This article was written by Mark Whitman who has trekked some of
the most epic trails in the world.
There really is nothing like hiking through the wilderness, camping out under the stars, and taking in all of nature’s glory in the cool morning mist.
Hiking and camping allows travelers to escape the claustrophobic cities, experience nature, and become connected to landscapes that are as old as the stars.
So to help you decide on your perfect adventure, we have put together a list of the most epic hikes that involve camping. Enjoy!
Possibly the most famous of all treks, the Inca Trail has been leading pilgrims to Machu Picchu for centuries.
The 20-mile trek traverses one of the most beautiful landscapes in South America as it winds its way up to the ancient citadel. You cross three high passes en-route, including Dead Woman’s Pass which stands at over 4,000 meters, giving stunning views across the tranquil cloud forests.
Yes, you have to trek as part of a guided tour, but the camping is great fun and you’ll love the buzzing atmosphere on the trail. On the final day you’ll wake up early and take in Machu Picchu at sunrise in all her glory - a sight not to be missed! Make sure to book months in advance, particularly if trekking in the peak season.
Plan to acclimatize
If we take the Inca trail as an example, you’ll probably land in Cusco and, in my experience, won’t feel much of change the first day. It’s waking up the next days when it hits you that our body is a subtle machine and it takes some getting used to the new altitude, climate, new air, new water…
As I learned from the friendly local people, coco leaf tea is great for altitude sickness. Whatever new trails you’re blazing, plan in a few days to give your body a chance to acclimatize. The last thing you want is the change catching up with you as you set camp.
From choosing the right sleeping pad or air mattress down to clothes, I can’t stress how important it is to adjust your gear choices. With clothes you can shed off or add layers, but you can’t do much if you choose a sleeping bag, pad or an inflatable that’s somehow wrong for the trip, whether it’s the R-value, thickness or weight.
Do your research, read the reviews and adjust your sleeping gear choices to meet the challenges you’re about to face.
An iconic mountain that rises over 6,000 meters among the grasslands of Tanzania, making it the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. Kilimanjaro is legendary, not just for its beauty, but also for its toughness.
This is not an easy hike and you’ll need to take things slowly to properly acclimatize. Like the Inca Trail, you must climb as part of a guided tour, however, you’ll be super thankful to have porters put up your tent and cook you some food after 7 hours climbing each day.
Every route except the Marangu offers camping and I would definitely advise this, as it is a far more rewarding experience. On summit night you’ll only be in the tent a few hours before continuing your journey to the top, reaching the summit for the incredible sunrise and celebration. If you want a really epic experience then try camping in Kilimanjaro crater just 475 feet below the summit!
Set deep within the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan, the Snowman Trek is frequently regarded as the most difficult trek on earth. Aimed at experienced hikers who don’t mind camping at altitude, the Snowman Trek is a truly epic hike of grand proportions.
The trek winds its way along the mountain border between Bhutan and Tibet for 25 days! During this time you’ll cross 11 high passes, 4 of which stand at over 5,000 meters. This is not a trek for the feint hearted, as you’ll be camping at over 4,000 meters for two weeks straight!
The trek begins in the city of Paro and finishes in Lunana in the northern region of Bhutan. You can only trek this route during summer as the trail becomes blocked by snow during winter.
Located on the southern tip of South America, the Torres Del Paine Full Circuit Trek is one of the world’s greatest and undiscovered treks. Taking just over a week to complete, the trail circles around the stunning Torres del Paine National Park for 130km.
Designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978, the park is home to breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. Some of the most diverse flora and fauna in South America live within the park and trekkers should keep a sharp eye out for pumas, armadillos, skunks and guanaco.
There are several epic passes also, including the John Gardner Pass, which give stunning views across the wilderness. The best bit though is that camping is free! Although you will need to book ahead to make sure you get a spot.
One of India’s greatest treks, the Markha Valley Trek takes hikers through the remarkable landscape of the Ladakh Region in northwest India. The trail is famed for its stunning and untouched landscape and trekkers will find the culture just as enticing as the land itself.
You’ll pass through a number of local villages and visit several large monasteries that few travelers ever witness. The trail follows along a lovely high valley that gives frequent views across the High Himalaya region. The trek is so named for the valley and river that you follow downstream, crossing several high passes along the way.
The highest among these is Kongmaru La at 5,100 meters (17,060 ft). The trek is considered moderately difficult and there are several deep river crossings that add to the excitement! Although the occasional teahouse is available, the main bulk of accommodation is camping.
Even if you can’t reach any of these incredible destinations just yet, getting out into the countryside and camping under the stars is the ideal tonic to keep the stress at bay. It will also be a good warm up for when you do embark upon your own epic trek!
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