Americans: where was your favorite international backpacking trip?

Joined
Dec 9, 2018
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Backpacking is my favorite thing to do, and I’m always looking for unique places to do so. Share your experiences backpacking outside the states, be it in mountains, on beaches, deserts, jungles….anything.
 
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James and Amy

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Jun 6, 2021
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We have reports for 20 different overseas backpacking trips on our website: Doingmiles.com Take a look and see what might appeal to you. We have been continually surprised at how very few American backpackers we have encountered on our overseas walks. We have thoroughly enjoined our foreign walks , including many not yet written up, and hope to do more. Little of the walking is in wilderness by American standards, but that has mattered little in the quality of the hikes. We have had plenty of wilderness experiences at home; the contrast of a different kind of backpacking in other places is a plus, not a minus.

It is difficult to select an absolute favorite as each trip has had its had its highpoints and lowpoints. We have found it easier on overseas trips to select a route that has been previously described and for which maps are available. We have decided that trying to plan a completely new route in an unfamiliar place is not worth the disappointment when things inevitably go sideways and you may not speak the local language to help sort things out. That said, there are so many established routes in other countries that finding one to suit your interests should not be a problem.

If you like the mountains, the HRP on the French/Spanish border is a fabulous long walk without the crowds found in the Alps.

If you enjoy big cultural differences, walk the TSH in Japan.

If you like antiquities, walking in Turkey is a great place to see them just lying around, although the current political situation is not as good as it was when we were there.

If you enjoy coastal walking, Australia, the UK, and France all have terrific routes.

The wildest walk we did in Europe was the Cape Wrath Trail in Scotland.

Of course any of this kind of travel can be easily derailed by local Covid restrictions, so do your research before committing. Best of luck and if you have any specific questions, just ask us.

James
 

TractorDoc

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My favorite is an easy choice. . . as I only have one international trip in my past.

It was a good one though as I spent close to six months making a ring around Central and Eastern Australia. Not all of it was spent backpacking -- parts of the trip involved long drives on a motor coach while sleeping in tents along the way.

This was back in the late 90s so I'm not sure what has changed (virus or otherwise) since then, but Australia had a lot to offer in terms of scenery and variety. National Parks covered rain forest, mountains (Australia's version anyway!), desert, ocean, natural/cultural sites, plus much more than I can ever remember. I'd gladly go back. . . but the plane ride is something I'd dread.

Positives I remember were a favorable exchange rate, no need to learn a new language, the smell of eucalyptus, wildlife (exotics to me) was everywhere, and the people I met were always warm and welcoming. Negatives included the aforementioned plane ride, at times sweltering heat, flies, and snakes. A lot of snakes. In the central outback I'd often wear a head net to keep the flies away, but after awhile I remember being getting used to them.

A pic (of a pic) I from my photo album. There should be an eleven in front of the 70 on the St. Mary Peak sign -- couldn't see that unfortunate knee placement in the days before digital! :) (Mullets are still cool, right?)

IMG_6664.JPG


Flinders Ranges NP was just one of many I was able to visit. I actually bushwacked part of the way down on this trail and crossed paths with a rather large King Snake -- something I still shudder to think about today.

A picture of my tent at one of the caravan parks during one of the coach drive portions of the trip.

IMG_6667.JPG


Because Hawaii was in the way of getting home I also decided to stop and spend a week there. . . not international and more car camp than backpacky. . . but a bit of a bonus if you are returning to the states via the West Coast. The Big Island was definitely less touristy and you could camp near the beach in many of the state parks.

IMG_6668.JPG
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2014
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102
I have a little experience abroad:

South America -
There is amazing backpacking near Huaraz - make sure you hire a mule team to take your pack and cook for you, so much easier.
We did a multi day circuit called the Huayhuash Circuit in Peru which is the area where Touching the Void took place. My wife and I and 8-10 Israelis. Amazing trip.
We hired a couple of mules and a guide to do a circuit near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.
All of these hikes I got from a Lonely Planet trekking in South America book and just made them work out.
The Torres Del Paine circuit in Patagonia as well as one more - the name escapes me right now.

I've also done trekking in the India and Nepal Himalaya and those were amazing. Nepal is superior because you don't need to take your tent or cookware as they have villages in the hills everywhere.

I've also hiked around New Zealand, but didn't get to do any of the major routes as the permits filled up fast and the trip was rather last minute.
 

Kmatjhwy

Wilderness Wanderer
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Sep 23, 2016
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Now haven't done any backpacking outside of the US except maybe a little in Canada. I was thinking before Covid of heading to Australia with especially Tasmania but that is not going to happen now. There is sooooo much to see in our own country. In fact with everything going on right now, am thinking of just getting back into those Greater Yellowstone and Rocky Mountains Wilds and simply live with enjoying life! .
 

fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
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The Cordillera Huayhuash in Peru had the best mountains of any backpacking trip I've done, but like in the EU you feel like you're in an alpine pasture most of the time. We did self-supported. The guiding companies tended to leave a lot of trash in the backcountry.

huayhuash-085.jpg


I'd like to do the O Circuit in Torres del Paine at some point.
 

priz1234

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Jun 10, 2020
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Have only done two international backpacking trips. The Lares Trek in Peru and the Kepler Track in New Zealand. Both were incredible. But the Kepler Track was probably my favorite. You follow a ridgeline for a lot of it and the views are so good.

One of the views from the Kepler Track

DSC00928.jpg
 

balzaccom

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Sep 30, 2014
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We've done two hikes in Peru and one in Patagonia.

>> The hike to Machu Picchu was certainly worth it, but entails a whole lot of protocols--needed because it's a high traffic route. You are required to hire a guide for each group and a porter for each hiker. This makes sense when you realize that your guide is really there to make sure that you don't damage anything you see...a problem we saw our guide address with another group. ("Get off that wall! It's pre-Inca!") And the porter system provides employment to locals, who would otherwise see endless groups of wealthy foreign hikers tromping through their villages and fields... Recommended, but not if you like solitude.

>> We also did the Santa Cruz route in the Cordillera Blanca--higher mountains, spectacular scenery, and far fewer people. This is a hike that goes out of Huaraz, well north of Cuzco. We had a guide and a muleteer who had donkeys for our group of three. The highest pass is 15,600 feet or so. Not for the faint of heart. I loved this trek

I general, we love Peru. Fabulous hiking, unbelievable food--really. Nice people, and 5,000 years of amazing archeology. We speak Spanish fluently, so that may influence us, but we would go back in a heartbeat.

>> We've also hiked out of El Chalten in Patagonia (Cerro Torre and Fitzroy). Amazing scenery at much lower elevations...everything here is below about 6,000 feet. Towering rock, but the campsites for trekking are fearsome. One spot had more than 200 tents, and one port-a-potty. Nope. Not our cup of tea. We ended up doing these as day hikes (perfectly possible) staying in El Chalten at a B&B, and avoiding Camp Megacrapper.

>> My sister has done many different versions of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. A much more urban experience, she loves it. There are different routes from different parts of Spain (and even Europe) and you can pick and choose the route and the distance. Stays are in hostels (inexpensive, relatively clean, and evenly spaced along the route) so if you are interested in the wilderness experience, look somewhere else.

And as for hikes we are hoping to do in the future, you can add a version of the Camino de Santiago (probably the Camino Primitivo, from the north through the Cantabrian Mountains) as well as hikes in the Republic of Georgia, and a bunch more in the Andes: Ecuador, Columbia, etc.
 

fossana

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My sister has done many different versions of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. A much more urban experience, she loves it. There are different routes from different parts of Spain (and even Europe) and you can pick and choose the route and the distance. Stays are in hostels (inexpensive, relatively clean, and evenly spaced along the route) so if you are interested in the wilderness experience, look somewhere else.
In general the EU through-hiking experience is quite different coming from somewhere with vast expanses of remote wilderness. A lot of the routes are set up for those who only want to carry a small daypack with clothes, using the refuges for meals and sleeping. Some of the parks have rules where you can't bivy outside of the refuges (e.g. on the GR20 trail in Corsica) or can only do so during certain (dark) hours. The big routes often pass through towns, which is convenient for resupply, but at the same time jarring to your wilderness experience. Scotland I know has more liberal rules on "wild camping".

There are places with less established infrastructure in Europe, like the in-progress
Transcaucasian Trail. I've also found the Balkans (e.g. Julian Alps) to be less hectic that the western European areas. You do have to be careful in regions like Bosnia, however, due to leftover land mines. At some point I'd like to hike some or all of the Peaks of the Balkans trail visiting Theth, Albania.
 
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karigood

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Dec 10, 2021
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Back in 2012, I was 24 years old. A good friend of mine had been in Sydney for a few years by that time. In December, another friend and I decided to go on a three-week visit. Here we were. Of course, there were some problems with the visa, but it all worked out. Of course, the first couple of days, we hung out and had a good time. But one evening we decided to travel, we liked the place near Hana, and she is gorgeous. We were new to this business and did not know what to take with you for help visited the site https://planneratheart.com/the-road-to-hana-stops/ where we learned the basic nuances and read a lot of valuable tips.
 
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norwegianxplorer

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Apr 1, 2018
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105
In general the EU through-hiking experience is quite different coming from somewhere with vast expanses of remote wilderness. A lot of the routes are set up for those who only want to carry a small daypack with clothes, using the refuges for meals and sleeping. Some of the parks have rules where you can't bivy outside of the refuges (e.g. on the GR20 trail in Corsica) or can only do so during certain (dark) hours. The big routes often pass through towns, which is convenient for resupply, but at the same time jarring to your wilderness experience. Scotland I know has more liberal rules on "wild camping".

There are places with less established infrastructure in Europe, like the in-progress
Transcaucasian Trail. I've also found the Balkans (e.g. Julian Alps) to be less hectic that the western European areas. You do have to be careful in regions like Bosnia, however, due to leftover land mines. At some point I'd like to hike some or all of the Peaks of the Balkans trail visiting Theth, Albania.
In Norway and Sweden in Northern Europe there are no limits to "Wild Camping", The "Right to roam" law is a law that both countries have in place that allows you to camp anywhere as long as you are 150 yards from buildings. Here are a few photos from various areas around Norway and Sweden this summer.
 

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ghsmith76

The Adventure Continues
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Backpacking is my favorite thing to do, and I’m always looking for unique places to do so. Share your experiences backpacking outside the states, be it in mountains, on beaches, deserts, jungles….anything.
I chose one fabulous international trek based on viewing what I thought was the most beautiful place on earth, The Lofoten Islands of Norway.
Lofoten Islands.jpeg
Horseid Beach Norway.jpeg
 

norwegianxplorer

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SEAlpine

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Khopra Danda>Khayer Lake trek in Nepal was exceptional (I've posted pics on this forum). This coming summer we're planning on treks in Peru (probably Ausangate>Sibinacocha Lake) and Tombstones in the Yukon Territories, Canada.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2020
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I haven’t done many overseas trips but a really unique trip we did was the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland. I wrote a report on Greenand in 5th grade and wanted to go there since. Not many Americans hike the Arctic Circle Trail. In fact we didn’t meet any other Americans. It is is a unique experience that takes you from the Ice Sheet to the ocean (103 miles long). Here are a few pictures and a link to my blog on it if you have further interest. https://thru.live/2019/08/23/from-i...ady-for-the-arctic-circle-trail-in-greenland/
 

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Tim Valentine

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I haven’t done many overseas trips but a really unique trip we did was the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland. I wrote a report on Greenand in 5th grade and wanted to go there since. Not many Americans hike the Arctic Circle Trail. In fact we didn’t meet any other Americans. It is is a unique experience that takes you from the Ice Sheet to the ocean (103 miles long). Here are a few pictures and a link to my blog on it if you have further interest. https://thru.live/2019/08/23/from-i...ady-for-the-arctic-circle-trail-in-greenland/
Great Greenland report. I want to look into that further.
 
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