11 Epic Hikes to Sites in Peru That Aren't Machu Picchu

Trekking through the Cordiliera mountains | © Mikadun / Shutterstock
Trekking through the Cordiliera mountains | © Mikadun / Shutterstock
Photo of Brandon Dupre
12 January 2018

Machu Picchu is without doubt the destination everyone Peru-bound talks about and wants to see – and for good reason. That said, the popularity of the famous ruins can overlook other spectacular Peruvian destinations and hikes. Here are the best places to hike to in Peru that aren’t Machu Picchu.

Colca Canyon

This spot is one of the most spectacular canyons in the world and a highlight of anyone’s trip to Peru. There really isn’t one thing that you’re hiking to here, but rather you’re hiking through your destination: the canyon. The canyon is so massive the only way to truly feel like you’ve seen it is to spend at least a couple of days in the area.

Colca Canyon | © patostudio / Shutterstock

El Misti

You’re climbing a volcano – what’s not to be stoked about?! With each step up the massive volcano you’ll get a better and better image of the city of Arequipa and the entire valley. The joy is to reach the top and see one of Peru’s most spectacular mirador watchtowers – and, of course, to say that you just conquered a volcano.

El Misti, Arequipa | © Ksenia Ragozina / Shutterstock


The Pisac ruins are both large and stunning. From the bottom, in the city of Pisac, the ruins don’t appear to be much as you look up at the cliff side above you – but don’t be fooled. The hike is not easy. Once you make your way to the top, the narrow road will expand and you’ll see an entire city constructed by the Incas.

Rainbow Mountain

You’ll definitely be panting and cold once you make it to the top – and because it’s so high, make sure to have plenty of coca leaves that will help you fight off the altitude sickness. The long day of hiking will take you to a mountain that is striped with different colors, unlike any mountain you’ve ever seen.

Rainbow Mountain | © emperorcosar / Shutterstock


Quietly – well, maybe not so quietly anymore – Huaraz has become the trekking destination in Peru and perhaps the most beautiful. The highlight is trekking up towards the Cordillera mountain range which will offer breath taking views of the snow-capped mountain peaks.


Another seldom visited site that sits atop the Andes mountains near Lima is Markawasi, the mysterious stoned-faced forest. It’ll take a full day from Lima to get there and altitude sickness is more than a likely outcome since you’ll be coming from sea-level, but despite those drawbacks, it’s worth it. The stone forest is eerie and inscrutable and you can understand while people believe aliens carved out the figures.

Markawasi stone forest | © Adwo / Shutterstock


The famous Inca apu (sacred mountain) is a trek to get to. You’ll most likely be hiking through snow and rain and will be cold and tired by the time you actually make it to the mountain, but the first sight of it will fill you with energy and you’ll forget about how cold your feet are, at least for a moment. It was considered sacred by the Incas for a reason and is sure to inspire and chill your bones.

Gocta Waterfall

In Chachapoyas you’ll find one of Peru’s and the world’s tallest waterfalls. You’ll hike half a day towards the falls, traversing through jungle-ish terrain to reach the site of a staggering waterfall in one of the world’s most unique climates.

Gotca Waterfall | © marktucan / Shutterstock


Here you’ll hike through Inca land in the high Andes, passing many traditional villages that make Peru’s finest textiles. The highlight of the trek is when you stumble upon the pristine blue lake surrounded by mountains Andes.


These ruins are called Machu Picchu’s sacred sister – and you don’t get that title for no reason. Partly it bears that name because the views inspire an overwhelming sense of beauty and amazement. The trek to the top is also one of the more difficult ones to attempt in Peru because the path to the ruins is undeveloped and steep.

Choquequirao | © Rafal Cichawa / Shutterstock

Devil’s Balcony

This Cusco hike often gets overlooked because of the many Inca ruins throughout the area. The hike will take you through the countryside and lead you to a cave with a creek running through it. Along the way to it you’ll also pass some of Cusco‘s best and most well-known ruins.