Last Updated: October 11, 2021

Top Ten Hardest Hikes In The World

Wondering what the hardest hikes in the world are? You’re certainly in the right place because this is a list of the top ten most challenging treks on the planet! From the dangerous jungles of Colombia to the iconic mountains of Nepal – these hikes are hard, dangerous, and so incredibly rewarding that they’re absolutely worth the effort.

Whether you’re looking for a proper challenge or you just want to know which treks to never attempt, you’ll find all the info you need in this list of the top ten hardest hikes in the world!

Huayna Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu Sunny

Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the planet and the Inca Trail is certainly the most well known way to get there. Hordes of people flock to the Lost City of Incas every year and quite a few of them attempt to climb to the top of Huayna Picchu for the views. Many people attempt the ascent entirely unprepared, which is why this spectacular mountain has claimed so many lives.

The ascent to Huayna Picchu is not necessarily dangerous, as long as you’re prepared. Hikers must follow an old granite staircase to the top and the ascent is exposed for the most part. The hiking trail is often slippery with rotten and crumbling rock, so it is crucial that you watch your step. Also, the ascent is the easy part – it’s only when you start going down the slippery steps that you start to fear for your life.

In addition to that, clouds, mist, and fog are very common in the area and they only make it more difficult for hikers to actually reach the top of Huayna Picchu. Some sections feature steel cables to help with the trek, but you won’t have something to hold onto the entire time.

Mount Hua Shan, China

Mount Hua Shan

The Mount Hua Shan plank walk is thought to be the most dangerous hike in the world. The path to the plank trail is no piece of cake either – you must ascend countless steep steps, and the altitude change is enough to make most people give up. Others will stop once they climb the largest staircase and venture off to the various temples on the mountain.

Only the most daring hikers attempt the Plank Walk In The Sky, knowing that they might not return even if they do everything right. Harnesses are compulsory, but they honestly just give you a false sense of security. They’re not very sturdy and they only secure the top half of your body. You must stay clipped to the steel chain the entire length of the plank trail, otherwise, you risk plummeting to your death. Of course, there are no official death statistics, but some estimate over 100 die here each year.

The planks jut out from the mountain at an altitude of 7,070 feet. A simple glance downwards is enough to send shivers down the spines of even the most experienced trekkers out there. The plank walk is only some 50 meters long, and if you manage to cross it entirely, you’ll get rewarded with views so stunning it’s almost worth dying for them.

Drakensberg Grand Traverse, South Africa

Drakensberg Grand Traverse is one of the longest and toughest overland treks in the world. It’s in South Africa and it follows the Drakensberg escarpment from Sentinel Carpark to Bushman’s Nek. The entire trail is just over 200 kilometers long and takes about 15 days to complete. The trek is recommended only for the most experienced hikers who already have some experience with multi-day trails.

The DGT takes you from Northern Drakensberg to Southern Drakensberg, ascending five of South Africa’s tallest peaks. It’s a challenging hike both physically and mentally, but it’s also one of the most rewarding long-distance treks ever. The views of the Drakensberg mountainous scenery are simply incredible and worth all the effort it takes to complete this long-distance hiking trail.

This hike is difficult because of the rough and rugged, rocky terrain. It’s steep, rocky, and exposed at times, with a total elevation change of more than 6,000 meters throughout the hike. And just to put some more fear into you, the first day requires climbing up rickety chain ladders that are not for the faint of heart.

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

Kalalau Valley

Kalalau Trail is one of Hawaii’s most challenging hikes. It’s on the island of Kauai and it follows the Nā Pali Coast from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach. The entire trail is inside Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, so you will need permits for the hike.

This is one of the shortest hikes on this list at only some 18 kilometers, but it’s challenging enough that it definitely deserves a spot on the list of the hardest hikes in the world.

It’s even possible to do the trail in a single day, but you should only attempt this if you’re an experienced trekker in excellent physical condition. Also, whether or not you’re able to complete the hike in a single day will largely depend on the weather.

Kalalau Trail is difficult in dry weather but very dangerous in wet weather because of the slippery rocks, mud, and many streams. Insect bites are also a nuisance, so be sure to pack insect repellants and something to treat the inevitable bites.

It’s worth noting that the streams can be impossible to cross because of heavy rain, so maybe reconsider doing this hike if the weather is not good when you’re in Hawaii. Many hikers were left stranded because of impassable streams, and several people have died attempting to cross them.

Ciudad Perdida, Colombia

Ciudad Perdida

The Ciudad Perdida – Lost City – the hike is thought to be one of the best and hardest treks in  Colombia and all of South America. It is a 44-kilometer trek through the jungle and it takes between four and five days to complete it. The uneven terrain is rough and challenging with steep climbs, an abundance of mud, and countless swarms of mosquitos.

It’s always hot and humid on the hiking trail, so it’s best to wear lightweight and breathable clothes. Also, you must get your yellow fever vaccine 10 days before you arrive in Colombia, otherwise, your trek could be cut short after a mosquito bite.

If you manage to make it to the end of the trail, you’ll be able to explore the incredible Lost City with all its marvels. Walk along the stone paths, explore the huts, admire the rock carvings, and don’t forget to snap lots of photos of the mesmerizing scenery.

This is one of the treks that you can’t do on your own, and not just because of the dangerous terrain. The trail passes through private properties, so the only way to get access to those areas is to go on a guided tour.

But that’s honestly the best way, considering just how dangerous the Colombian jungle can be for first-time visitors. It’s very easy to get lost along the way, considering that the trail is not that well-marked and you’re in the jungle with no cell service or WiFi.

Snowman Trek, Bhutan


The Snowman Trek is the longest hike in Bhutan and one of the hardest hikes in the world. It’s also one of the most isolated treks in the Himalayas as it follows a path that was created by yak herders from the area. This trek features 11 high passes, rope bridges, Buddhist monasteries, and many other spectacular sights that make it one of the most rewarding long-distance treks on the planet.

The trail is about 350 kilometers long and it takes around 25 days to complete. It is incredibly challenging due to high elevation change, difficult terrain, and changing weather, and for those reasons, it is not possible to do the hike on your own.

You must book the trek with one of Bhutan’s relevant agencies and it’s best to do this in advance since it takes some time for them to assemble the crew and get all the necessary permits.

The Snowman Trek is also one of the most expensive treks in the world, so keep that in mind. You must pay the guides at least $100 per day, and then there’s the cost of gear, accommodation, and meals. If you’re going on a guided expedition with an established tour agency, expect to spend around $7,000-8,000 for the trek.

Kokoda Trek, Papua New Guinea

The Kokoda Trek in Papua New Guinea is a physically challenging trek of nine days. The 96-kilometer overland track cuts through the Owen Stanley Range, with a total elevation change of more than 7,000 feet. The lowest point of the hike is Ua’Ule Creek at 980 ft and the highest point is Mount Bellamy at 8,170 ft.

Such a vast altitude difference also means that the weather conditions along the trail vary drastically. It’s hot and humid at the lower altitudes, but quite cold at the higher altitudes. Also, the trail goes up (and down) many hills along the way, which is why it’s often compared to a Stairmaster in a sauna.

For the most part, you are walking through the jungle, so at least you don’t have to worry about sun exposure. You should worry about all the different animals you could encounter in that jungle though since there’s everything from ticks to venomous snakes.

This is one of the reasons why the Kokoda Trek is best hiked in groups with experienced guides – they’re pros at beheading the venomous creatures in a matter of seconds.

Everest Base Camp, Nepal

Everest Base Camp

Mount Everest is the highest mountain on the planet and the ultimate goal of most Alpinists. Not that many people attempt to climb the world’s tallest peak, and even fewer actually make it to the top. But, many people attempt to hike to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, where they can catch some spectacular views of the tallest mountain peak in the world.

It takes about 12 days to complete the trek to Everest Base Camp and you shouldn’t even try to finish it faster. The trek is stretched out over 12 days so your body can get accustomed to the rising altitude – if you tried to complete the hike quicker, you’d likely get altitude sickness very fast.

The Everest Base Camp trek is around 130 kilometers long for the round trip. Experienced hikers are expected to cover about 15 kilometers per day, which isn’t that demanding at all. At least, that’s expected of you if you’re doing the hike with a guide.

You can attempt the trail on your own, but that requires a lot of preparation. It will be more difficult to find accommodation along the trail (especially during peak season), and you should still take things slow and allow your body to get acclimated to the higher altitudes as you progress along the trail.

The Maze, Utah

Maze Utah

The Maze is a district in the Canyonlands National Park that is home to one of America’s most dangerous hikes. This entire section of the national park is extremely hard to reach and requires a high-clearance vehicle. There are no amenities in this part of the NP, so if you have any intentions of exploring the untamed nature in The Maze, you’ll need to bring everything from water to gasoline.

Here are some numbers to give you an idea of how unexplored this part of the national park is: Canyonlands National Park gets more than 260,000 visitors annually, and only around 1% of them make it to The Maze.

There aren’t that many trails in The Maze, so it’s perfect for adventure seekers who prefer to explore nature off the beaten paths. You will need a topographic map and GPS, otherwise, it’s very easy to get lost.

El Caminito del Rey, Spain

Caminito Del Rey

El Caminito del Rey is Spain’s most dangerous hike, mostly because it had been neglected for quite a while. It was closed for quite a while and it reopened back in 2015, but even the extensive renovations and repairs couldn’t make it entirely safe for hikers.

The 3-kilometer path on the side of the gorge is still thrilling, but it’s much safer than it used to be. It’s fenced-off now, so the chances of someone randomly falling to their death are significantly lower. The old path is still visible beneath the new walkway, and it provides some insight into why the entrance to the path was closed off for four years.

Other Hikes To Consider

If you are hiking in the USA then the Bright Angel Trail, Arizona, is definitely not a trail for inexperienced hikers. It rises up quickly and towards the end becomes a very narrow trail that is part climb, part hike.

Not too far from Bright Angel, the Grand Canyon is definitely a must see. But the hike to the bottom and back is one I will never forget, especially when you have to carry all your own gear to stay the night at the bottom.



About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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