Peru is a paradise for hikers, with its breathtaking landscapes, stunning mountain ranges, and fascinating cultural heritage. The country offers endless trails, from the ancient Inca Trail to the lesser-known Cordillera Blanca.
Hiking in Peru is a unique experience and one that will immerse you in its natural beauty and rich historical culture.
I traveled to Peru in 2018 with my family and fell in love with the food, culture, and nature. There is so much do to in Peru! While there, we stayed at the Explora hotel for a few days, hiking up and down the Sacred Valley.
It was breathtaking, both figuratively and literally. Due to the high altitude, it was more difficult to breathe, but that didn't take away from experience. This year, I booked the Inca Trail in June and am ready to explore Peru hiking even further.
Why Hike in Peru?
Hiking in Peru is a great way to explore the country's diverse landscapes. From the towering peaks of the Andes to the lush rainforests of the Amazon, there's something for every traveler to discover in this guide.
Peru is a country that embraces four different ecosystems, each completely different from one another — that's why you can never get tired of the trails here because each takes you somewhere completely new.
Peru is home to some of the world's most iconic hiking trails, such as the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, both of which attract thousands of hikers annually. However, many other lesser-known tracks in Peru offer equally spectacular views and an authentic experience.
Here, I'll give you an insight into the best trails and when to embark on them.
When Is the Best Time to Hike in Peru?
The best time to hike in Peru is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this time, the weather is dry and sunny, with cooler mountain temperatures.
However, the dry season is also the busiest time for tourism, so expect larger crowds on famous trails like the Inca Trail, as well as higher prices on Peru hotels and hostels.
April and October shoulder seasons are also good times to hike in Peru. The weather is generally good, and there are fewer tourists. However, you should be prepared for occasional showers during these months, making hiking some trails a little more challenging.
Famous Trails in Peru
Peru offers many hiking trails, from easy day hikes to challenging multi-day treks. One thing is for sure, they are all beautiful and packed with cultural heritage and natural wonders. Here are some of the best hiking trails in Peru:
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail is Peru's most famous hiking trail, and for a good reason. This 42-km trek takes you through stunning Andean landscapes, past Inca ruins and villages, and culminates at the iconic Machu Picchu.
It is the complete package for those who want to explore the most authentic Peruvian landscape. The trail takes four days to complete and requires a permit, which must be obtained in advance.
You don't need to be super fit to complete the Inca Trail — you just need to endure three nights of camping!
The Ausangate Trek is a challenging but rewarding trek that takes you through the Cordillera Vilcanota range. The 70-km walk offers stunning views of the snow-capped Ausangate Mountain and the surrounding valleys.
The hike takes six days and is best done with a guide since you'll cover some sloppy and difficult paths along the way.
This hike is perfect if you're already used to hiking and want something a bit more challenging.
The Huayhuash Trek is a challenging 130-km trek through the remote and rugged Cordillera Huayhuash range. The trek takes 10-12 days to complete and offers spectacular views of the towering peaks, turquoise lakes, and high-altitude meadows.
Although it's long, imagine getting to the very end! The trek is best done with a guide, and you'll need some training to complete it smoothly.
Colca Canyon Trek
The Colca Canyon Trek is a popular trek that takes you through the second-deepest canyon in the world. It is slightly different from the previous ones, which take you to the Inca ruins and explore the Andean landscape.
This trek offers stunning views of the canyon walls, Andean villages, and the surrounding volcanoes. The trek takes two to three days to complete and can be done without a guide.
However, if you're not an experienced hiker, it is best to hire a guide so you can thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Safety Tips for Hiking in Peru
While hiking in Peru can be an incredible experience, taking some safety precautions is essential to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some safety tips for hiking in Peru:
Many of the hiking trails in Peru are at high altitudes, and altitude sickness can be a genuine concern. It's important to acclimate properly before starting your hike and to stay hydrated the entire time.
Fly to cities like Cusco, which are pretty high, just a few days before your hike. This gives your body a chance to get used to lower oxygen levels. If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, nausea, or shortness of breath, descend to a lower altitude
The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, and you should be prepared for rain, wind, and cold temperatures. Bring appropriate gear, including rain gear, warm layers, and a hat and gloves.
During the dry months, it can be pretty cold during the night and early mornings since temperatures rise during the day. Pack additional layers to make sure you're comfortable.
It's important to stay hydrated while hiking, but be cautious about the water sources. Tap water in Peru is unsafe to drink, so bring a water filtration system or purification tablets. Also, avoid drinking water from streams or rivers as they may be contaminated.
Peru is home to a variety of wildlife, including snakes and spiders. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid touching or disturbing any wildlife.
Useful Items to Take Hiking in Peru
Here are some valuable items to bring on your hiking trip to Peru:
7. Comfortable hiking shoes: Choose comfortable shoes that support your feet. Remember to get a pair that is one size larger than your usual shoes, as it gives room for your feet to move around when you're walking downhill.
6. Warm layers: The weather in the mountains can be cold, so bring warm layers, including a fleece jacket, a hat, and gloves. Invest in layers as temperatures vary during the day.
5. Rain gear: Bring a waterproof jacket and pants for rain.
4. Water filtration system or purification tablets: Tap water in Peru is unsafe to drink so bring a water filtration system or purification tablets.
3. Sun protection: The sun can be intense in the mountains, so bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. During the dry season, the sun burns extra hot. I'd know since I spent two days rubbing ice on my sunburnt arms after a careless exploration of the Andes!
2. Snacks: Bring snacks to keep your energy levels up during the hike. Energy bars are perfect for that.
1. First aid kit: Bring a basic first aid kit, including bandages, antiseptic, and any of your usual medication.
How to Plan Your Hiking Trip to Peru
If you're planning a hiking trip to Peru, there are a few things to consider. Here are some tips for planning your trip:
1. Decide on Your Itinerary
Peru offers a wide variety of hiking trails, and deciding which ones you want to do is important. Consider your fitness level, experience, and interests when choosing your itinerary.
If you don't have much hiking experience, try some of the shorter and easier hikes. These are just as wonderful as the most complex ones!
2. Choose a Time to Visit
The best time to hike in Peru is during the dry season, from May to September. But, if your budget doesn't allow you to visit the country during peak tourist season, April and October shoulder seasons can also be good times to hike.
3. Book Your Permits and Tours
Some hiking trails, such as the Inca Trail, require permits to be obtained in advance. If you plan to join a tour, book it in advance to ensure availability. Contact the travel company you're booking your tour through for further information.
Bring appropriate hiking gear for the trails you plan to do. This includes comfortable hiking shoes, warm layers, rain gear, and a water filtration system or purification tablets.
Plan Your Hiking in Peru Adventure With Pilot!
Hiking in Peru offers a unique opportunity to explore the country's stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. From the classic Inca Trail to lesser-known trails, there are a variety of options for hikers of all levels.
With the proper preparation, hiking in Peru can be an unforgettable adventure. When planning your trip, consider the best time to visit, which trails to hike, and which tour operators to use. Don't forget, Pilot can help make your trip planning a breeze.