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There are plenty of beautiful treks around the world, but these unique hikes offer more than just a picture-perfect view.
Are you ready for something new?
Step into a fairy tale at the rainbow-colored landscapes in Peru, trek among active volcanoes in Mexico City, climb 5,000 steps up a mountain – overnight- to visit a sacred footstep in Sri Lanka, and round it all out with a startlingly phallic-shaped phenomenon in Turkey.
Dust off those hiking boots, because this guide will inspire you – and give you all the info you need to know – to visit some of the most memorable and unique hikes around the world.
Want more of the outdoors? Join our new Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to connect with the international hiking community, discover new destinations, join virtual trail cleanups, and take part in monthly sustainability challenges.
1. Rainbow Mountain in Cusco, Peru
Mount Vinicunca is located in the Ausangate Range in the Andes Mountains, a few hours outside of Cusco, Peru.
However, Mount Vinicunca is much better known as the ‘Rainbow Mountain’ because of the colorful layers of rock and sediment that stripe the landscape in bright colors like pink, red, yellow, orange, and green.
The trek to Rainbow Mountain is tough not because of the distance – about six miles out and back – but because of the altitude.
Our hike started at 14,000 feet and we climbed all the way to a breathtaking 17,000 feet to get this famous view of the mountain and surrounding valleys.
How to visit Rainbow Mountain: From Cusco, guided tours to the Rainbow Mountain leave daily and the trip takes a full day. Check out the Rainbow Mountain Hiking Guide for more details or explore more in the Peru Series!
2. Izta-Popo National Park in Mexico City
Izta-Popo National Park is another unique hike in Latin America. On this trek, you’ll find yourself passing by an active volcano only an hour and a half outside of Mexico City!
Izta-Popo is the more easily pronounceable nickname for Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl, the second and third tallest mountains in Mexico.
Legend has it that Izta was the daughter of a powerful Aztec Emperor and Popo was a brave warrior. Izta and Popo were secretly in love, and Popo promised they would be together when he returned from war.
However, a jealous lover returned early and announced that Popo had been killed, causing Izta to die from her grief.
When Popo returned from battle, he carried her up into the mountains and refused to leave her side, so the gods turned them into volcanoes so they could stay together forever.
Izta is now a dormant volcano, but Popo still emits plumes of smoke in his anguish.
Popo’s eruptions are gentle but often, and you can see them from the hiking trails, the park entrance, and even from the roads and highways around the area as well.
The view from Adam’s Peak at sunrise
3. Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka
Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka is the most unique hike on this list because it has a sacred footprint on its peak.
Muslims and Christians believe it was Adam’s first step when he left the Garden of Eden, Hindus believe it belongs to Shiva, and Buddhists believe it’s Buddha’s footprint.
To see this footstep, visitors and pilgrims climb 5,000 steps up the side of the mountain, where the sacred indentation resides in a small, covered building.
Oh, and did I mention this climb is done overnight?
Most treks start around 2 am in order to watch the sunrise from the peak before making the long walk back down to the tiny town of Dalhousie at the base.
How to visit Adam’s Peak: Adam’s Peak is located in central Sri Lanka and is open for climbing from January through May every year. You can book a two-day guided tour from Colombo or do it on your own with this guide.
4. Love Valley in Cappadocia, Turkey
Love Valley in Cappadocia, Turkey, may just be my favorite site on this unique hikes list.
As you can probably guess from the photo above, Love Valley gets its name from the large multi-story penis-shaped rocks in the park.
These rock formations are scattered across Goreme National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and were formed over millions of years.
Goreme National Park is also home to the famous Cappadocia fairy chimneys that have evidence of human settlement more than 3,000 years ago. Travelers can still stay in hotels and Airbnb apartments (like the super romantic room we stayed in) dug into them today.
How to visit Love Valley: Goreme is the most popular destination in the Cappadocia region and is a quick one-hour flight from Istanbul. From Goreme, you can book a quad tour to Love Valley or hike to it on your own with this guide.
Fairy chimneys and hot air balloons in Goreme National Park
Add These 4 Unique Hikes to Your Bucket List
Whether you plan a trip to Peru, Mexico, Sri Lanka, or Turkey, these four unique hikes belong on your itinerary.
Ready to go?
Then, join our new Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to connect with the international hiking community, discover new destinations, join virtual trail cleanups, and take part in monthly sustainability challenges.
You can also explore the Interesting Reads series for more travel inspiration, like:
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