Sandy summarizes the final six of our 12 global treks in Africa, the Middle East and South America.
While on our around-the-world journey to promote geography awareness, we trekked in some of the most remote places on the planet. In all, we hiked 470 miles (758 kilometers) over 60 days of trekking.
We completed several of the treks ‘self-supported’, meaning that we hiked by ourselves and carried our own gear, including food, tent, sleeping bag, stove and clothing. Several treks used local guides. In most cases this meant we could carry a lighter load and not have to bring a tent, stove and food. There were exceptions to both of these approaches; these are noted below.
Below is a brief summary and a favorite photo from our second set of six treks. If you missed our summary of the first six treks, read the story.
7. Maasai Mara Walking Safari – Kenya
- 4 Days
- 37 Miles (60 Kilometers)
This trek was a last-minute substitution for one scheduled in the West African nation of Mali. There we planned to trek 66 miles (106 kilometers) among the Dogon people. Due to kidnappings, a coup and then civil war in Mali, we had to cancel that trip and quickly book something else.
During our four day trek in Kenya we experienced and learned the ways of the Maasai people as these original inhabitants of the area acted as guides during our hike. The route passed through breathtaking scenery of endless savannas, bushes and forests, full of wildlife in the distance. While hiking we saw zebra and wildebeest. At the conclusion of this trek, we ended with a traditional safari in the world famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is the home of Africa’s “big five” and the great wildebeest migration. We observed the beginnings of the migration while we were there.
8. Simien National Park – Ethiopia
- 6 Days
- 33 Miles (53 Kilometers)
A World Heritage Site, the Simien Mountain range in Northern Ethiopia is bounded on the north and east by a massive and long escarpment cut along its length by deep gorges. Views over this vast plain are breathtaking. It is possible to see the wild ibex, once hunted close to extinction, the Simien fox and troops of Gelada baboons.
This six day trek was the highlight of our three week journey in Ethiopia, where we experienced the country’s culture and nature. We had not walked more than five minutes on our first day of trekking when we came upon a large troop of Gelada baboons. We were to see many more baboons in the coming days and it was great to watch them from a distance as we hiked. Towards the end of the trek we saw wild ibex and even the elusive Simien fox. The trek took us along cliffs and escarpments with wonderful views, and to altitudes as high as about 13,353 feet (4,070 meters).
9. Petra – Jordan
- Guided, but carried self-supported
- 4 Days
- 34 Miles (55 Kilometers)
Petra is in the Middle East country of Jordan, and is a historical city dating from the 6th century B.C. Our trek took us through the desert on old Bedouin trails over four days before finally arriving at this architectural masterpiece.
On this trek we had a local guide but carried our own gear, including food, tent and stove. The extra weight made for some challenging hiking on the steep trails and faint tracks that we encountered as we traversed the mountains towards Petra. The final day was absolutely breathtaking as we turned a corner and our jaws dropped as we came upon the rock facade of The Monastery, the largest building in Petra, at 154 feet (47 meters) wide and 167 feet (51 meters) tall. Nothing could prepare us for the sheer size and scale of such an impressive ancient carved building!
10. Amazon Rainforest – Brazil
- 4 Days
- 13 Miles (21 Kilometers)
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems with over 15,000 different species of animals, an array of amazing fauna and plants and a variety of birds.
We spent our time in the community of Xixuau, which is located about 285 river miles (460 kilometers) from Manaus, Brazil. To get there and back we traveled overnight on a riverboat, sleeping in hammocks. The area around Xixuau contains pristine rainforest and we were able to see a variety of plants and animals while trekking. Our favorite animals were the giant otters, which we observed in the river several times.
11. Los Glaciares National Park – Argentina
- Self-Supported using Hotels
- 3 Days
- 40 Miles (65 Kilometers)
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is a national park in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentinean Patagonia. The national park, created in 1937, is the second largest in Argentina. Its name refers to the giant ice cap in the Andes range that feeds 47 large glaciers, of which 13 flow towards the Atlantic Ocean. The ice cap is the largest outside of Antarctica and Greenland. In 1981 it was declared a World Heritage Site.
Our time trekking in Los Glaciares National Park was one of our favorite experiences. On the first day of hiking we had clear views of Monte Fitz Roy. Other days were spent on trails through meadows and to lakes with icebergs floating in them. It was a wonderful place to trek and we enjoyed our time there very much.
12. Torres Del Paine National Park – Chile
- Self-Supported using Huts
- 4 Days
- 39 Miles (62 Kilometers)
The “W” Trek in Torres del Paine National Park is a multiple-day hike through one of the most beautiful places on earth. En route are giant granite spikes, bright blue wind-whipped lakes, iceberg-loaded rivers and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which is a vast junction of glaciers.
On this final trek we walked through valleys, along lakes and near some incredible mountains and glaciers, including the iconic Torres del Paine and the beautiful Grey Glacier. We had clear and dry weather at the beginning of this hike and, although it rained on the last day, we savored the time that we had and reminisced about our previous 11 treks as we walked the last few miles.
Our goal had been to cover at least 500 miles (804 kilometers) during our treks. Because of the abbreviated Laos hike and the substitution of a shorter Kenyan trek for the planned one in Mali, we just fell just short of that goal, completing a total of 470 miles (758 kilometers). Counting the day hikes that we took in Fiji, Malaysia, Croatia, Tobago and Nicaragua, we probably ended up with more than 500 miles, but the important thing for us was not the distance but the amazing things that we saw and experienced while Trekking the Planet.