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Best Hiking Trails in Peru

Overview

While the Inca trail to Machu Picchu gets all the attention, there are thousands of kilometres of other trails that beckon hikers.  The stunning beauty of the Andean mountains are unbeatable, with the added bonus that in many places, you’re walking along the same routes of the Incan people more than 700 years earlier.  You will see astounding ruins along the way.  Peru has more infrastructure versus Ecuador and Bolivia. Some of the main hiking areas and treks include the various treks to Machu Picchu such as the most well known Inca Trail and Salkantay; the Ausangate Trek in Cordillera Vilcanota; Cordillera Huayhuash Trek; Rainbow Mountain; Colca Canyon; Cotahuasi Canyon hikes, and so much more. The best months to hike in Peru are May to October. Read on for more information on where and when to hike in Peru. 

 

Capital: Lima

When To Hike in Peru?

May – September: Driest period
October
November – April: Rainy period

Climate: Varies greatly.  In the mountains, depends on altitude but in general, the dry season is from May to September.  Eastern mountain ranges receive more rainfall than western ones. 

 

Peru Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy – Medium: One of the better countries in South America for hiking infrastructure (compared with Ecuador, Bolivia) but in many places it’s not recommended to travel without a guide.  

Transportation required: Vehicle/driver to beginning and end of treks

Where to stay in Peru for hiking:

  • Cusco
  • Huaraz
  • Arequipa
  • Caraz

Top Places to Hike in Peru

The Andes run through the entire western side of this country. There are several mountain ranges, some are more visited by tourists than others. Highest Mountain: Huascaran (6768 m). The map shows some of the main areas, as indicated in the literature.

Filter out hiking places of Peru by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Colca Canyon

Cotahuasi Canyon

  • One of the deepest canyons on Earth

Around Arequipa

  • Volcan Chachani
  • Misti

Cordillera Vilcanota

  • Remote, unexplored, Cusco is a good base
  • Ausangate Trek – holy mountain, considered a pilgrimage for locals
  • Rainbow Mountains
  • How to See Rainbow Mountains

Cordillera Vilcabamba

  • Likely the most known mountain areas in Peru due to Machu Picchu but outside of this ‘lost city’, little explored; Cusco is a good base (was once capital of vast Inca empire, now the archeological capital of South America)
  • Inca trail leading to Machu Picchu 
  • Many other trails leading to Machu Picchu (ie. Salkantay Trek)
  • Ollantaytambo
  • Area de Conservacion Regional Choquequirao
    • Trek from here to Machu Picchu

Cordillera Huayhuash

Cordillera Negra

  • Mountain range just west of Cordillera Blanca (its lack of snow-capped peaks in comparison to its neighbour is behind the name); much less visited in comparison to Blanca; lower elevation but still many peaks that could be hiked/climbed – good place to acclimatize before tackling Blanca or Huayhuash; more arid 
  • Huilcacoccha trek seems to be popular in this region

Cordillera Blanca

  • One of the most well-known of the mountain regions of Peru – Huaraz is a good base
  • Parque Nacional Huascarán – large national park that basically covers almost the entire Cordillera Blanca
  • Santa Cruz Trek – one of the most popular in this region

Chachapoyas Region

  • Gran Vilaya Trek
  • Laguna de los Condores

Cajamarca Region

Peru's Long Distance Trails

There are numerous multi-day treks, the most famous being the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  Some of the others (and this is just a small sampling) are:

  • Other trails to Machu Picchu such as the Salkantay Trek
  • Ausangate Trek
  • Santa Cruz Trek 
  • Huayhuash Trek 
  • Gran Vilaya Trek

Peru's Walking & Hiking Resources

Peru Hiking/Trekking Books: 

  • Trekking in Peru: 50 Best Walks & Hikes, by Hilary Bradt and Kathy Jarvis, 2014, Bradt Travel Guides
  • Hiking and Biking Peru’s Inca Trails: 40 Trekking and Mountain Biking in the Sacred Valley, by William Janecek, 2013, Cicerone Press
  • Peru’s Cordilleras Blanca & Huayhuash: The Hiking & Biking Guide, by Neil Pike & Harriet Pike, 2015, Trailblazer Publications
  • Backpacking and Trekking in Peru and Bolivia, by Hilary Bradt and Blair Howard, 2011, Bradt Travel Guides
  • Trekking Peru: A Traveler’s Guide by Robert Kunstaetter and Daisy Kunstaetter, 2017, Mountaineers Books
  • Trekking in the Central Andes by Rob Rachowiecki, Grant Dixon, Greg Claire, 2003, Lonely Planet Publications 
  • Trekking and Climbing in the Andes, Globetrotter Adventure Guide, by Val Pitkethly, Kate Harper, Victor Saunders, 2002, New Holland Publications
  • Lonely Planet Peru, 10th Edition, by Brendan Sainsbury and Alex Egerton, 2019, Lonely Planet Publications

 

Best Hiking Trails in Peru:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from hiking guidebooks, trail maps/apps, websites, and tourist offices:

  • Ausangate Trek
  • Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
  • Cordillera Huayhuash Trek
  • Rainbow Mountain
  • Alpamayo Base Camp
  • Santa Cruz Trek
  • Colca Canyon Trek
  • Laguna 69
  • Machu Picchu Mountain
  • Choquequirao Trek

Easy Hiking Trails in Peru:

  • Huayna Picchu
  • Cotahuasi Canyon hikes

 

Peru Hiking/Trekking Websites: There are many travel blogs related to hiking in Peru (not listed here)

 

Peru Weather Website: 

 

Peru Official Tourism Organizations:

 

Peru Hiking Apps: 

 

Peru Hiking Maps:

What Else To Do

  • So much Incan ruins to see
  • Sacred Valley
  • Explore Cusco
  • Huacachina – natural oasis
  • Sand dune activities
  • Geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert

Other Important Points

  • High altitude; acclimatization is absolutely key before embarking on any serious hikes/treks.  
  • Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is closed in February
  • In Lima, the capital that lies on the coast, it doesn’t rain much but the skies are always overcast and moist, resulting in very few sunny or warm days
  • Read ‘Touching the Void’ (also a film) about a mountaineer’s harrowing experience in the Peruvian Andes