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7 Testing but Fulfilling Treks to Attempt in Peru

How adventurous are you? Are you an outdoorsy traveller who is at home in the woods, with the starry sky as your roof and the fresh scent of flowers as a wake-up call in the morning? Do you enjoying making fire with nothing but two stones and a heap of dry grass? If so, you will love these hiking trails in Peru.

Trekking in Peru

Okay, the two stones and dry grass part was a bit of a stretch, but you get what I mean. Peru is quickly becoming a popular destination among nature enthusiasts, and one of the best places to trek in the world. There is something for every type of trekker; from the inexperienced starter, to the accomplished trekker with hundreds of miles on their belt notches. There are also uniquely beautiful paths, as well as mysterious archaeological sites that reflect the local culture.

So, if you have trekked challenging walks around the world, and are yet to conquer the hiking plains of Peru’s historical lands, head over to this ancient land and mark your trail.

  1. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (2 – 4 days)

This is the longest, toughest, and most popular trek in Peru. Each year, droves of tourists who have heard of its spectacular landscape flock to the ancient path to see for themselves. This pre-historic trail was built by the Inca, and hikers traverse the scenic Andrea mountain passes before finally arriving at the Amazon jungle.

Get ready to explore hamlets, enter tunnels and climb over Inca ruins before completing the trail at the Sun Gate high above the Machu Picchu. If it sounds like a trek you would love, it is advisable to book well in advance. The Peruvian government have been concerned about overuse of the trail leading to erosion, and have thus reduced the number of trekkers to 500 per day.

  1. The Salkantay Trek (5 days)

Of all the treks that lead up to the globally renowned Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Trek is the toughest- yet the most breath-taking. Set in the same region of the more famous Inca Trail, this trip takes you along a historical path through both the high-altitude mountains and the subtropical jungle.

Along the way, you will come across lots of beautifully diverse wildlife and some not-very-well known Inca ruins, before arriving at the remarkable Machu Picchu several days later. There are many quality tour providers, who can guide you if you are not yet that experienced.

  1. The Huayhuash Circuit ( 9 – 10 days)

This place was once believed to be a dangerous route because of the hazardous trails and activity of the Shining Path guerrilla in the area. But the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit is now popular among trekkers with the installation of better facilities and security measures by the government of Peru in recent times.

The trek offers a beautiful experience for travellers; it is well-known enough to be safe, but not quite known as to be thronged by several tourists. During your whole trip, you will most likely come across one or two groups of trekkers on the same path. It is a difficult walk, but the reward of the sight of pristine glacial lakes and snow-capped mountains makes it worth trip.

  1. Choquequirao trek (4 days)

While most trekkers who go to Peru flock to the universally known Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, very few stop by to check on her “little sister”, the Choquequirao. This trail is similar to its popular older sister in many ways, with charming stone structures deeply tucked inside the Andes with the forest at its feet.

However, the major difference is that the Choquequirao trek takes three to four days to complete, so it is more likely that you will run into other tourists. This allows you to immerse yourself into the whole experience of exploring the overlooked Inca sanctuary.

  1. The Santa Cruz trek (4 days)

Get ready to stand in awe at the exquisite White Mountains of Peru when you embark on this trail. Of the most respected treks in Peru, the Santa Cruz is often regarded by some, to be the alpine hiking site in the world. This trail is appropriate for almost all types of hikers; it boasts of good weather conditions from May to September.

The Santa Cruz has fewer restrictions than other trekking sites and is also safe from trekking bandits. However, you may likely encounter some animals that will take your food or gate-crash your tent. But since the trek is only three nights, guarding your equipment shouldn’t be a major problem.

  1. Cotahuasi Canyon, Arequipa (4 days)

The Cotahuasi Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the US, just to give you an idea of its depth. It cuts across two massifs 6000m+ high, and is a 3-hour drive from Arequipa. The site alone presents several trekking options for tourists. Various hikes range from one-day treks to four-day hike-oriented explorations and six-day trips.

Besides having the bragging rights of trekking within the planet’s largest canyon, the longest trek reveals the 150m-high Cascada de Sipia waterfall, opportunities to see the grand Andean condor, and the hanging bridges of the Cotahuasi river. Ensure you go with a guard who will explain some of the region’s well preserved traditional customs.

  1. Quilcayhuaca & Cojup Valleys, Huaraz (3 – 4 days)

The Quilcayhuaca & Cojup valleys are sublimely attractive, and present an equally beautiful alternative to the Santa Cruz trek. However, it tasks you a lot more than any other hike in the Cordillera Blanca. One of the difficult aspects of the trip is that pack animals cannot go further on a route ascending 5000m, so you will have to carry your own bag and other gear- even up steep elevations.

The 3-day slog meanders through groves of russet-trunked quenas, believed to be the trees growing at the highest elevation in the world. It also traverses lakes as stunning as those on the Santa Cruz trail.

For many of these treks it’s absolutely critical that you go with an experienced guide.

Are you brimming with excitement yet? Do these trails challenge your inner outdoorsy person? If so, start early to book a spot. Remember, you aren’t the only one spoiling for a bit of Inca adventure!