From the beginning of time, humans have been standing in awe in front of the mountains spellbound by enchantments that remain all-powerful to our days. The rough paths and indomitable peaks challenge our mind as much as our body, turning every hiking trip into a rewarding adventure and a profound self-discovery journey. Many of these mountains are destined to be explored only by mountaineers since climbing them requires technical skills and extensive, specialized training. There are other mountains, though, accessible to the average hikers who are keen to experience the acclaimed inward and outward connection, avoiding any rock or ice climbing, rappelling, crevasses, and ropes. If you fall into the latter category, we highly recommend the below series of mountain expeditions, each one of which represents a worthy feather in your hat and an excellent way of improving your hiking skills.
Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (5,895 m)
Mt. Kilimanjaro can be either the starting point of one’s hiking adventures or the pinnacle. It is the tallest mountain in Africa and one of the Seven Summits, but, as it requires no technical skills, its most severe challenge being its high altitude, it has recently become popular among adventurers the world over. A volcanic mountain with a deceptively straightforward path, it emanates such energy that there is a surprisingly large number of people who, while standing on Uhuru peak, chose to change their lives forever.
Jebel Shams, Oman (2,997 m)
If you wish to test and hone your hiking skills gradually, avoiding a week-long challenge on a mighty mountain as your starting point, you may choose a more comfortable but, still, impressive goal: Jebel Shams in Oman. Although its almost 3,000 m. altitude does not pose any significant difficulty, and the hike can be completed in just a weekend, the trail is harder than that on Mt. Kilimanjaro, as it is wilder, rougher, and rockier. It is an excellent practice for anyone who wishes to attempt higher mountains in the future and a gratifying achievement for every hiker.
Mt. Toubkal, Morocco (4,167 m)
Mt. Toubkal, the highest peak of North Africa and the Arab World, presents a similarly manageable goal, achievable within two to four days (depending on the time one wishes to spend on the Atlas Mountains), but, on top of that, offers two significant additional advantages. On the one hand, it helps a hiker train on higher altitude, as the difference from three to four thousand meters is quite substantial. On the other hand, as the last 1,000 meters to the summit are usually covered in snow, it offers the opportunity for a beginner to experiment with crampons and an ice axe in a fun, uncomplicated way.
Mt. Ararat, Turkey (5,137 m)
The highest mountain of Turkey takes you to another level, surpassing the barrier of 5000 meters. It is a rocky, rough mountain, a dormant, snow-capped volcano which last erupted in 1840. It is enveloped in myths and legends, as, according to tradition, it was the landing point of Noah’s Ark after the Great Flood – a story still reflected in the Armenian or Persian name used for this mountain. Despite the altitude and the glaciers at the top, it is a manageable hike, accessible to everyone in a good, physical condition.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal (5,380 m)
Everest Base Camp (EBC) is not a summit expedition; yet, the emotional importance of EBC is such that it should definitely be on the list of every hiker. The trail is rich in beauty, with forest-covered slopes, gurgling rivers, suspending bridges, and mani stones, getting wilder as one approaches the top. Surrounded by majestic peaks of renowned beauty and fame, prayer flags, yak caravans, and the admirable Sherpas, the traveler enjoys both the physical challenge and the cultural interaction. The nights are warmed by the enthusiasm of the impromptu communities formed around the heaters of the tea houses, and sleep is more comfortable in the Sherpa lodges rather than the typical mountain camps.