The Best Hiking in Peru

Part 6 Of the Series: The Best Hiking in the World

The Best Hiking In Peru

So this is where we really start to drill down and take our series country by country. This week’s installment brings us to the Best Hiking in Peru.

As with the rest of the articles in this series, this isn’t just our opinion. Instead, we have leaned on the expertise of some top outdoor explorers to give us a high altitude introduction to these trails.

To get more in-depth, you can follow their links to their respective websites.

But don’t go just yet! You’re about to be inspired to take one of these bucket list hiking trails in Peru.

Read on!

Salkantay Trek

 by Cynthia and Alexander from Travel your Memories

Photo credit: Cynthia and Alexander from Travel Your Memories

One of the most popular hikes in the world is the hike to Machu Picchu. There are several options for doing this. 

The most popular hike is the Inca Trail. A hike where you walk to the lost city of Machu Picchu like the Incas did in the past. However, just because it is the most popular hike does not mean it is also the most beautiful hike. 

Every hike to Machu Picchu has its advantages. The Salkantay trek is 80 kilometers and takes 5 days. The biggest advantage of the Salkantay trek is that nature is breathtakingly beautiful and varied during the 5 days. One day you are walking in the mountains among the snow and the next day you are walking in a jungle with mosquitoes around you. 

Because the Salkantay is less touristy and you walk bigger distances in beautiful landscapes, walking the Salkantay also has something reflective. During the hike, you walk for hours in the wilderness with nothing around you, really beautiful! You can do the hike individually or with a group, both have their advantages and disadvantages. 

If you want to prepare yourself completely for the Salkantay Trek, it is recommended to read a good Salkantay Trek guide for beginners in which all information is shared.

Cynthia and Alexander

Colca Canyon

by Ellis from Backpack Adventures

Photo credit: Ellis from Backpack Adventures

The Colca Canyon is the world’s second deepest canyon. It is almost twice as deep as the more famous Grand Canyon and the natural scenery is equally stunning. The hike in and out of the canyon is among the most epic hiking trails in the world. 

Nestled in the Andean mountains, the Colca Canyon has a rich biodiversity. Most famous are the soaring Andean condors gliding on the thermal winds through the canyon. There are flamingos and hummingbirds too as well as a number of reptiles and amphibians. 

The landscape is more varied than first meets the eye and ranges from rocky mountains to barren steppes and fertile farmlands. The canyon is also home to several small villages where pre-Inca traditions still survive and where the indigenous people are proud to wear their colourful traditional clothes.

The Colca Canyon trek is about 20 kilometers that you can divide over 2 or 3 days. I would recommend the latter as it can be a challenging hike. 

On the first day, you descend more than a thousand meters where you can spend the night in the village of San Juan de Chuccho. 

The second day will be an easygoing day before the final steep climb out of the canyon on the third day. It might be tough, but the wonderful views are well worth the effort.


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Ausangate Trek

by Megan Anderson from Packing Up the Pieces

Photo credit: Megan from Packing Up the Pieces

Three hours away from Cusco, Peru is the towering mountain of Ausangate. This mountain is significant, as it is regarded as one of the most powerful Apus (or Gods) of the Indigenous people who call this region home. 

One of the best hiking trails in the world is the stunning Ausangate Trek. This trek loops around the powerful Apu Ausangate and can include an optional stop at the popular Rainbow Mountain.

 The following route takes around 6 days to complete, but these six days are usually in complete solitude.

This hiking trail has no Inca ruins, rather, it’s jammed packed with jaw-dropping scenery, alpine lakes, massive mountain passes. This impressive trail never dips below 14,000 feet. Don’t be surprised to pass by shepherd women watching over hundreds of untamed alpacas that are solely controlled by the simple pitch of a whistle.

Intrepid hikers will be rewarded with a seriously scenic and diverse trail; however, the path is not always officially marked. Because of the ruggedness of the trek, it’s best to download an offline map. 

There are plenty of simple huts to take shelter under and set up a tent, but you won’t find any tiendas or shops along the route. The Ausangate Trek is the perfect adventure for nature lovers who wish to see all the raw and untouched beauty that Peru offers. The welcomed grand finale of this grueling trek is a soak in the Pacchanta hot springs.


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The Inca Trail  

by Martha from May Cause Wanderlust 

Photo credit: Martha from May Cause Wanderlust

Deep in the Peruvian Andes is an ancient stone pathway that winds over mountain passes and deep into cloud-filled valleys.  

At the end of this challenging, spectacular trail is a mysterious citadel nestled in between steep green mountains.  This trail is, of course, the Inca Trail, which leads to Machu Picchu.  

The Inca Trail (also known as the Camino Inca) is one of the best multi-day hiking routes in the world for its historical significance and also the absolutely breath-taking scenery.  Before you even get to Machu Picchu, you’ll pass several stunning Inca ruins along the way – and you can feel pretty special knowing no one other than Inca Trail hikers can experience them. 

If you want to hike the Inca Trail, you’ll need to book in advance through a licensed operator, as access is carefully controlled to protect the trail.  There are options to do it over 3 or 5 days, but most people do it in 4 days, spending three nights at campsites along the trail. 

The hike can be challenging as it involves steep hills and uneven steps at high altitudes, and there are some stretches of the path with sheer drops to the side – so people with vertigo may struggle! This is just one of the things you should know and plan for if you are preparing to hike the Inca Trail.


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Inti Punku – the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu in Cusco

by Jess from Jagsetter

Photo credit: Jess from Jagsetter

Most people visit Cusco, Peru to hike the infamous Machu Picchu. While Machu Picchu is an incredible site to see, there are many other lesser-known treks in the area that are worth checking out. 

One of the best hiking trails in Cusco, Peru is the trek to Inti Punku – the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. Inti Punku (also known as the “Sun Gate”) was once the entranceway to Machu Picchu and was protected by security when the Incans ruled the land. The ruin is positioned high atop the mountains in Cusco, and is only accessible by foot. 

The trek to Inti Punku takes about seven hours in total (3.5 hours to the top, and 3.5 hours down). The hike entrance is located in a city in Cusco called Ollytontanbo. 

It’s a steep hike, with an incline that grows steeper as the hike progresses. The terrain switches from a dirt road, to a grassy area, to climbing on top of rocks to get to the destination. 

The altitude of Inti Punku is 2745 meters, which can make the hike a bit more difficult. Bring a lot of water, and find some local coca leaves to chew on throughout the hike to help beat altitude sickness. 

Once you reach the peak of the hike, you’ll see Inti Punku and the mountain range behind it; which includes both green mountains with jungle-esque terrain, mixed with snow-capped mountains. 

It’s a majestic site, and you’ll feel extremely accomplished once you reach the top.


Wrap Up

We want to wind this one up by thanking each of the writers who contributed their experience to make this post possible.

They truly deserve all of the credit. And if you are so inclined to discover one of these hikes for yourself be sure to check out their websites.

More Great Outdoor Exploration

But while we have you, be sure to check out the rest of this series. We have been working hard to put together something for any corner of the globe you may want to discover for yourself.

In case you missed it, the last post in this series covered the top travel bloggers favorite hiking trails in South America. Be sure to check it out to expand your travels on the continent.

You may be more interested in other things to do in the area. Like, what are the best places to camp in South America? Well we answer that in this article.

And how about connecting some of these places on one trip? Don’t miss the list of real travelers vote for their top road trips in Central and South America.

We’ll catch up with you later this week. And if you want to sign up for our newsletter, just fill out the form and we will send you occasional updates on Maps Over Coffee.

Safe Travels!