In a world of extreme sports, hiking may seem like a rather tame activity. If that’s your perspective, perhaps these 10 hikes will change your mind. From sheer mountainsides to broiling desert canyons, these dangerous trails regularly test the mettle of the most hardened outdoor enthusiasts and leave many breathless? sometimes permanently.
1. Mount Hua Shan (China)
It has the honor of being recognized as the most dangerous route in the world, although it seems to be safer than it appears at first sight. After climbing the “Celestial Stairs”, 999 narrow steps carved into the rock, you reach the dangerous part of the route: a narrow “path” made with wooden planks surrounding the mountain. Your life will depend on how well you hold on to the iron chains that the route offers. Of course, if you live upstairs, you can drink something in the Tea House on the top.
2. Caminito del Rey (Málaga)
But do not go to China to risk losing your life hiking: in Spain, there is the famous Caminito del Rey, in Malaga. It is built on the walls of the Gaitanes Gorge, three kilometres in which many sections are less than one meter wide, there is nowhere to hold or, directly, there is only the beam that supported the wood of the pass. It is forbidden to make the road (the accesses have been demolished to avoid it), but that has not stopped the brave or reckless. Of course, if you do and finish it alive, you may have to pay a fine of 6,000 euros.
3. Huayna Picchu (Peru)
The road that climbs to Machu Picchu can become dangerous, but it is not so much as its continuation, the path that goes from the Inca city to Huayna Picchu. Known as the Way of Death, it includes an Inca staircase carved into the rock, which rises more than 300 meters in just over a mile. The terrain is irregular, sometimes there are landslides, many slippery areas, and others where you are on the edge of a precipice. The easy thing, however, is to climb. The descent is the real challenge. Yes, after having contemplated Machu Picchu from above.
4. Monte LeConte (United States)
The route, very steep, is already difficult by itself, but it is also full of little extras that make the adventure riskier if possible: bears! Bats carrying diseases! Risk of altitude sickness! Multiple opportunities to fall! The rewards: lots of natural beauty, spectacular views and beautiful caves to explore.
5. Angels Landing (Utah, United States)
It is not a kilometre long, which is why many innocent tourists decide to venture on this route. The trail is already dangerous in itself, by a narrow gorge with a high risk of falling, and ends in steep stone stairs. But the number of people that tend to make it even worse, having to do real stunts to cross without falling into the void. There have been deaths and every year there are quite a few accidents.
6. Aokigahara (Japan)
Also known as the Forest of Suicides, the forest, which is located at the base of Mount Fuji, is the second most popular place in the world when it comes to taking your own life. Is it also dangerous if you do not intend to die? Yes: it is very dense, full of slippery rocks and roots, and getting lost is very simple. Not to mention that, according to legend, it is a place where many ghosts live and the real possibility of encountering a corpse. No, it will not do anything to you, but it will make the trip less pleasant.
7. Kokoda Trail (Papua New Guinea)
Its 96 kilometers in length (60 in a straight line) have seen everything. In 1942 it became famous as the scene of a bloody battle between Japanese and Australians, and after several years was deserted. A few years ago, however, it became fashionable again: it leads from Port Moresby to the town of Kokoda and its dangers reach everywhere: areas where the mud reaches the ankles, slippery roots, unexpected waterfalls … To all that there is the possibility of contracting malaria, facing extreme temperatures (hot day and cold at night), and heavy rains in the afternoon. The road is being arranged to attract more tourists, but the dangers derived from the climate are still there.
8. Crossing Drakensberg (South Africa)
It is known that up to 1985 this crossing took the lives of 55 people. Did he stop being dangerous afterwards? No: simply, the authorities stopped creating statistics. This 65-kilometre route through Natal National Park starts at its most dangerous part: with two chain ladders. Through them, one climbs to the crest of the mountains, where a route based on uniting trails made by animals, shepherds and simple rocky areas runs. The beauty of the views, of course, makes it a very popular place.
9. Kalalau (Hawaii, United States)
It is easy to fall into the topic, but if we are ever going to talk about a paradise that becomes hell, it should be here. The extreme beauty of an almost virgin jungle with the promise of a paradisiacal beach at the end. The problem? In this circular route of 35 kilometres we can find flooded areas, with rockslides, a part that runs on the edge of a cliff … Many of the victims, however, find their end on the seemingly safe beaches while they are swimming.
10. Monte Pinatubo (Philippines)
A very easy route that takes between 50 minutes and two hours. The risk? That the mountain is really a volcano, so in the end, everything is a lottery. It had been inactive for 400 years, but in 1991 it erupted, killing 800 people. In 1992 he did it again, with 72 victims. How dare you go there? If you do, you can also swim in the lake in the volcanic crater, but be careful: the currents are very strong.