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Hiking Trips in Peru – A Complete Guide

While Peru is a destination that couldn’t be more diverse when it comes to landscapes, people and culture, it is definitely known for one thing: being a hiker’s paradise. If the mountains are where you feel at home and walking is your favorite activity, this country is your heaven on earth. From lush lower mountains full of wildlife, waterfalls and flowers, to majestic high altitude peaks and volcanoes; everything has its place here.

All of that is of course thanks to Peru’s brilliant location just by the Andes. This 7500 km long mountain chain spreads all the way from Chile to Venezuela, thus marking the whole continent. In Peru, it separates the coast from the jungle and represents one of three incredible natural territories. 

The Andes are home to the highest peak in the western hemisphere: the Aconcagua in Argentina, at 6.961 meters (22.837 feet). Even though Peru is not in first place when it comes to the highest mountain, it certainly does not disappoint at all. The Huascarán is located in the famous Cordillera Blanca and reaches an impressive altitude of 6.768 meters (22.204 feet). As you can see, it does not fail to compete with the Aconcagua. 

In Peru, snow-capped mountains like the Huascarán are venerated by their inhabitants as gods. The Andean people call them Apus (which is Quechua for god) and show them their gratitude for providing water and thus sustaining life on earth. Therefore, the mountains of Peru are even more than wonders of nature. They are the basis of a whole religion and a very unique culture.

Our Hiking Tours and Activities enable you to explore Peru’s mountains and the spirituality that is linked to it on well thought-out experiences. You can find general Nature Tours among our offer as well, but also Adventure and Off-The-Beaten-Path Experiences, in case you want to get to know this side of the country more. Surely, you will find something suitable for your trip by scrolling through all of our Travel Styles. Hereunder, however, we will focus solely on Hiking Experiences. 

The city of Huaraz with its ever-impressive backdrop of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. The Huascarán is the highest mountain of Peru. Visit this region with RESPONSible Travel Peru!
The city of Huaraz with its ever-impressive backdrop of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. The Huascarán is the highest mountain of Peru.

What characterizes Hiking Trips in Peru? 

Going hiking means getting a break to enjoy some time off. It can be a good opportunity to catch up with friends but it is also an activity you can enjoy on your own if you like solitariness. Hiking trips in Peru can mean a leisurely stroll through forests and along rivers, discovering the abundant fauna and flora, such as hummingbirds, snakes or vizcachas (similar to chinchillas). But it can also push you to your limits, taking you higher and higher until you reach seemingly untouchable peaks. 

Landscapes are unique and will (sometimes literally) take your breath away. And the best thing of all: hiking always takes place in the outdoors. It allows us to breathe fresh air and thus do good to our health. Especially being surrounded by trees has proved to be beneficial for our mental stability. And sometimes, the extra of seeing llamas and alpacas roaming freely in the mountains will not fail to put a smile on our faces. 

But the highlight of exploring the Peruvian mountains is probably the ever-presence of archaeological sites, wherever you go. Exploring nature is one thing, but combining that with the discovery of ancient ruins that are hundreds of years old, is what distinguishes Peru from other hiking destinations and gives the country a very special touch. 

According to the above said, we have set up a list of four characteristics of Hiking Tours in Peru: 1. Getting away from it all by fleeing to the mountains; 2. Doing good to your body; 3. Experiencing the Andean culture, 4. Discovering archaeological sites all over Peru. 

What follows is a more detailed description of each of these four characteristics, coming hand in hand with some suggestions of our favorite hiking tours. So, read on if hiking is what fascinates you to find out all about the possibilities Peru has to offer.

Should none of the suggestions made hereunder be exactly what you are looking for, don’t hesitate to resort to our Peru Trip Planner and Custom Itineraries section. Here, we give you the option to plan your own personalized itinerary with one of our Travel Designers, to make sure your trip will be exactly what you wished for. 

Landscape - Ausangate
Clouds coming up in the mountains of Cusco Region

Getting away from it all 

Everyone knows the hustle and bustle of daily life, and the feeling of being overwhelmed by obligations, noises and possibilities. A simple but perfectly functioning remedy for being overstrained is getting out into the mountains. In stressful times, they are a true place of retreat where we find tranquility and peacefulness. 

People can also find their perfect spot to practice meditation in the mountains. It is so calm and soothing up here, and the views so captivating, that you will have a much easier time finding inner peace and connecting with your soul. Some might even get into a state of meditation while walking. Doing this for hours and hours will make your mind wander off to a completely different level of consciousness. 

Some of our Hiking Trips in Peru take you to such remote areas, that finding tranquility is predestined. On our Ausangate Lodge to Lodge Trek, for example, you will discover the Vilcanota Mountain Range and all of its beauty. While it’s incredibly peaceful here throughout the day, you will still get the opportunity to engage with the local people welcoming you to the Lodges upon arrival. It’s the perfect combination of both. 

When embarking on this trek, don’t forget to make your offering to the apus. You can use three coca leaves (in Quechua, you call this “Kintu”) to offer to the mountains, asking them for a safe passage and wishing them well. If you want, ask your guide about this ritual. He surely will be happy to explain the details to you and give you tips about how to do it right. After making your offering, you will feel connected to the Apu and ready to start your adventure. 

Offering with coca leaves - Ausangate
Community member making an offering to the Ausangate with three Coca leaves.

Doing good to your body 

Next to being beneficial for our soul, going on a hiking trip also means doing good to our body. It may not be the typical hobby that you practice three times a week after work, but it is certainly a sport that should be viewed as such. For those having a hard time going to the gym or for a run regularly, going for a hike every once in a while can be a great and fun alternative to get your body moving.

Of course, you might not have chosen to live in a place surrounded by the mountains, which makes it difficult to fulfill this idea in your daily life. But that’s all the more a reason to benefit from your visit to Peru, put on your boots and go for it. Here, you can find options for any difficulty level you would want to choose. 

The Inca Road to Huchuy Qosqo is a great experience for those who want to take it easier and prefer not to get too high up there. Or, if you do like high altitude treks and are looking for the perfect opportunity to acclimatize, Huchuy Qosqo it is! To give you just a small first insight: this hike is about exploring a little-known but incredible archaeological Inca site in the Sacred Valley. It is more than worth a visit, as you will find out yourself. 

As soon as you have done the job acclimatizing well to the altitude, you might be brave enough to embark on the Vicos to Ishinca Trek in Ancash. This one takes you to the famous Cordillera Blanca, combining an authentic community experience with serious mountaineering. At the end of this tour, you will also spend two days at a mountain lodge, where you can get some good rest. 

Huchuy Qosqo - Landscape
Beautiful landscapes, full of interesting flowers close to Huchuy Qosqo

Experiencing Andean culture 

Although the Andes can seem like this cold, unpredictable and uninhabitable place sometimes, there are indeed people that call this territory their home. They are said to be the descendants of the Inca people (and other cultures) who have fled to the mountains trying to save themselves from the Spanish invasion. Now, facing the harsh conditions of the altitude is part of their everyday life. 

But people have a particular talent, helping them lead their life up here: adaptability. They have learned to cultivate all types of crops here and to care for their llamas, which enjoy mountain life to the fullest. Knowing how to weave, they can produce their own clothes as well to keep warm. Traditionally, the Andean people are dressed in very detailed and colorful clothes that contrast beautifully with the mountainous landscapes. 

Up in the Andes, life starts early. People get up with the first sun rays and finish their day bringing together all of their llamas to protect them from hungry Pumas. Every now and then, some hikers might come by and will be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of what life in the Andes is like. If you dream about being one of these hikers, it is again the Ausangate Lodge to Lodge Trek or the Vicos to Ishinca Trek in the Cordillera Blanca that we can highly recommend to you. Here, you get to experience the Andean culture and nature at the same time. 

Ausangate Hike
Two travelers hiking next to the Ausangate Mountain in Cusco

Discovering archaeological sites 

As mentioned above, Peru cannot easily be compared to any other hiking destination because it has a very special feature that makes it so unique: its archaeological wonders. The Incas have inhabited this territory for hundreds of years and have left their trace in many parts of Peru, alongside other ancient civilizations, whose remains can be found as well. 

Some ruins have been destroyed or suffered a lot during the time. But others are incredibly well preserved, allowing us to immerse ourselves in this unique culture and travel back in time to when the Incas used to inhabit these places. The best example of an incredibly well maintained Inca site could be no other than the fabulous Machu Picchu. This fortress in the middle of the high jungle of Peru definitely deserves the credit that it gets, and not a single bit less. 

Our favorite way of visiting the World Wonder is by embarking on our Coffee Route to Machu Picchu. This 3-day hike takes you along a barely visited path leading to the coffee plantation of our friend Alejandro. Eager to share his knowledge about coffee making and organic farming, he will walk you through his land and leave no question unanswered. 

From Alejandro’s place, you will make your way to Aguas Calientes and then, finally, to Machu Picchu itself. There are also ways to extend the coffee route to four days, as you can see looking at all of our Machu Picchu Tours

Another experience that is worth mentioning again when it comes to the exploration of Peru’s history, is the hike to Huchuy Qosqo. This archaeological gem is said to have served as a refuge for the father of Pachacútec, the greatest Inca of all time. While Pachacútec was fighting to save his land and people from the Spaniards, his father was spending his last days in Huchuy Qosqo. 

Machu Picchu
The sun shining its first light on the impressive Inca ruins of Machu Picchu.

What makes a RESPONSible Hiking Trip unique? 

One thing that’s for sure is that there is no other place on earth quite like the Peruvian Andes. Its nature and culture are so breathtaking that we want to preserve this place by all means. Unfortunately, the Apus are losing their glaciers and the people in the valleys their water sources. So, what we want to do is reduce our emissions as much as we can in order to minimize this effect. 

When hiking in Peru, we also want to respect the flora and fauna that we meet here and preserve their habitat. In some destinations throughout Peru, people have pushed tourism to its limits so that this respect has been lost with the course of the time. You might not have known that among these destinations are the Huayhuash mountain range and the famous Rainbow Mountains. Read our blog about Irresponsible Destinations and Experiences in Peru to avoid ignorance and spread the word. 

Over-tourism might not always be very visible to us, or maybe we just don’t think about how devastating the consequences can be. And we shouldn’t blame ourselves or each other for not always being aware of any problem. Instead, we should start by thinking about our own actions first and from there, work together to increase awareness and head towards a better future. 

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ABOUT RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL PERU

RESPONS’ mission is to improve living conditions in Peru through developing and promoting sustainable tourism. We’ve implemented a business model in which all areas of human relations are respected, and - equally important - respect for the planet is incorporated.

Following this business model, we practice fair trade, foster cultural identity, promote equal opportunities, and we preserve the environment that surrounds us and other species.

Together with you we improve, day by day, on the always-demanding path towards sustainability.

Tours in Peru

People enjoying local food

Family Adventure Days in Tambopata

Quick and Easy Expedition to the Tambopata Jungle

Macaw clay lick

Tambopata’s Landmarks Expedition

Easy expedition to the Tambopata Jungle

Colonial architecture carved details in Sillar stone in Arequipa

Arequipa Walking Tour

Cordillera Blanca Trek – Vicos to Ishinca

Ceviche served in wine glass - RESPONSible Travel Peru

Typical Peruvian Food Tour in Artsy Barranco

Photography in the streets of Ollantaytambo