In recent years, a number of alternative treks to the Inca Trail have opened up, offering hikers an off-the-beaten-path experience to reach the famed citadel of Macchu Picchu. Treks have also taken on a new face, targeting travelers who are keen on long adventurous hikes but who want all the comforts of a hotel at night. There are a handful of lodge-to-lodge treks available in the Cusco area, offering travelers the perfect balance between adventure and luxury.
Treks in Peru
The five-day Lares Trek takes you high up in the Andes, hiking during the day and overnighting in luxurious lodges along the way. Providing impressive views of snow-capped peaks and glacial lakes, it’s a relatively demanding hike that will test your fitness.
The Santa Cruz four-day trek takes you high into the Cordillera Blanca in northern Peru, providing spectacular views of glacier-wrapped peaks, turquoise lakes and fields of wildflowers. It's a demanding hike that will test your body and lungs, but well worth it for the epic scenery. This article will help you make the most of your Peruvian high altitude adventure, and provide information on extending the hike to five or more days.
Named after the highest peak in the Vilcabamba mountain range, the Salkantay Trek takes you high in the Andes outside Cusco, providing specular views of snow-capped mountains, glacial lakes, and lush cloud forest. It’s an easy to moderate hike, with some sections of challenging terrain. The trek involves comfortable stays at luxurious lodges in remote locations so that you can enjoy the gorgeous Andean scenery without having to give up your comforts.
This awesome 12-day adventure takes you to the pristine heartlands of the Cordillera Huayhuash, one of the most stunning mountain areas in Peru. Your lungs will be tested as you cross four passes over 14,700 feet (4480 m)—but the challenge is well worth it for the chance to see colorful lakes, glaciers, wildlife, and Peruvian mountain culture.
For several millennia, Peru's Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range was an important cradle for ancient civilizations. These steep slopes and valleys also served as a refuge for the last rebel Incas retreating from the Spanish invasion. This itinerary provides an intimate look at this region of ancient trails and archaeological sites, perfectly suited for active travelers looking to explore the Peruvian backcountry on foot and sleep out under the stars.
With this 10-day itinerary, you'll trek to the last capital of the Inca resistance at Vilcabamba, renamed Espiritu Pampa by the Spanish. This adventure takes in ruins along historic trails, over high Andean passes, through cloud forest and remote indigenous towns.
Avid hiker and kimkim traveler Kristin Monesmith lives in Peru halftime, working remotely and exploring the endless mountain trails. The Ausangate Trek checked all her boxes: incredibly beautiful, essentially devoid of tourists, and enough of a challenge to leave her feeling accomplished at the end. She spoke with us about her five-day adventure circumnavigating one of the most spectacular mountains in Southern Peru.
Cachicata is a relatively new and less-crowded trek in Peru's Sacred Valley. You'll pass beneath beautiful snow-capped mountains, cross over a high pass, and descend down into the Sacred Valley, arriving at the village of Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo, it's a short train journey to Machu Picchu where you can enjoy a private tour of the ruins.
Trek the last day of the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. If you're short on time or permits are sold out for the full Inca Trail, this is a great option for those wishing to experience a taste of this famous route. You'll enter the ruins through the Sun Gate as the sun sets over Machu Picchu, then have a full tour of the ruins the following day.
Trek through the Lares Valley, where you'll pass between glacier-capped mountains where llamas and alpacas graze in the surrounding hills. You'll visit the town of Lares, a colourful traditional town in the heart of the valley. Combined with the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, this is a trek that combines two wonderful valleys & mountain ranges with very different ecologies & landscapes.
For people who enjoy backpacking in the mountains and beautiful hot springs, this is the ideal multi-day trek. You'll have a local guide who will help you discover Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, with stunning views of the Andes.
Journey through an undiscovered land of wild desert landscapes, snow-capped peaks, herds of alpacas, to arrive at the ultimate destination: the rainbow-painted slopes of Rainbow Mountain hidden deep in the Andes.
Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Cotahuasi is the deepest canyon in the world, cutting through the Coropuna and Surimana massifs. With numerous hiking trails and vantages points, Cotahuasi is a beautiful region that few travelers get to see. With single and multi-day tours, you’ll get to hike the length of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.
Explore the Cordillera Huayhuash on this 9-day adventure through one of the most impressive regions of the Peruvian Andes. This is one of the lesser-known and uncrowded treks due to the remote location of this beautiful mountain range.
A shorter alternative to the Inca Trail, the Lares Trek offers an experience just as stunning. Despite the high altitudes, this trek follows a less rigorous route through local communities, making it ideal for those who are looking for something accessible, unique, and immersive.
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.
If you’re looking for a beautiful and more remote trek in Peru, the Ausangate trek may be perfect for you. On this 8-day itinerary, you’ll discover the beauty and rugged highlands of the Ausangate region, hike past glacial lakes, and wander amidst herds of alpacas.
Discover the ancient ruins of Choquequirao, the “sister city” of Machu Picchu, along this challenging yet rewarding trek. The 65 km trek passes through lush jungles, deep canyons, and snow-capped peaks en route to Machu Picchu. If you’re up for the adventure, this is one of the most beautiful treks in the Cusco Region.
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.