5 of Peru’s Best Trekking Routes & Trips
Exploring the wilds of the Amazon, trekking the Huayhuash areas alpine lakes, exploring the mysteries of Machu Picchu and marveling at alpacas. We will never stop marveling at the exuberant abundance of Peru and the amazing mountain ranges perfect for hiking and trekking.
Peru is home to a section of the Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu. An ancient Incan city high in the Andes mountains that is one of the 7 wonders of the world. The region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites. Part of the Andes mountain range there are hundreds of miles of trails to archeological sites, alpine lakes, deep canyons, and even alpine sand dunes.
For outdoor lovers looking to hike, Peru has some unbelievable mountain treks ranging from just a few days to several weeks in length. Here are a few of our favorite itineraries from some of the world’s most sustainable tour operators that will bring take you trekking and sightseeing in Peru.
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
There’s no trekking route more well known than the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is so popular that the Peruvian government has put some strict rules in place in regards to who can access the trail. The first rule is that all visitors must have a special permit, and the second is all visitors must be accompanied by a local guide or tour company. This is an attempt to reduce the wear and tear brought on by the hoards of people visiting.
We suggest the classic five-day journey with our friends at Explorandes. This journey begins at Km 82, the marker that signifies the start of the famous Inca Trail. Your guides will lead you through the awe-inspiring Andean terrain as you traverse high alpines passes, deep valleys, dense cloud forests, and rivers below. You’ll pass through ancient Inca remains of Andean settlements before arriving at Machu Picchu through Intipunku, or the Sun Gate. Like all of Explorandes’ sustainable tours, you will have very little impact on the land, communities, and environment you encounter along the way.
Even non-hikers can enjoy Machu Picchu with a ten-day tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This is a fantastic itinerary by Tours from the Soul and is a fully immersive community-driven experience. This tour begins in Cusco, where you can spend a couple of days exploring the city and getting used to the higher altitude. Next, make your way Ollantaytambo and explore the archeological center. From here, we make our way to Machu Picchu where you have the option to hike up or take the bus to the entrance. Whichever you choose, prepare to be amazed at the vast size and intricate details of the ruins.
After your visit to Machu Picchu, the tour continues with local and immersive experiences. You will have the opportunity to visit local markets and taste authentic Peruvian cuisine. There will be a visit to a rural women’s weaving group where you will learn how to turn alpaca wool into fine garments. You can even learn how chocolate is made, starting from the cocoa bean.
Whether you are looking for a trek through the Inca Trail or a more culturally immersive experience, Machu Picchu will have something to offer. We suggest booking early to avoid missing out!
If you are looking for an adventure that may be more family-friendly, a Cusco discovery offers a great adventure with a less intimidating hike. Consider spending a week around Cusco, where you will find so many activities for you and the entire family and build memories that will last a lifetime. This will be a culturally immersive experience that will provide many hands-on learning opportunities.
Throughout your week in Cusco, you can expect to learn about local hand-weavers and their projects, and get a first-hand experience of how the textiles are made. There will be different local animals nearby for the kids to feed and pet like llamas and alpacas, and they will learn about how their fibers are used to create the textiles. You can spend a day with a local village and learn about their agricultural activities and traditions, and take a local cooking class too!
Of course, there will be a trip to the iconic Machu Picchu after a spectacular train ride through the Sacred Valley. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins and prepare to be amazed at the history right before your eyes. The tour will end after a hike to the top of Huayna Picchu, where you can take in the incredible sight of the Machu Picchu Citadel below.
We think this family-friendly Cusco Discovery tour is an excellent choice for those adventurous families looking to take their holidays somewhere off the beaten path. The entire family will have made new memories to look back on together in this hands-on and culturally-immersive experience.
While Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail is definitely the most popular trek in Peru, it may not cater to those who are looking to go off the beaten path. If you are hoping to experience a more authentic trekking adventure, the Choquequirao Trek is a great alternative.
Choquequirao, known as Machu Picchu’s little sister city, is an Inca settlement that sits on top of the Apurimac Canyon. The ruins of Choquequirao cover more than 1800 hectares of land and rival those of Machu Picchu. Currently, the only way in and out of the ruin is on foot. However, the Peruvian government plans to build a cable car to access the ruins, so it may soon explode with tourists.
While the trek to the ruins is a bit more challenging, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views and far fewer visitors than Machu Picchu (for now). Awe-inspiring landscapes and views will surround you as you make your journey. You’ll be trekking along the Apurimac Canyon with its picturesque river below and white clouds above. It’s quite challenging, but seasoned trekkers should have no problem on this path.
The Choquequirao Trek makes a great standalone journey, or add on to Machu Picchu. The Choquequirao Trek alone is roughly 60km from Cachora. It requires between four and five days. Those looking for a longer journey can hike from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu. Budget around eight to nine days for this trek and around 100km.
On this path, you can begin in Choquequirao and hike through the Apurimac Canyon and Cordillera Vilcabamba. Your journey will be filled with deep canyons, glacial ice, and incredible rock formations. After a week of trekking, you will have made your way to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
The Choquequirao Trek is a great choice for seasoned trekkers who want a more authentic adventure away from the busloads of tourists on the Inca Trail. You can explore the Choquequirao Ruins at leisure and take in the amazing views along the way.
The Salkantay Trail is a great alternative route to Machu Picchu, as it is more cost-effective and filled with fewer people. It does not require a special permit and can, therefore, be done without a guide. The Salkantay Trail is a high-altitude journey that begins in Mollepata, a small town about 100km from Cusco. The trek will take around five days to complete, and is roughly 74km in length. Due to the altitude of this trail, it is suggested to acclimatize before starting your journey.
On this trail, you will trek through bountiful nature areas of the Andes filled with incredible landscapes and local wildlife. You’ll get up close and personal with the stunning Mount Salkantay as you make your way through the Salkantay Pass, with incredible views of the valley below. Eventually, you will make your way to the Llactapata Pass, which offers a unique perspective and view of Machu Picchu, the endpoint of your journey.
If you’re looking for a trek that’s even less traveled, the Hidden Valleys of Salkantay tour might be exactly what you’re looking for. Explorandes have put together this exclusive and unique journey which truly captures the beauty and remoteness of the Andes. On this five day trek, you will make your way across the Andean valleys. You’ll come across Inca stone ruins and small, remote villages. This trek is challenging but so rewarding, especially when you come face to face with the spectacular and snowy Mt. Salkantay.
As you descend upon the edge of Machu Picchu you’ll make your way to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here, you can explore the ancient homes, walls, and other infrastructure of the Inca people. You can also explore the ruins at the relatively unknown Huayna Q’ente and Machu Q’ente. Both of these sites receive few visitors, so you can explore as much as you like.
Machu Picchu may be the most iconic area to hike around Peru, but it’s certainly not the only spot! The Huayhuash Circuit in the Huaraz region is another great hiking option in Peru. The Cordillera Huayhuash is the second-highest tropical mountain range in the world and truly is a trekker’s paradise. The terrain is remote, wild, and stunningly beautiful. While this circuit is beautiful, it is quite challenging and therefore only recommended to experienced trekkers.
A trek on Huayhuash trail will take you to Alpine lakes, and high mountain peaks in some of the highest parts of the Andes. The full circuit spans 130km and will take around ten to twelve days to complete. In the full version of the trek, you will cross six high passes over 4500m and two that are higher than 5000m. Throughout the journey, you will camp next to beautiful alpine lakes as well as grassy valleys beside the looming White Mountains. You’ll come across turquoise lakes and thermal hot springs and get face to face with local wildlife too.
If you are looking for something a little shorter, the “mini” Huayhuash is just as spectacular but can be done in four to five days. Whichever option you chose, we recommend at least three days of acclimatization before any hikes in the area to be able to fully enjoy the trek. The Huayhuash Circuit is a very high altitude!
As you can see, Peru is a country filled with so many opportunities for adventure and exploration. Trekkers and hikers will find countless paths and trails around the Andes, from Machu Picchu to Salkantay and the Huayhuash. For those less inclined to hike, there is still plenty to be discovered. There are so many culturally immersive experiences that will give you a taste of Incan history and local Peruvian traditions.
If you are interested in learning more about any of the tours listed above, please drop us a line and we’ll be happy to assist you.
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