Once-in-a-lifetime backpacking trails you should do

Got your backpack ready? Backpacking is one of the most remarkable ways to travel the world – and these off-the-beaten-track routes will have you booking your next trip, pronto!

Tour du Mont Blanc – France, Italy & Switzerland

Distance: 170km 

What could be more amazing as a backpacker than trailing through Europe’s most gorgeous landscapes?

One of the most sought after trails on the continent, this one usually starts in Chamonix and will have you scouring across valleys and up and down passes before winding up in Switzerland.

Of course, you can always trek it in reverse, too.


Abel Tasman Coast Track – New Zealand

Distance: 50-60km 

If scenic diversity is your thing – think stunning beaches, glorious forests, cool tidal flats – this trail through the Abel Tasman National Park on the South Island is a must.

Along the way, you’ll spot wildlife like seals, penguins and dolphins – and water activities like swimming, snorkelling and kayaking can all be incorporated into the trek.


Inca Trail – Peru

Distance: Around 100km+ depending on the trail

Travel in the footsteps of the ancient Incas on this trek from the Sacred Valley, over the Andes, and on to one of the world’s most breathtaking destinations – Machu Picchu.

You can choose from 3 different treks here, which range from 1 day to about 4 to complete. Just make sure you book early in high season (June-August) and choose a reputable trekking agency.


Sierra High Route – California, USA

Distance: Just over 300km

If you love a good backpacking hike, this gorgeous trail will take you all the way from Kings Canyon National Park, through various wilderness areas and forests, through Yosemite National Park and into the beautiful Hoover Wilderness.

While not for the faint-hearted or unwilling climbers, the views and surroundings are to die for.


Sapa Trek – Vietnam

Distance: Varies

Nestled in the country’s splendid north, the Sapa highlands offer South East Asian backpackers a unique view of this area outside of the bustling cities. You’ll get up close with minority settlements, visit colourful markets, sleep in a rural village and take in the lush green mountains and valleys along the way.

2, 3 and 7 day treks are generally available in the region.


Everest Base Camp Trek – Nepal

Distance: About 112km to go up and back 

This is probably already on your bucket list, but we had to mention it again for sheer marvel. The Everest Base Camp trek takes around 2 weeks and is not for the beginner backpacker or hiker, but it’s well worth it to get close to the glory that is Mount Everest and the Himalayas.


Torres del Paine Full Circuit – Chile

Distance: Up to 80km+ 

Explore all the beauty that is Patagonia on this 8-day trek. Traversing everything from high mountain peaks and glaciers to forests and grasslands, you’ll catch striking mountain vistas and lake views on this one.

You can also choose between the W trek (the trail zig-zags like a ‘W’), which is shorter than the Full Circuit trek.


Kalalau Trail – Hawaii, USA

Distance: 35km round trip

Love a great backpacking challenge? This tough trail along Hawaii’s sublime coast will have you journeying through rich jungles, pristine beaches and volcanic ranges. You can either complete a shorter day trek or take the full trek. It’s pretty remote, so if you decide on the full trek, you’ll require a camping permit.


Drakensberg Traverse – South Africa

Distance: Up to 220km

If you’re in South Africa, this is one of the coolest and most remote backpacking trails you can take. There are a variety of walks to choose from and each will depend on whether you want to trek for a day, scour entire regions, hike up specific peaks – or just do the whole thing!

Whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed unspoiled terrain, amazing views and camping experiences of a lifetime.

Photo credit: rickmccharles, docnz, halide_art, Joe Decruyenaere, Konstantin Krismer, Superikonoskop, *christopher*, arballoimages, Jalo