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Which Trek in Peru is Right For You?

trekking-in-peru

Peru is filled with world class treks, allowing you to reach spectacular glacial lagoons, remote mountain communities, and even one of the 7 wonders of the world. When it comes to multi-day treks, many of our favorites are located in the area surrounding Cuzco. Here's a guide to help you decide which trek is right for you.

Inca Trail: Best for history buffs and those looking to hike an ancient and iconic trail. 

The Inca Trail is one of the most famous treks, not just in Peru but, in the entire world. When it comes to epic trails, it is hard to beat. 4-5 days of trekking alongside the sacred Urubamba river, on a path laid by Inca masons over 500 years ago, to finally arrive at Machu Picchu via the sun gate – it doesn't get much better than that. The hike is tough but well worth the reward and expert chefs make sure you're well nourished to complete the journey. The Inca Trail is the only trek that offers the opportunity to arrive at the Machu Picchu site on foot. To find out more about the Inca Trail and how we do it a little bit differently, check out our blog on the essentials of the Inca Trail

Accommodation type: glamping
Highest point: Dead Woman's Pass, 13,828ft
Days on trail: 5
Group Size: private or up to 13 people
Notes: you have to sign up for the Inca Trail a minimum of 6 months in advance. Permits are limited and sell out quickly.
The Inca Trail
Inca Trail campsite

Salkantay: Best for nature lovers and those up for a challenge. 

Salkantay peak is a beautiful mountain that rises from the depths of the Sacred Valley, its glaciated peak soaring high into the sky. It was a sacred apu, mountain god, for the Incas and holds a special reverence among Peruvians living in the valley today. The Salkantay trek journeys past the very flanks of Salkantay mountain, allowing you unparalleled views of this glaciated peak. From there, you descend into the jungle valleys leading to Machu Picchu and even have the chance to explore coffee plantations and harvest your own tropical fruits. The trek is lodge based and the lodges have every comfort a trekker could hope for – even hot tubs at all of the lodges. Check out our Salkantay itinerary to learn a little more about how the itinerary works. 

Accommodation type: luxury lodges
Highest point: Salkantay Pass, 15,090 ft
Days on trail: 7
Group Size: small group, up to 12
Note: the Salkantay trek can be done with the aid of a horse until the final day when you enter an Inca trail. Horses are not permitted on the old Inca Trail.
Salkantay Mountain as seen from the first lodge on the trek
Huamantay Lake. One of the many spectacular stops along the Salkantay trek

Lares: Best for people looking to combine mountain vistas with local culture

The Sacred Valley is the most famous of the valleys in the Cuzco region but there are hundreds of similar valleys spread out around the area. The Lares Valley lies behind the Sacred Valley and offers similar mountain vistas, steep walls, and local communities. Much more remote and difficult to access, this trek allows you the chance to escape the normal Sacred Valley routes and explore some beautiful terrain and authentic communities. On this trek, active adventure is interspersed with community interaction and education about local traditions. Experience a pachamanca (traditional Peruvian cooking style), chat with friendly members of the Huacahuasi community that run the lodge, and explore Incan ruins along the way. The trek is designed to have a few different options every day, allowing you to cater your experience to your interests and how you're feeling along the way. The lodges are incredibly beautiful and feature hot tubs, sprawling gardens, and expansive views from every room. Check out our Lares Adventure to find out more. 

Accommodation type: luxury lodges
Highest Point: Huacahuasi Lodge, 12,585ft, Optional trek to Patacancha, pass at 14,646ft
Days on trek: 7
Group Size: small group, up to 16
Note: This trek can be done in 5 days instead of 7. We really recommend 7 – staying 2 nights at each of the mountain lodges offers a more immersive experience.
Mountain chats with locals along the way
On the Lares trek, you trek through a number of Inca ruins throughout the Cuzco region

Ausangate: Best for an authentic experience at high altitude away from the crowds

Ausangate is a sacred apu located about 2 hrs south of Cuzco. Recently made famous by one of its passes, Rainbow Mountain, this area is one of the most spectacular in the Cuzco region and deserves far more than a one day trip to Rainbow. Ausangate itself is a massive, glaciated peak that dominates the horizon. Herds of alpaca and wild vicuna graze in the mountain meadows, glacier lagoons dot the landscape, and rainbow mountain pales in comparison to the colors that sweep the valleys you walk through on the Ausangate trek. Each of the lodges you stay at are owned and run by the communities of the Ausangate region. There are 4 lodges that make up the trek and each seems more spectacular than the previous. You travel with members of the local community for the duration of your hike, allowing the unique opportunity to learn about past and present traditions, interact with shepherds and homesteads you pass along the way, and indulge in traditional Peruvian cuisine. Don't forget to ask about the myths specific to the Ausangate region! Check out our Ausangate itinerary and make sure to take a quick read of our experience on the Ausangate trek

Accommodation type: lodges (note: the lodges are heated by fireplaces and have no electricity. The light at night is by candles)
Highest Point: Palomino Pass, 16,896ft
Days on trek: 5
Group Size: private or small group, up to 14
Note: almost the entirety of this trek is above 12,000ft. You must acclimatize in the Cuzco area before embarking on this trek 
No edits needed - the colors in the red valley on the Ausangate trek are truly this spectacular
Checking out the view from Huampacocha Lodge

​These four treks are just a sampling of some of our favorites in the Cuzco region. Peru is also home to Colca Canyon and the Cordillera Blanca in the North, both of which offer world class hiking adventures as well. Hopefully the above list helps to narrow down the options a bit and don't hesitate to contact us with more specific questions on which option is best for you! 

Your Passionate Partner in all things Peru, 

Laura Cahill

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