When it comes to hiking, Peru is probably one of the most amazing places to visit. If it is adventure that you are after, Peru has some incredible sights and landscapes to witness. You could see yourself strolling through lost cities, beautiful oceans of lakes and historical Inca ruins which will leave you feeling rewarded with your decision to visit this amazing destination.
If hiking trails are what you are after in your travels, then Peru with the endless nature hikes offer great means to explore both historical relics and the beautiful landscapes of mother earth.
Most of Peru is best explored by foot, which is why it is such a hotspot for hikers from around the world. The ancient civilizations of Peru provide a captivating look into the history of the region while the Andes mountain landscapes will leave you in awe.
From easy trails to trails for more experienced hikers, Peru has a variety to choose from. You can see yourself camping on a multi-day hike which could take you days to finish. Camping between breathtaking glacial lakes and snow-topped mountains, you will find yourself battling nature and enjoying the experience that comes with it.
There is over 25,000 km of hiking trails in the country which is why it is such a popular destination amongst travellers. The Inca Trail is the most popular trail amongst travellers, however, trails to the north and south of the country offer more rewarding natural sights to witness. When it comes to hiking, the challenge is what makes the whole experience worth your while, hence trails around Cuzco and Huaraz though not as popular, offer travellers the added reward of some spectacular sights.
Hiking in Peru is something that you don’t want to miss if you are planning on visiting the country. So be it an easy trail or tough terrain, we hope you find the perfect trail for you in this list of the 21 best hiking trails in Peru.
The Top 21 Hiking Trails in Peru
When you consider hiking in Peru, there is such a selection that you might find yourself lost trying to find the best hike for you. Be it an easy day hike or a tougher multi-day hike, you would want to ensure that you experience the best that the country has to offer. Read this word to word and you will get a better idea about the various hiking trails in Peru; we hope that by the end of reading this article that you have everything at hand to decide for yourself, which hike or hikes to add to the itinerary.
1) Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain
Located opposite the famous Inca ruins archaeological site, Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountains are famous hikes located in Machu Picchu. In order to hike either of these trails, you require a permit, which you can acquire in Machu Picchu. The permits ensure that number is regulated and that sites do not get overcrowded with tourists.
You can take some amazing pictures with archaeological ruins in the background and enjoy both trails which can be completed in a single day. This is a great trail for inexperienced hikers due to the ease of the hike.
2) Pisac’s Lakes
This is one of the easiest trails that you can partake in with some of the most rewarding nature views the country has to offer. You will wander off the beaten track and decide for yourself how long you want the hike to be. Hence the distance you cover is up to you.
You will walk through some beautiful mountain ranges and spectacular valleys and witness some breathtaking views of the lakes of Alpacas. With the crowds expected at a minimum, you will find solitude bringing you closer to nature. The hike lasts for about three hours and can be easily arranged when to reach the town of Pisac.
The lakes of Pisac are beautiful scenes of water and lush greenery. Excellent for nature lovers, this hike is rewarding for the ease at which you can complete it. You can choose to visit any or of the three main lakes.
3) Laguna Churup
Located in Huascaran National Park, this hike leads you to witness the beautiful Laguna Churup lake. The trail will take you about 4 to 5 hours to complete, which makes it one of the easier hikes; perfect for a day hiker. This is a great hike to consider first, before venturing towards some of the harder multi-day hikes that the country has to offer.
You will have to climb a 9-meter rock wall using ropes fixed to the rock. This is the only way to get closer to the lake. Once at the top, the lake will reveal itself in all its majestic beauty.
If you do plan to take this hike, it is worth noting that in order to get to Huascaran National Park, you will require a permit. Don’t worry, you can easily source and acquire this permit on arrival.
4) Laguna 69
Recognised as one of the most beautiful sights in the whole country, Laguna 69 is a stunning blue glacial lake, located in the Huascaran National Park. A trail offering moderate difficulty, the hike will take you around 6 hours to complete.
With a maximum altitude of 4,550 metres, you would need a good level of overall fitness to hike this trail. If you have the levels of fitness for this trek, this trail will lead you to witness some amazing waterfalls, lakes and breathtaking landscapes.
It is the altitude that makes it hard for many hikers, hence if you are comfortable with the climb, this could be an exceptionally rewarding nature hike for you.
A permit is required to enter the Huascaran National Park; can be acquired upon arrival.
5) Moray Ruins and Maras Salt Pans
These remarkable Inca ruins of Moray are a must-see for the history bugs. Located in a remote sacred valley, it is a three-hour hike from the town of Chinchero which leads to the spectacular archaeological ruins of the region.
On the trail, you will witness the salt pans of Maras, which is a canyon filled with geometric salt pools. These salt pools have been harvested to date since the time of the Incan empire.
You do not require any permits to partake in the hike, which is great for beginners and history lovers.
6) Huchuy Qosqo
Located north of Peru, Huchuy Qosqo is an Incan archaeological site. There are various treks that lead to the ruins; treks that accompany beautiful Andean scenery. The hike is of moderate difficulty and can be a rewarding experience for history bugs.
You will have a chance to walk the original Imperial Incan trail and pass through the Incan ruins. The trails start at Patabamba, Chinchero and Tauqa, hence you can decide where you would like to start from.
Though there is no need for a permit to partake in this hike, there is an entrance fee to the ruins.
7) Lake Humantay
This breathtaking glacial lake is one of the most beautiful natural sights in the whole of South America. The hike to Lake Humantay is moderately easy and is perfect for the novice hiker.
If you follow the trail on this hike, it will lead to some amazing views and landscapes of this incredible glacial lake; it will leave you breathless.
There is no need for a permit to partake in this hike, and the hike can be done independently or as part of a group.
8) Inca Trail (Short Trail)
Considered the world’s most famous hiking trail, you can witness the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu on this one day trail. You will witness the archaeological sites of Chachabamba and Winaywayan.
Based on your preference, you can opt for either the two day Inca Trail hike or a shorter one day hike that leads to the ruins. The trail is done as part of an organised tour, which starts at Cusco.
It is perfect for those who want to witness the historical beauty of the land; the one-day hike being of moderate difficulty is perfect for a novice hiker. The rewards of this hike are worth it; you get to witness the ruins of one of the oldest civilisations in the world.
There is a permit required to partake in this trek, hence do look into acquiring one upon arrival.
9) Rainbow Mountain
The multi-coloured mountain of Montana Vinicunca is also known as Rainbow Mountain. It is becoming one of the most popular hikes for travellers to Peru. The hike starts as Cusco and will take you around 3 hours to complete.
Partly formed of colourful sediment, this mountain is a natural sight worth witnessing. The beautiful colours of the landscape are picture-perfect, making it one of the most rewarding hikes in Peru.
The hike is of moderate difficulty which makes it great for novice hikers. Being a day-hike, it is perfect for people with a packed itinerary.
10) The Gran Vilaya Trek
This amazing trek is a multi-day hike that will take you through some beautiful cloud forests and breathtaking valleys. The hike will take you 3 to 4 days to complete with a moderate to challenging difficulty. Intended for more experienced hikers, you should be geared for the physical exertion this trail will require.
Crossing beautiful valleys, you will witness some stunning archaeological sites and experience some amazing caverns.
You will end your trek at the famous lost city of the cloud people, Kuelap; the largest stone structure in the Americas.
Though the climb may be long, you will find the trail very rewarding with a great mix of both archaeology and nature. The landscapes of this hike cannot be expressed in words and should really be experienced first hand.
11) Quilcayhuanca and Cojup Valleys
This 3-day hike will take you through the Cordillera Blanca Mountain range, which has been rarely trekked by travellers. You will witness some amazing glacial lakes and wander through alpine forests with great views of some big mountains.
Be prepared to trek the altitude of 5,100 metres and challenge yourself in this hike. This trek, through some of the most remote parts of Peru, will leave you with a true connection to nature.
With a substantial altitude to climb with no aid of donkeys, you will find yourself carrying your gear as your trek. Hence when you consider the difficulty of this trail, it is more towards the challenging end of the spectrum, hence be prepared.
12) The Santa Cruz Trek
This high altitude hike in the Cordillera Blanca mountains is one of the most popular multi-day hikes in Peru. You will trek through some amazing landscapes with beautiful natural views.
If you combine photography with trekking and you love taking pictures of landscapes, then this trek is one that would be worth your while. You will come across some amazing valleys and forests. You will find beautiful glaciers and ice-blue lakes and is a trail that will leave you clicking more pictures than ever.
At a moderate to challenging difficulty, be prepared for high altitude (4,750 metres) when partaking in this 3-day hike.
13) Huayhuash Circuit Trek
This is one of the most challenging treks on this list of trails in Peru. If it is a challenge you are after, then look no further. The Huayhuash trekking route is a high altitude hike in the region of Cordillera Huayhuash and can take you up to 10 days to complete.
You will witness some spectacular views of the Peruvian Andes and some gigantic snow-covered peaks. You will get closer to the peaks of both Yerupaja and Siula Grande, which makes for some amazing views.
The high altitude trek will mean that you stay above 4000 metres for most of the route which passes through some of the toughest terrains of Huaraz.
If it is a challenge that you are looking for, then this hike could be very rewarding for you.
14) The Colca Canyon Hike
The Colca Canyon at a depth of 3,270 metres is the second deepest canyon in the world. Situated 160 kilometres northwest of Arequipa, the canyon boasts some spectacular views with condors flying; bird native to the region. You can catch the condors close range as they fly by the canyon, a perfect opportunity for wildlife photographers.
You can hike down and up the canyon and experience this marvellous natural structure at its finest. Though it is a 2 to 3-day hike, the trail is somewhat easier and is a perfect multi-day trek for novice hikers.
Accommodation and food are provided at the canyon, hence you don’t have to worry about carrying your own tents. Depending on your level of fitness, the climb from Sangalle to Cabanaconde which is a 1,107-metre climb will take you between 2 to 4 hours.
15) Inca Trail (Long Trail)
The Inca trek is one of the most famous treks in the world. This is why there are options as to the length of the trek you want to partake in. As mentioned prior, you can opt for either the two days or one day trek. Otherwise, if you are geared for more of a challenge, you can partake in the 4 days long trail which leads through the Inca ruins.
Rated within the top 5 hikes around the world, this amazing 4-day trail will leave you rewarded and challenged at the same time. The level of difficulty of this trail is not as hard as some of the other multi-day trek. It is a great moderate level hike for people who want to partake in a multi-day trek.
You will witness several Incan archaeological sites and hike through beautiful mountain sceneries and cloud forests. The subtropical jungle with all the biodiversity is a treat to the senses.
There are a few steep rocky stairways which you will have to muster. This trail will challenge you, however, if you are physically fit, there is no reason why you won’t be able to push yourself to gain the amazing rewards of this trail.
Being as popular as this trail is, the hike is rather expensive starting at $600. That being the case, there is some great food to experience along the way. As popular as this trail is, you would want to book well ahead of time to ensure that you make the list.
16) The Lares Trek
This trek is an alternative to the Inca Trail and is a 3-day hike to Machu Picchu. There is a moderate level of difficulty brought about by the altitude of the climb, which will lead you through some amazing waterfalls and friendly towns.
When it comes to witnessing the natural beauty of Peru, this 3-day hike will take you through tropical forests and up and down hills.
Though mostly catered as part of a tour group, you can do this hike independently.
At a moderate difficulty, this is a good multi-day trek with many natural rewards of the beautiful landscapes of Peru.
17) Salkantay Trek
Machu Picchu has some breathtakingly beautiful sights, which is the final destination on the Salkantay Trek. This amazing 4-day hike will lead you through the Andes mountains, further enhanced by the archaeologically significant Inca ruins along the trail.
This is a great alternative to the Inca Trail and is less busy and is cheaper. That being the case, in comparison to the Inca trail, the Salkantay Trek is tougher, trekking as high as 4,600 metres.
You will witness cloud forests and snowy mountains, all leading to the Salkantay Lake, which will leave you simply breathless.
Every day on the trek, you will encounter varied terrains with the added reward of uniquely amazing views, which you can only experience in Peru.
18) Choquequirao Trek
Choquequirao is an enormous site of ancient ruins, located in the depths of the jungles of Peru. You will find some magnificent views of the valleys on your trek with condors flying by.
This 6-day trek leaves room for a 2-day camping trip at the ruins. You will cross the Apurimac River as you hike through the canyon on a 60-kilometre round trip.
You will witness some beautiful sights of the Apurimac Canyon and it definitely one of the harder trails when it comes to difficulty. Hence if you are up to the challenge and are looking for a rewarding hike, then Choquequirao could be the trail for you.
However, when it comes to this trail, be warned, there are some steep climbs and you will have to carry your backpack and gear with you.
19) Ausangate Trek
This 5-day trek boasts some diverse landscapes ranging from colourful to snow-capped mountains. You will experience the amazing high altitude landscape of the Andes; the unreal Rainbow Mountain is seen along this trail.
Though not as popular as some of the other hikes which have made this list, Ausangate Trek definitely offers more of a reward by way of natural beauty. The trail is remote and leads through some magnificent views. The trail is physically challenging but not overly difficult, which makes it perfect for moderately experienced hikers.
The trek is a circuit around Ausangate Mountain, the highest peak in the Cusco region.
20) The Trail from Chinchero to Urquillos
This moderate, one day trek is a hidden Inca Trail between Chinchero and Urquillo. The trek is short and steep, but the landscape is stunning. The trail is only 8 kilometres long and should take you about 4 hours to complete.
You will hike through some impressive landscapes and is mostly a downward climb. Though downward, the trek is not as easy as you may think.
Though a moderately difficult hike, the rewards of the views witnessed on the hike, makes the physical effort worth it.
Yet another hidden trail, Marcahuasi is not anywhere as popular as the Inca Trail. However, Marcahuasi provides a great combination of natural beauty and archaeological sights.
The trail takes about 6 to 8 hours to complete and is a great day trek for those who are looking to experience a mix of both nature and archaeology.
The area is remote, hence be sure to carry water with you before leaving Dan Pedro de Casta, where the trail begins.
What You Need When Hiking Peru
Now that you have an idea of which hike works for you, you should also think about what you need to hike through Peru.
When considering your safety, since the treks can be physically challenging, especially if you are looking to challenge yourself, it is good to get your hands on some Hiking Travel Insurance. You can usually buy these insurances online, and usually covers injury evacuation, gear loss, trip cancellations and delays.
When it comes to gear, you should ensure that you buy everything that you need to ensure a comfortable hiking trip in Peru. Ensuring that you have good quality equipment is integral for your safety and wellbeing on your trip.
Hike Through Peru
Ensuring that you buy good quality gear for your trip, the only thing left to do is decide on how much trekking you want to do. You may even want to do all the trails on this list, even though it is not entirely practical. That being the case, we hope you found the right hiking trail for you and that your visit to Peru has been enriched by reading this article word to word.