Peru Trekking Guide
We get it, Machu Picchu is on your Bucket List, as well it should be. But if you are into hiking or trekking, and are looking to plan a trip to Perú, we have a little secret for you. The trekking in Peru is some of the very best in the world! Here, we give you a little dive into some of the most popular and stunning trekking in this magnificent country!
The Inca Trail
We are going to start with the popular Inca Trail. Not because we feel it’s the best trekking Perú offers, but because it is probably the most popular from a touristic standpoint. Also, the Inca Trail is the only trek that leads you directly to the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu. There are really only two ways to get to Lost City of The Incas: train from Ollyantatambo, or the Inca Trail.
There are a couple of things that are important to mention when discussing the possibility of trekking on the Inca Trail. First, a permit is required for this 4-day trek. They only issue 500 permits a day, and while that may seem like a lot, only about 200 of those go to travelers, the rest are needed for guides and trekking staff. Still, that is a lot of people. If you are ok with crowds, the Inca Trail might be right for you.
The classic Inca Trail starts at 8,500 feet and reaches its peak at Dead Women’s Pass at about 13,770. (Ladies, don’t worry. You will be safe, promise!) The biggest challenge of trekking in Peru is the altitude, so after starting at 8,500 ft, it’s important to note that you get to your highest point on the 2nd day. After that, it’s all down hill from there! During the 4 day trek, you will stop at many different ruin sites where your passionate guide will explain their importance to the Incan people. This 24.6 mile trek is truly a mesmerizing journey!
The Salkantay Trek
Ok, not going to lie. This is our favorite of the many amazing trekking options in Perú’s Sacred Valley! Unlike The Inca Trail, The Salkantay doesn’t require a permit. It can also be done without a guide, but frankly, we don’t recommend it if only because you miss out on a ton of critical explanation of the many ruins that you will encounter over this 4 night, 5 day journey. The total distance trekked on The Salkantay is just under 46 miles through 5 different climate zones!
In just a matter of days, you will have enjoyed views of the miraculous peaks of The Andes, including Mt. Salkantay. (“Salkantay”, by the way is a Quechua word, meaning “Savage Mountain”, and after getting close to enjoy the majesty of it’s rigid peaks, you will understand why it acquired such a name.) This trek is the most diverse in Perú as it not only takes you high in the Andes (15,030 feet in altitude) but you will also find yourself wandering vast plains and immersing yourself in sub-tropic jungles as well as visiting the glacial lakes of Humantay.
You will see many important ruins along the way, but maybe none as mind-blowing as the Inca ruins of Llactapata. Sometimes called “Little Machu Picchu”, it was actually discovered by Hiram Bingham as well in 1912. Problem was, the map was of such poor quality that it wasn’t discovered again until 90 years later! You get a great understanding of what it must have been like in the early years of uncovering Machu Picchu as half of these ruins are still covered in dense vegetation.
The Cordillera Blanca Range
The Cordillera Blanca (or Yurak Janka in the native Quechua language) is an incredible destination for trekking in Northern Perú. Much like in the Sacred Valley, there are a tremendous concentration of peaks that near 20,000 feet in elevation! It is also home to the highest tropical mountain range in the world, Huascaran National Park.
We mention the “Range” here as opposed to individual treks for a reason. The Cordillera Blanca Range offers many different trekking options. There are seven different treks that go from as little as 3 days/2 nights (Cojup and Lama circuits) to as many as 10 days/9 nights (Alpamayo circuit) and everything in between.
The Cordillera Huayhuash
Located just South of The Cordillera Blanca is the Cordillera Huayhuash. This area is widely considered one of the top three trekking areas in the entire world! (It’s said a picture tells a thousand words…but this one above leaves me speechless!)
Here, looming overhead, stands the legendary Yerupaja (21,765 ft), the second highest peak in Perú, and more legendary still, Siula Grande (20,787 ft), a mountain famous as the setting of Joe Simpson’s epic tale of survival, “Touching the Void”. From the melting of the alpine ice and snow, beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams are born, which flow to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Like the Cordillera Blanca, Huayhuash offers many different treks covering durations from 3 to 10 days. They also offer advanced climbing routes to go along with traditional treks.
Other Trekking in The Sacred Valley and Beyond
We mentioned The Inca Trail and Salcantay above, but there are plenty of other treks if you are going to be in Cusco and the Sacred Valley on your voyage to Perú. We also offer trekking packages to other destinations within Perú, such as down in Colca Canyon outside of Arequipa. There are also many options to do one day treks if you aren’t the type that likes to sleep in a tent for a few nights. We customize treks based on your travel goals and make sure that you, our guest, understand the difficulty levels of each of.
Getting out of the hustle and bustle of our traditional American lifestyle and feeling the solitude that trekking provides is one of the best ways to free your mind and get close to the beauty that our world has to share. Get out there, you’ve earned it!
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