Thousands of people visit Peru every year for a chance to hike one of the world’s most famous treks — the ancient Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. In order to plan a great trek and memorable experience, here’s an insider’s guide on what to expect, what to avoid, and how to get started in organizing your trip.
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Most travelers come to Peru to see Machu Picchu, the iconic ruins perched high above the Urubamba River. Most arrive by the ancient stone-paved route of the Inca Trail which passes through the Sun Gate after four days of arduous trekking. One could spend a week alone exploring the other ruins of the Sacred Valley, a corridor of villages, mountain peaks, and hiking routes above the Urubamba River.
Yet, this is just a small glimpse into what Peru has to offer. The Peruvian Amazon along the border of Brazil gives birth to many of the mighty tributaries of the Amazon River, full of wildlife, indeigenous cultures, and pristine wilderness. The north of Peru, still undiscovered by mainstream tourism, rewards any traveler who ventures off the beaten path with untouched ruins and vistas. Then down along Peru's West Coast, past beautiful beaches with year-round surfing, you'll arrive at the mysterious Nasca lines, immense geoglyphs carved into the desert sand.
Peru — a nation with abundant natural diversity, from coast, to mountains, to jungle — has long attracted lovers of the Great Outdoors. The Peruvian Andes, running like a backbone down the centre of the country, contain mesmerizing variations in landscape that make for some of the best trekking in the world. Cloud forests, 5000m+ cordilleras (mountain ranges), the world’s deepest canyon and the striking remains of ancient civilizations all await.
A visit to Machu Picchu is the highlight of most people’s trip to Peru. In fact, this ancient Inca Citadel attracts over a million visitors each year. Many visitors get there by way of the classic Inca Trail. Yet, there are numerous treks that take you there, each unique in their own right.
Southern Peru has a long list of both natural and man-made wonders. Come for Machu Picchu, but depart with the memories of the beautiful places scattered across the high, southern altiplano: countless ruins, vibrant local communities, and natural wonders that will open your eyes to the beauty of Peru.
If you’re looking for the best way to hike the Inca Trail, this classic route offers a unique approach which avoids the main crowds, and follows the ideal schedule for timing your visit to Machu Picchu.
The Salkantay trek is one of Peru’s best alternatives to the Inca Trail. Trek over a beautiful mountain pass at the foot of Mt. Salkantay before stopping at a local organic coffee plantation, followed by a visit to the Llactapata ruins. Finally, get up early the last day to catch sunrise at the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
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Best day hikes in the sacred valley near cusco, Peru - Oct 12 - Oct 15, 2017
Nicole was incredible, and took the time to figure out what kind of trip I wanted, then helped me adjust last-minute when I needed to make some emergency changes.
I plan to recommend Nicole to anyone I hear is going to Peru—whether they ask for recommendations or not :)
She was available, helpful, knowledge, and lovely.
Beauty of southern peru - 10-day, Peru - Aug 11 - Aug 25, 2017
Great trip that more than exceeded my expectations. The guides, activities, and accommodations were fantastic. The only thing that I could have improved would have been to do more research myself and request more days hiking.
Having the opportunity to chat with James on the phone could have sparked a discussion of the pace of the trip and whether a more aggressive itinerary made sense for us.
Hike inca trail, Peru - Aug 14 - Aug 18, 2017
It was the most amazing hike we ever did and Stephanie was of great help from the day we arrived in Cusco until the time we left. The hotels were really nice and all the people were very nice and friendly. One suggestion would be if you will be able to pair the hikers in the group based on abilities; our group was small and that was perfect. Thanks again for the wonderful trip!
Again, Stephanie went above and beyond to customized our trip based on our needs and she helped us from the time we arrived in Cusco until the day we left. Thanks Stephanie! It was a great pleasure to meet you!
We are a family with three active teenage boys. We are looking for a 5 week holiday. We love seeing the world while being active (hiking, biking, white water rafting, snorkeling, zip lining etc.). Machu Pichu is a must and we would love any other...
Family of 2 adults and 3 children looking to visit Peru in August 2018
I am interested in a ten day trip to Peru. I would like to trek for five or six days in the Andes. My son and I are experienced trekkers. I would like a guide. The Ausangate trek looks like it could be a great fit for us.
Group of 2 friends visited Peru in July 2017
I am seeking a private guided tour on May 31 for two people starting 7-8am from Tambo del Inka hotel in Urubamba, to Pisaq Archaelogical Park, then back to Ollantaytambo ruins, then to train station in Ollantaytambo by 3pm. We have a train to Machu Picchu...
A couple visited Peru in May 2017
Would like to see some of the sacred valley while waiting in Cuzco. Would prefer to do a partial day trip. We are not sure if we will have any altitude issues so would like to get a simple guided tour of the valley towards the end of our stay in Cuzco. We...
Group of 4 visited Peru in May 2017
My wife and I would like the experience to hike and backpack the Inca Trail all the way to Machu Pichu and maybe able to see the Amazon from Peru. We were thinking in arriving in Lima, then going to Cuzco, stay in the Sacred Valley and start the hiking with...
A couple looking to visit Peru in May 2018