hikes in Peru
Hikes in Peru
Calling all hiking enthusiasts! Peru's vast, diverse landscape encompasses a myriad of trails tailor-made for avid trekkers across the globe. From jungles shimmering in wildlife to an attractive coastline to world-renowned treks (Inca Trail, anyone?), this South American nation boasts of some of the best hiking trails in the world. But that's not all! The Peruvian Andes stand tall as the backbone for hikes for this country, where the Cordillera Blanca, Negra, and the highest peak in Peru—Huascarán at 22205ft—eye civilization from the sky. Peru's natural playground attracts, but the ancient relics and cultural tales peppering the mountainous slopes and lush landscape will intoxicate anyone with a spellbound-like love.
While the prospect of trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu entices travellers across the globe to hop on a plane and fly to Peru, the country, embroidered with trails traversing various terrain while intertwined with remnants of ancient civilization, encompasses a vast selection of treks.
However, before anyone embarks on a wild hiking adventure, do consider the high altitude! There's nothing like a bout of altitude sickness that can ruin a day or multi-day escapade in the thick of the Peruvian Andes or wherever you decide to trek.
For example, one of the most popular day treks—Lake 69—will take you as high as 15092ft above sea level. Meanwhile, the Inca Trail goes to around 14108ft! Altitude sickness can force you to stay in bed for several days. This notice isn't meant to scare you but to inform you to take the appropriate precautions to prevent experiencing symptoms.
The jungles, canyons, and mountainous terrain deserve to be explored, to be admired!
Types Of Hiking In Peru
It's no secret that Peru has some of the best trails in the world, thanks to its vast landscape paired with ancient tales and unspoiled scenery. Avid trekkers can find multi-day or day hikes all over this fascinating South American nation.
Some of the best multi-day treks include the oh-so-famous Inca Trail, the Huaytapallana Trek amid the Central Andes, and the alternative to the Inca Trail: the Salkantay Trek.
Peru's plethora of hikes often support moderate to advanced trekkers, but nestled amid the popular trails twisting to breathtaking views, sits some family-friendly, easy paths, which still lead to magnificent vistas, but don't require as much work.
Don't know where to start your trekking journey? We've collected some of our favourite day hikes in Peru, which range from easy to challenging!
Wilcacocha Viewpoint: Without rapidly elevating your heart rate, the Wilcacocha Viewpoint hike packs a punch when it comes to archetypal Peruvian vistas. The path will carry you across the foothills of Cordillera Negra before you reach the quaint Wilcacocha lake. From this point, you'll continue trekking for a short time until you reach Huanca, where the scenery unfolds to reveal the snow-capped Cordillera mountain range. This is also an excellent acclimatization hike!
Easy Hikes In Peru
Wilcacocha Viewpoint: This route shows that it's possible to reach storybook Peruvian vistas without much exertion. The Wilcacocha Viewpoint hike poses as one of the best acclimatization treks in the area of Huaraz! Expect to meander across the base of the Cordillera Negra before the Wilcacocha lake takes over your view. From here, walk just a little further to Huanca, where the scenery dissolves to unveil the towering Cordillera Blanca.
Family Hikes In Peru
Rock Forest of Hatun Machay: This family-friendly trek, located near Huaraz, intertwines ancient history with astonishing, exciting views. The Rock Forest of Hatun Machay only increases to an elevation level of 853ft, making it the perfect hike to introduce family members to Peru. Encounter a myriad of stone figures peppering the route and catch a glimpse of cave paintings harking back to pre-Inca days. Amid the fascinating stone figures, the path also leads to a view of Cordillera Huayhuash.
Day Hikes In Peru
Lake Uruscocha: Let nature totally envelop you on this unspoiled, more off-the-beaten-path hike. After winding deep into the forest, this path will take you to the first lake, but it doesn't stop there! After meandering for another 10 minutes, you'll come across Lake Uruscocha, tucked amid lush flora. The 7.7mi route also unveils stunning vistas of Hualcan Copa, Huascaran, and Urus.
The Portachuelo de Llanganuco: Want to explore new scenery without having to work too hard? Well, you're in luck! The Portachuelo de Llanganuco hike has you winding down a path rather than trekking up. At the top of the trail, the lofty snow-capped peaks stretching across the Cordillera Blanca will emerge into view. However, the path downhill leads to two lakes created from the ice melting off of Huascarán, Pisco. Huandoy and Yanapaccha.
Lake Shallap: The trek to Lake Shallap knits glimpses of local, everyday life with archetypal Peruvian vistas. On this 11.2mi hike, expect to encounter images of snow-swept mountain ranges and a mystical lake, which embodies a tint like no other lake spanning the Cordillera Blanca. Rather than shimmering in a stark blue, a magical green hue coats Lake Shallap.
Challenging Hikes In Peru
Lake Churup: Looking for adventure? This trail, which snakes through Andean grass to a section that requires free climbing—with the help of cables—before unveiling a vibrant blue lake nestled in a batholith, seamlessly blends rugged with adrenaline. While some say that this hike is an excellent option for those looking to get acclimatized, it still goes from 12631ft to 14600ft above sea level!
Lake Auquiscocha: This 4.7mi hike may not be the longest journey in Peru, but it will still induce panting while also revealing remarkable vistas at the pinnacle, which sits at 14140ft above sea level. Admire Lake Auquiscocha backed by the snow-laden Cancaracá and Hualcán after twisting through pine, eucalyptus, and native trees.
Best Hikes In Peru
Lake 69: This is one of the most rewarding day hikes in Peru. Curve by snow-capped mountains soaring over the land, including the Huascarán—Peru's highest mountain peak. But keep in mind that this view isn't even the best one on this trail. Eventually, the ever-so paranormal Lake 69, tucked below the lofty Chacraraju, will envelop you with its magical, sparkling glimmer.
Pastoruri Glacier: This hike may not be super long, but the summit rises to a whopping 16404ft above sea level. Therefore, it's essential to get acclimatized before embarking on this journey. The trek to Pastoruri Glacier climbs along a well-marked trail until the glacier, cradled by rising peaks, comes into view.
Lake Awak: This hike marries culture and tradition with Peru's otherworldly backdrop. The trail bends along a rather vertical route, dotted with cultural tales, such as how the locals take this path for carrying the crosses that work as protectors at carnivals. After meandering through fields of flowers, encountering a view of Huaraz, and snow-capped mountains, you'll reach Lake Awak.
When Is The Best Time To Hike In Peru?
Surprisingly, Peru's winter season, which runs from May to September, attracts the most hikers, but this is because these months coincide with the dry season. Whereas the summer months—December to March—may grant warmer weather, but trekkers will likely encounter buckets of rain. However, there are benefits to hiking during the dry or wet seasons!
The dry season offers better hiking conditions, more trail options, but with the possibility of stumbling across more trekkers dotting the path. If you don't mind hiking amid rain and don the appropriate gear, the wet season may suit your fancy. The downpour blankets the land with vibrant verdancy and repels other hikers, granting wet season trekkers more space.
If you want to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, do note that it's closed during February!
Keep in mind that the coast—Lima included—boasts of super-hot temperatures during the summer and has cooler weather with periods of light rain during the winter.
Best Regions For Hiking in Peru
From high altitude summits to immeasurable canyons to lush jungle, Peru contains a concoction of regions tailor-made for hiking and exploration. One can divide the South American nation's vast terrain into four main regions: the Cordillera Blanca, near Huaraz; the Sacred Valley, which sits close to Cusco; the verdant Amazon spanning the north by Chachapoyas; Arequipa, where the Colca Canyon and volcanoes stretch across the area.
Trekkers wanting to hike to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail will start near Cusco. Overall, this area seamlessly stitches rugged scenery with ancient, cultural remnants and stories, amounting to fascinating, informative treks.
If you want to explore canyons and volcanoes, head to Arequipa, which sits amid Peru's "Ring of Fire." Here, you can explore the world's second deepest canyon: Colca Canyon.
Whereas, those seeking mountainous treks, where lakes sit nestled amid snow-capped peaks and soaring views of the surrounding cordilleras, will want Huaraz as their base! You can't visit this region without meandering to Lake 69.
Hikers craving a more unspoiled, remote trip, will fall in love with Peru's northern region. This area packs a punch with its ruins harking back even earlier than Machu Picchu's ancient remnants. It also has lush hikes with views glistening in an unparalleled magical bliss, such as the Gocta Falls, which ranks as the third-highest waterfall across the globe.
Other Outdoor Activities in Peru
While most visitors travel to Peru for the nation's abundant array of hiking trails, outdoor enthusiasts can expect to find adventures outside of trekking. The variety of paths curving through the Andes can provide top-notch mountain biking.
Meanwhile, those interested in white water rafting or kayaking can find incredible paddling expeditions in the Sacred Valley and the Amazon.
Surf lovers can enjoy Peru's 1553.4mi of coastline year-round. From April to October, the south offers the most swell. And the north encompasses the best waves from October to March.
Peru's vast backyard knows how to entertain when it comes to endless options for outdoor adventures!Read More