Find a list of the best treks in Peru, enjoy the nature in the Peruvian Andes with this best alternatives for adventure lovers:
Distance: 43 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 4,200 meters
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the greatest trails in the world for multi-day treks. The classic route will take you through an impressive mountain landscapes, passing several Inca settlement ruins along the way, ending in Machu Picchu.
The trail begins with a light hiking, before ascending to the highest point on the second day – the Dead Woman Pass. The third day passes through the cloud forests of the Urubamba Valley before descending about 1,000 meters to the ruins of Wiñaywayna on a hillside of agricultural terraces. The last day is an early start to make the final journey to Machu Picchu, a 15th century citadel that represents one of the best buildings of Inca engineering.
The Inca Trail must be done in a guided group, and it is necessary to book several months in advance since spaces are always in high demand.
Distance: 33 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 4,780 meters
The Lares Trail is one of the most popular alternatives to the Inca Trail in Cusco. It does not lead directly to Machu Picchu, but there is an option to take a train at the end of the hike. This route passes through some of the best scenery in the region – tropical forests, mountain passes, valleys and waterfalls.
The trail begins in the town of Lares, about 56 kilometers east from Machu Picchu. From the beginning, the scenic drive leads into the Andes, stopping at village settlements for visiting local farmers.
Like the Inca Trail, the second day of the trek to Lares is the most difficult, as it involves a sharp ascent to the highest point. The reward for conquering it is an incredible view at the top, and it gets easier after that.
Distance: 72 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 4,660 meters
If you are looking for a more challenging alternative to the Inca Trail for the trek to Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Trek is a perfect fit. The route is longer and harder.
The Salkantay Trek reaches the Llactapata archaeological site. These well-preserved ruins are believed to have been used for crop production and storage. The trail continues through the subtropical jungle and mountainous terrain to Aguas Calientes for a morning hike up to Machu Picchu on the last day.
Distance: 64 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 3,050 meters
The Inca ruins of Choquequirao is similar in scale to Machu Picchu but much less frequented by tourists. It is believed to be one of the last bastions of the Inca civilization against the invasion of Cusco by the Spanish conquerors. The site can be reached by foot from the town of Cachora, approximately a three and a half hour drive west of Cusco.
Choquequirao is believed to be a larger complex than Machu Picchu, but only about 30% of the site has been excavated. It is one of the most remote Inca ruins. Along the way, the trail offers impressive landscapes of the river and the Apurímac canyon.
The Choquequirao Trail is much quieter than the Inca Trail and other popular hiking trails nearby. It is not uncommon to find the site completely empty of visitors.
Distance: 70 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 5,165 meters
The Ausangate trek does not have Inca ruins, but it is considered one of the most beautiful trails in Peru for its natural landscape. The multi-day route revolves around the sacred mountain of Ausangate, traversing high passes and snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and mountain lakes. It also passes through the famous Vinicunca, also known as the Rainbow Mountain.
Another highlight of the trip to Augansgate is the opportunity to immerse yourself in Quechua culture while stopping at the remote mountain villages along the way.
This is a challenging trek, mainly due to the constant high altitude – most of the route is above 4,000 meters.
Rainbow Mountain of Vinicunca:
Distance: 10 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 5,050 meters
If you don’t have enough time for trekking 4 to 5 days you can still see the breathtaking Rainbow Mountain taking a day trip from Cusco. This involves a 5-6 hour hike, with an elevation about 1,200 meters on the ascent. With the summit at over 5,000 meters, acclimatization is essential for this as well.
Rainbow Mountain has earned both its name and fame for its striped and colorful appearance created by layers of sediment and minerals. It was only known in recent years after being discovered by a receding glacier.
Prepare for an early start and a late return. Day trips from Cusco usually leave at 3 in the morning, to make the three-hour trip to the starting point.
Moray and Maras:
Distance: 12 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 3,385 meters
Another great hiking option in the Sacred Valley combines the Inca ruins of Moray with the salt flats of Maras. This is a shorter and easier route that can be done in half a day.
After traveling from Cusco to Chinchero, you can drive through a dirty road to reach the archaeological site of Moray, which have been used as agricultural laboratories.
The hike from Moray to the Salineras de Maras follows a dirt road through the Andean farmlands through the small town of Maras, where you can stop for lunch. Then it is a gentle hike to a canyon full of thousands of small salt pools that have been used since the time of the Incas. It is a truly unique sight and offers something a little different than exploring the Inca ruins in the area.
Distance: 3.5 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 4,250 meters
Humantay Lake is an idyllic turquoise lagoon located between the Humantay and Salkantay peaks. The lake is formed from melting glaciers and gets its striking color from mineral deposits.
The natural contrast of the water’s brilliance against the snowy mountainous is quite a spectacular image, and easily justifies the effort required.
Although the hike back to Lake Humantay is short, it requires a full day’s travel from Cusco, as the trail in Soraypampa is about three hours away by car. The ascent is short but steep, and at a high altitude.
Distance: 25 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 3,300 meters
The Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world, and twice as depth of its famous US counterpart, the Grand Canyon. A challenging two- or three-day hike descends deep into the canyon, along dirty roads, across bridges and villages, before making the morning climb back to the top.
The hike to the top involves an elevation of 1,300 meters and is best done before sunrise to avoid the heat of the day. It’s a relentless, unforgiving climb up a steep and stony road, but it’s worth all the effort to get some of the most incredible views you’ll find anywhere in Peru.
Hiking excursions to the Colca Canyon from Arequipa include the possibility of seeing huge Andean condors flying, and stops at the Achoma viewpoint, the Chivay hot springs and the Patapampa viewpoint.
Distance: 32 kilometers / depends on the chosen route
Highest elevation point: 3,900 meters
Another colossal canyon in Arequipa is the Cotahuasi, which offers a range of hiking options from day hikes to multi-day hikes. A typical three-day trekking itinerary includes the best of the canyon’s landscapes, passing towering waterfalls, sleepy towns, and Inca ruins. As in the Colca, there is also the option of visiting the nearby hot springs.
Cotahuasi is a quieter option than the Colca Canyon, with fewer tourists in the surroundings and more rugged terrain and off the beaten track. The 150 meter high Sipia Waterfall and the impressive canyon section below it is a highlight of the route. You will traverse a diversity of landscapes and walk on suspension bridges.
The trip from Arequipa to the town of Cotahuasi, the base for trekking in the canyon, takes a full day by a guided tour. There are sites of interest along the way, such as the pre-Inca petroglyphs of Toro Muerto. Alternatively, you can take a bus or van to the tow, which normally leaves Arequipa at 5pm and arrive around 4am the next day. As such, you will need to reserve several days for the adventure, but the reward is one of the most spectacular and remote landscapes in Peru in one of the largest canyons in the world.
Misti Volcano Trek:
Distance: 25 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 5,822 meters
The view of the imperious peak of El Misti could not be missed from Arequipa. This huge and active volcano is the dominant feature of the skyline from the city of Arequipa streets. It is also one of the most accessible peaks in the world for trekking; At 5,822 meters, it is one of the highest points on the planet that can be reached by hiking without the use of specialized mountaineering equipment.
However, hiking at such an altitude is challenging, of course, and with a total elevation gain of about 3,500 meters on the classic two-day round-trip hike, this is a feat that requires both good shape and experience. The prize for completing it is a look at one of the tallest craters in the world and a hike along the volcanic ash at the top.
Hiking from Vilcabamba to Espiritu Pampa:
Distance: 64 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 3,900 meters
For experienced hikers looking for a challenge, the Vilcabamba Trek is an off the beaten track route that leads to the last capital of the Incas, Espiritu Pampa. This land deep in the jungle was chosen by the Incas as an impenetrable fortress when they withdrew from the Spanish invasion.
The trail explores the dense jungle and captures a unique insight into Inca history, passing fortresses and sacred sites that few people witness. The Espiritu Pampa complex was once the home of the last Inca ruler, Tupac Amaru II.
The walk begins in Huancacalle, which is about 250 kilometers and about six hours by car from Cusco. Finish in Azulmayo before a scenic drive to Kiteni, from where it takes seven to eight hours to get back to Cusco. Although technically it is possible to attempt the journey from Vilcabamba to Espiritu Pampa.
Alpamayo Base Camp:
Distance: 102 kilometers
Highest elevation point: 4,860 meters
The long multi-day trek to Alpamayo Base Camp is considered one of the most spectacular routes in Peru, but it is not for the faint-hearted. With an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters, long days of activity, many steep climbs and nights of freezing cold, it is a challenging hike that requires high levels of fitness and experience.
The Alpamayo peak was once chosen by a survey of mountaineering experts as the most beautiful mountain in the world. Resembling an ice pyramid, it stands out in the impressive Cordillera Blanca. Its view is a highlight of a trip that offers incredible panoramic views of the entire mountain range.
Along this remote route you can expect to see a diversity of Andean wildlife and unspoiled landscapes, with very few hikers around. Fr doing this trek you will need to spend time in Huaraz acclimatizing with a few day hikes.