4 incredible hiking trails in Peru

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Peru is a traveller’s dream. Spectacular scenery is abundant, ranging from beaches and deserts to the tropical Amazon Rainforest. The cities are a riot of colour and music, celebrating a diverse history while oozing with contemporary culture. But it’s the Andes mountains that are perhaps most magical – especially for hikers.

The Peruvian Andes are extraordinarily varied. The Cordillera Blanca is a series of snowcapped peaks interwoven with glacial lakes. In contrast, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is a lush landscape rich in vegetation and exotic wildlife.

Before you book your flight and go hiking, make sure you’re properly prepared. You’ll need high-quality walking boots that are light on your feet as well as warm and waterproof clothing. You should also train to trek in high altitude as the Peruvian Andes rises to almost 7,000m above sea level.

Discover four incredible hiking trails in Peru that are a must for those who love to tour the world on foot.

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

This trek is one of the most coveted in the world. Ever since Machu Picchu was rediscovered in 1911 by American lecturer Hiram Bingham, travellers have flocked from across the globe to see it up close.

The trail begins about an hour outside of the city of Cusco and takes four days in total. It follows a mountain path that was carved out by the Incas centuries ago, undulating through the hills with viewpoints and ancient ruins around every corner.

The trek ends with a sunrise climb to see Machu Picchu from above, emerging through the mist in the early morning light.

Lares Trek with Machu Picchu

The Lares Trek is a great alternative to the traditional Inca Trail for those who want to hike to Machu Picchu.

Starting from the village of Lares, this route is a much less popular path that is no less beautiful. You can enjoy the sensational scenery of golden valleys, glittering lakes, and dramatic dark mountains without the crowds. It’s done within the same time frame, too, although is slightly more challenging.

Laguna Paron from Huaraz

If you’re seeking a shorter hike, the day trip to Laguna Paron from Huaraz is the one for you.

Laguna Paron is the largest lagoon in the Cordillera Blanca, sitting proudly at 4,200m above sea level. Its eerie beauty is captivating, glowing bright blue against a dramatic snowy mountain backdrop. A short drive from Huaraz brings you to the start of the trail that takes just an hour to follow.

The more popular Laguna 69 is also close by and is equally breathtaking. This hike is roughly three hours and is more challenging as it’s steeper in places.

Cusco to Rainbow Mountain

Finally, no trip to Peru would be complete without a visit to Vinicunca, known as Rainbow Mountain.

Its sheltered position within the valley has led to unusual weathering that has revealed the slope’s unique minerals in a marbling effect. Red, purple, blue, green and yellow stripes face the sky with a long straight peak running through the centre.

It only takes half a day to visit Vinicunca from Cusco, but the altitude is above 5,000m so some people may find it to be a challenging ascent.

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