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The Best and Most Beautiful Hikes in Peru

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The Best and Most Beautiful Hikes in Peru

Peru is an extremely diverse country and a hiker’s paradise. Whether you want to trek through jungles, ancient ruins, or through Alpine passes, there are options aplenty here.

Hidden away in this beautiful country are not only some of the best hikes in South America but the entire world. In this post, we’ll be looking at the best hikes in Peru.

 

Huaraz

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No hiking trip to Peru is complete without visiting Huaraz. This small town sits between the Cordillera Negra and the Cordillera Blanca (the world’s highest tropical mountain range), where you’ll find Peru’s tallest mountain, Huascarán, and it’s the base for many of Peru’s best outdoor adventures.

Spend a couple of days in town acclimatizing to the local conditions by trying some of the less challenging day hikes such as Willcacocha. Soon, you will be able to challenge the tougher paths such as the Laguna 69, Santa Cruz, or Huayhuash.

 

Laguna 69

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Known as Peru’s most popular day hike, this 7km hike takes you right through the scenic Huascarán National Park. Laguna 69 is one of 200 lakes in the national park and regarded by many as the most beautiful.

On the way up, you will be treated to the beautiful Alpine landscapes, and pass by other smaller lagoons. Although technically it’s not a difficult hike, be prepared for the high altitude if you choose to do this one. You start at an already eye-watering 3,900m, but the lake itself is at a dizzying 4,600m.

Make sure that you take plenty of sugary snacks and water on this one and take breaks whenever you need. The 14km round trip takes approximately 6 or 7 hours to cover.

 

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Santa Cruz Trek

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Considered by many as the best Alpine trek in the world, Santa Cruz consists of  4 days of hiking covering 50km. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you take the altitude into account, you’ll come back feeling like you’ve hiked 150km!

You’ll be hiking for about 6 – 8 hours each day with a guide and usually a mule or donkey to carry your stuff. The highest point on the trek is the Punta Union pass, 56m higher than Laguna 69.

This trek is a great way to disconnect from the real world and surround yourself with nature. If you’re lucky you’ll see Andean wildlife such as eagles, vicuñas, and Andean mountain rabbits in their natural habitats.

 

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Cusco and the Sacred Valley

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Peru’s most popular tourist destination, Cusco is home to a number of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. There’s also great hiking in the Sacred Valley, with several hikes ending at arguably South America’s most recognizable symbol, Machu Picchu.

 

The Inca Trail

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Regarded by many people as one of the top 5 treks in the world, you’ll pass through mystical cloud forests, lush green jungles, and deep blue lakes as you trek the last 26km to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu along the famous Inca Trail. 

This trail is also littered with other impressive Inca ruins, which are only accessible on foot. Those taking a bus or train to Machu Picchu will miss out on seeing the likes of Sayacmarca and Qonchamarka. With your pace determined by your stride, you will get to enjoy the Inca ruins at your own speed.

There are a lot of variations on the Inca trail, and it can take between 2 and 4 days if you decide to walk from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (the last town before Machu Picchu), but the ancient Camino del Inca can be traced as far north as Ecuador.

You need a permit to trek on the Inca trail, so if you want to do this you need to organize your trip in advance. Only 200 trekkers are allowed on the trail per day, so you can’t just turn up in Cusco and expect to leave the next day. This is where a tour operator such as Yampu comes in handy as our travel experts organize all entry permits for you and can even reserve you a private trekking guide to accompany you.

 

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Salkantay Trek

Fortunately, if you do turn up in Cusco and expect to hike to Machu Picchu the day after, you have a lot of options. The most popular is the Salkantay trek, named after the 6,271m which looms over the path. This hike doesn’t require a permit and has an unlimited number of trekkers on it each day.

It may not be rated as highly as the Inca trail, but it’s still one of the top 25 treks in the world, according to National Geographic Magazine.

Just like the Inca trail, there are a lot of variations on the Salkantay trek, taking between 3 – 8 days, but the classic version is a 5-day 4-night affair from the old Inca capital, which covers 72km and meanders through Alpine landscapes, lowland jungles, and glaciers.

Salkantay means wild or savage in Quechua, and although the trek is completed by many people each year, considerably fewer make it to the top of the mountain.

 

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Amazonas

Tucked away in the northeast of the country, Amazonas is an area steeped in history and natural beauty. Here, you’ll find Gocta waterfall, one of the highest in the world, and you’ll be able to learn more about the mysterious Chachapoyas people, who called this region home long before the Incas ruled Peru.

Laguna de los Condores

This is the perfect hike for those who want to get off the beaten track. Virtually unknown until 1996, and only completed by 150 people every year, Laguna de los Condores is an opportunity to explore a virtually undiscovered land.

When a group of workers were searching for precious metals, they discovered over 219 mummies at the lake, which are now on display in the Leymebamba museum, the village nearest to the lake.

To join the exclusive club, it’s a 3-day hike where you’ll cover around 45km. You can’t do this hike solo, and you need to be accompanied by a guide. You’ll hike 9-10 hours on the first day, before spending a full day exploring the tombs at the lake. Then on day 3, it’s another 9-10 hours to hike back to Leymebamba.

 

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Looking for other travel ideas? Checkout Trip101 for more fun trip inspiration to add to your custom made Yampu Itinerary. Just tell your Tour Consultant what you want to experience and we will handle the rest.

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2 thoughts on “The Best and Most Beautiful Hikes in Peru

  1. Our favorite hike was Huana Pichu.
    You could see from the top the wonders of Machu Picchu.
    There was a fascinating cave and the hike was steep and exhilarating but not overly difficult.
    We had a fabulous guide, Jimmer, for both the day at Machu Picchu as well as the next day at Huana Pichu. A guide is not required for Huana Picchu, tho. It’s also special each time we see the classic photo of Machu Picchu to see Huana Picchu there and reminisce, much as I feel when I see a photo of the Great Wall of China.

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