Off the Beaten Trail: 6 Unconventional Treks

Posted on July 16, 2010 by

Since I last wrote about 7 of the Best Trekking Destinations in the world, I’ve had many more trekking suggestions from readers and expert trekkers/climbers. Several of these treks are extremely challenging and clearly off the beaten path. Since part of the thrills of adventure travel comes from seeking unexplored corners of the earth, these treks definitely fulfill what many adventure-seekers crave for. Here are some of the best, as suggested by readers and friends.

1. Atlas Mountains Trek, Morocco

Unlike most parts of Morocco, the Atlas Mountains are relatively unexplored. With perfect weather year-round, the High Atlas mountains are studded with summits climbing as high as 13,000 feet. The advanced hiker will enjoy the technical climb, while average hikers will also find the Atlas Mountains trek an excellent experience without facing much difficulty.

atlas mountain trek Photo by Tom Kulbowski

2. Jhomolhari Trek, Bhutan

What sets Bhutan apart from the others is that you’re literally trekking in wilderness. Trekking trails in Bhutan lead through few human settlements in remote and tiny villages, pristine old growth forests and gleaming unclimbed peaks. This particular trek crosses mountain passes, high altitude lakes, and yak herds. As a safe yet largely unexplored country, Bhutan is as destination ideal for solo holidays.

trekking Bhutan Photo by jmhullot

3. Dragon’s Back, Hong Kong

Towering over Hong Kong’s explosive urban landscapes are imposing mountains and hidden treks worth exploring. One of the city’s finest and most surprising rambles is the Dragon’s Back, a trail that cuts through bamboos and scrubby slopes. It’s particularly popular among paragliders who launch themselves off from here. Other trails worth visiting are the Maclehose Trail, running around Ma On Shan, and Tai Mo Shan Trail that snakes through waterfalls and rugged terrains.

The Dragons Back trail, Hongkong Photo by lipjin

4. Via Ferrata in the Dolomites, Italy

Via Ferrata – meaning ‘iron road’ – is a mountain road equipped with fix cables, ladders and bridges. It’s not for the faint-hearted,  but certain parts of the climb can be done without any technical gear. The Dolomites in Italy is the birthplace of Via Ferrata, so expect world-class climbing here. It is also an exceptionally beautiful mountain range, with gentle valleys flanked by isolated pockets of soaring spires and jagged ridges.

Climbing the Via Ferrata, Dolomites Photo by bugmonkey

5. McCarthy Trek, Alaska

Alaska is a land of wilderness beauty, so expect any hike to be an awe-inspiring one. This trek brings you ice-climbing through the Root Glacier in the day, exploring crevasses, moulins, melt streams and canyons. Camp is set up on the top of the lateral moraine of the Root with stunning sunsets and inspiring views of the entire valley. Expect to spot bears as well. So if you’ve got the fleece, crampons and camping gear ready, time for some real hiking!

4068405240_f359ab5293_z Photo by Philip Morton

6.Alpamayo Circuit in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Instead of the popular treks in neighboring Chile and Argentina, why not head out to the Cordillera Blanca for some out-of-the-ordinary hikes. As getting in and out of the white mountains are extremely challenging, you won’t see many hikers here. Most people set off for this trek from either Huaraz or Caraz, both excellent mountain town jumping off points. But Alpamayo can be dangerous due to avalanches, do the Santa Cruz trek instead if you’re not prepared.

1748901311_cf8b17a1a5_z Photo by Tomer Arazy


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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

12 Responses to “Off the Beaten Trail: 6 Unconventional Treks”

  1. Michael July 15, 2010 9:25 am #

    ADVENTURE written large as shown by the accompanying photos. If I were 25 years younger, I would certainly try at least the Via Ferrata.

    • admin July 16, 2010 4:26 pm #

      Oh c’mon Michael, I’m sure you’re still fit as ever!

    • Francis Tapon September 17, 2012 4:10 pm #

      I did a Via Ferrata with a 53-year-old. He blazed up without special gear. You can do it. :)

  2. airtreksnico July 15, 2010 4:47 pm #

    Nothing like getting your blood pumping when you're on the road. I've done some nice treks, but these have the knob turned up to 11. Great finds!

    • admin July 16, 2010 4:25 pm #

      Thanks Nico, I have the other expert climbers and readers to thank for! I personally would love to try the Alaska trek and also the Hongkong trail, it seems way out of the beaten path.

  3. Wanderfly July 16, 2010 5:53 pm #

    I totally agree with the Alpamayo Circuit. I have never made it to Chile or Argentina (both high my 'to-go' list), but this area of Peru is completely beautiful and I would highly recommend it as well. I set off from Huaraz for a 5-day trek and it was one of the best parts of my entire trip to Peru (Macchu Picchu covered in a misty fog is hard to top).

    Great list!

  4. Dave and Deb July 18, 2010 2:43 pm #

    OK, I want to do them all. We did our first via feratta in France this year and loved it. Definitely want to do another preferably in Italy since we loved that country!

  5. TravMonkey August 19, 2010 6:11 am #

    Hey Nellie!

    Amazing article! I remember treking at Cordillera Blanca, Peru… I think that's where Lago69 is? That was such an amazing lake… the photographs I took were amazing!

    Keep up the good work… I always love reading your articles :)

    Paul @

    • Nellie August 23, 2010 5:15 pm #

      Paul, I still haven\’t thank you for inspiring me to start travel writing! It was you who gave me an opportunity to write for your site and let me kickstart my career. :) Really grateful for the kind words too.

      • TravMonkey August 23, 2010 5:12 pm #

        Hi Nellie,

        You don't need to thank me, I think your passion and writing speak for themselves! All the best with the travel writing.



  6. Leigh October 28, 2010 6:29 pm #

    I did a trek in the Cordillera Blanca with just my husband & a donkey driver. We didn't see westerners for over 10 days. In July the weather was perfect – sunny warm days, freezing cold nights & stunning scenery for the entire trip.

    And of course I want to do all the treks you listed!


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