Peru couldn’t be more diverse when it comes to its landscapes, people, and culture. These qualities make it a true hiker’s paradise. If the mountains are where you feel at home and walking is your favorite activity, this country is heaven on earth.
Everything has its place in this biodiverse wonderland, from lush lower mountain regions full of wildlife, waterfalls, and wildflowers to majestic high-altitude peaks and volcanoes.
All of that is, thanks to Peru’s brilliant location just by the Andes. This 7500 km long mountain chain spreads from Chile to Venezuela, thus spanning the whole continent.
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, its mountains more than make up for it with their beauty.
The Huascarán, located in the famous Cordillera Blanca, reaches an impressive altitude of 6.768 meters (22.204 feet), so those of you who like a challenge will still find routes to compete with Aconcagua.
In Peru, snow-capped mountains like the Huascarán are venerated by their inhabitants as gods. The Andean people call them Apus (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 places of natural beauty. They are the basis of a whole religion and a unique mountain culture.
Our Hiking Tours and Activities enable you to explore Peru’s mountains and the spirituality linked to them via expertly designed experiences.
Browse our Travel Styles, and you’re sure to find a tour that’s just right for you!
Continue reading below to explore hiking in Peru and find more detail about our own Peru hiking experiences.
What is hiking in Peru like?
Going hiking means getting a break to enjoy some time off – escaping from modern urban life and reconnecting with nature. 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 solitude.
Hiking trips in Peru can mean a leisurely stroll through peaceful forests and along rivers, discovering abundant fauna and flora, such as hummingbirds, snakes, or vizcachas (high Andean rodents). But it can also push you to your limit until you conquer peaks and cover distances that would have once seemed impossible.
The landscapes you encounter are unique and will (sometimes literally) take your breath away. And the best thing of all? Hiking always takes place outdoors, an activity rooted in humankind’s ties to mother Earth. It allows us to breathe fresh air and works wonders for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Being surrounded by trees has especially proved beneficial for our mental stability. And if the music of the forest and the calmness of the trees isn’t enough, seeing llamas and alpacas roaming freely in the mountains will not fail to put a smile on your face!
But the highlight of exploring the Peruvian mountains is probably the presence of archaeological sites wherever you go. Exploring nature is one thing, but combining that with the discovery of ancient ruins hundreds of years old, distinguishes Peru from other hiking destinations and gives the country a very special touch.
Following the above, we have written a list of four characteristics that make Hiking Tours in Peru unique:
1. Getting away from it all by escaping to the mountains; 2. Doing good for your body and mind; 3. Experiencing the Andean culture; 4. Discovering archaeological sites.
What follows is a more detailed description of these four characteristics, coming hand in hand with some suggestions for our favorite hiking tours. So, read on if your passion for hiking fascinates you to learn about the possibilities Peru offers.
Should none of the suggestions be exactly what you are looking for, don’t hesitate to visit our Peru Trip Planner and Custom Itineraries section. Here, we give you the option to plan a personalized itinerary with one of our travel designers to ensure your trip will be exactly what you wished for.
Getting away from it all
Everyone knows the hustle and bustle of daily life and the feeling of being overwhelmed by daily obligations and urban noise pollution. Getting out into the mountains is a simple remedy when you feel exhausted. The mountains are a true place of retreat where we find tranquility and peacefulness in stressful times.
People can also find their perfect spot to practice meditation in the mountains. It is so calm and soothing up here, and the views are 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 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 throughout the day, you will still get to engage with the locals 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. They will surely be happy to explain the details and give you tips about doing it right. After making your offering, you will feel connected to the Apus and ready to start your adventure.
Health and hiking in Peru
Next to being beneficial for our souls, going on a hiking trip also means doing good for our bodies. It may not be the typical hobby you practice three times a week after work, but it is certainly a sport that should be considered terrific for well-being.
For those having a hard time going to the gym or running regularly, going for a hike every once in a while can be a great and fun alternative to get your body moving (and mountainous vistas beat wall-mounted TVs in a stuffy gym every day of the week!).
Of course, you might not have chosen to live in a place surrounded by mountains, which makes it difficult to fulfill this idea in your daily life. But that’s all the more a reason to benefit when traveling in Peru – put on your boots and go for it! Here, you can find options for any level of hiking experience.
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.
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.
Experiencing Andean culture
Although the Andes can seem cold, unpredictable, and even uninhabitable, people 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 altitude conditions is part of their everyday life.
But Andean people have a unique talent for adaptability, which helps them lead their lives here. 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 clothes 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 their llamas to protect them from hungry Pumas.
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 simultaneously.
Discovering archaeological sites in Peru
As mentioned above, Peru cannot be compared to any other hiking destination because it has a special feature that makes it so unique: its archaeological wonders. The Incas have inhabited this territory for hundreds of years. They have left their trace in many parts of Peru, alongside other ancient civilizations whose remains can also be found.
Some ruins have been destroyed or suffered a lot during that time. But others are incredibly well preserved, allowing us to immerse ourselves in this unique culture and travel back to when the Incas inhabited these places.
The fabulous Machu Picchu could be the best example of an incredibly well-maintained Inca site. This fortress in the middle of the high jungle of Peru definitely deserves the credit it gets, not a single bit less.
Our favorite way of visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site 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 questions unanswered.
From Alejandro’s place, you will make your way to Aguas Calientes and, finally, to Machu Picchu itself. There are also ways to extend the coffee route to four days, as you can see from our Machu Picchu Tours.
Another experience worth mentioning again when it comes to exploring 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 their enemies, the Chanka people, his father spent his last days in Huchuy Qosqo.
Hike Authentic Inca Trails in Peru
Another thing that sets hiking in Peru apart from other destinations is the opportunity to walk on ancient Inca trails, in the footsteps of the Incas and their ancestors.
RESPONSible Travel Peru offers seven incredible hiking experiences that include stretches of the Great Inca Trail network, or Qhapaq Ñan, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Qhapaq Ñan was the backbone of the Inca Empire, stretching over 24,000 miles across six countries in South America, showcasing the remarkable engineering abilities of the Inca people.
Hiking along the Qhapaq Ñan is an opportunity to experience the magic of the Inca Trail and immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the region.
What makes a RESPONSible Hiking Trip unique?
One thing that’s for sure is that there is no other place on earth 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, we want to reduce our emissions as much as possible to minimize this effect.
When hiking in Peru, we also want to respect the flora and fauna we meet here and preserve their habitat. In some destinations throughout Peru, people have pushed tourism to its limits, so this respect has been lost over the course of time.
You might not have known that the Huayhuash mountain range and the famous Rainbow Mountains are among these destinations. Read our blog about Irresponsible Destinations and Experiences in Peru to avoid supporting poor tourism practices and to spread the word about genuinely sustainable travel.
Over-tourism might not always be 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 actions first and, from there, work together to increase awareness and head towards a better future. If you have any questions about this blog or our tours, please get in touch.