Tri-borders, or tri-points, are everywhere across the map and all signify where three countries meet. Not all tri-borders are equal however! Some countries share some of the most beautiful and insanely unique tri-borders from others.
First off there are 176 international tri-borders to choose from and about half of those either meet in a river, lake or sea. Typically the bigger a country is, the more tri-borders it will have, but that’s not always the case given the examples of Canada and the USA that share none. China leads the world with 16 but even a small country like Austria has 9. So I scoured through the list and picked 7 stunning tri-borders in the world.
Border of France / Switzerland / Italy
One of the most dramatic tri-borders is at Mont Dolent, the official border of France, Switzerland and Italy. Technically the border isn’t the top of Mont Dolent but rather 3,700 feet north-west of the summit. Obviously it’s a huge mountain so to get to the tri-border, you would need some climbing skills. However it’s possible to reach the tri-border from all 3 countries.
From France the closest major city is Chamonix. From Italy the closest city is Lavachey. And from Switzerland there is a road that travels south from the city of Orsières. Since this tri-border is in Europe, it would be relatively easy to travel to and view. Fly into a major city close by and take a bus or train.
Border of Venezuela / Brazil / Guyana
Something out of a fairy tale, Monte Roraima is the tri-border for Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. When I first saw pictures, I was amazed and surprised I never heard about this beautiful point. The mountain is known for its striking cliffs, and waterfalls cascading down. Monte Roraima is the highest point for Guyana but Brazil and Venezuela have higher points elsewhere. I also learned it was the inspiration for for where the old man travels to in the movie Up.
The tri-border is best reached from Venezuela which occupies 85% of the mountain. Because Brazil and Guyana occupy the parts with the cliffs, it’s extremely hard to reach the tri-border from either country. There is only one route that doesn’t need a high technical climb and it was first climbed by Everard im Thurn. It is the route most hikers take today.
Border of Rwanda / Uganda / Democratic Republic of the Congo
Derived from the Kinyarwanda word “Iryinyo”, meaning tooth, the tri-border for Rwanda, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo is the top of Mount Sayinyo; an extinct volcano in the Virunga Mountains. All 3 countries have established national parks around this border because of the famous gorillas that inhabit the mountainsides. It is known as “Old Man’s Teeth” because its serrated summit resembles worn teeth in a gum line.
It is possible to get to the summit of Mount Sabyinyo from all 3 countries however 2 are the safer options. From Rwanda you can enter the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and from Uganda the Parc National des Volcans. It is considered unsafe to travel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and specifically in that region.
Border of Argentina / Bolivia / Chile
Gently arising in the Andes mountains is the tri-border of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, called Zapaleri. Surrounded by a harsh, desolate and mostly dry landscape, it is one of the most striking tri-border in the world. From the map, the 3 countries come together in a peace symbol. It’s smack dab in one of the driest parts of South America but the top of the mountain gets snowfall.
It is possible to climb the Zapaleri, which rises at over 18,000 feet. Access can be reached from any of the 3 countries but the easiest is probably Chile, with a nearby road. The tri-border is surrounded by high mountains, a high desert and national parks, making the voyage challenging. You will need to hire a tour guide and have the want to hike in challenging landscapes! Also nearby, in Bolivia, is the famous salt flats.
Border of Kazakhstan / Kyrgyzstan / China
Out of any of the tri-borders listed, this one is the highest, most remote and perhaps the most stunning of them all. At 22,999 feet, this tri-border is called “King Heaven” in Kazakh and is the highest point for neighboring Kyrgyzstan. It was once believed to be the highest mountain in the Tian Shan region due to its dramatically steep sides and can be seen from the plains of southern Kazakhstan. It often thought of as the most beautiful mountain due to its geometrical symmetry.
Because of its remoteness, this is a hard tri-border to get to. First of all it’s set a very high elevation and the average person would need training before tempting to hike that far up. To actually attempt to stand at the tri-point, you would need to be advanced in expedition climbing. From all three countries it is possible to get close enough to at least take pictures, although Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are probably your best bets to do that.
Border of Laos / China / Vietnam
This tri-border is actually a disputed tri-border and I believe the only tri-border where all the countries involved are Communist. There is actually a monument where visitors can visit all 3 countries at once with a road taking people up most of the way and then a small hike. The tri-border sits at an elevation of 6,000 feet and is near the famous Yunnan region of China.
Getting to the tri-border is pretty straight forward. There is only one road that climbs up from Vietnam and people are allowed to freely walk up to the monument that is in place there. Apparently there is still some sort of border dispute but perhaps it isn’t so serious since there is an official marker in place.
Border of El Salvador / Guatemala / Honduras
Cerro de Montecristo
Perhaps in one of the most remote parts of Central America, the tri-border of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras is located in a dense mountainous range. The area is known as a “cloud forest” due to being at a high elevation and usually covered in clouds. There are 117 species of native trees alone along with hundreds of native endangered animals.
Getting to the tri-border can be done from all 3 countries but is easiest from El Salvador or Honduras. There are trails that lead up to the tri-border marker but it takes around 7 km to reach by foot and you must be willing to camp. Also be ready to be covered in clouds for much of the way! However the views, especially when at the top, are outstanding.