you will ever encounter, here’s my round-up of the top 7 can’t-miss hiking trails with views that will literally take your breath away.
1. Gokyo Ri – Himalayas, Nepal
The Himalayas feature some of the most majestic and jaw-dropping views that I have ever encountered. I will never forget being in awe of the giant that is Ama Dablam as a series of powerful avalanches roared down its side, nor the countless colourful prayer flags that framed the mountains.
For many, a trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC) features high-up on their bucket-list. But having spent 20 days trekking through the region, I think the prize for the most breathtaking view has to go to the serene glacial lakes and remote community of Gokyo (the highest freshwater lakes in the world).
The photo below was taken after a long climb up Gokyo Ri (Ri meaning hill in Nepalese). Well I can tell you at 5,360m above sea level and with the temperature barely pushing above freezing, that hill felt more like I’d conquered a mountain. It took over two hours to climb just a few hundred meters. It’s incredible how our bodies respond to altitude to protect us. But I’m sure you’ll agree the view from the top was well worth it!
Read my top tips for trekking from Lukla to EBC here.
Looking down on the small community of Gokyo in the Himalayas
2. Haleakala Volcano – Maui, Hawaii
A short drive from the warm coastal towns on the Pacific Island of Maui brings you to the summit of Haleakala, a semi-dormant volcano with views that will take your breath away. The otherworldly moon-like landscape, the sci-fi looking observatory and the constant passing of clouds make you feel as though you are quite literally on top of the world.
From the car park, take the Sliding Sands Trail into the crater. This photo was taken about 10mins walk from the car park, so you don’t have to go far to get incredible views. Be warned that due to the altitude, hiking into the crater may be a breeze, but the hike out won’t – so don’t go too far – and bring an extra layer as its cold up there!
3. Horton Plains – Sri Lanka
The train ride from Ella to Kandy (or vice versa) through Sri Lanka’s tea plantation country, is a MUST SEE. I spent six hours jumping in and out of my seat in excitement trying to capture every magical view that we passed. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat in the open doorways, hang your feet from the carriage and absorb the views.
Now, admittedly this isn’t a hike, but the train passes through the central Horton Plains region which features many walking routes. The train merely offers a glimpse of what can be seen if hiking in the region and the views are seriously out of this world!
You can read my suggested 2/3 weeks itinerary through Sri Lanka here.
4. Sigiriya / Pidurangala – Sri Lanka
Sticking with Sri Lanka, rising dramatically from the valley floor in the country’s Central Province is Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock. This 200m (660ft) high rock formation is one of the country’s most famous landmarks and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. The near-vertical walls lead to a maze of gardens and ancient ruins, thought to be home to Sri Lanka’s King over 1,600 years ago.
The hefty price tag of $30 USD (£21.30) to climb Sigiriya is enough to put many budget travelers off, but did you know the neighbouring rock called Pidurangala costs a fraction of that – just 500 LKR (£2.30) – and affords the same spellbinding views across the jungle floor. Read more about climbing Pidurangala here.
5. Mount Erskine – Salt Spring Island, near Vancouver, Canada
A short ferry ride from North Shore Vancouver brings you to the small island community of Salt Spring. Here an eclectic mix of free-spirited people call this beautiful green island their home – think farmers’ markets and craft fairs.
A short drive from the town center brings you to the base of Mount Erskine. This is a steep but short hike at just 2km long. Meander your way through the forest keeping an eye out for the miniature fairy houses along the way (no joke), and you reach a rocky outcrop with THIS view across the surrounding sounds.
But be warned, Salt Spring is known to have a resident cougar so keep your wits about you – make plenty of noise as you walk and carry a big stick for defense – that’s my advice!
6. Bronte to Bondi walk – Sydney, Australia
OK this one isn’t strictly a hike, but a gentle 3km coastal walk (or run) affording incredible ocean views, as well as the chance to experience the best beaches in Sydney. If you’re an early starter then get up in time for sunrise and watch the locals catching waves before the work day begins. Start at Bronte Beach, walk along the coastal path towards Tamarama and lastly end with a dip in the ocean at Bondi.
7. Queen Charlotte Track – South Island, New Zealand
This is quite possibly the most exciting view from a picnic spot that I have ever visited. Starting in the small village community of Anakiwa on the South Island, we caught a small local taxi boat to a nearby jetty. From there we walked back along the stunning coastline towards Anakiwa.
New Zealand is a fabulous country to explore on foot as there are no major predators – no bears, snakes nor venomous spiders hiding in the undergrowth.
Continue along the path and soon you will come to an opening in the trees, and the most fabulously positioned picnic spot, where you can tuck into a homemade sandwich and look out over the sounds.
There is minimal light pollution in this part of the world, so if visiting be sure to stare up at the night sky for some of the best star gazing around. Oh and ask your local host where’s best to see the glow worms! We stayed at this B&B and it was fabulously placed at the end of the hiking trail – Anakiwa 401.
Considering what kit to take on your hike? Check out this post from The Ridgeline Report.
So there you have it. My top hikes with the best views from around the world. I’m sure there are plenty more and I’d love to hear about you favourite hikes so leave me a message below.