Trekking in Peru introduces you to a world of diverse terrains and archaeological heritage. The Andean peaks and lagoons of Huaraz, the vast Amazonian jungle, the Inca intrigue of the Sacred Valley and the dizzying canyons of Colca and Cotahuasi – there is so much to explore. But with many trails located at high altitude, some only accessible with guided tours, and a diverse climate, research and preparation is vital. In this guide we cover everything you need to know in advance, and we pick 35 of the best hikes in Peru for your bucket list.

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Peru trekking guide: planning and preparation

We have hiked extensively in Peru since our first trip in 2017, and in our experience it is one of the most fun places to get outdoors – but also one of the most challenging!

Before we give our tips on the best hikes in Peru, in this sections we’ll guide you through some of the most important considerations when preparing for your trekking adventures in the country.

Best time to visit Peru for trekking

Peru’s dry season begins in April/May and lasts until October/November. This period is generally the best time for trekking in Peru.

The conditions during the rainy season are difficult, and sometimes impossible – many of the country’s national parks are closed in February for this reason.

June and July, the height of the dry season, are the busiest months. This is also when it gets coldest at night, so you need to factor this into your preparations.

Peru’s shoulder seasons in May and September/October are a good option for trekking. The conditions are dry enough, and it’s generally warmer than June–August.

Read up more about the climate in Peru for more insights.

Coping with altitude in Peru

Many of Peru’s classic hiking trails are at high altitude in the Andes mountains. The Inca Trail tops out at 4,200 metres above sea level, for example, and the Huayhuash Circuit even higher at 5,465 metres.

Hiking at high altitudes brings difficulties, and affects everybody differently. It is extremely important to be well prepared, to understand the effects of altitude and to know what to do if things take a turn for the worse.

For each of the 35 hiking trails we have compiled below, we have included details of the highest points above sea level. In general, if you are planning to hike above 3,000 metres, you should make the necessary preparations for high altitude.

The first rule is acclimatisation. When you’re planning any hike at high altitude, you should spend at least two days to let your body get used to it before you get started. Don’t do any strenuous physical activity during this time.

At altitude it is vital to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and refill whenever you can. Your body also needs more calories at altitude, so pack plenty of snacks, especially carbohydrates.

It’s also important to stay rested. Take frequent breaks, and stop for a breather whenever you feel you need to.

In Peru you can buy coca leaves, which are known to alleviate the effects of altitude. You can chew them or drink them in tea. Alcohol and smoking can exacerbate the effects, so it’s better to avoid them altogether if you can.

If you find yourself coming down with altitude sickness, you should immediately stop, rest, drink water, and don’t go any higher. Taking acetazolamide can help to soothe the symptoms. For more information, this UK National Health Service advice provides useful guidance on treatment.

Inca Trail Alex and Lisa Dead Womans Pass
The highest point on the Inca Trail is 4,200 metres, which can cause difficulties with altitude sickness

Hiking and travel insurance for Peru

Whether you’re going on a simple day hike or a multi-day endurance trek in Peru, it is always wise to invest in insurance. For some treks, insurance is actually a compulsory requirement. When we did the Inca Trail, for example, we had to show proof of insurance upon arrival.

The number one reason why insurance is so important for hiking in Peru is medical cover. Most trails are in remote, rural locations, and if something goes wrong, you may need emergency recovery. If this happens and you are not covered, the costs can be ruinous.

If you are not hiking above 4,500 metres, SafetyWing Nomad Insurance is a great value option for Peru. Their policies focus on medical cover, but also include hiking cover that fits for treks like the Inca Trail. You can either pay by monthly subscription (cheaper over the long term) or specific dates for a one-off trip. See our review of SafetyWing travel insurance to find out more.

If your trip to Peru is part of a longer-term travel adventure, take a look at our guide to career break travel insurance.

What to pack for trekking in Peru

Hiking in Peru often involves difficult terrain, and weather conditions that can change quickly and unexpectedly. Setting off well prepared can make the difference between a great experience and a disastrous one.

Our Inca Trail packing list gives an exhaustive itinerary of everything you need to take for Peru trekking adventures. These are the basic essentials we recommend:

  • Strong hiking boots are an absolute must for trekking in Peru. Take your time to find a pair that’s right for you. Our guide to the best hiking boots for long-term travel gives an overview of the vital considerations and some of our recommended options.
  • A waterproof and windproof hiking jacket is also essential. As temperatures can change quickly and dramatically in Peru – especially at high altitude – a 3-in-1 jacket is a great investment. The inner fleece and outer shell allow flexibility for varying temperatures and weather conditions.
  • A sturdy backpack is essential for carrying your supplies. See our guide to the best travel backpacks for options.
  • It’s wise to invest in a few pairs of light and breathable hiking socks.
  • Trekking in Peru often involves a lot of uphill and downhill on tricky terrain. In these situations you will be very glad for a good set of walking poles to steady your balance and reduce the stress on your muscles.
  • A pair of convertible hiking trousers is also a great investment for changing temperatures. The ability to zip off the legs saves time and packing space.
  • Light, breathable t-shirts will make your life a lot easier, especially on longer treks. 
  • Staying hydrated is vital when hiking anywhere, and it’s especially important when at altitude. A hydration system, or ‘camel pack’ as it is sometimes called, is a useful contraption that enables you to maintain regular water intake without having to stop and get a bottle out. It’s also a very efficient way to bear the weight of the water.
  • On high-altitude mountain treks you may be exposed to strong sunshine for several hours. Protect yourself by bringing a hat, sunglasses and sun cream.
  • If you are planning to camp on multi-day treks, you need to make sure you will be sufficiently warm at night. It gets very cold at high altitude! Invest in a decent quality hiking sleeping bag. We also use a sleeping mat and silk liners for extra comfort and warmth.
  • A thermal base layer provides another vital layer of warmth at night, and can be useful to wear for trekking in colder conditions, such as early morning starts.
  • Finally, for overnight camping treks, it’s also essential to bring a headtorch.
Colca Canyon Peru
The Colca Canyon is one of Peru’s iconic hiking spots, involving a tough descent and ascent

A few final tips

Before we get into the details of the best hikes in Peru, here are a few more things to bear in mind:

  • For challenging hikes, it is important to do sufficient training beforehand. Look for hiking trails in your area, and steadily build up your endurance. Our article on hiking the Inca Trail for first-timers gives an overview of preparation.
  • If trekking with a tour company or guide, make sure you do your research beforehand. Check reviews, ask questions and read up about their safety standards. Don’t just go for the cheapest option; your personal safety is the most important consideration.
  • Bring some cash with you on the trail. There aren’t any ATMs out in the wilderness, and card payment is rarely accepted in remote villages.
  • Be ready to stay in very basic facilities. The further you get off the beaten track, the less glamorous the accommodation is likely to be, and you may need to rough it up a bit. Bring toilet paper with you, as it’s rarely provided in rural toilet facilities.
  • Finally, bring a camera! You’re going to see some breathtaking scenery, with many photo opportunities. On multi-day treks you might not have any power for several days, so bring a backup battery and memory cards.

Best hikes in Peru: Cusco

Cusco and the Sacred Valley is by far Peru’s most popular hiking destination. The iconic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu draws a million visitors every year, and the Inca Trail is a bucket-lister for many travel lovers. But there’s actually a lot more hiking to do in the Cusco region.

As the historic capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco is surrounded by an array of different ruin sites that can be reached by hiking. The region is also adorned with some of Peru’s most iconic mountain peaks, llama-grazed plains and charming rural villages.

For accommodation in the city before and after trekking, read our guide to the best hostels in Cusco. Also see our recommendations on things to do in Cusco.

1.  Inca Trail (4–5 days)

Machu Picchu Inca Trail
Machu Picchu, at the end of the Inca Trail, is one of the seven new wonders of the world
  • Distance: 43 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,200 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

The legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the world’s greatest multi-day hiking trails and a pinnacle of any South America bucket list. The classic route winds through breathtaking jungle and mountain scenery, passing various Inca settlement ruins on the way, culminating in a dawn descent to the world wonder of Machu Picchu in the clouds.

The trail starts with a gentle day of hiking, before ascending to the highest point on the second day – Dead Woman’s Pass. The third day passes through the cloud forests of the Urubamba Valley before descending around 1,000 metres to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna on a hillside of agricultural terraces. On the final day it’s an early start to make the final journey to Machu Picchu, a 15th-century citadel that represents one of the finest achievements of Inca engineering.

The Inca Trail must be undertaken in a guided group, and it’s necessary to book several months in advance as spaces are always in high demand. 

Go guided: 7-day Inca Trail with G Adventures

2.  Lares Trek (3–4 days)

Lares Trek
The Lares Trek is a popular alternative to the Inca Trail. Photo by McKay Savage, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 33 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,780 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

The Lares Trek is one of the most popular alternatives to the Inca Trail in the Cusco region. It doesn’t lead directly to Machu Picchu, but there’s an option to take a train ride to it at the end. This route passes through some of the region’s finest scenery – tropical forests, mountain passes, sweeping valleys and waterfalls.

The trail starts in the village of Lares, around 56 kilometres east of Machu Picchu. At the beginning there’s an opportunity to take a dip in the village’s hot springs before the trekking begins. From here, the scenic path leads onwards into the Andes, stopping at village settlements to meet local farmers and weavers, and learn about their way of life.

Like the Inca Trail, the second day of the Lares Trek is the toughest, involving a sharp ascent to the highest point. The reward for conquering it is an incredible view at the top, and it gets easier after that. You can hike the Lares Trek independently, but going with a guide will give a lot more insight into the culture and history, as well as invaluable support.

Go guided: 7-day Lares Trek with G Adventures

3.  Salkantay Trek (5 days)

Salkantay Trek
The Salkantay Trek is a tough route to Machu Picchu. Photo by Anthony D’Ambrosio, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 72 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,660 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

If you’re looking for a more challenging alternative to the Inca Trail and Lares Trek for trekking to Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Trek fits the bill perfectly. The route is longer and tougher, but every bit as beautiful. One of the highlights is traversing the Salkantay Pass beneath the mountain’s unmistakeable jagged peak.

The Salkantay Trek reaches the archaeological site of Llactapata about half-way through. These well preserved ruins are believed to have been used for crop production and storage. At this point you can catch the first glimpse of Machu Picchu, with a unique profile view on the horizon. The path continues through subtropical jungle and mountainous terrain towards Aguas Calientes for an early-morning hike up to Machu Picchu on the last day.

Like the Lares Trek it’s possible to hike the Salkantay Trek without a guide, but it’s well worth going accompanied, and is a cheaper alternative to the Inca Trail.

For more information, check out this excellent guide to the Salkantay Trek.

Go guided: Salkantay Trek with G Adventures

4.  Choquequirao Trek (4 days)

Choquequirao ruin site, Cusco region
Choquequirao is a less-crowded ruin site in the Cusco region. Photo by McGhiever, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
  • Distance: 64 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,050 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

The Inca ruin site of Choquequirao is similar in scale to Machu Picchu but much less frequented by tourists. It is believed to be one of the last bastions of the Inca civilisation against the invasion of Cusco by the Spanish Conquistadors. The site can be reached by trekking from the town of Cachora, roughly three and a half hours’ drive west from Cusco.

Choquequirao is actually believed to be a larger complex than Machu Picchu, but only around 30% of the site has been excavated. It is one of the most remote Inca ruins, taking about two days to reach by foot and another two days to hike out. On the way, the trail takes in the impressive landscapes of the Apurímac River and canyon.

The Choquequirao Trek is much quieter than the Inca Trail and other popular trekking routes nearby. It’s not unusual to find the site completely empty of visitors. 

Go guided: Choquequirao Express Trek with G Adventures

5.  Vilcabamba Trek to Espíritu Pampa (5–7 days)

Vilcabamba trek Peru
The Vilcabamba trek leads to the Espíritu Pampa ruins. Photo by Jason Hollinger, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 64 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,900 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: hard

For experienced hikers seeking a challenge, the Vilcabamba Trek is an off-the-beaten-path route that leads to the last capital of the Incas, Espíritu Pampa. This land deep in the jungle was chosen by the Incas as an impenetrable stronghold as they retreated from the Spanish invasion.

The trail explores dense wilderness and captures a unique glimpse of Inca history, passing fortresses and sacred sites that few people witness. It climaxes in the stone steps to the Espíritu Pampa complex, once the home of the last Inca ruler, Tupac Amaru II.

The trek begins in Huancacalle, which is about 250 kilometres and a good six-hour drive from Cusco. It finishes at Azulmayo before a scenic drive on to Kiteni, from where it’s a seven-to-eight hour drive back to Cusco. Although it’s technically possible to attempt the Vilcabamba Trek to Espíritu Pampa unguided, it’s not advisable to do so. The terrain is unfamiliar, potentially dangerous and best traversed under the knowledgeable lead of a local guide.

6.  Ausangate trek (4–6 days)

Ausangate trek, Cusco region
The Ausangate trek features outstanding natural scenery. Photo by Marturius, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.
  • Distance: 70 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 5,165 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

The Ausangate trek does not feature any Inca ruins, but it is considered one of Peru’s most beautiful trails for natural scenery. The multi-day route loops around the sacred Ausangate mountain, traversing high passes and winding through breathtaking surroundings of snowy peaks, glaciers and mountain lakes. It also passes the famous Vinicunca, otherwise known as Rainbow Mountain.

Another highlight of the Augansgate trek is the opportunity to get immersed in Quechua culture while stopping off at remote mountain villages along the way.

This is a challenging trek, mainly due to the constantly high altitude – most of the route is above 4,000 metres. Rigorous preparation and acclimatisation are essential, but it’s well worth the effort to see some of Peru’s most dramatic remote scenery. The trail is well marked and easy to follow so you don’t need a guide if you have solid hiking experience, but there are still options to go guided if you prefer.

7.  Rainbow Mountain (1 day)

Rainbow Mountain Peru
The colourful streaks of Rainbow Mountain are one of the most recognisable images of Peru.
  • Distance: 10 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 5,050 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

If you’re not up for the challenge of the Ausangate trek, you can still see the awe-inspiring sight of Rainbow Mountain by taking a day trip from Cusco. This involves a strenuous return hike of 5–6 hours, with an elevation gain of around 1,200 metres on the ascent. With the peak topping out over 5,000 metres, it’s essential to acclimatise for this one too.

Rainbow Mountain has gained both its name and fame from its stripy, colourful appearance created by layers of sediments and minerals. It only became known in recent years after being uncovered by a receding glacier.

Be ready for an early start and a late return. Day trips from Cusco typically leave at 3am, in order to make the three-hour drive to the starting point. Without daylight you won’t be able to appreciate the scenic views, so bring a travel pillow and try and get some sleep for the hike.

Go guided: Inca Jungle and Rainbow Mountain Trek with G Adventures

8.  Huchuy Qosqo (1 day)

Huchuy Qosqo ruin site
The Huchuy Qosqo ruin site literally means ‘Little Cusco’. Photo by Stevage, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.
  • Distance: 14 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,350 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

Huchuy Qosco, which translates to ‘Little Cusco’, is one of many alternative Inca archaeological sites to be explored in the Cusco region. Once the royal estate of the Inca emperor Viracocha, it stands at 3,650 altitude above the town of Lamay, and can be reached via various hiking routes.

The site features an impressive network of stone and adobe walls spread across green hillside. Its kallanka (great hall) has been maintained in good condition, and a well preserved irrigation system demonstrates the engineering prowess of the Incas.

The most popular trail to Huchuy Qosqo begins in the village of Tauca near Chincero, about a 45-minute drive from Cusco. The route follows a restored Inca path over a high pass before descending through a canyon towards the ruins. After visiting the site, you can descend to Lamay for a transfer back to Cusco.

9.  Moray and Maras (1 day)

Moray ruins, Sacred Valley
Moray is one of the many Inca archaeological ruin sites in the Sacred Valley, Cusco.
  • Distance: 12 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,385 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: easy–moderate

Another great day hiking option in the Sacred Valley combines the Inca ruins of Moray with the salt pans of Maras. This is a shorted and easier route that can be done in half a day.

After travelling from Cusco to Chinchero, you can take a taxi along a dirt track to reach the Moray archaeological site. The unusual ruins feature circular terraces hollowed out into the hillside, believed to have been used as agricultural laboratories.

The hike from Moray to the Salineras de Maras (salt pans) follows a dirt path through Andean farmland via the small town of Maras, where you can stop for lunch. It’s then a gentle walk down into a canyon filled with thousands of small salt pools that have been utilised since Inca times. It’s a truly unique sight and offers something a little different to exploring the area’s Inca ruins.

10.  Humantay Lake (1 day)

Humantay Lake
Humantay Lake is a great hiking day trip from Cusco. Photo by Nicolas Rénac, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 3.5 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,250 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

Humantay Lake is an idyllic, turquoise lagoon perched between the peaks of Humantay and Salkantay. The lake is formed from glacial melt and gets its striking colour from mineral deposits.

The natural contrast of the water’s brightness against the snow-capped mountainous background is a quite spectacular image, and easily justifies the effort required to reach it.

While the return hike to Humantay Lake is a short one, it requires a full day trip from Cusco as the trailhead in Soraypampa is about three hours’ drive away. The ascent is short but steep, and at high altitude, so allow about an hour and a half each way to include regular breaks and water intake.

Go guided: Humantay Lake hike from Cusco

11.  Laguna Uspaccocha, Ampay National Sanctuary (1–2 days)

Lagune Uspaccocha, Ampay National Sanctuary
Lagune Uspaccocha, Ampay National Sanctuary. Photo by Peter Stewart, distributed under a Wikimedia Commons license.
  • Distance: 20 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,850 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

Ampay National Sanctuary is a large wildlife protection area on the doorstep of the city of Abancay. Covering over 3,500 hectares, the sanctuary is home to a diversity of native wildlife such as spectacled bears, pumas, wild cats, deer and foxes. The area protects several endangered plant species, most notably the intimpa rainforest tree. There are several hiking trails in Ampay, as well as campsites within its territory maintained by park authorities.

One of the most popular routes is a straighforward but challenging return hike to Laguna Uspaccocha, a huge turquoise lake at the heart of the sanctuary. The trail passes Laguna Ancascocha, a smaller lake surrounded by dense rainforest, and you can expect to see plantlife along the way such as orchids, bromeliads and ferns. It’s possible to camp by Laguna Uspaccocha, and experienced hikers can continue on to Laguna Huicacocha, another lake located higher up and further inside the sanctuary.

From Abancay you can take a taxi to the entrance to Ampay National Sanctuary, or even walk (it’s about 4.5 kilometres from the Plaza de Armas). It’s a great little hiking stop-off if you’re travelling into Cusco from the west. Abancay is located about 200 kilometres before you reach Cusco on the Highway 3S.

Best hikes in Peru: Huaraz

The city of Huaraz, some 400 kilometres north of Lima, is a gateway to some of Peru’s most remarkable natural scenery, in Huascaran National Park and the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Classic treks include the Huayhuash Circuit and Santa Cruz Trek, while many shorter hiking trails lead to stunning mountain lagoons and glaciers.

Huaraz has grown in popularity as a hiking destination in recent years as a cheaper and less crowded alternative to Cusco. The city stands at a little over 3,000 metres in altitude, so it makes for an ideal acclimatisation base before getting on the trail.

12.  Huayhuash Circuit (8–10 days)

Huayhuash Circuit, Peru
The Huayhuash Circuit is a highly challenging endurance trek, covering over 100 kilometres at high altitude
  • Distance: 130 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 5,465 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: hard

The world-famous Huayhuash Circuit in the Cordillera Huayhuash mountain range is one of Peru’s ultimate trekking challenges, blazing a trail through 130 kilometres of snowy mountains, green hills, blue rivers and lagoons. The hike passes beneath some of the country’s most dramatic 6,000m+ peaks, including Siula Grande and Yerupajá.

The traditional starting point for this circular trekking route is Llamac, around three hours’ drive from Huaraz, where you should spend at least a few days acclimatising beforehand. It’s a demanding hike that features constant high altitude, a series of high pass ascents, and rugged, remote terrain. For elite hikers, this is perhaps the mecca of hikes in Peru.

It’s possible to do the Huayhuash Circuit independently, but this will not only require peak fitness but also strength and endurance to carry eight-to-ten days’ worth of food and equipment. If this doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, then it’s better to take a guided trek, especially if it’s your first time attempting a trail of this length and difficulty.

Go guided: 10-day Huayhuash Circuit trek

13.  Santa Cruz Trek (4 days)

The Santa Cruz Trek is one of the most famous Peru trekking routes
Santa Cruz is a highly popular Peru trekking route. Photo by Esmée Winnubst, distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 50 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,760 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

The Santa Cruz trek through Huascarán National Park in the north of Peru is one of the country’s classic multi-day trails, winding through the spectacular Cordillera Blanca mountain range. This is a high-altitude trek, mostly over 4,000 metres, wandering beneath snowy peaks that tower over 6,000 metres. The most difficult part of the trek is the ascent to its highest point, Punta Unión at 4,730 metres.

The dazzling white peaks and rocky landscapes are juxtaposed with stunning turquoise lagoons. It’s a relatively quiet trail, so there’s a good chance of spotting some of the park’s resident wildlife, such as soaring eagles and the rare spectacled bear.

Santa Cruz is a through-trek between Vaquería and Cashapampa, which are each around 100 kilometres and approximately three hours’ drive north of Huaraz. It can be done in either direction. It’s possible to hike the Santa Cruz Trek either solo or with a guide, but it’s only advisable to do independently if you have solid trekking experience.

Go guided: 4-day Santa Cruz trek from Huaraz

14.  Alpamayo Base Camp (7–11 days)

Alpamayo Base Camp is a classic Peru trekking trail
Alpamayo Base Camp is a classic Peru trekking trail. Photo by Alberto Cafferata, distributed under a CC BY 3.0 license.
  • Distance: 102 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,860 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: hard

The long, multi-day trek to Alpamayo Base Camp is regarded as one of Peru’s most spectacular routes, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. With an average altitude over 4,000 metres, long days of activity, plenty of steep climbs and freezing cold nights, it’s a challenging hike that requires high levels of fitness and experience.

The peak of Alpamayo was once chosen by a survey of mountaineering experts as the world’s most beautiful mountain. Resembling an icy pyramid, it stands out conspicuously in the stunning Cordillera Blanca. The sight of it is a highlight of a trek that features incredible panoramic views of the mountain range throughout.

Along this remote route you can expect to see a diversity of Andean wildlife and unspoiled scenery, with very few other hikers around. Unless you have a lot of trekking experience, it’s highly recommended to go with a guided group. However you choose to do it, you will need to spend time in Huaraz acclimatising with a few day hikes.

15.  Quilcayhuanca–Cojup Trek (3 days)

Quilcayhuanca Cojup trek Tullparaju lake
Tullparaju Lake on the trek to Cojup. Photo by Renata Maria Cristina Borges, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
  • Distance: 32 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 5,000 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

The three-day trek from Quilcayhuanca to Cojup is one of the lesser-known routes in the Cordillera Blanca, and features some of the most beautiful and secluded parts of the range. Witness glacial lakes, the archaeological ruins of Nuevo Tambo, and dramatic valley views from a high mountain pass.

The tranquility of the trail increases the chances of seeing wildlife such as the vicuña (a smaller, cuter version of the llama) and the Andean condor, the world’s largest flying bird.

Quilcayhuanca–Cojup is one of the closest multi-day trails to Huaraz (it’s in the section of the mountain range just above the town) and can be done in either direction, but typically starts at Quilcayhuanca. Either way, the second day of the trek is the most strenuous and also the most spectacular, traversing Huapi Pass at 5,000 metres altitude.

16.  Laguna 69 (1 day)

Laguna 69, Peru
Laguna 69 is one of Peru’s most iconic lakes. Photo by Christian Cruzado, distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 12 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,600 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

The return hike to Laguna 69 is one of the most popular in Peru and makes for the perfect preparation for the Santa Cruz Trek, or a great experience in its own right. The reward for making the steady ascent at high altitude is a close-up view of this stunning lake in hues of blue and green, nestled among jagged mountain rock.

The hike begins at Cebolla Pampa campground, about three hours’ drive from Huaraz. Expect magnificent scenery throughout the trail, which passes waterfalls, smaller lakes and green mountainside vegetation. The elevation gain on the way up is about 800 metres, but it’s a gradual incline with not too many steep sections. The altitude is the main source of difficulty.

The only drawback of the Laguna 69 hike is its immense popularity. With busloads of tourists visiting every day and mostly arriving at the top around the same time, it can get quite crowded. To beat the crowds and see the lake in some peace and quiet, instead of taking a day tour you can stay at one of the camps near the trailhead overnight and set off early.

Go guided: Laguna 69 day hike

17.  Laguna Wilcacocha (half day)

Laguna Wilcacocha, Peru
Laguna Wilcacocha is an ideal short acclimatisation hike. Photo by Diego Baravelli, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
  • Distance: 6.5 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,786 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: easy–moderate

Just a short drive a few kilometres south of Huaraz, the shimmering Laguna Wilcacocha is a great little half-day hike, and perfect for acclimatising for some of the more challenging routes in Huascarán National Park. The lagoon nestles at just over 3,700 metres altitude, surrounded by lush greenery and offering a magnificent view of the snowy peaks in the Cordillera Blanca range.

The path up to the lake weaves through farming fields and Andean villages, against that stunning mountainous background. It takes a good couple of hours to make the ascent, with an elevation gain of about 700 metres.

You can take a colectivo mini-bus (public transport) from Huaraz, leaving frequently from near the Plaza de Armas, to the trail’s starting point at Chihuipampa Bridge.

18.  Laguna Churup (1 day)

Laguna Churup, Huascarán National Park
Laguna Churup, Huascarán National Park. Photo by Heiner Amado Cadillo, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.
  • Distance: 7 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4.450 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

Laguna Churup is one of the most popular day hikes in the Cordillera Blanca region, easy to organise from Huaraz and ideal for acclimatisation. The close-up view of this glacier lake’s clear green waters hugged by mountain rock is a great pay-off for making the tricky ascent.

Despite the short distance, the hike to Laguna Churup is a challenging one with an elevation gain of 650 metres at high altitude. There are lots of steep sections, including a stairway at the beginning, rope hauls, and rocky sections towards the end that require climbing and scrambling.

The trail begins in the village of Pitec on the threshold of Huascarán National Park, about a 45-minute drive from Huaraz. Vans depart early in the morning from the intersection of Avenue Agustin Gamarra and Avenue Antonio Raymondi, and return in the early afternoon.

19.  Laguna Parón (1 day)

Laguna Parón, Cordillera Blanca
Laguna Parón is one of the largest lakes in Peru. Photo by TMbux, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.
  • Distance: 20 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,200 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

Laguna Parón is the largest lake in the Cordillera Blanca region. Its four-kilometre-long turquoise waters stand out strikingly among the clouds and mist at 4,200 metres, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

The hike to Laguna Parón is a pleasant, less-populated alternative to Laguna 69 and another excellent option for acclimatisation. From the viewing point by the lake you can see the peak of Artesonraju, the mountain famously depicted in the Paramount Pictures logo.

While it’s possible to reach Laguna Parón independently, the transport logistics can be tricky and so it makes things a lot easier to take a tour from Huaraz. Be ready for an early start, as hiking tours leave at around 5am. Alternatively, if you stay overnight in the smaller town of Caraz closer to the trailhead, you can take an early-morning van to hike it without a tour.

Go guided: Laguna Parón day hike

20.  Pastoruri Glacier (1 day, short hike)

Pastoruri Glacier, Peru
Pastoruri Glacier stands over 5,000 metres above sea level. Photo by Tobias F. Wolf, distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 4 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 5,050 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: easy–moderate

An excursion to Pastoruri Glacier is more of a day trip than a hike in reality, but we’ve included it in this compilation as it’s an opportunity to see some unique Andean scenery, and it does involve a bit of walking at high altitude.

Day trips to the glacier from Huaraz take around nine hours and typically set off between 8am and 9am. It’s a 70-kilometre drive with a few sightseeing stops to reach the the 4-kilometre-long shrinking glacier, standing over 5,000m metres above sea level. Pastoruri is receding fast due to the effects of climate change, having lost nearly a quarter of its mass in the last three decades – there’s limited time to see it before it disappears completely.

On the scenic mountain drive you can stop to see springs, lakes and ancient cave paintings, as well as the curious puya raimondi flower, a giant relative of the pineapple that only grows between 3,700 and 4,200 metres in the Peruvian Andes. The walk to the glacier at the end takes about 40 minutes on a gentle sloping path. Although it’s an easy walk, the altitude can cause problems, so bring plenty of water and take it easy.

21.  La Unión to Huánuco Viejo (1 day)

Huánuco Viejo archaeological site
Huánuco Viejo is a vast archaeological site. Photo by AgainErick, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.
  • Distance: 20 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,700 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

Huánuco Viejo, also known as Huánuco Pampa or Huánuco Marka, is a vast archaeological site spanning two square kilometres perched above the town of La Unión. A steep, well marked path leads up to the ruins from behind the town’s central market via a water storage tower, passing through stunning Andean high plains on the way up.

This is one of Peru’s highest-altitude Inca ruin sites and has an important place in history. It was one of the last strongholds to be defended against the Spanish conquest, held by Illa Tupac until 1543. A highlight of the complex is Usnu, a four-metre-high stone-carved structure embellished with images of lions, monkeys and other animals.

The site takes a good couple of hours to reach by foot, and it’s best to allow plenty of time to explore the ruins before making the return. La Unión is around a four-hour bus journey from Huaraz, so factor in a couple of nights’ stopover in one of the town’s hostels or hospedajes to allow for a full day’s hiking.

Best hikes in Peru: Lima and the Central Andes

Although Lima, Peru’s huge and sprawling capital, is not reputed as a place for hiking, the city is within close reach of some beautiful trails. Not too far outside the city limits you can find parks, nature reserves, waterfalls, ancient ruins and rock formations waiting to be explored.

East and inland from Lima lie the Central Andes, a section of mountain ranges nestled roughly halfway between Cusco and Huaraz. Here you can find some of Peru’s most desolate and untouched mountain hiking trails, and an alternative glimpse into Inca history.

For accommodation in the city before and after trekking, take a look at our guide to the best hostels in Lima. For things to do in the city, see our itinerary for 2 days in Lima.

22.  Huaytapallana (5–6 days)

The Huaytapallana mountain range
The remote Huaytapallana mountain range. Photo by Jonathan Chancasana, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
  • Distance: 43 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,800 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

The Huaytapallana mountain range in the Junín region of Peru’s central Andes is a less-trodden landscape of barren Andean scenery. A five-day hike beginning at Virgen de las Nieves, some 30 kilometres from the city of Huancayo, journeys through llama-dotted plateaus and past a series of beautiful glacial lakes.

The trail includes a leg of hiking along one of Peru’s shrinking glaciers, and culminates in a descent into Amazonian jungle at Racracalla. At mostly above 4,200 metres altitude, this is a challenging route that requires acclimatisation. Plan to spend at least a couple of days in Huancayo (3,250 metres) beforehand.

Huancayo is around a seven-hour bus ride from Lima. A guide is required for the five-day Huaytapallana trek. It’s also possible to do shorter trails into the range from Huancayo, including day trips to the glacier and the peak of Lasuntay.

23.  Lomas de Lúcumo (half day)

Lomas de Lúcumo
Lomas de Lúcumo nature reserve has a unique ecosystem. Photo by Ibrehaut, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
  • Distance: 8 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 585 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: easy

The nature reserve of Lomas de Lúcumo is about 50 kilometres by road from central Lima in the district of Pachacamac. It’s the perfect nature escape from the Grey City, with an easy, well marked path leading through a green-covered landscape of vegetation and peculiar rock formations.

Lomas de Lúcumo has a unique ecosystem created by moisture from Pacific ocean mists trapped in the valley hills. In the winter months, from June to October, it blooms with greenery and an array of colourful flowers, and is home to a diversity of birds and wildlife. Inside the reserve you will also encounter Inca ruins and see some great views of the town of Quebrada Verde below.

It’s easy to reach Lomas de Lúcumo from Lima. You can take the 16 or 18 bus line to Pachacamac, and then take a mototaxi on to Quebrada Verde, where the reserve is located.

24.  Lomas de Lachay (half day)

Scenery of the Lomas de Lachay nature reserve near Lima
Scenery of the Lomas de Lachay nature reserve near Lima. Photo by Christian Cruzado, distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 7.5 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 550 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: easy

Lomas de Lachay is an alternative option for easy day-hiking close to Lima, another nature reserve that provides a beacon of lush greenness among urbania and desert. Located just over 100 kilometres north of the city, the reserve covers of 5,000 hectares and is a refuge for resident wildlife such as foxes, pumas, deer, kestrels, owls and hummingbirds.

The two main hiking trails in the reserve are the ‘Circuit of the Fox’ and the ‘Circuit of the Piquial’, which you connect together and combine into a single, longer route. When mist descends on the trail it gives an eerie effect and makes for some quirky ambient photographs.

To reach Lomas de Lachay, you can take a bus from Gran Terminal Terrestre in Lima towards Huacho, and tell the driver that you need to get off at kilometre 105. It’s then about an hour’s walk to the nature reserve entrance, or you may be able to hop onto a local bus. There are campsites in the reserve if you want to stay overnight.

Go guided: Lomas de Lachay hike from Lima

25.  Rúpac (2 days with overnight camp)

Rúpac ruin site, Peru
The pre-Inca ruins of Rúpac, the ‘city of fire’. Photo by Roly, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 14 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,520 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

You don’t have to go all the way to Machu Picchu from Lima to see citadel ruins in the clouds. Rúpac, also known as ‘Machu Picchu Limeño’ and the ‘City of Fire’, is the remains of an Altavillo complex built in the pre-Inca period sometime between 900 and 1500 AD. It is perched high up in a valley and offers sweeping views of the surrounding landscapes.

The hike up to the ruins takes about four hours from the ‘ghost town’ of Pampas near the village of La Florida. There is a campsite at the top where you can set up for the night and enjoy a stunning sunset view if you make it in time. The name ‘City of Fire’ derives from the ruin walls glinting red in the fading daylight.

To get to the trailhead from Lima, you need to make an early start and take a bus from the Z Buss terminal. From Huaral you can take a colectivo public taxi to La Florida and on to Pampas. It’s a good idea to coordinate with your driver to make the return the following day.

26.  Palakala and Huanano Falls (1 day)

The trail to Palakala Falls, San Jeronimo de Surco
The trail to Palakala Falls, San Jeronimo de Surco. Photo by Toni Fish, distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 14 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 2,850 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: easy–moderate

The small town of San Jeronimo de Surco, on the threshold of the Andean mountains just 75 kilometres east of Lima, is a gateway to some scenic valley hiking trails that lead to cascading waterfalls in the wilderness. From the town you can take a short return trail to Huanano Falls, and a longer ascent to the 12-metre-high Palakala Falls. The two combine together for a lovely day hike.

The path to Palakala Falls gains about 800 metres in elevation in total, providing some awesome mountain vistas along the way. If you’re got plenty of energy and time left, you can continue on the trail past the falls and reach the ruins of Chingana deeper inside the valley. The site is higher up (3,450 metres above sea level) and thus a tougher hike, and would require a long day return hike from the town.

From Lima you can reach San Jeronimo de Surco by taking a bus or colectivo to Chosica, and then a combi on to the town. The journey takes about three hours in total, so you’ll need to set off early to make the day hike.

27.  Marcahuasi (1 day with overnight stay)

The ancient rock formations of Marcahuasi
The ancient rock formations of Marcahuasi. Photo by David Felipe Ruiz Hoyos, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
  • Distance: 10 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,950 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

Located high in the Central Andes, some 100 kilometres inland from Lima, Marcahuasi is an ancient ritual ground distinguished by its fascinating natural rock formations. Shapes resembling human faces and other figurines have been sculpted by wind over thousands of years.

The trail to Marcahuasi begins at in the sleepy village of San Pedro de Casta, perched on the top of a valley and surrounded by mountains in every direction. From here it’s a short but very steep hike through farmland and unabated nature, gaining nearly a kilometre in altitude from the village to the rock formation site. If visiting directly from Lima, the altitude can hit hard, so bring plenty of water and take it easy – you’ll want to stop regularly to enjoy the incredible views anyhow.

The journey from Lima to San Pedro to Casta takes roughly four hours, and although it’s possible to make the return trip and hike in one day, it’s best to plan an overnight stay. From Lima, take a bus to the Chosica district and then a second one up to the village. You’ll need a strong stomach as it’s a narrow, mountainous road with some very precarious cliff edges! There is a hospedaje in the village where you can stay the night, or alternatively you can camp at the rock formations.

Go guided: Marcahuasi hiking experience from Lima

28.  Huancavelica to Santa Bárbara Mines (1 day)

Huancavelica trail to Santa Barbara mines
Huancavelica is the gateway to the Santa Bárbara mines. Photo by David Alexis distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 15 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 4,440 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

The mountain city of Huancavelica is a gateway to exploring high-altitude farmlands and idyllic rural villages in the Peruvian Central Andes. A day trail into the hills above the city leads to the ghostly abandoned mercury mines of Santa Bárbara. During the colonial era, these were among the most productive and profitable mines in the Americas.

Beginning in Plaza Bolognesi in Huancavelica, the well marked trail traces a river up to a village called Sacsamarca. From here the path continues steeply but steadily through the village of Chacllatacana, before zig-zagging up to Santa Bárbara. The remnants of the old mine demark the approach to this deserted town, and further inside stand a cluster of desolate buildings, including a 17th-century church.

Night buses from Lima to Huancavelica take around 10–12 hours, so a considerable time and journey investment is required to reach the trail. However, for hiking enthusiasts, it offers a unique and alternative window into Peru’s history, and the chance to witness some of the most peaceful, natural landscapes of the Central Andes.

Best hikes in Peru: Arequipa

The ‘white city’ of Arequipa is Peru’s second-largest metropolis, and a place of immense cultural and historical significance. It is also a launchpad for exploring some of Peru’s most spectacular natural phenomena.

The city stands under the shadow of the immense Misti Volcano, towering at nearly 6,000 metres above sea level. Arequipa is also the nearest city to two of the world’s deepest canyons, Colca and Cotahuasi. These awesome spectacles of nature make for some challenging hiking expeditions.

Check out our article: 20 awesome things to do in Arequipa

29.  Colca Canyon (2–3 days)

Colca Canyon Peru
Peru’s Colca Canyon is the world’s second-deepest canyon, and twice the depth of the Grand Canyon
  • Distance: 25 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,300 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

The Colca Canyon is the world’s second-deepest canyon, and twice the depth of its famous counterpart in the US, the Grand Canyon. A challenging hike of two or three days descends into the canyon’s depths, down zig-zagging paths, across bridges and through villages, before making the gruelling early-morning ascent back to the top.

The trudge up to the top involves an elevation gain of 1,300 metres and is best done before sunrise to avoid the day’s heat. It’s a relentless and unforgiving climb up a steep, stony path, but worth every ounce of effort for some of the most incredible views you’ll find anywhere in Peru.

Hiking tours to the Colca Canyon from Arequipa often include some extras, such as the chance to see huge Andean condors flying at dawn, and stops at the Achoma viewing point, Chivay hot springs and Patapampa volcano. You can read about our experience of the Colca Canyon.

Go guided: Colca Canyon 3-day trek

30.  Cotahuasi Canyon (3 days)

Cotahuasi Canyon, Peru
The Cotahuasi Canyon is one of the world’s deepest canyons and a quieter trekking alternative to the nearby Colca Canyon
  • Distance: 32 kilometres / depends on chosen route
  • Highest elevation point: 3,900 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

Another colossal canyon within the vicinity of Arequipa is Cotahuasi, which offers a range of hiking options from single-day routes through to multi-day endurance treks. A typical three-day hiking itinerary can encompass the best of the canyon’s jaw-dropping scenery and passes by towering waterfalls, sleepy villages and Inca ruins. As with Colca, there’s also the option to visit nearby hot springs.

Cotahuasi is a quieter option than the Colca Canyon, with fewer tourists around and more rugged, off-the-beaten-path terrain. The 150-metre-high Sipia waterfall and the stunning section of canyon beneath it is a highlight of the route. You will traverse a diversity of scenery and walk over hanging bridges suspended high above the gurgling river at the base of the canyon.

The journey from Arequipa to Cotahuasi village, the base for trekking in the canyon, takes a full day by road if you take a guided tour. There are sites of interest along the way, such as the pre-Inca petroglyphs of Toro Muerto. Alternatively, you can take a bus or combi to the village independently, which typically leave Arequipa at 5pm and arrive around 4am the next day. As such, you’ll need to set aside several days for the adventure, but the reward is some of Peru’s most spectacular and remote scenery in one of the world’s biggest canyons.

31.  Misti Volcano (2 days)

Misti Volcano looms large over the 'white city' of Arequipa in southern Peru
Misti Volcano looms large over the ‘white city’ of Arequipa in southern Peru
  • Distance: 25 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 5,822 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: hard

The sight of the imperious peak of El Misti is unmissable from Arequipa. This massive, active volcano is the dominant feature of the horizon from the city’s streets. It’s also one of the world’s most accessible high peaks for trekking; at 5,822 metres, it’s one of the highest points on the planet that can be reached by hiking without the use of specialist mountaineering equipment.

However, hiking to such an altitude comes with a big challenge of course, and with a total elevation gain of around 3,500 metres on the classic two-day return hike, this is a feat that requires fitness and experience. The prize for completing it is a glimpse of one of the world’s highest craters and a walk along volcanic ash at the summit.

During our stay in Arequipa, we found out about the Misti SkyRace – an annual event that involves a race from the city to the volcano summit and back. Is this the world’s toughest marathon? It’s definitely up there!

Go guided: Misti Volcano 2-day climbing trip

Best hikes in Peru: Chachapoyas

Further to the north of Peru, the city and region of Chachapoyas is emerging as an alternative hiking destination. Far less trodden than the southern hiking hotspots, the area is home to an array of natural wonders and some of the country’s most fascinating archaeological ruins.

One of the highlights of Chachapoyas is the ruin site of Kuélap, an ancient mountaintop complex dating back as far as 400 BC. The site can be reached via hiking trails of varying length, from day hikes to the four-day Gran Vilaya Trek.

32.  Kuélap (1 day)

The Kuélap ruins in the Chachapoyas region of Peru
The Kuélap ruins stand high above the Utcubamba Valley. Photo by Pitxiquin distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
  • Distance: 22 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,040 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

If you want to see the breathtaking ruins of a fortified city on the top of a Peruvian mountain, Machu Picchu isn’t the only way to do it. The Chachapoya site of Kuélap in northern Peru is a stunning and less-trodden alternative, standing high above the Utcubamba Valley in a mysterious cloud forest.

There are a number of paths that lead to Kuélap. One of the most popular for hikers is a return route from the nearby village of Tingo, climbing around 1,200 metres in elevation to reach the complex, with a few rest huts spread out on the way up. It’s a long day’s trekking that requires an early start, and you will need to bring a pack-up – there’s nowhere to buy food on the trail.

It’s roughly a two-hour drive to get to Tingo from Chachapoyas, the main town in the region. If going independently it’s a good idea to stay in Tingo either side of the hike. A cable car has recently been built connecting the village directly to the ruins, so you have the option to hike up and take the cable car back, or vice versa.

33.  Gran Vilaya Trek (4 days)

Gran Vilaya Trek to Kuélap
The Gran Vilaya Trek leads to the Kuélap ruin site. Photo by Sophie Robson, distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
  • Distance: 54 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,500 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate

A more challenging and rewarding way to see the ruins of Kuélap is by taking on the Gran Vilaya Trek. The route explores remnants of the Chachapoyas culture in the Utcubamba Valley, passing ruins and prehistoric tombs enshrouded in the mystique of the cloud forests.

Beginning at the base of Chachapoyas town, the trail begins with a drive to Luya, where the hiking begins. The second day involves a steep descent down an Inca staircase to the village of Congon, the stopover spot for the night. This is followed by a tough climb on the third morning to see Pirquilla, one of the most impressive of the Gran Vilaya ruins, before culminating at Kuélap on the fourth day.

While it’s possible to hike the Gran Vilaya Trek independently, taking a guided tour will give rich insights into the history and context of the various ruin sites, as well as supporting the local communities.

34.  Gocta Falls (1 day)

Gocta Falls, Peru
Gocta Falls is the world’s third-highest waterfall. Photo by Elemaki distributed under a CC BY 3.0 license.
  • Distance: 22 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 2,300 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: easy–moderate

The array of fascinating ruin sites isn’t the only reason Chachapoyas is surging in popularity as a hiking destination. The area is also home to some astounding sites of natural beauty, one of which is Gocta Falls, the world’s third-highest waterfall. Tumbling down two huge sheer faces of rock at a combined height of 771 metres amid jungle scenery, it’s a spectacular sight to behold, and can be reached in a single-day return hike.

The well marked path to the falls leads through cloud forest, passing sprightly streams and interesting flora and fauna. There are several great views of the waterfall on the way, so have your camera ready (but be careful of the spray once you get to the falls). You can also take a dip in a swimming area near the falls, but the water is very cold!

The hike begins in the village of San Pablo near Cocachimba, or you can do a shorter return hike from Cocachimba. It’s about an hour’s drive from Chachapoyas town to Cocachimba, which can be done very cheaply on public transport.

Go guided: Gocta Falls day hike

35.  Laguna de los Cóndores (3–4 days)

Laguna de los Cóndores, Peru
A series of ancient tombs are located close to the shores of Laguna de los Cóndores
  • Distance: 45 kilometres
  • Highest elevation point: 3,700 metres
  • Trekking difficulty: moderate–hard

The town of Leymebamba in northern Peru, some 90 kilometres south of Chachapoyas by road, is a place of fascinating indigenous history and a launchpad for a variety of scenic hiking trails. The most popular of these is a strenuous trek up to Laguna de los Cóndores to see a series of ancient tombs in a beautiful valley setting.

The uphill trail to the lake from Leymebamba is a tough slog of around 9–10 hours, or alternatively you can choose to make the ascent on horseback. After staying overnight in a cabin near the lake, you can enjoy its lush surroundings and hike on up to see the mausoleums. After another overnight stay by the lake, make the return hike back down to Leymebamba.

Back in the town you can see mummies extracted from the tombs and hundreds of other archaeological artefacts at the Leymebamba Museum. From Chachapoyas you can reach Leymebamba on a minibus from the main bus terminal, which takes 2.5–3 hours.

Further reading on Peru

For essential information and inspiration in planning your time in the country, read our Peru itinerary and travel guide. You may also find our other articles useful:

Looking for more outdoor adventures in South America? Our complete Patagonia trekking guide details 25 of the best hikes in the realm at the end of the world.

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This Peru trekking guide covers everything you need to know before you hit the trail, and compiles 35 of the best hikes in Peru for your bucket list. #peru #perutrekking #incatrail #besthikesinperu #hiking

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