Spanning an incredible 8,851.8 km in total, the Great Wall of China is one of the most impressive manmade structures to date. The wondrous wall is best explored on foot and crossing some of the lesser-trodden parts of the wall allows you to grasp a sense of its sheer scale and enormity.
Alternatively, if traversing dormant volcanoes is more your style, the wilderness of Kamchatka in Russia will delight. Exotic birds, salmon and bouncing foxes accompany walkers through the rivers and forests. Higher up, the striking volcanic peaks offer an eerily beautiful atmosphere.
The star hike: The Great Wall, China
The popularity of this incredible feat of human creation highlights just how impressive a sight The Great Wall is. Trekking remote lengths of the Great Wall is by far the best way to experience this amazing feat of conception, construction and perseverance. Enjoy hiking the most way-out of Chinese climes, through lush forest, desert sands and tiny villages. The community life alongside the wall is a cultural treat and, combined with the landscapes and the monumental wall itself, well-worth the physical effort.
The lesser known: Kamchatka, Russia
The background: Just looking at where Kamchatka is on the map is enough to make you feel far from civilisation. Wait ‘til you get there. One of the most active zones in the Pacific ‘ring of fire’, Kamchatka’s volcanoes, forests and coasts collide to form a spectacular whole, and should place it on the to-do list for any courageous, get-me-away-from-it-all trekker.
Why go: Prepare to recalibrate your sense of wonder. Kamchatka may be scarcely populated but few places on earth feel so alive as Russia’s eastern appendix: ill-tempered volcanoes loom over bubbling mud pools, hot springs simmer at the base of lava flows, creeping glaciers stand tall on the shoulder of mountains while the nearby sea is home to rich marine life. This is a place that feels flamboyant, as if the earth has decided to show off a bit and be creative – planting geysers liberally throughout the landscape, painting the earth in surreal hues, stocking rivers with a ludicrous abundance of salmon.
The highlight: Take your pick. The peninsula’s untouched, rugged splendour rewards at every turn. The view from atop Mutnovsky Volcano is definitely up there – the yawning maw of the crater, ash spouting out, red-rust mountain slopes looking out onto neighbouring peaks.