The Best Off-the-Beaten Track Trips from Cusco

A view of Machu Picchu
A view of Machu Picchu | © Poswiecie / Pixabay
Brandon Dupre

If you’re fortunate enough to spend some time in Cusco, you’ll have a chance to explore some of the places that tourists overlook or just don’t know about – the hardest-to-reach locations with the most traditional communities. Here are some of the most rewarding spots to take a look at, and some of the best things to do that most travelers miss out on.

Devil’s Balcony hike

This hike will take you from the city of Cusco through the countryside, passing farms on the way, and ends at a cave known as the Devil’s Balcony. It is one of the best day hikes from Cusco and will give you an intimate understanding of this area’s unique landscape. If you get lost, just ask the locals; they’ll point you in the right direction. You can also take horses to the cave, and they can be rented to the right of the giant Jesus statue in town.

A view along the Salkantay trail

Salkantay Trek

This is hands down the best bang-for-your-buck hike in the Cusco area. You’ll leave Cusco and then hike high into the Andes, reaching the sacred mountain called Salkantay. After that, you’ll descend into the jungle before making your way to Machu Picchu. Make sure that you have enough time, because this trek will take five days.

Maras salt flats

These beautiful salt flats can be found above the town Urambamba in the Sacred Valley. The white salt clings to the hillside, creating one of the most beautiful images in all of Peru. The salt from these flats has also been made famous by the Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, so make sure to bring some back home with you.

Maras salt flats

Drink chicha in the barrio

You don’t have to go very far to have a unique experience, or do something most tourists don’t know about. If you walk around the towns in the Sacred Valley, you’ll notice houses with little red bags attached to broomsticks hanging outside like flags. These flags mean that they lady inside is serving up some corn beer. Try some; you’ll be drinking with the locals and sharing the beer of the Incas.

Choquequirao Trek

These ruins probably win an award for the most difficult ruins to get to in Peru, but they are worth it. The ruins have been called Machu Picchu’s sister ruins, because of the similar construction, and they are just as magnificent. The trip will require five days of some intense hiking in remote areas.

Tipón’s guinea pig feasts

You’ll only notice this town as you pass by in a bus because of all the guinea pigs roasting on spits. Yup, right out in the open, every restaurant lines up the crisp Andean delicacy, hoping to entice a passing bus to stop. If you’re looking to gorge on this dish, it’s best to head to Tipón. There are also ruins here that you can check out before or after your meal.

Woman in traditional dress


This town often gets overshadowed by other Sacred Valley towns like Pisac and Ollantaytambo, but it shouldn’t. It has one of the strongest weaving communities in the Andes, where on any given day you’ll find countless women dressed in bright skirts and tall hats, weaving beautiful designs and clothes.

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