There are many reasons to visit Peru. Whether you want to see fascinating Inca ruins, sample some of South America’s finest cuisine, or chill out in stunning colonial centres, all of those boxes are ticked. It’s also no secret that Peru is one of the finest places for hikers in the entire world – with stunning Alpine passes, craggy cliffs with Inca Ruins perched atop them, and lush jungles filled with wildlife all calling to be trekked through.
In this post, we’ll be having a look at the best and most beautiful hikes in Peru. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional hiker with thousands of kilometres under your belt, you’re bound to find something that makes your trip there unforgettable! Not to mention, that hiking is a very sustainable way of exploring a country as long as you respect the local ecosystem and act consciously!
1. Salkantay Trek (Cuzco – Machu Picchu) – one of the best hikes in Peru!
It wouldn’t be right to do a post about the best hikes in Peru and leave off one to Machu Picchu. However, just because you’re heading to the ancient Inca capital doesn’t mean you have to do the Inca Trail – permits for trekking are limited and it can end up crazy expensive. Why not consider an alternative that’s much cheaper and also more challenging – the Salkantay Trek?
This 70km trek takes 4 – 5 days and will see you pass through different scenery every day, including alpine mountain passes and lush, tropical jungles. The trek is named after Salkantay Mountain, which at 6,271m is the highest mountain in the Vilcabamba region of Peru.
It goes without saying that like most of the treks on this list, you should spend a couple of days in Peru getting accustomed to the altitude before tackling such a trek and take plenty of water and sugary snacks with you! Also, you can book this trek last minute in Cuzco but do make sure that the agency you book with pays their guides a fair wage and operates ethically.
2. Huchuy Qosqo (Sacred Valley/Cuzco)
This is one of the shorter treks in the Sacred Valley and the end point of Huchuy Qosqo (which means Little Cuzco in Quechua) can be reached from a number of starting points. It’s thought of as the easiest alternative to the Inca trail, and Huchuy Qosqo itself is a set of unspoiled Inca ruins with fantastic views down into the valley.
You can do a one-day version of the trek from Patabamba, Chinchero or Tauqa. And if you leave from the village of Lamay, you can even be up and down in half a day, while seeing lots of hummingbirds along the way! Do be aware that the ruins are still at 4,300m so altitude sickness could become a problem if you go too fast!
It’s easy to do this one solo so make sure that you leave nothing more than your footprints!
3. Colca Canyon (Arequipa)
Heading towards Arequipa from Cuzco, you’ll find the world’s second deepest canyon, Colca Canyon, one of the best spots in the country to see the Andean Condor and some of the most stunning vistas in Southern Peru. Many tour agencies from Arequipa offer 2- or 3-day guided treks of the canyon, which are a great way to not only see one of the country’s most awe-inspiring natural monuments but also to support the communities and villages that live and work in the Canyon.
You’ll have to be up bright and early so you’re not trekking in the relentless midday sun. The hike is only 22km in total, but even though it’s the second deepest canyon in the world you’ll still be well above 3,000m for a lot of it, so take into account the elevation. The last day of the trek is pretty much a sheer climb out so it can be very exhausting. That shouldn’t stop you from doing it though – it’s one of the country’s best hikes!
4. Laguna 69 (Huaraz)
Don’t be fooled that this is one of the most popular and best-known treks not only in Huaraz, but the whole of Peru. It requires a decent level of fitness and a couple of days of acclimatisation in the city to finish this hike and enjoy it at the same time. After all, many people use this as a warm-up for the much longer Santa Cruz and Huayhuash Treks (which we’ll get onto in a minute).
Your reward for trekking the 7km from Cebollapampa is a view of one of the most stunning electric blue glacial lakes in the world, set against the background of snow-capped mountains. If you’re lucky enough to do the trek on a clear day, you’ll even see the peak of Huascarán, Peru’s highest mountain. At the top, you’ll be higher than 4,700m so make sure you’re prepared with sugary snacks and plenty of water. And it’s also important to take plenty of breaks should you need to!
5. Huayhuash Trek (Huaraz)
This spectacular hike is really a bucket list one. You need plenty of time to do it, as it covers 180km (that’s 112 miles) across Huascarán National Park. It’s a circuit around the Huayhuash mountain range where you’ll cross 8 mountain passes. Usually, it takes between 10 and 13 days, but some have done it in as little as 5 (really not sure how).
For this, you’ll need to do it with a guide and a porter who will look after your stuff. They’ll also cook for you each day, so make sure that you again pick a travel agency that pays their guides a fair wage and you give a good tip at the end!
6. Laguna de los Condores (Leymebamba, Chachapoyas, Amazonas Region)
If you manage to complete this taxing trek in the Amazonas region, you’ll be joining a very exclusive club as roughly just 150 people complete this trek that is about as off the beaten track as you can get.
Over 3 days, you’ll cover around 45km to get to the Laguna de los Condores, which came to the world’s attention when a group of workers searching for precious metals stumbled across 219 mummies from the times of the Chachapoyas people, a pre-Incan culture. Each day you’ll hike around 9 – 10 hours and have the opportunity to see something that very few people have before. It’s only possible to do this trek with a guide, so you’ll learn more about the area and Peruvian culture too. For more destination guides and accommodation reviews, check out Trip101.