Backpacking most definitely is one of the best and most adventurous activities there are, and there are no doubts it goes extremely well with hammock camping.
A few days ago we talked about how a hammock can truly improve a backpacking experience: by making your backpack lighter and by giving you the chance to rest pretty much anywhere you can find two trees or two structures where to hang it, a hammock really makes the perfect solution for a backpacking travel, wherever it's going to take you in the world.
This is why Madera Outdoor decided to put together a little list of the best backpacking destinations in the world: let yourself be inspired, get your hammock and backpack ready, and set off for one of the greatest adventures of your life!
Best backpacking destinations in the world
This is, besides a truly beautiful place where to backpack like a pro, a personal advice. I went to India in November. I packed my few clothes, a couple of books and a power bank and I flew all the way to a country that truly blew my mind.
Sure, any country and any new experience can do that, but if you really want life to slap you in the face, dismantle everything you believe in and surprise you, then India is the place where you should go to make it all happen.
I stayed there for just a month, but I met an insane amount of people from all over the world who were backpacking in India for a lot longer. My personal itinerary was a bit different from that of common destinations: we flew all the way to Bagdogra Airport, we visited Darjeeling, then we trekked all the way to 4,100 meters hight in the Himalaya to see the dawn on Mount Kangchenjuca (the third highest mountain in the world), then we took a night train all the way to Kolkata, where we spent a few days, a quick visit to the Sunderbans, the greatest mangrove forest in the world, and then a flight to the unforgettable Andaman Islands, Havelock to be more specific.
This is the most structure I can give to my journey, because the amount of craziness and unexpected situations that happened during my stay in India is incredible and I could really write a book about it. One thing I can say: I regret not having had a hammock with me.
India is a chaotic place, but it is also a very safe and mellow one. People will be intrigued by you, they will try to talk to you and yes, of course some of them will try to take advantage of you, like in every other place in the world, but I can really say that you never feel unsafe there. There is some sort of go-with-the-flow, you-will-find-a-way kind of atmosphere that makes everything less hectic and more human.
A hammock would have truly been the best: during my trek in the Himalaya, I could have used it to chill after each section, enjoying the incredible beauty of the landscapes from a very privileged and comfy perspective. In Kolkata I could have used it to relax in its beautiful parks full of incredible trees, while in the Sunderbans I could have enjoyed the starry sky on a whole different level. Not to mention Havelock Island: do I really have to specify how a hammock would have been the best in a tropical paradise like that one?
Besides, India really has a thing for hammocks. Many people use them there and you are really free to hang them pretty much wherever you want. If you ever decide to take a backpacking trip there, make sure to have your hammock with you.
In general, India really is a great place where to go for a backpacking trip: having a lot of backpackers visiting it every year, it’s super ready to welcome you and offer you incredibly cheap solutions and unforgettable experiences.
Now, South America is a truly big place, we realize it, but we really couldn't make up our mind on which country to choose, because each and every one of them has some incredible jewels to offer.
From Machu Pichu to Patagonia, going through Bogota and the Amazonian Forest, South America really is a mecca for backpackers.
Not all places there are cheap, but a good planning will allow you to make the best of your backpacking experience. You can decide to cross it all from North to South, visiting the places of major interest, or you can choose to split it into different regions and visit them once at a time.
So for example many backpackers decide to pair up Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, keep Brazil as single destination, and then make another trip to Colombia and Peru.
Regardless of the way you will opt for to explore it, there are some places that you really cannot miss.
Machu Picchu is probably the most famous of all: many are the tourists that pay a visit to this incredible and unique place in the world, well known for being a truly unforgettable and breathtaking destination. Indeed, more than a site, Machu Picchu is a real experience.
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Then there is the Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia, where an endless expanse of salt will stretch before your eyes, making you wonder if you are still on Planet Earth. Torres del Paine, in Patagonia, is probably one of the most famous skylines in the world and if you are a mountain and nature lover you really cannot miss these pristine, remote lands and the end of the world, famous for their absolute beauty and unmistakable magic. Here you will find atmospheres that you can never imagine and animals that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Last but not least, the Galapagos Islands, in Ecuador. If untouched nature is what you are after, then the incredible biodiversity of this place will leave you breathless and will allow you to witness nature like never before in your life.
Generally speaking, South America truly is a land of wonderful places and things. Just don’t forget to bring your hammock when you visit it in order to make the most out of every single adventure, experience and location.
Sure, Iceland is not the cheapest place to visit, therefore, out of all backpacking destinations, it’s the one that deserves the most planning and saving. Nevertheless, the beauty of this place is definitely worth a visit.
First of all, the Northern Lights: you can’t live a life without seeing this incredible spectacle at least once. And this little island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean really is one of the best locations where it can happen.
Many people choose to rent a van and drive around Iceland’s geysers, hot springs and charming coastline while setting camp for the night in front of some gorgeous panoramas. However, backpacking with just a car, or maybe even hitchhiking, could be an even easier and cheaper solution that will allow you to do exactly the same thing.
In case you decide to go to Iceland and do some hammock camping, remember that weather conditions are rather variable: be ready for hammock camping in bad weather with your hammock tarp and all the rest of the gear you might need for this kind of situations.
If you want to take a backpacking trip as if it were the ‘50s and you were in the middle of a completely different era, then Cuba and its amazing vibes are what you are looking for.
Atmospheres here will draw you to a whole different dimension: sounds, colors, traditions, food. Everything is going to be a true journey. Its streets are captivating, its people are full of energy, its nature is gorgeous and weather conditions are perfect year-round.
Until a few years ago, Cuba wasn’t very much populated by tourists, but ever since relations with the US got better, backpackers and travelers from all over the world started to visit this beautiful island by the thousands.
In order to truly soak in the place and culture, besides supporting the locals, we advice you to stay in Casa particulares, typical cuban accommodations that will make you stay at a real Cuban family’s house. You pay per room, so it will be a little bit more expensive than a hostel, but the experience you will have will make it absolutely worth it. Take a ride on a 1950’s taxis: they won’t be more expensive than a regular one and they will give you the chance to have an experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the world!
Learn to dance, forget about the internet and have a sip of the local rum, even if you are not a fan of this kind of drink. Cuba has a very strong, deep, rooted culture: the amazing habit of wondering around with your backpack on your shoulders will allow you to make the most out of it and truly come in contact with local people and places that will show you the real beauty of this island.
This is a real backpacking dream-trip, which is often taken by europeans themselves. In the Old Continent is called Interrail. What an Interrail truly consists of is a train ticket that will allow you to plan your trip, decide which cities you are going to visit and when, and book a single ticket for them all. This ticket will of course be much more convenient than to buy every single train ride separately.
So what we really mean by European Capitals is a tour that will allow you to visit all the most beautiful cities in Europe, from Rome to Paris, from Florence to Barcelona, from Lisbon to Berlin: they will all be on your map.
All these cities have great infrastructures to host backpackers, with very cheap solutions both for accommodations and eating. Hostels will allow you to sleep for a very cheap price, as well as camping sites dislocated everywhere in Europe, also very near the city centers.
Exactly because it’s a very common backpacking trip for tourists from all over the world, even museums and cultural attractions allow travelers to get more than one ticket at once, so to reduce prices. Moreover, for people under 26 and students (university students too!) the majority of cultural places and attractions are free, so if that's your case make sure to have a document that testifies both your age and your status as a student.
This is the perfect backpacking trip for big groups of friends who want to explore all together but, at the same time, they don’t want to feel too tied to each other. Indeed, this is the perfect kind of backpacking trip for those who wish to depart and meet again during their travel multiple times, in order to be together but also have their own time to explore by themselves.
How would an hammock make it even better? First of all, a good hammock is always a very great companion while camping, even if you are not planning to hammock camp, which would make your Interrail experience so much better and lighter anyways! European cities are famous for their gorgeous parks, where you will be able to chill, play with your friend...and hang your hammock to relax and read a book. How awesome does it sound?
Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail
This is a completely different kind of backpacking experience. You won’t find cities, trains, hostels or any other kinds of urban facilities here. Or better, not if you plan to thru-hike it properly.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is the King of thru-hikes. Almost 2,200 miles long, is the longest trail in the United States and one of the longest in the world. Famous all over the globe for its beauty, variety and features, the Appalachian Trail is the ultimate adventure for many backpackers.
It takes between five and six months to hike it all and it deserves a rather precise and advanced planning because of its many variables. The majority of backpackers decide to hike it with a tent and make the most out of the trekker huts they find on the way, however, if you want to make it even more adventurous, nature-bound and light, thru-hiking the Appalachian trail with a hammock and a rain tarp would be the best choice and a truly unforgettable one.
The first choice you have to make when hiking the Appalachian Trail is if you want to go NoBo or SoBo. This will make a huge difference in terms of timings and months. Indeed, since it crosses so many different areas and climates, it is absolutely fundamental that you get the right timing, or you might end up in middle of a frozen storm or under a painfully hot sun.
For those who are really brave and are planning to take a one-year backpacking trip, the Appalachian trail goes international and crosses Canada, Greenland and gets all the way to Europe, ending in North Africa via Spain. Proposed by Richard Anderson in 1994 and thruhiked for the first time in 1997, this is not a 100% official trail yet. Nonetheless, always more thru-hikers know about it and decide to walk it in sections.
If you want to get all the way to Europe and then thruhike an official trail, then a great option could be the French Way, that goes all the way from Canterbury to Rome, and that nowadays actually arrives in Jerusalem.
This European trail crosses some of the most beautiful places in the Old Continent and it’s a real must do for thru-hikers from all over the world.
The Mediterranean Coast
If the perfect mix between beautiful nature and incredible cities is what you are looking for, then a grand tour of the mediterranean coast really is a backpacking experience that you should not miss.
Starting from the south of Spain, make your way up to Barcelona, then cross France admiring its beautiful Cote Azure and medieval castles, and make it to Italy. Here, from Cinque Terre to Florence, going through Rome and Sorrento, explore the beauty of this country. We highly suggest to go all the way to Sicily and spend there some incredible moments between natural beauty, arts and food. At this point you can either reach Brindisi and take a ferry to Greece, or you can go to Venice and then explore the Balkans, all the way to the peninsula.
If you want to explore everything properly, then two to three months is the perfect amount of time for this kind of experience. Get in contact with local people and communities: traditions are still very strong, especially in the southern areas.
Trains will connect your stops quite easily and even international flights from one european city to the other are rather cheap and allow travelers with a very low budget to make their way through Europe easily. Car sharing and similar solutions can be another great option, that will also allow you to meet new people and get more in contact with local realities.
As we said, hostels and camping sites are everywhere, making your travel a lot easier and cheaper. Also, WOOFing could be a great idea in order to keep your experience cheap and rich with new incredible experiences, get really in contact with local traditions and rely on a network of places and people that will help you to get around and find the best solutions to your needs and wishes.
This is the kind of backpacking experience that you don’t want to plan too much in advance. Being Europe a fairly easy place to get around, you can really decide day by day or week by week and let new encounters lead your way through the Mediterranean coast. Just make sure to have your sunscreen ready!