The Most Epic Hikes to Take in Peru

The Cordillera Huayhuash
The Cordillera Huayhuash | © Jenny Salita / Flickr
Brandon Dupre

Peru is a land of varied landscapes and climates, making it one of the best countries in the world for hiking. From the foothills of the Andes, you can make your way to mountain peaks or plunge into the jungle. The country offers adventurers the unique opportunity to see ancient Incan ruins along treks to remote lakes and mountain tops. Here is our guide to the most epic hikes you can find in Peru.

Inca Trail

The classic Inca Trail takes about four to five days to complete as you wind your way towards the sacred city of Machu Picchu. You can find guides who speak English and who can give you extensive information about the Incas and the area. The hike itself takes you through many Inca ruins, offers views of mountain peaks, and ends at the sun gate at Machu Picchu. It is the most famous hike in Peru for a reason and the holy grail for all backpackers.

Choquequirao Trek

Choquequirao is the sister city to Machu Picchu and will certainly satisfy all of your Incan hiking needs. The trail boasts plenty of fascinating Incan ruins, and the destination itself is only partially excavated. It’s a perfect option for those looking for a more secluded hiking experience. The trek will take around four to five days—but can take longer if you wish—and it is much more difficult than other treks around Cusco. There are constant ups and downs and changes in elevation that’ll leave you gassed, but the sights are more than worth the exertion.

Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay trek is the most popular alternative to the Inca Trail and is what most people will sign up for when the famous trail is completely booked. But don’t fear, as the sights seen along this trek are just as spectacular as those seen along the Inca Trail. Named among the 25 best treks in the world by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine, you’ll find yourself staring down the same sacred mountains that the Incas did.

Lares Trek

The Lares trek is another highlight of hiking the ancient trails around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. You’ll come across countless ruins along this four-day hike and will eventually reach an elevation of nearly 5,000 meters (16,404 feet). The highlights of the trek are reaching the Lares thermal baths and, of course, Machu Picchu.

Lares Trek

Cordillera Huayhuash

Head to the town of Huaraz, which has become one of the new backpacking capitals of the world. Here you’ll find thrill seekers like yourself sipping on the local craft beer after multiple-day hikes. The area itself has a seemingly endless amount of treks, but this is probably the highlight. This nine-day hike will get you up to nearly 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) and is one of the most demanding treks in all of Peru—which means fewer people! You’ll see plenty of giant, craggy, snow-capped mountains and bright blue lakes as you wind through this stunning landscape.

The Cordillera Huayhuash

Santa Cruz Trek

The Santa Cruz trek will take you to some of the most beautiful and breathtaking vistas in the world, which is one of the reasons why it is becoming one of Peru’s most popular. You’ll hike upwards to 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) and view vibrant blue lakes and might just catch a glimpse of the speckled Andean bear.

Cotahuasi Canyon

Head to the beautiful city of Arequipa to hike through a canyon twice as deep as the Grand Canyon—which is hard to wrap your mind around. You can experience this canyon on either a one-day hike or longer treks that’ll take about five days and take you through the bowels of this breathtaking natural wonder.

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