Peru is fast becoming known among outdoor enthusiasts and backpackers as one of the best places to trek in the entire world. There is something for everybody here, from unique and diverse natural beauty to mysterious archaeological sites and interesting local culture. Keep reading to find out our picks for the best hiking trails and treks in Peru and learn how to visit them.
7. Vilcabamba Trail
One of the most challenging treks on this list, The Trek To Vilcabamba leads you down through the Amazon jungle to the site of Espiritu Pampa, believed to be the legendary last Inca stronghold of Vilcabamba. This is truly off-the-beaten-track traveling–only a few hundred visitors make their way to the site every year–so only attempt this one if you’ve got a strong sense of adventure!
6. Santa Cruz & Laguna 69
Located in the Cordillera Blanca range near the city of Huaraz in northern Peru, the Santa Cruz trek is one of the most beautiful mountain treks in Peru. You’ll see native Andean wildlife in its natural habitat and incredibly beautiful alpine scenery, including the famous Laguna 69. Located just 10 hours from Lima by bus, it’s both accessible and remote at the same time–well worth the detour north from the capital. Go to the Laguna 69 Treks page to book a tour or for further enquiries.
5. Colca Canyon
More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the famous Colca Canyon is the second deepest in the world and a must-see for many visitors to Peru. This strenuous trek will reward you with gorgeous waterfalls, colorful flowers, majestic birds, and interesting pre-Inca ruins as you descend deep into the canyon. Check out Colca Canyon Treks to see a list of quality tour providers.
4. Ausangate Trek
This 7-day trek circles the sacred snow-covered mountain of Ausangate in the heart of the Andes. You’ll ascend from lower valleys up to a maximum altitude of 5,200 meters, passing by gorgeous glaciers, lakes and mountain vistas along the way. This is a difficult trek due to the altitude and the remoteness of the area, but the entire trek is breathtaking and well worth the effort required. See our blog about The Ausangate Trek for more details on how to do the trek and find a quality guide.
Related: Machu Picchu: Inca Jungle Trek
3. Choquequirao Trek
Most people who come to Peru will pay a visit to the world-famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, but not many people will take the time to visit Machu Picchu’s “little sister,” called Choquequirao. In many ways, Choquequirao is very similar to its more famous relative, with beautiful stone buildings tucked deep in the Andes with the jungle at its feet. The main difference is that The Trek To Choquequirao requires three to four days to reach, so you’re much less likely to run into other tourists, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the experience of discovering a forgotten Inca citadel. Check out Choquequirao Treks to find out more details on how to do the trek and find a guide.
2. Huayhuash Circuit
Once considered a dangerous route due to hazardous trails and Shining Path guerrilla activity in the region, the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit is now becoming increasingly popular among trekkers with the installment of improved infrastructure and security measures by the Peruvian government in recent years. This trek hits a sweet spot for travelers: it’s just well-known enough to be safe but not well-known enough to be overrun with tourists–it’s likely you may only see one or two other groups of hikers during your entire trip. It’s a difficult one, passing high altitudes and rocky terrain, but those who choose to undertake it will be rewarded with pristine glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains and close encounters with native communities.
1. Salkantay Trek
Of all the treks leading up to the world-famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Trek is the most challenging–and the most beautiful. Located in the same region as the more popular Inca Trail, you’ll take an ancient footpath through both subtropical jungle and high-altitude mountains (including the trek’s namesake of Salkantay, the highest peak of the region). On the way, you’ll pass amazingly diverse wildlife and some lesser-known Inca ruins, ultimately arriving at the incomparable Machu Picchu after several days. Check out the Salkantay Treks for a list of quality tour providers.
That concludes our list of the best hiking trails and treks in Peru. If you’ve got a favorite that we haven’t mentioned, let us know in the comments below! Happy trekking!