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Best 6 Treks in Peru

Best 6 treks in Peru, are from coast, andean mountains to jungle has long attracted lovers of the Great Outdoors. The Peruvian Andes, running like a backbone down the centre of the country, contain mesmerizing variations in landscape that make for some of the best trekking in the world. Cloud forests, 5000m+ cordilleras (mountain ranges), the world’s deepest canyon and the striking remains of ancient civilizations all await.

Highlights

  • Hike into the world’s deepest canyon, Cotahuasi, which reaches depths of 3354m
  • Trek through Salkantay trek a mountainous 5-day alternative to the Inca Trail
  • Tackle the arduous yet rewarding Choquequirao trek, sister city of Machu Picchu
  • Rise to the challenge of one of the legendary treks near Peru’s hiking hotbed, Huaraz

Overview

We’ve ranked these treks in Peru based on a combination of factors mainly natural beauty, diversity of landscape, cultural immersion, and overall quality of the experience (relative to the crowds).

A note about the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is one of best 6 treks in peru one most famous treks and offers a rewarding experience for anyone looking to hike this classic route. However, it’s also quite crowded, which is why we’ve chosen to leave it off the list. Still, it’s a great trek, and be sure to check out our ultimate guide for trekking this route; there is the classic 5-day version and also the Short Inca Trail. We’ve also put together a detailed list of great alternative treks to Machu Picchu should permits be sold out.

1.- Ausangate Trek – Cusco

Ausangate Trek

Fast facts
Duration 5 days
Max. elevation 5150m
Start/finish Chilca/Trapiche
Difficulty Moderate-Challenging

View full itinerary: Enshrined in Inca mythology, the 6380m peak of Ausangate provides the setting for arguably Peru’s most visually stunning trek. Four-to-seven-day treks completely circle the slopes of this sacred mountain, cresting 5000m ridges renowned for their stark rainbow-coloured rock strata, at points fanning away in ripples ranging from black to copper as far as the eye can see.

2.- Cotahuasi Canyon – Arequipa

Cotahuasi Trek

Fast facts
Duration 4 days
Max. elevation 2680m
Start/finish Viscas/Luicho
Difficulty Moderate

View full itinerary: Over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Cotahuasi Canyon cuts between two 6000m+ massifs, three hours’ drive northwest of Arequipa. There are many trekking options, from one-day hikes through four-day predominantly hike-oriented adventures to a six-day trek. Aside from getting the kudos of being the planet’s greatest canyon, the longest trek takes in the 150m-high Cascada de Sipia waterfall, hanging bridges suspended over the churning Cotahuasi river and opportunities to spy the majestic Andean condor. A guide is helpful for explaining the cultural quirks of the region, where isolation has preserved some fascinating customs.

3.- Choquequirao Trek – Cusco

Choquequirao Trek

Fast facts
Duration 4 days
Max. elevation 3050m
Start/finish Cachora/Machu Picchu
Difficulty Moderate

View full itinerary: There’s talk of a cable car whooshing you up to the magical Inca ruins of Choquequirao in a mere 15 minutes, but, for now, this four-day out-and-back trek remains the only approach, and will never be usurped as the grandest one. A two-day up-and-down tramp around and across the Apurimac valley transports you from Cachora, north of Abancay, up to this ancient citadel, reckoned to have been the last refuge of the Inca, straddling a verdant ridge at 3050m.

4.- Cordillera Huayhuash Trek – Huaraz

Huayhuash Trek

Fast facts
Duration 9-10 days
Max. elevation 5465m
Start/finish Llamac/Llamac
Difficulty Challenging

View full itinerary: Hikers bound for the trekking mecca of Huaraz invariably dream of tackling this nine-day, 115 km. circular route, factoring in all the most beguiling aspects of these mountains. The Cordillera Huayhuash is normally less-traipsed than the Cordillera Blanca, due to its distance from Huaraz and its incredible difficulty (it ranks among the most demanding hikes in the Americas).

Glaciers and a glut of peaks above 6000m are on the menu, as are a spattering of sparkling mountain lakes, and there’s the added appeal of its being a round-trip trek, which facilitates planning.

5.- Salkantay Trek – Cusco

Salkantay Trek

Fast facts
Duration 5 days
Max. elevation 4660m
Start/finish Soray Pampa/Hydroelectrica
Difficulty Moderate

View full itinerary: Perhaps the most fascinating alternative to the Inca Trail, this five-day approach to Machu Picchu has you traversing a 4460m ridge, confronting tangles of cloud forest, stopping off to harvest then drink your own organic coffee whilst meeting the farmers who cultivate the crop and by passing the ruins of Llactapata. All the while, vistas of the 6272m summit of Salkantay are woven in.

6.- Lares Trek to Machu Picchu
Lares Trek
Fast facts
Duration 4 days
Max. elevation 4780m
Start/finish Pumahuanca/Aguas Termales, Lares
Difficulty Easy-Moderate

View full itinerary: Inca sites dot the mountains around Cusco and this four-day, seldom-trod hike to Machu Picchu encompasses one of these (Pumahuanca) as well as a 1300m initial ascent, the spectacular mountain lake of Yanacocha and the lares trek highlight, the inviting thermal springs of Lares. An intriguing aspect to this route can be the stop in a village along the path, Cuncani, where trekkers get the chance to chat to locals.

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