The mountain peaks and jungles of Peru are home to some of the best hikes in South America. I’ve been to Peru over half a dozen times and can’t get enough of hiking in this gorgeous country. While I’ve done some of the best hikes in Peru I haven’t done them all, so I got help from some amazing travel bloggers to bring you this round-up of some of the top multi-day treks in Peru.
Best Hikes in Peru
Top Treks in Peru: Salkantay Trek
For me personally, one of the best hikes in Peru is the Salkantay Trek! I’ve don’t this hike more times than I can count as a Group Adventure Leader (GAL) for WHOA Travel. National Geographic named it the best way to trek to Machu Picchu, so it’s got to be pretty amazing!
On this trek you’ll get cold mountain weather and hot jungle weather too. Depending on the time of year you go you can get a lot of rain, which is why I recommend hikers take on this trail outside of the rainy season. The best time to do the Salkantay Trek is during the Dry Season from May to October.
Most hikers complete this beautifully scenic trek in 4 or 5 days. There are several routes to take depending on mudslides and trail conditions. Along the way you’ll stop in small mountain villages and can even stay at an amazing coffee plantation. Keep in mind that this is a high altitude hike to I highly recommend doing this with a guide for safety purposes.
Interested in coming on this hike with me? Check out my travel with me page to see when I’ll be there next!
Best Hikes in Peru: Choquequirao trek
Submitted by Alya of Stingy Nomads
The Choquequirao trek is a beautiful multi-day treks in Peru through the Andes. The total distance of the hike is 36 mi. It’s a return route that takes 4-5 days to complete. Choquequirao trek is a moderate to difficult route. The most challenging part of the hike is a steep 1500-metres ascent from the Apurimac River at the bottom of the canyon to Marampata village at the top. The ascent is usually done over 2 days.
The scenery along the route is spectacular; lush green forest, deep canyons, breathtaking lookout points, small villages, untouched nature, and diverse wildlife. The hike ends at the impressive Choquequirao ruins that are often referred to as the little Machu Picchu. Walking for 2 days is the only way of getting to the Choquequirao ruins for this reason the ruins see significantly fewer tourists than Machu Picchu.
The winter or the dry season, between May and September, is the best time for hiking. It gets quite cold at night and in the morning. Temperatures increase during the day and there is no rain.
The route starts in the small village of Cachora, 102 mi from Cusco. It’s easy to get there by bus. The hike can be done independently, with a guide, or in a group. No special permits are required. The admission fee to the ruins is paid at the entrance. It’s possible to extend the hike from the Choquequirao walk to the Machu Picchu ruins. It takes 8 days to complete the route making this one of the best hikes in Peru.
Best Multi-Day Treks in Peru: Colca Canyon
Submitted by Sean Lau of Living out Lau
From the Inca Trail to the Rainbow Mountain, there are many excellent hikes in Peru, but none is often overlooked as the Colca Canyon hike in southern Peru. At twice the depth of the Grand Canyon in US, Colca Canyon is said to be the world’s second deepest canyon. Because of its secludedness, getting to the Colca Canyon itself is quite difficult. The most popular way to do it is by staying in Arequipa and taking one of the tours.
There are 3 types of Colca Canyon tours to choose from – day trip, 2 days, and 3 days. Only on the 2-day and 3-day Colca Canyon tour do visitors get to hike inside the canyon itself, so consider that when booking your tour. The best time to do the Colca Canyon hike is during the dry season from May to November. Only then are you guaranteed to have clear skies to see the condors and admire the expansiveness of the Colca Canyon.
The Colca Canyon is undoubtedly a challenging hike in Peru, given that it spans about 23 kilometers in 2 (or 3 days). But it certainly isn’t one of the most challenging ones in Peru as its maximum altitude is only ±3300 meters. The difficulty of the hike is about a 7/10.
Besides the opportunity to see condors, an animal sacred to the indigenous people, visitors can experience first-hand one of the world’s deepest canyons. Its vastness offers an unworldly feeling when you are hiking through it!
Best Hikes in Peru: Chachani volcano
Submitted by Daniel James of Layer Culture
When looking for the best hikes in Peru it is impossible to ignore the Chachani volcano. From the nearest town of Arequipa, Chachani stands at 6050m and is the tallest volcano that you can hike in the region. Most travelers looking for things to do in Arequipa will have this hike as an option but not everyone will take it on.
The human body reacts differently at 6000+ meters and the 2-day trek is designed for amateur hikers to make it more manageable. For example, from the base which stands at around 5,150m, it takes around 7 hours to reach the summit. However, the painstaking part of the climb is actually getting to the trailheads from Arequipa on day 1, which can take more than 3 hours to be able to start the climb. You then climb for a few hours to be able to reach the base camp before making your way up to the summit the next day.
Between the start and basecamp you begin to feel the changes in your body, hence why the guides serve you hot coca tea before the second leg of the hike. You can pay a fee for someone to help carry your equipment, but really you need to be prepared to carry your own backpack which will need to be filled with the recommended provisions. It’s the mental and physical effort that makes this hike more challenging.
Chachani is not a technical hike so you don’t need any equipment or expertise, even when you reach the snow at the top. For more chances of climbing on the snow the best time to hike Chachani is from May to July which is during the early winter months.
Top Treks in Peru: Inca Trail
Submitted by Raksha Nagaraj of Solopassport
One of the most famous multi-day hikes in Peru is the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. The trail varies between 4 and 7 days and the hikers can choose the number of days they wish to hike to get to Machu Picchu. As the trails were used by the Incas in the 15th century, the trail has religious significance, and each day of the trail involves visiting one or two ruins that have historical importance.
The trail starts at Piscacucho, which is around 2 hours drive from Cusco. All hikers must take permission and register at the checkpoint in Piscacucho before embarking on the journey. The total distance of the 4 days Inca trail hike is 44 kilometers, and it is a high-altitude hike that goes up to a height of 4215 meters.
The best time to hike the Inca trail is during the dry season which starts in May and lasts till September. It is advisable not to hike during the rainy season as it makes the trail even more difficult. The trail has a lot of insects and spiders, especially the black widows, and hence carrying an insect repellent is sensible.
Since it is a multiday hike, the hikers are required to camp during the hike. The trail has minimal facilities. As the trail goes through some of the remote places, it is better to go with trekking agencies. The trekking agencies take all the necessary permissions required for hiking and the hikers need not worry about the camping gear and food.
Best Hikes in Peru: Lares Trek
Subbmitted by Ada from Beyond the Yellow Brick Road
Peru tour companies often use the Lares Treks when all the daily passes for the Inca Trail have sold out. However, this lovely, remote trek deserves to be thought of as more than an Inca Trail consolation prize. No, you won’t reach anything as dramatic as Machu Picchu at the end of this 21-mile hike, but the Lares Trek has plenty of virtues on its own and should be considered one of the top multi-day treks in Peru.
Located in the heart of Peru’s Sacred Valley, the Lares Trek starts high in the Andes Mountains outside of Calca. Most Lares Trek hikers will start day one in either Cusco or Ollantaytambo. The hike is usually divided over three days and two nights. However, because the road to the start is so long and windy, you won’t start hiking until mid-day on Day One. The last day is a half day as well.
Although it’s considered a moderate hike, the Lares is physically demanding, especially on day two. Along the way, you pass Incan ruins, lakes, raging rivers and waterfalls, and get a chance to meet Andes residents. It feels like you’ve stumbled upon your own private corner of the Andes. The Lares Trek might not have the dreaded stone steps like the Inca Trail, but it does take you up and over a dramatic 4800 meter mountain pass giving it a spot as one of the best hikes in Peru!
The Lares Trek can be hiked at any time of year, but if you can, avoid hiking it in the rainy season from December – mid-March. If you happen to have a misty day going over the mountain pass, you’ll miss out on some spectacular views.
Best Mutli-Day Treks in Peru: Inka Jungle Trek
Submitted by Manouk pf Groetjes uit Verweggistan (With Love from Far Away)
The Inka Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu is one of multiple options to visit the Inca city. This is the most adventurous trek of all of them. You can start the trek in Cusco, from where you will be picked up with a minivan to the start of the trek.
The first day of the trek consists of downhill biking and rafting. The second day is a long hike of 15 kilometers (9,5 miles) with the most wonderful views, which can be ended in hot springs. The third day you will be able to go ziplining and hike 10 kilometers (a little over 6 miles) to the town of Aguas Calientes. On the last day you will go all the way up to Machu Picchu and hike back to where your minivan will take you to Cusco.
The Inka Jungle Trek is something almost everyone would be able to do. You need to have a certain level of fitness to be able to complete the second day of hiking, but everyone can finish, even with little hiking experience. The biking is downhill, which makes it easy. The other activities are just fun and not necessarily hard or tiring.
This adventurous trek is for everyone who wants more than just hiking alone and experience the wonderful nature in Peru in a different way.
Submitted By Bailey from Destinationless Travel
The Huayhuash Circuit is one of the hardest, but most spectacular, hikes in all of Peru. Located in the Andes, this 71.5 mile-long trail is a loop that takes most hikers between 8 to 12 days. Although the trail isn’t a super long distance, when you take into consideration the altitude, it makes the Huayhuash Track very challenging. The trail reaches up to 5,200 meters above sea level, and will only go as low as 4,000 meters (the elevation at which you most commonly will camp.) You’ll also complete a series of 9 mountain passes.
The city of Huaraz, Peru is where most people start their journey to the Huayhush. You must drive about 6 six hours from Huaraz to the starting point of the trail. This trail is not in a national park, and therefore not well marked. For this reason, most people hike on a guided tour. Without a guide, there is a good chance of getting lost. Not to mention, safety is sometimes a concern as you must cross private property at various points, and the guides know the property owners and pay them a fee.
If you hike the Huayhuash on a tour, you will also be able to take advantage of donkeys and porters to carry your gear. This is necessary for such a long, difficult hike. Tours also include food, snacks, tents, sleeping mats, and sleeping bags (you might need two depending on the time of year you go.)
The best time to hike the Huayhuash Circuit is from May to September.
Best Hikes in Peru: Ausangate Trek
submitted by Alya from Stingy Nomads
Ausangate trek is a beautiful multi-day hike in the Peruvian Andes near Cusco. It’s often called one of the most challenging hikes in the area. The total distance of the route is 70 km/43 mi. It takes 4-5 days to complete the hike. The Ausangate trek is a high-elevation route that requires good acclimatization. The average elevation of the trail is over 4000 m. The highest point of the hike is the Palomani Pass, 5165 m. A side trek to the famous Rainbow Mountain can be added to the route.
The scenery on the hike is spectacular; turquoise lakes, colorful mountains, snowy peaks, hanging glaciers, and beautiful waterfalls. The area boasts diverse wildlife; condors, alpacas, vicuñas, viscachas can be seen on the hike.
The trek can be done with a guide, in a group, or independently. No special permits are required. The route goes through the wilderness; hikers have to carry camping gear and food with them.
Ausangate is a circular route that starts and finishes in the small town of Tinqui, 100 km from Cusco. It’s easy to get there by bus from Cusco. The journey takes 2h30min. and costs 5USD.
The dry season, between May and September, is the best time for doing this hike. There is very little to no rain, the days are sunny though the nights are quite cold, especially at high altitudes. It’s recommended to have reliable camping gear.
Top Multi-Day Treks in Peru
If this post doesn’t satisfy your need for the best hikes in Peru I don’t know what will! Now you just need to figure out which of these treks in Peru you’re going to do first!