Best Peru Hikes, Ultimate Guide to Trek Peru
Peru is a hiking and trekking wonderland, offering incredible towering mountains, well-preserved ancient ruins, stunning alpine valleys, lakes, and rivers landscape. In this guide, you will find some of the best multi-day Peru hikes and also, the top day hike for you to go trek in Peru like a Pro!
Let’s be honest, all the Peru Treks are very unique, and a trip to Peru is not completed if you don’t add at least one hiking destination to your bucket list. Whether you are planning a backpacking trip around South America, or just explore Peru, you have to add at least one hiking in Peru to your bucket list.
From the most famous of the treks in Peru, the Inca Trail, to the lesser-known routes such as Salkantay and Ausangate, here you can find the best Peru Hikes for everyone – It can be a day hike or an endurance multi-day trek.
To make it easy for you, on this guide you don’t only find the best Hikes in Peru, but also, you can find the best places to trek Peru by the main regions – Cusco, Huaraz, Central Andes Area, and Area.
Peru is a very diverse country, with a combination of the Amazonian jungle, the Inca architecture, the majestic canyons of Colca and Cotahuasi, and the Andean peaks and lagoons of Huaraz.
Make sure you have a great Backpack for hiking and let’s get started with some very useful information about what you should know before you plan a hike in Peru and then, review by Region the best places to Trek in Peru.
Enjoy this guide and safe travels!
In this guide for Best Peru Hikes + Trek Peru, you will find:
- All the essential tips before you go hike in Peru
- Orientation & Map before you go hike in Peru
- The best multi-day hiking in Peru in the Cusco area
- Best day-hikes from Cusco
- Best Treks in Peru in Huaraz & Central Andes Area
- The best hikes in Peru in the Arequipa area
- Must packing for your hiking in Peru
- BONUS SECTION: Trip Planning Resources with all you need to plan and book your hike in Peru trip and to make your experience as easy, safe, and fun as possible
Essential Tips Before you go Hike in Peru
Most of Hikes in Peru are at Hight Altitude
If you have hiked at high altitudes before, you already know that it brings some challenges and difficulties, and it affects everybody differently. It is very important that you follow a Fitness Preparation Plan before you hike in Peru. Also, understand the effects of high altitude, and make the right decision when you have the symptoms which can be:
- Lack of appetite
- Constant headaches
- Tiring very quickly
- Breathlessness with minor exertion
Once you arrive at altitude, take a day or two to give your body time to rest and adjust. After acclimatizing for a few days, these symptoms should diminish greatly, if not disappear. If you still need help, you can always take a high-altitude pill.
For all the 16 treks listed here, I have compiled details of the highest points above sea level. If you are planning to hike above 3,000 meters above sea level, keep in mind that you will need preparation for high altitude hiking.
The most important thing is if you have any symptoms: Rest and drink plenty of water.
Hiking in Peru Independent vs. Organized Tours
I mostly travel independently. But of course, there are some expectations when a guide is required, or the logistics are unfeasible to go by myself.
The good news is that most of the hikes in Peru can be done independently – it only requires some research, planning, and physical preparation – which you can find it all here in this Peru Hikes guide 😉
In some cases, you will want to join a group tour or even cases where you are required to hire a guide, such as the Inca Trail. But the group tours, or even a private guide, are very affordable in Peru. Make sure you use reliable sources, and verified tours at tour companies such as GetYourGuide or Expedia.
Make sure you book months in advance, especially if you are going to hike in Peru during the high season – June to September.
Hiking in Peru and Travel Insurance
Whatever you decide to go on a simple day-hike or on a bigger adventure of multi-day endurance trek in Peru, it is very important and wise to invest in reliable travel insurance. Some places even require that you have and show proof of travel insurance, such as the Inca Trail.
The most important thing why you must have insurance for hiking in Peru is because of medical cover. First of all, remember you will be facing high altitude, and even for someone like me, who trains hard my whole life, I had a very hard time in Peru, facing challenges with altitude sickness.
Also, keep in mind that some trails are located in remote locations, and if something goes wrong and you may need emergency recovery, the cost can be very high.
I recommend World Nomads for any travel and hiking insurance. It is because they offer policies specially tailored for hikes, with options for trekking at 6,000 meters in its standard packages, which is perfect for a hiking trip to Peru.
You can get started with a quote using the tab below. You will be surprised how little it cost, for the huge benefit and peace of mind to be covered by a highly reliable choice for travel insurance.
Final Tips Before you go Hiking in Peru
- No Cell Phone Service: Cell phones do not work in most places in the backcountry and GPS is sometimes unreliable – Consider carrying a Satellite Phone with Maps and GPS Navigation.
- Do not hike at night: If you are camping, plan to get to your campsite before dark.
- Difficult Hiking Trails: “Difficult Hiking Trails” are characterized by steep elevations, increasingly difficult terrain, and longer distances. Only experienced hikers should attempt these trails
- Be physically prepared: A couple of the hikes are epic and I recommend following a Plan for Hiking Fitness preparation prior to attempting any long or challenging hike.
- Bring plenty of water: Remember you will be outdoors in the sun you will need to drink a lot of water. My LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle has been my lifesaver for all my trips. I can refill this bottle anywhere and it comes with a carabiner to connect it to my daypack.
- Check the Weather: Check the current weather forecast and be prepared for quickly changing conditions.
- Travel safe: Don’t forget to buy Travel Insurance. Considering that anything can go wrong with any trip, we don’t want to risk the fun, right?
- Leave no Trace: Be a responsible traveler, it is all about enjoying nature and ensure you help to preserve the environment.
Peru Hikes Orientation & Map
The first decision you will have to make is where to go hiking in Peru – A good place to start is to use the 3 popular cities as your orientation and your base: Cuzco, Arequipa, or Huaraz.
The majority of hotels and hostels offer a storage room for free or for a small fee, so you can leave your big backpack with the unnecessary things when you go on a multi-day hiking in Peru.
If you are planning to go trek in Peru, the Cusco area offers some of the best hiking opportunities – from day hiking to the endurance multi-day treks in Peru, such as the Inca Trail.
Cusco is n the Peruvian Andes, with an altitude of 3,400 meters above sea level.
Cusco is a must-visit destination in Peru, with a blend of colonial period architecture, the cobblestone streets, amazing cuisine, and the gateway to the beautiful Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.
There are plenty of great accommodations, with the majority located within the historical center. I spent a lot of time researching all the best options so I could find the best options based on experience, value, location, and facilities. Here are some recommendations.
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN CUSCO:
- HOSTEL: The Antigua Casona San Blas hostel is rated as Exceptional by the guests for a reason – It is at a great location, only 7 min walk to the Plaza Armas. It is secure, has a large kitchen, a good breakfast, great WiFi, and secure lockers with luggage storage facilities.
- BUDGET: An excellent option and the place I stayed in Cusco is the Hotel Monasterio San Pedro. Locat3ed directly across the San Pedro market and an only 10-min walk from the main square. The breakfast is excellent and WiFi is free. The rooms are comfortable the hotel is very beautiful. They have a luggage storage service.
- MID-RANGE: Located in the Cusco city center, the Casona Corrales has comfortable and beautiful decorated bedrooms with free WiFi and airport transfers. Continental and buffet breakfast included in the price. Customers rated the service of this hotel as outstanding.
- UPMARKET: The Palacio del Inka is a Luxury Hotel in Cusco, loacted in central Cusco. The buffet breakfast is excellent, the rooms are stylish and modern, and they even provide oxygen and coca tea in the bedroom (let’s get spoiled if you get altitude sickness). With a gym, outdoor pools and a restaurant.
1) INCA TRAIL: The most popular multi-day hiking in Peru
Every trekker on the Inca Trail must be accompanied by a registered guide. Also, a hiking permit must be obtained via a licensed tour operator since only 500 people are allowed on the trail per day (this number includes guides and porters). You can book in advance a very affordable hike tour to the Inca trail here.
2) CHOQUEQUIRAO TREK: A hidden gem hiking on Cusco Region
The Choquequirao trek is one of the hidden gems hikes in the Cusco region. The trekking route leads to the beautiful Inca ruins that are named the Little Sister of Machu Picchu.
Walking is the only way of getting to Choquequirao ruins as a result there are very few tourists visiting the ruins.
The trek starts in Cachora, a small village 160 km from Cusco. It’s easy to get there by bus. The route offers fantastic scenery; a lush green jungle, impressive canyons, stunning viewpoints, and breathtaking mountains.
The elevation on the trek is moderate after staying in Cusco for a couple of days trekkers should be sufficiently acclimatized for completing the route.
The most challenging part of the trek is a steep 1500 m ascent from the bottom of the canyon to Morampata, a small village located close to the ruins. The ascent is done over two days. The Choquequirao trek is a return route but it can be extended for 4 more days and combine with a visit to the Machu Picchu ruins.
Visiting the ruins is the highlight of the trek. Exploring the ruins without thousands of tourists, being able to spend as much time as you want wandering around is a unique experience.
To go hike the Choquequirao Trek you don’t need special permits neither guides are required.
3) AUSANGATE TREK: A very challenging trek in Peru
The Ausangate trek is one of the most challenging trekking routes in Peru. Due to its high elevation, trekkers need good acclimatization before attempting this trek.
The entire route is above 4000 m with two passes over 5000 m. For not experienced trekkers it’s recommended to hire a guide or join a group.
Ausangate is one of the lesser-known trails in the region; there are not many trekkers on the route.
The route goes through a very remote area of the Andes trekkers have to carry food supplies and campaign gear with them. The trek starts in Tinqui, a small village about 100 km from Cusco. It’s cheap and easy to get there by bus.
The scenery along the route is stunning; mountain lakes ranging from turquoise to pink color, hanging glaciers, snowy peaks, emerald green valleys with hundreds of alpacas, impressive waterfalls, and colorful mountains.
Some of the highlights of the trek; Puca Cocha Lake, Palomani Pass, Ausangate Lake, and glacier, Qampa Pass.
As for wildlife, trekkers can see many alpacas, viscachas (mountain rabbits), eagles, and even condors. It’s possible to combine the trek with the famous Rainbow Mountain. It’s a one-day detour from the route.
4) SALKANTAY TREK: Best alternative trek to Machu Picchu
The Salkantay Trek is considered one of the best alternative treks to Machu Picchu. This multi-day trek in Peru is difficult since hiking days are long and you reach an altitude of 4,630m, however, it’s a very rewarding experience.
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is less busy than the popular Inca Trail and you will see magnificent views along the way, like glaciers, turquoise lakes, waterfalls, rugged mountains, a cloud forest, and famous Incan ruins.
Day 1: Hike to the stunning Humantay Lake, a glacial lake sitting at 4,200m elevation.
Day 2: Hike through the Andean mountains up to Salkantay Pass at 4,630m and back down into the cloud forest to Chaullay.
Day 3: Continue hiking through the tropical forest to visit an organic coffee farm. Stay the night in Lucmabamba.
Day 4: Hike up a mountain to see your first archeological site, Llactapata. Continue to Aguas Calientes, the hub of Machu Picchu.
Day 5: Visit the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu
The classic Salkantay trek is five days, but you can also choose to do a shorter four-day version and skip Day 4 of the classic itinerary.
Salkantay Trekking is one of the leading tour operators and has unique accommodation each night. You will stay in glass domes, Andean huts, and jungle domes. Check this tour here and book in advance.
To prevent altitude sickness make sure you acclimatize for a couple of days before your trek and by taking altitude pills (Diamox). If you are planning to hire a local and expert guide, make sure to check this renowned trek which also includes a bilingual guide, a ticket to Machu Picchu, accommodation, and all the hiking gear.
Best Day Hiking in Peru Cusco Area
5) RAINBOW MOUNTAIN HIKE: A fascinating colorful day hike in Peru
If you are looking for day hikes in Peru, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, was discovered less than 5 years ago. Its brilliant colors were hidden under snow and ice, until recently, when they began to melt and revealed an incredible mountain covered in purples, greens, rust reds, and blues.
The layers of colors were formed by weathering and sedimentary over time. It is an incredible sight to see and a must-add to any Peru itinerary!
This hike is best done as a day trip from Cusco. It’s a 3-hour drive from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain, and there are many tour buses leaving each day.
However, try to find a tour that leaves well before 4 am to avoid the massive crowds that will arrive there around 7 am. (Also, try to check the forecast before you go – if it is rainy and cloudy, you won’t be able to see the brilliant colors.)
The hike itself is technically easy. The incline is quite gradual, and it’s only about 3 miles from the entrance to Rainbow Mountain. However, the altitude is quite extreme – it’s 5,200 meters above sea level!
Even if you are in good shape, the altitude can take its toll. Be sure this isn’t the first thing you do once you arrive in Cusco. Allow yourself at least a couple of days to acclimate to the higher altitude.
Because of the altitude, you will want to move slowly, take frequent breaks and constantly sip water. Don’t worry, there are also outhouses along the way if you need to use the bathroom – just be sure to pack your own toilet paper!
The views at the end of this hike are absolutely worth battling the altitude and early morning drive!
If you take a day tour from Cusco, try to get a tour that leaves well before 4 am to avoid the massive crowds. Check the forecast before you go, as the colors are difficult to see when it is rainy and cloudy. Make sure to book your trek in advance with hotel pickup, local guide, and ticket included.
6) HUCHUY QOSQO (LITTLE CUSCO): A day hike in Peru with an outstanding architecture
Another excellent option for a day hike in Peru if you are visiting the Cusco area, is the Huchuy Qosqo, or Little Cusco. This incredible archeological site, located north of Cuzco, was initially an administrative and military center around Pisaq.
The route is situated just north of Cusco, making access easy and is ideal for hikers who either don’t have much time in the region or would like to do a little hiking without too much of a strenuous workout.
Here you can observe many through-provoking constructions in the surrounding vicinity, observe some Inca buildings with perfect stonework and grain-storage structures called Collcas – where it was used to preserve food, because of its important agricultural center to produce corn.
The site is located at a plateau with incredible views overlooking the Sacred Valley and the Vilcabamba range’s snow-capped peaks.
You also have an option to hike the Huchuy Qosqo in 2-day and one-night camping, and adding a third day if you want to include Machu Picchu to the itinerary.
Although the Huchuy Qosqo trek has a reputation of being the easiest trekking route to Machu Picchu, it still requires trekking to high altitudes (over 4,000m). This comes with obvious altitude sickness risks. Treks to Huchuy Qosqo do not require a permit and therefore technically you can do this trek unsupported.
7) THE MORAY RUINS & MARAS SALT PANS: A must-do day hike in the Cusco area
This is a half-day hike in Moray and Maras, but you also have the choice to hire a local guide to take a full-day tour and visit the Sacred Valley sites.
The Moray and Maras trek takes to the unique archaeological terraces of Moray, a unique site, that was used for agricultural experimentation. It consists of several impressive and symmetrical circular terraces, creating a depression in the earth. Enjoy this site and learn more about the fascinating story behind it, before you start the hike to the village of Maras.
You hike through a high plain on flat terrain until you reach a Maras salt pans.
This fascinating site has a large number of watered terraces that collect salt by evaporation from the saline waters that gush from underground steam – so fascinating!
The saline de Maras was built in a similar way to agricultural terraces observed throughout the Andes, and it has been in use in the same way since pre-Columbian times.
If you hire a private or group tour, you have the option to hike for another 45-minute down to the Urubamba River along the incredible narrow paths.
It is possible to independently hike to the Maras Salt Mines and continue on to the Moray Inca Ruins in the Sacred Valley of Peru. But the Sacred Valley offers many points of interest, so the tour operators offer day trips from Cusco, where you can also visit other sites. For peace of mind, if you decide to hire a private guide (I did) you can find a great option here.
8) MONTAÑA MACHU PICCHU: A hike in Peru to see the other views of the Lost City
There is not a perfect itinerary in Peru if you don’t add the lost city of Machu Picchu. One of the most amazing day hikes in Peru is the Montaña Machu Picchu. The most spectacular, yet, one of the most overlooked options treks available in Machu Picchu.
Even though it is not a long hike, it is difficult due to the combination of high altitude + humidity, making you feel that you are literally hiking in slow motion. But the views along the way and from the top are so rewarding!
The Montaña Machu Picchu trek offers unparalleled views of the famous Inca sanctuary, and during the hike, you have panoramic views of the surrounding mountain scenery.
The Machu Picchu Mountain Trek is wide and well-marked. After the warden’s hut, the trail follows a fairly even ascent, and gradually and steadily gaining altitude.
There are several views and rest points along the way, and you will need to stop to appreciate the vistas and to catch your breath. The views of the Machu Picchu become even more impressive as you ascend the mountain.
As the trail gets closer to the base of Machu Picchu Mountain, the steps become steeper, narrower, and more challenging. The descent follows the same route but takes about 30-minutes less.
Note that to go climb the Montaña Machu Picchu you need to book way in advance. It is limited to 400 hikers per day. The tickets need to be purchase as a combination with the general entrance to Machu Picchu. The first entrance is from 7 am – 8 am and the second entrance is from 9 am-10 am. Click here and book in advance your official tickets to enter Machu Picchu and to hike the Montaña Machu Picchu.
9) HUYANA PICCHU: Offers incredible views of Machu Picchu
This incredible day hike in Peru is one of the most in-demand hikes available, leading to a viewpoint overlooking the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
You have the option to hike the short trail or the full trail. The short trail is accessible to most people of all ages and it is required that you have a reasonable fitness level, taking approximately 2 hours. If you decide to go on the full trial, you will need 4 hours to complete.
The trail loops around the very top of the mountain, where architectural vestiges such as altars, narrow staircases, tunnels, and terraces can be found. The lower trail follows the base of Huayna Picchu to the Great Cavern where the secluded and mysterious Moon Temples is located.
After signing in at the warden’s hut, the Huyana Picchu trail follows an undulating path for 15-20 minutes until the trail splits, the upper patch continues to the summit of Huayna Picchu. Note that you need your passport number and name for signing in.
Huyana Picchu trek is not recommended for people with a fear of heights. The trail is very steep in some places, immediately after the summit where the trails descend through a series of steep and narrow stone steps.
To trek Huyana Picchu you must be in Machu Picchu wih a specific combination ticket for both – Machu Picch and Huyana Picchu. Make sure you book your tickets well in advance. There are limited to 400 tickets per day with 200 tickets allocate for the 7-8 am entrance and 200 tickets for the 10-11 am entrance. Book in advance your official ticket to enter the citadel of Machu Picchu and to hike the Huyana Picchu.
Best Trek Peru Huaraz & Central Andes Area
Located 400 kilometers north of Lima is the city of Huaraz. It is a gateway to some of Peru’s most remarkable natural scenery, in Huascaran National Park and the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Some of the best Peru treks are here, such as the Huayhuash Circuit and Santa Cruz Trek.
Huaraz has grown in popularity as a hiking destination in recent years, and the good news is that it is a cheaper and less crowded alternative to the Cusco area.
Located East island of Lima is the Central Andes area. This is a section of mountain ranges nestled halfway between Cusco and Huaraz. In this area, you can find some of the most untouched mountain ranges and hiking trails in Peru.
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN HUARAZ AREA:
- HOSTEL: The Artesonraju Hostel Huaraz is an excellent budget option, with good WiFi, comfortable beds, and very helpful staff. A basic breakfast is included
- MID-RANGE: The Hotel & Bungalows Villa Valencia is a 3 stars hotel featuring a restaurant, fitness center, and bar. Comfortable rooms with free WiFi and continental breakfast included. Great location and you can easily walk to town.
- MID-RANGE: Talking about a unique accommodation with the views of the mountains, you will love the Domos Cordillera Blanca. Located in Huaraz offer comfortable dome accommodation and breakfast included, and free mountain views.
- UPMARKET: The Lazy Dog Inn a Mountain Lodge is located at a beautiful place 4.3 miles from Huaraz. With comfortable rooms with terraces and mountain views. Amazing breakfast and dinner included, and they also offer packed lunches.
10) HUAYHUASH TREK: Of-the- beaten-path Trek in Peru
The Huayhaush Trek is one of those off-the-beaten-path hikes in Peru. Located in the small mountain town of Huaraz, the trail takes hikers on an 8 to 12-day journey through the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Andes Mountain Range.
On the 130 km journey, you’ll be tested with 10 mountain passes with elevations of up to 5,100 meters above sea level. It’s safe to say the Huahuash is only for the experienced hiker and is rated as hard. I myself found the Huahaush to be the hardest trail I have completed to this day.
For most, the Huayhaush is completed as part of an organized tour. These tours leave from Huaraz and include a mountain guide as well as transport of your tent and food via mule.
This makes the trail much more manageable for those who may not have trained as much as they should. If you want, you can complete the entire trail on your own but experience with high elevations and extreme cold is required.
On the trail, the views are what make this hike so special. Along the way, you’ll view mountains over 6000 meters in height. You’ll also get to see the famous Tres Lagunas (pictured above). If you love mountain views, remote alpine lakes, and the feeling of being away from the busy hiking trails in Peru, then give the Huahyuash a go!
PRO TIP: If you are short on time, or don’t want to go on multi-day hiking, you also have the choice to go on a day tour, if you are short on time. You can discover the Cordillera Blanca mountain range in Huascaran National Park and hike around the scenic Paron Lake on a full-day tour with a private guide Check options here and enjoy the majestic scenery of the mountain range of Cordillera Blanca.
11) SANTA CRUZ TREK: Considered one of the most incredible treks in Peru
The Santa Cruz Trek is one of the most incredible hikes in Peru and anyone who loves the great outdoors and exploring Peru’s nature should add it to their itinerary.
The Santa Cruz hike takes around 4 days and is not the most difficult but also not really suitable for beginners. Since it’s a multi-day trek in Peru, you need to be physically fit and ready to take on a challenge.
You’ll hike between 8 and 11 kilometers (5 – 6 miles) per day approximately which doesn’t seem like a lot but the altitude changes on the Santa Cruz Trek definitely make it more difficult. Make sure you’re well acclimated to the altitude before you begin the hike.
Many people feel unwell at first and need a few days to adjust. The total distance of the Santa Cruz trek is around 50 kilometers (31 miles) and there are two possible starting points; either from Cashpampa or Vaqueria.
The highest point of the Santa Cruz trek takes you to around 4,700 meters above sea level. While it’s possible to do the Santa Cruz Trek without a guide only experienced hikers should attempt to do so.
If you go with a group you won’t have to worry about the planning process and don’t have to worry about carrying your gear so it’s much more beginner-friendly. In any case, try to pack light and only take what you absolutely need.
PRO TIP: The best time to hike is from May to mid-September when the weather is generally good and the mountains are clear. Hiking outside this peak season will bring much more solitude, but the weather is also more inconsistent. Check the local weather conditions before you set out and be diligent in monitoring current conditions, as weather can change quickly in the mountains.
12) MARCAHUASI: Off-the-beaten-path trek in Peru
PRO TIP: The only option for accommodation at San Pedro de Casta is The Hospedaje Municipal – with very basic accommodations.
13) HUYAYTAPALLANA: Hike in the Andean scenery
PRO TIP: You are not allowed to climb Huaytapallana without a guide. you are required to have a guide when you climb Huaytapallana and the surrounding hiking trails. Getting an official tour is convenient because they provide transportation at a fairly low price.
Best Multi-Day Peru Hikes Arequipa Area
Arequipa is one of the most beautiful cities in Peru, and also known as the Ciudad Blanca (White City). Because of its historical buildings made from a local volcanic material called sillar, Arequipa offers a very unique experience.
This colonial-era city is surrounded by snow-capped volcano peaks, colonial streets with cobble-stoned, incredible Peruvian cuisine, and of course, lots of thrilling outdoor adventure activities to explore and incredible opportunities to trek in Peru.
Located at an altitude of 3,325 meters above sea level, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arequipa has plenty to explore. With 423 restaurants, over 400 options for accommodations, 10 museums, and 7 volcanos.
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN AREQUIPA AREA:
- HOSTEL: Right in the historical center Los Andres Bed & Breakfast offers free WiFi and practical rooms. Shared bathrooms and also, private bathrooms are available. Continental breakfast is served daily, and a common kitchen facility is available.
- BUDGET: Great location and comfortable rooms with free WiFi, the Mint Hotel is where I stayed during my trip to Arequipa. The buffet breakfast is very good. The hotel has a fitness center and restaurant. I had a very great experience and I recommend this hotel as a great value for the money.
- MID-RANGE: Located in the Plaza de Armas, The Katari Hotel Plaza de Armas, across from the city historical Cathedral. With an incredible terrace with panoramic views of the city and the volcanoes, and each room with colonial-style decor, brick floor, and alpaca textiles. They offer luggage storage. This is an excellent choice.
- UPMARKET: Las Casitas is a phenomenal luxurious cottage-style surrounded by the Colca Canyon. With a wellness center with a sauna, spa massage, aromatherapy sessions, outdoor pool. With a magnificent view restaurant, this is a perfect staying if you want to spoil yourself.
14) COLCA CANYON: Hike the second-deepest canyon in the world
Arequipa is located in the South of Peru, some of the best hikes in Peru are located around this area.
If you’re looking for a challenging hike in Peru that takes you down into the second-deepest canyon in the world, with a depth of 3,270 meters, you should hike the Colca Canyon.
Here, you can observe condors, walk past Peruvian villages, and admire the stunning scenery.
One of the highlights is staying in a desert oasis, where you can relax by a pool, lay down in the sun on the grass, or meet up with other travelers.
Hiking through the Colca Canyon takes two to three days. If you are short on time, you can explore the region in two days, but you will have a long trek on the first day. Many travelers, therefore, decide to split the hike into three days.
This also lowers the difficulty. As you need to walk 1,200 meters down into the canyon and climb the same distance up again at the end, you will find the three-day hike much more relaxing and less challenging.
PRO TIP: If you go hike Colca Canyon independently, inquire about public transport before you leave! Buses infrequently go to the Colca Canyon, and it’s usually easier and cheaper to travel with a tour company. But you prefer to hire a local guide, the Canyon is extremely accessible, with numerous tour operators on hand throughout the duration of the year. There are many different options for sightseeing, hiking, or even whitewater rafting in the canyon. Here you find a great option for a 3-day hike with an expert guide and affordable prices.
15) COTAHUASI CANYON: Hidden-Gem Peru Trek
Just because the hikes in Peru never disappointed you, this is another option to go hiking in another canyon.
Cotahuasi Canyon is another colossal canyon around the Arequipa area. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Cotahuasi is the deepest canyon in the world, cutting through the Coropuna and Surimana massifs.
The Cotahuasi Canyon region is legendary throughout Peru for its steep cliffs, waterfalls, and its local inhabitants who follow a traditional way of life. This incredible trek offers a range of hiking options – From day-hiking through a multi-day endurance trek.
During this fascinating trek in Peru, you will pass suspension bridges criss-cross over the Cotahuasi River flowing at the bottom of the canyon, connecting regional trails followed by hikers and locals alike.
The Cotahuasi Region is remote and lacks consistent transportation. Therefore, trekking the canyon is quite an off-the-beaten-path experience. For those looking for a compact yet intensive trek, this is an ideal option, especially if you have a special interest in wildlife and Andean culture.
PRO TIP: Because of the location, you’ll need to set aside several days for this adventure, but the reward is some of Peru’s most spectacular and remote scenery in one of the world’s biggest canyons. The journey from Arequipa to Cotahuasi village (the base for trekking in the canyon) takes a full day by road if you take a guided tour. I also recommend doing the Chili River rafting tour if you are in the area.
16) MISTI VOLCANO: An exhilarating hike in Peru
Last but not least amazing trek in Peru is the Misti Volcano – The world’s most accessible high peaks for trekking and one of the highest points on the planet that can be reached by hiking without using special mountaineering equipment.
If you visit Arequipa on a clear day you cannot help but notice the El Misti volcano towering over the city.
This two or three-day trek to the top can be hard work due to the thin air but any relatively fit, acclimatized trekker should be able to do it without too many problems, it is certainly not a technically difficult climb.
There are great views from the top. Although El Misti is an active volcano it has only erupted four times in the last 500 years. Best to acclimatize at higher altitudes such as Cusco or Lake Titicaca before attempting this trek.
There are several routes to the summit but the easiest begins from a new road that takes you up to 3,400m. From here climbers ascend to make base camp at around 4,700m (6-7 hrs). At dawn, you can climb up El Misti’s snowy south side to the summit. It is possible to descend and make it back to Arequipa by late in the afternoon.
PRO TIP: It is highly recommended to hire an experienced guide for the climb. Less experienced climbers should buy a package from a travel agency in Arequipa which should include guides, transport to and from the trailhead, all camping and safety equipment, cook and meal
Must Packing for Hiking in Peru
When picking out your wardrobe to go hike in Peru, it’s best to consider the following points. If you’re visiting Peru during wintertime, it’ll likely be sunny and hot. If you’re visiting during summer, you can expect humid heat with a fair amount of rain. In both cases, you are almost certainly guaranteed some annoying bug action!
Therefore, your best hiking clothing will feature lightweight long-sleeve and long pants that are breathable and moisture-wicking. These will help protect you from sun and bugs alike, but also keep you cooler on hot days and dry quickly if you get caught in the rain.
To make it easier for you, I have listed some must-pack items for your hiking in Peru:
- Trekking Poles: It is possible to hike in Peru without hiking poles, but the reality though is that they do make hikes easier and your recovery time shorter – These ones are the trekking poles I use and recommend.
- Portable water bottle: Remember to bring and drink a lot of water and if you need to refill, have a LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle is the best option.
- First-aid kit: Remember to pack a first-aid kit for Hiking in Peru
- Day-Backpack: I love my day-backpack and it is very handy for any hiking.
- Headlamps: Carry a flashlight or headlamp even on a day hike. If you have trouble on the trail, darkness may fall before you can finish your hike.
- Wear sturdy shoes for hiking: The most important thing is to protect your feet and avoid twisting your ankle and get injured. I recommend investing in a good hiking boots brand such as Teva, Salomon, or even Keens.
- Moisture-wicking clothing: These clothes help to pull the sweat away from your body and stay cool and dry during your hiking such as light hiking pants & long sleeves shirts.
- Warm-Layers: Early morning or late night can get cold so it is important to bring layers, a lightweight puffy jacket is a must!
- Wear a hat and sunglasses: It is always important to protect yourself against the sun. Bring a hat with a good face cover like this one and don’t forget to pack a pair of polarized sunglasses
- Bring along some food or snacks: Eating on trails is prohibited (with good reason), but it’s a good idea to pack trail mix or cereal bars to munch on at visitor centers or in the car.
- Bring your Camera: You don’t want to miss the stunning photos while hiking in Peru, so don’t forget your camera, or check some great value options here
TRIP PLANING RESOURCES
PLANNING A TRIP TO PERU
If you are going to travel to Peru, pre-planning, research, and understanding what you are looking for will help make your travels far more successful and safe.
Here is some further information I think you might need to plan your trip:
- Planning an international trip can be overwhelming, so I put together this easy 10-steps to Plan your Trip
- Make sure you are prepared before you go hiking: A Completely Fitness Preparation Guide for Hiking
- If you are planning to visit other countries in South America, check these 10 Incredible Backpacking Routes in South America
- Check this complete guide for the Best Hikes in South America if you would like to add more adventure to your trip.
- And remember to always Travel Responsibly
PERU GUIDE BOOK
Here are some excellent guidebooks to help in preparation for your trip to Peru.
FLIGHTS TO PERU
If you’re flying to Peru from the U.S., you’ll almost certainly have to fly to Lima (LIM), or Cusco (CUZ) airports. Here are the major airlines currently flying from North America to Peru:
- Aerolineas Argentinas: flies from New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA) to Buenos Aires (EZE), from which you can continue on to Lima.
- Aeromexico flies from various U.S. airports.
- Air Canada: flies to Lima from its hub in Toronto (YYZ) four times weekly and from Montreal (YUL).
- Avianca: operates flights to Lima and Cusco from its hubs in Bogotá (BOG), San José (SJO) and San Salvador (SAL).
- American Airlines: flies to Lima and Cusco from Dallas (DFW) and Miami (MIA).
- Copa: flies from the U.S. to Lima via its hub in Panama City (PTY).
- Delta: operates a nonstop flight to Lima from its hub in Atlanta (ATL).
- JetBlue: operates nonstop from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to Lima.
- LATAM: flies to Lima and Cusco from Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), and New York (JFK).
- Spirit: flies from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL).
- United: flies from both Houston (IAH) and Newark (EWR) to Lima and Cusco.
GETTING AROUND PERU
In most cases, especially when planning a hiking trip to Peru unguided, you’ll need some form of transportation. Let’s review the options for transportation in Peru:
TAXI: Taxis in Peru are absolutely cheap. Nearly every street you visit will feature at least a few taxis all honking or flashing their lights to get your attention, and you can use it for getting around easily.
BUSSES: For traveling in Peru from one city to another, colectivos (minivan buses) and full-sized buses are your most economical choice. They’re direct, they’re cheap, and you can tell the driver exactly where you want to get off.
RENTAL CAR: While certainly a more expensive option, private cars do provide some peace of mind for getting around in a foreign country. Especially one where the transportation system is a bit of an adventure on its own. If you are planning to rent a car for your trip TO Peru, I recommend requesting a quote and comparing prices from different rental car providers to get the best deal.
ACCOMMODATIONS IN PERU
Accommodation options in Peru range from rustic homestays to luxury lodges and everything in between. Prices also vary greatly.
Great accommodation option can easily be found find and I recommend using a reliable source such as Booking.com
- Peruvian hostels: target the international backpacker market, making them good places to meet other travelers. The best hostels are well equipped for their foreign guests, with spacious lounge areas, internet access, tour options, and multilingual staff.
- Midrange hotels: are characterless establishments designed with Peruvian businessmen in mind rather than international tourists. Others target the tourist market, providing English-speaking receptionists, tours, and plenty of local information.
- Top-end hotels: such as Inkaterra and Casa Andina, have a far wider range of luxury accommodation options in Peru. This is especially true if you are visiting some areas such as Lima, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, and Arequipa.
BEST TIME TO VISIT AND GO HIKE IN PERU
Regardless of winter or summer, the temperatures in Peru generally stay very stable within its distinct regions. The highlands near Machu Picchu will often hover around the 70s F, while the jungle will see temperatures from the high 80s to low 90s F.
- NOVEMBER TO MARCH (WET SEASON): With fewer crowds and greener scenery, but also, increase in rainfall. January to February tends to be the wettest months.
- OCTOBER AND APRIL (SHOULDER SEASON): The most unpredictable weather in Peru is October and April. With blue skies, but also rain clouds.
- MAY TO SEPTEMBER (DY SEASON): Wintertime in Peru, and also, the driest and most pleasant time of the year, especially for hiking in Peru.
TRAVEL INSURANCE BEFORE YOU GO HIKE IN PERU
It doesn’t matter if you going on a relaxing vacation, or on an exploration adventure trip. Things can go wrong on any trip, and never travel anywhere without having travel insurance. I recommend reliable travel insurance through World Nomads before your trip.