April 2, 2013 at 8:31 AM ET
Machu Picchu on your bucket list? Take the back way. How about seeing the jagged spikes of Patagonia’s Monte Fitz Roy? Hike the shores of nearby Laguna Capri and take in the mountain’s reflection in this turquoise alpine lake.
These are two of adventure guide Kasey Austin’s favorite hikes in the world—and she knows a thing or two about hiking. As daughter of Austin-Lehman Adventures partner Dan Austin, travel is in Kasey Austin’s blood. Since she was six, Austin has traveled extensively in the Americas and Europe, having worn out twelve pairs of hiking boots in the last eleven years.
From Fira to Oia on Santorini Island, Greece7.2 miles
White-washed houses hugging the edge of a 1,300 foot caldera dominate the scene at the beginning of this spectacular hike in Fira. Birds-eye views of a blue expanse of the Aegean Sea; quaint, picturesque churches hundreds of years old; and dramatic volcanic cliffs will capture your sights as you make your way to the postcard-perfect town of Oia. A glass of wine in an inviting tavern amongst the locals in Oia is a requirement before transferring back to Fira by bus!
Salkantay Trail, Peru41 miles point to point
This is the “back way” to get to Machu Picchu by foot and the 40+ mile trail takes you through 15 different ecosystems over the course of 7 days. Along the way, you’ll spend the night in beautiful, luxurious mountain lodges complete with hot tea upon arrival, warm water bottles in your bed at night, and a hot tub right outside the door where you can gaze upwards at the star-studded Peruvian skies. For an alternate to the popular Inca Trail (with entrance into Machu Picchu via the iconic Sun Gate) the Salkantay Trail with its dramatic scenery, fewer people, and stunning lodges cannot be beat!
Athabasca Glacier, Alberta, Canada3 to 5 miles, round trip
Strap on the crampons for this guided glacier walk on the massive Columbia Icefield of the Rocky Mountains. A specially trained glacier guide will ensure you’re properly outfitted to safely discover the world of glacier ice by foot! Stare down into the abyss of a glacial crevasse as you trek past a gaping hole within the glacier. Learn your glacier terminology as you view a moraine or millwell up close. Take in the craggy, glacially carved landscape as your guide provides the history of this fascinating area.
Angel's Landing, Zion National Park, Utah4.8 miles round trip
One of the most famous and thrilling hikes within the US National Park system. This narrow and eye-popping hike in Zion’s main red rock canyon will definitely test your limits when it comes to its dizzying drop-offs and deep chasm views. During the hike you’ll walk along a narrow ridge with drop-offs on each side and pull yourself up a rock face by way of anchored chains. Don’t forget to ascend Walter’s Wiggles along the way! Upon reaching Angel’s Landing, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views that make it 100-percent worth it!
Glen Nevis, Scotland5 miles round trip
Voted “one of the best short hikes in Great Britain.” Fortunately, despite receiving this accolade, this hike does not see as many trekkers as one would think. This walk begins in a spectacular chasm leading to a meadow, where a waterfall tumbles over 320 feet from a high mountain. The stunning valley surrounding you, featured in Braveheart, promises jaw-dropping views that will make you feel as if you’re walking the set of a movie.
Laguna Capri, Patagonia4 to 8 miles, round trip
Monte Fitz Roy rises above the serene waters of Laguna Capri for a classic Patagonia view. There are a number of hillocks along the lake creating unique vantage points for photography of the lake and surrounding scenery. Trekking around this area will provide views of sprawling glaciers, jagged peaks, and turquoise lakes that look unlike anything you’ve ever had the pleasure to see.
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