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Discover The Best Trekking Routes in Peru

Distinguished by three topographical regions well marked: mountains, lush jungle, and an arid coast, Peru is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, as all roads seem to lead to a superb hiking trail.
Ascending the Andes at a steady pace will bring you to exciting, high-elevation lakes of a blue hue, while traveling to the Amazon region will provide you with the opportunity to see a beautiful assortment of flora and fauna that are distant from the major routes. Finally, the desert shore surrounding Lima’s city boasts a few hidden gems to please even the most inexperienced adventurers, thanks to its lower elevation and significantly less humid temperature.
Take your backpack and get ready to discover the best trekking routes in Peru Machu Picchu and beyond.

Best trekking routes in Peru
Huayhuash Trek in Peru

Discover the best trekking routes in Peru

In this article, Vidal Expeditions will provide you with all the information you need about the best trekking routes that you can find in Peru, hikes that will amaze you with their incredible landscapes, culture, history, traditions, and people. So lets go…

1. Iconic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

  • Hub City: Cusco
  • Length: 4-5 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate Challenging
  • Max altitude: 4,215 masl / 13,828 ft
Classic Inca Tral to Machu Picchu the best trek in Peru
Hiking to the Dead Woman’s Pass
Quick brief

Rugged and of high altitude, the ancient Inca Trail, has become the most famous trek in Peru and cosidered the best trekking route for its spectacle of diverse landscapes and termination point at the famed Machu Picchu.
Starting on relatively flat terrain at Kilometer 82 of the Inca Trail, the classic route steadily ascends as it cuts through valleys, Andean villages, and mountains, crosses rivers, and confronts smaller Inca ruins. The final climb is up a set of stairs that lead to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), from where Machu Picchu can finally be seen.

What to know before to go

According to Peruvian government regulations, a maximum of 500 people are allowed to hike per day, 300 of whom are required guides and porters. To book this hike, it needs to be planned in advance for two main reasons: bookings for the Inca Trail tend to sell out quickly, and with an elevation that passes 4200m above sea level (13,780ft) and 42km (26 miles), proper training is vital.
This is by far Peru’s most famous hike, as no visit to the country is complete without visiting Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu, of course, is the most famous Inca ruin in Peru, and due to its popularity, it has limited the number of people that can visit every day, so make sure to book your tickets well in advance of hiking here.

2. Lost City of Choquequirao Trek

  • Hub City: Cusco
  • Length: 4-7 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate Challenging
  • Max altitude: 3,050 masl / 10,006ft
Stunning view of Choquequirao the last refuge of the Incas
Choquequirao, Peru
Quick brief

Authentic and uncrowded, Choquequirao Trek is the most challenging and isolated alternative route to Machu Picchu for avid hikers seeking a route steeped in Inca history. Located in the Apurimac Valley, this archaeological site(“cradle of gold”) is believed to be three times the size of its more famous sister city and can only be reached by foot (as opposed to the floods of tour buses that frequent Machu Picchu).
The trail to and from Choquequirao spans over 60 kilometers, and the hike to the ruins is considered to be technical and challenging. Due to the daily altitude changes of up to 1,000–1,500 feet, days are long and strenuous, but luckily the views along the way make up for the fitness challenge. The ruins themselves are impressive and well preserved. They may not be as well-known as Machu Picchu, but they are certainly worth a visit.

3. Laguna 69 Trek

  • Hub City: Huaraz
  • Length: 1-2 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate Challenging
  • Max altitude: 4650m /15,250ft
Quick brief

Located in Huascaran National Park, Laguna 69 is one of the most picturesque and best trekking places in Peru, if not all of South America, and yet only a handful of tourists that visit the Andean nation see it in person. With snow-capped mountains in the backdrop, the still turquoise water is absolutely stunning and well worth the climb.
The scenic trek begins after a two-hour drive from the city of Huaraz in north-central Peru. Livestock and cattle, cascading waterfalls, and quaint meadows will come and go, but the towering peaks of the Cordillera Blanca are steady company. The trail gently eases into an ascent for most of the route; however, the last 30–40 minutes are quite a climb.
The surface elevation of Laguna 69 is over 4600m above sea level (15,091ft), so be sure to spend a day or two acclimatizing in the city of Huaraz beforehand.

4. Cordillera Huayhuash Trek

  • Hub City: Huaraz
  • Length: 7-12 days
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Max altitude:5100 m / 16,700ft
Stunning photo in Huayhuash
Huayhuash Trek, Peru
Quick brief

Four decades have passed since the publication of Joe Simpson’s incredible mountaineering story, Touching the Void, and adventurists around the world continue to visit Peru to create their own (and hopefully less dangerous) narrative of this epic route.

Glacial lakes of unreal azure hues, Andean peaks blanketed in the purest of snowfall, and a surprising diversity of flora and fauna paint the scene of this near two-week hike that dabbles between 4000-5000m (13,123-16,404ft) above sea level. Such natural beauty has gained the Cordillera Huayhuash trek a reputation as one of the top hiking circuits in the world.
Due to the extreme length and altitude of this trek, it’s rare to pass people other than the settlers who have made a home in the mountain chain, often accompanied by alpacas or llamas. Thus, it is strongly recommended to go with a guide, regardless of experience level.
Acclimatize in Huaraz before heading off to Cuartelwain (a five-hour drive), from where each consecutive day will average six hours of hiking until finishing in Llámac. This circuit is best completed during the dry season (May–September).

5. The Ausangate Trek & Rainbow Mountain

  • Hub City: Cusco
  • Length: 3- 5 days
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Max altitude:5,200 m / 17,060ft
The most fascinanting  and best trek in the Andes
Ausangate Trek, Peru
Quick brief

This Ausangate Trek moderately challenging is widely heralded as Peru’s most spectacularly beautiful trek. This, by the way, is where the Rainbow Mountains of Peru are!
Over the course of five days, you will encounter wildlife such as condors, bobcats, and even the occasional puma.
What makes this walk so spectacular and be between the best trekking routes in Peru, is the climb around the slopes of this mountain, which is revered as sacred. Here, you will find multi-colored rock ridges with swirled and wavy color lines (i.e., Rainbow Mountains), which is rather impressive set against a dramatic glacier backdrop.

6. The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

  • Hub City: Cusco
  • Length: 3- 5 days
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Max altitude:4,630 masl / 15,190 ft
Discover the hidden gem in the middle of the Andes Salkantay and Humantay
Salkantay 5 Day Trek, Peru
Quick brief

If you’re really keen on experiencing the beauty of the Andes but are perhaps not so keen on sharing your experience with lots of other people, then the Salkantay Trek is the perfect hike in Peru for you!
The views from Savage Mountain are absolutely fantastic, as are the sweeping views of the Andes, as well as passing by the gorgeous Humantay Lake.
Nowadays, one of the best alternative treks that leads you to the new seven wonders of Machu Picchu is a two-day tour. You can complete a five-day trek.
The classic five-day Salkantay trek runs 75 kilometers (46 miles) from the beginning to Aguas Calientes, crossing some picturesque Andean villages and some Inca ruins.

7. Colca Canyon Trek

  • Hub City: Arequipa
  • Length: 2- 5 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Max altitude:4,520masl / 14,826 ft
Hike in the most fantastic canyon in Arequipa and Peru
Colca Canyon Trek
Quick brief

A hike in Peru’s Colca Canyon is a great experience and should be on your Peru bucket list! The beautiful colonial town of Arequipa is the perfect base, and while there is the opportunity to do a day trip, most people explore the canyon on a two- or three-day tour, giving you enough time to hike in the canyon rather than just seeing it from above.
There are several tour companies offering the trip for a fair price, and in our opinion, the two-day trip is by far the best option. The hike was approx. 16 km on the first day and 6 km on the second day. I’d describe it as medium-difficult due to the high elevation and the steep climb.

Itinerary at glance

From Arequipa, it takes around 2–3 hours to reach the Colca Canyon, and you’ll be able to stop at some viewpoints to enjoy the incredible views. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot some of the huge Andean condors. Finally, the hike into the canyon begins, and you will spend your first few hours going down the steep and rocky trail into the canyon. At the bottom, there are some local restaurants for lunch.
If you’re hiking in the Colca Canyon as part of a 2-day tour, you’ll have a very early wake-up call around 4-5am to make your way up the canyon again before sunrise to avoid the heat. The hike up is very exhausting since it’s extremely steep, and depending on your level of fitness, it will take you 2-4 hours to reach the top. Afterwards, breakfast is waiting for you.

8. The Gran Vilaya Trek

  • Hub City: Chachapoyas
  • Length: 3-4 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate- Challenging
  • Max altitude:5,100masl / 16,732 ft
Quick brief

The Trek Gran Vilaya, located in the Cordillera Central, is one of my favorite treks in Peru; I have done a lot in that country! Because it combines great landscapes, history, and adventure, it is usually called the Inca Trail of the North (but it costs half the price).
The ruins here are the main sights of the Chapapoyas, warriors who controlled this area from AD 500 until their defeat by the Incan Empire in the 15th century.
The Trek Gran Vilaya (4 days and 3 nights) is a mystical trek through the jungle, beautiful valleys, lost citadels (some of them still to be discovered), great panoramas, and welcoming local people.

9. The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu

  • Hub City: Cusco
  • Length: 3-4 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Challenging
  • Max altitude:4,700masl / 15,419 ft
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu
Lares Trek 4 Days
Quick brief

The Lares Trek is another alternative to the Inca Trail to hike to Machu Picchu. This three-day high-altitude hike in the Peruvian Andes near Cusco starts at the village of Lares, approximately 35 miles east of Machu Picchu. The stunning trail takes you through valleys, mountains, tropical forests, up and down hills, past lakes, waterfalls, and towns. The Lares trek is most often done as an organized tour, but like all hikes in Peru except the Inca Trail, it is possible to do it independently.
It offers stunning views at high altitude, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, picturesque local villages, farmlands, and a lot of Andean traditions that the locals have kept alive for years.

10. The Santa Cruz Trek

  • Hub City: Huaraz
  • Length: 4-7 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Challenging
  • Max altitude:4,750masl / 15,583 ft
Hiking between snow-capped mountains and turquoise lakes
Santa Cruz Trek, Huaraz
Quick brief

The most popular multi-day, high-altitude hike in the Cordillera Blanca mountains. The spectacular Santa Cruz Trek takes you through a variety of landscapes with amazing views. If you are a photographer, you will love this route, which shows you a variety of breathtaking high mountain views, including valleys, forests, glaciers, steep passes, and ice-blue lakes. The trek up Punta Union is tough, but it would be a fantastic introduction to hiking high-altitude passes!

There are groups on the trail, but it is not overly crowded, making it a very possible hike to attempt solo and an economic option if you want to do one of the best hikes in the area with a group. However don’t miss out to hike throught one of the best trekking routes in Peru.

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