The 12 Best Multi-Day Treks in Peru
Peru is unique in that it offers a plethora of world class hikes, making it arguably one of the best hiking destinations in the world. Peru located in the Northwestern portion of South America is a land of natural beauty, steeped in history and culture. It's a place that invites exploration, and what better way to explore the country than on foot. From the famous Inca Trail to lesser-known routes, each trek provides a unique experience, taking trekkers through stunning landscapes, remote villages, and ancient ruins. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a first-time trekker, Peru has something for everyone. In this blog post, we'll explore the 12 best multi-day treks in Peru and what makes each one special. So, get your hiking boots ready, pack your backpack, and let's hit the trails in Peru.
Peru is a popular destination for hiking and trekking, with its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and stunning natural wonders. The Cusco Region is a prime example, boasting spectacular mountain landscapes, ancient ruins, and traditional Andean villages. The most famous trek in the region is the Inca Trail, which leads to the iconic Machu Picchu. However, there are many other treks in the region that offer equally breathtaking views, from snow-capped peaks to lush tropical forests. The Ausangate Trek is a popular alternative and one of the best treks in Peru, taking hikers around the majestic Ausangate mountain and past remote Andean villages. The Cusco Region is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike, offering a truly unforgettable experience.
#1. Ausangate Circuit + Rainbow Mountain - 6 Days
The full Ausangate circuit trek takes a full 6 day to complete with a little extra off circuit trekking to tie in the Rainbow Mountain (or Quechua name Vinicunca) which lies a short distance off the main trail. This high altitude trek in the Peruvian Andes is considered one of the best remote multi-day treks in the world. Packing unbelievable views in every turn, and the remoteness makes for few trekkers, who are generally just visiting the Rainbow Mountain via a day trip from Cusco City. The few that extend their trekking days by linking on the Ausangate are rewarded with unique landscapes, towering peaks, hanging glaciers, turquoise lagoons, free roaming alpacas & llamas, hot springs, and a plethora of wildlife. We just might as this is the best on the list….
#2. Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu - 5 Days
The Salkantay Trek is considered one of the best alternative treks to the Classic Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu. This 5-day trek takes you through some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in Peru, from the towering snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the lush green valleys, forests and the famous Humantay lake. What makes this trail so special is the incredible diversity of ecosystems that you'll traverse. You'll cross mountain passes, hike through the lush jungles, and visit turquoise alpine lakes, providing an unforgettable experience for any nature lover.
The highlight of the Salkantay Trek is reaching the high-altitude Salkantay Pass, which sits at an elevation of 15,213 feet. From the pass, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Along the way, you'll also have the opportunity to visit remote Andean villages, learn about the local culture, and soak in natural hot springs.
The Salkantay Trek offers a unique and challenging trekking experience, showcasing some of Peru's most breathtaking natural beauty. It's a great alternative to the crowded Inca Trail, offering a more remote and diverse route to Machu Picchu.
#3. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu - 4 Days
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is undoubtedly the most iconic and popular multi-day hike in all of Peru. This 4-day trek takes you along the historical path of the Incas, through stunning Andean landscapes, past ancient ruins, and over high mountain passes. The highlight of the trek is reaching the iconic Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, located high above the small town of Aguas Calientes. The trek is great from a historical standpoint, offering a trail that is rich with remnants from the past, but it can get crowded during peak season. For those seeking a more remote and diverse landscape, the Ausangate region offers just that. This route takes you through stunning valleys, remote Andean villages, and over the towering Ausangate Mountain, providing breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear lakes - the traveler can just tack on a visit to Machu Picchu at the beginning or end of the Ausangate trek. Whatever route you choose, hiking to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience, offering a glimpse into the ancient Inca civilization and the crown jewel of Peru's many archaeological sites.
Tip: Machu Picchu, one of the most famous Incan ruins in Peru, is surrounded by several hiking trails, including the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountains (add ons to your visitation to the Machu Picchu ruins).
Huayna Picchu is a steep, narrow peak that rises behind Machu Picchu and offers stunning views of the ruins from above. The hike up Huayna Picchu is challenging and requires a permit, which should be purchased in advance due to limited availability. The trail is steep and can be difficult for those with a fear of heights or vertigo, but the breathtaking views at the summit are worth the effort.
Machu Picchu Mountain, on the other hand, is a longer and less steep hike than Huayna Picchu, but still requires a permit. The trail winds through the jungle and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as the ruins of Machu Picchu from above.
Both hikes offer unique perspectives of Machu Picchu and are highly recommended for those who want to experience the site from a different angle.
#4. Huchuy Qosqo Trek - 3 Days
The Huchuy Qosqo Trek is a hidden gem located in the Sacred Valley of Peru, offering a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience for trekkers. It's a 3-day hike that starts with a visit to the ancient ruins of Chinchero, known for its weaving traditions. The trail then takes you through small local communities, providing a chance to interact with the locals and learn about their way of life. As you ascend into the high Andean mountains, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, waterfalls, incan ruins and crystal-clear lakes.
What makes the Huchuy Qosqo Trek special is reaching the ancient Incan ruins of Huchuy Qosqo, believed to have been built during the reign of Pachacutec. These ruins boast impressive stone structures, plazas, and terraces, all set against the stunning backdrop of the mountain scenery.
In just 3 days, the Huchuy Qosqo Trek packs a lot of adventure, from exploring local communities and admiring beautiful landscapes to discovering ancient ruins and immersing in the local culture. With the trail still relatively unknown, you might not encounter any other trekking group, making this hike an ideal option for those seeking a more remote and authentic experience in Peru.
#5. Lares Trek - 4 days
For the ultimate cultural experience the trek through the Lares Valley offers another great alternative to the Inca Trail. The trek gives the traveler a unique flair of culture as you will come across Andean communities that have changed little in the last 500 + years. And you are likely to stumble upon local weavers and farming communities along the trail. The trail will also link in to a visit to Machu Picchu at the end.
#6. Ancascocha Trek - 5 Days
A challenging trail that packs it all in. This off the beaten path gem, also ends with a visit to Machu Picchu, but has remained hidden. National Geographic named this in their article “National Geographic’s 20 Dream Hikes.” Along this trail your feet will find solitude along a lesser trodden portion of the historical Inca Trail. You will pass through rolling farmlands of the Vilcabamba Valley, and over mountain passes that offer up stunning views of the snow capped Cordillera. You will also pass the friendly andean villages offering up a glimpse into the day to day life of an alpaca herder. Not to mention the glacial lakes, cloud forest and ancient Inca ruins you will pass along the way.
#7. Choquequirao Peru Tour + Machu Picchu - 6 Days
Compare and contrast these two amazing Incan cities on the Choquequirao trek. This hike is highlighted by a visit to the ancient city of Choquequirao, a truly lost city that remains extremely well preserved as it sits in a remote region in the Vilcabamba mountain range. This site is 3 times larger than Machu Picchu and can only be visited by putting in a couple of days of hiking effort. No roads lead here. The region is also home to a great diversity of wildlife giving you a rare chance to see the Andean Condor, foxes, spectacled bears and maybe even the puma.
The Arequipa Region in Peru is a popular destination for hiking enthusiasts. The region boasts several natural wonders, including the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, and the Misti volcano, a popular destination for climbers.
Hiking in the Colca Canyon offers stunning views of the canyon walls and the opportunity to spot the Andean condor, a rare bird that is native to the region. There are also several hot springs in the area, which provide a relaxing break from a day of hiking.
For those interested in climbing, the Misti volcano is a challenging but rewarding experience. The summit offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, including the nearby Chachani and Pichu Pichu volcanoes.
Other popular hiking destinations in the Arequipa Region include the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve, which is home to several species of Andean wildlife, including vicuñas and alpacas, and the Cotahuasi Canyon, which is even deeper than the Colca Canyon and offers similarly stunning views.
#8. Colca Canyon: 2 or 3 Days
The Colca Canyon, located in Peru, is the world's second deepest canyon, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The trek, similar to that of the Grand Canyon, spans over 2-3 days and commences from the city of Arequipa in Peru. The hike involves a challenging descent into the canyon and offers stunning views of the arid region, home to the majestic Andean condor. As you approach the river below, the views stretch for miles, making for a truly unforgettable experience. Upon reaching the bottom of the canyon, you'll spend a night or two in basic bungalows that often feature private pools, perfect for relaxation after a long day on the trail. The hike out of the canyon is an arduous climb, consisting of a series of switchbacks leading to the upper rim of the canyon. Overall, the Colca Canyon trek offers a remarkable adventure, similar in nature to that of the Grand Canyon, but with its own unique flavor and breathtaking scenery.
Note: It's essential to acclimatize to the altitude in Arequipa before starting the 2-3 day Colca Canyon trek, as altitude sickness can be a concern for those travelers coming from sea level or low elevations. Taking a few days to adjust is recommended, and staying hydrated and taking necessary precautions during the hike is important. Overall, the Colca Canyon trek offers a rewarding experience with stunning views, but requires proper acclimatization and precautions.
#9. Misti Volcano - 2 Days
Embark on an awe-inspiring ascent to one of the world's most easily accessible high summits - Misti Volcano. The starting point of this trek is located the city of Arequipa, Peru. This active volcano presents an exciting challenge for hikers as they make their way to the peak, reaching an altitude of 19,111ft on a thrilling 2-day trek that packs in incredible views. Though no technical gear is necessary, the trail can be demanding at this altitude, with ash and sand making the hike challenging. Nevertheless, your efforts will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic vistas at the summit, making the journey well worth the exertion. Guided tours are highly recommended to ensure safety on this high elevation trek.
Huaraz Region - Cordillera Blanca:
The Huaraz Region in Peru is a popular destination for hiking enthusiasts, offering breathtaking mountain landscapes and challenging treks for all skill levels. Huaraz is reached via a 8 to 9 hour bus ride north of Lima. One of the most iconic hikes in the region is the Santa Cruz Trek, a four-day trek through the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, which features stunning views of snow-capped peaks and turquoise glacial lakes. Other popular hikes in the area include the Huayhuash Circuit, Alpamayo Base Camp Trek, and Laguna 69 (considered by many the best day hikes in the region). The Huaraz Region is also home to the Huascarán National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is known for its diverse flora and fauna, including the Andean condor and the puya raimondi plant. With its natural beauty and challenging terrain, the Huaraz Region is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for an unforgettable hiking experience in Peru.
#10. Huayhuash Trek: 8 - 12 days
The Huayhuash Trek is a true paradise for hikers, considered to be one of the best multi-day trekking circuits in the world. Located in the Cordillera Huayhuash range, this trek features a collection of peaks that soar over 20,000ft, famously depicted in the movie "Touching the Void". The trail encompasses 8 high mountain passes and offers stunning views of giant snow-capped peaks towering over turquoise lakes, alpine creeks, wildflowers, and beautiful hanging glaciers. It's an unforgettable experience that immerses hikers in the breathtaking natural beauty of the Andes Mountains. The trek typically takes between 8 to 12 days, offering ample time to soak in the stunning surroundings and create memories that will last a lifetime.
#11. Santa Cruz Trek - 4 Days
The Santa Cruz Trek is a hidden gem in the Huaraz region, making it a great alternative for those who don't have the time for the Huayhuash trek. This 4-day hike offers stunning natural beauty that will leave you in awe. The trail winds through the valleys of the Cordillera Blancas in Peru's Huascaran National Park, with the highest point on the trek at Punta Union 4760m (15,617ft). Here, you'll witness spectacular views of the valley below and beautiful alpine lakes.
What makes the Santa Cruz Trek special is its remoteness, providing hikers with a true wilderness paradise experience. For those looking to extend their stay in the region, there are other famous day hikes available, including the amazing hike to Laguna 69.
The Santa Cruz Trek is a fantastic option for those seeking breathtaking natural beauty and a remote wilderness experience. Its location in the Cordillera Blancas in Peru's Huascaran National Park makes it a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by adventurous trekkers.
Hiking in Northern Peru is a fantastic way to explore the country's natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The region is home to several stunning trekking destinations, including the Gran Vilaya Trek, which takes hikers along pre-Incan trails and through beautiful cloud forests. The region is home to several archaeological sites and ancient ruins, such as the Fortress of Kuélap, a pre-Incan site often referred to as the "Machu Picchu of the North." Overall, hiking in Northern Peru offers an unforgettable experience for those seeking adventure and cultural immersion.
#12. The Gran Vilaya Trek - 3 Days
The Gran Vilaya Trek is a lesser-known but no less spectacular hiking option for those visiting Northern Peru. The trek typically takes three days and covers a distance of around 25 kilometers, with options for longer or shorter treks depending on one's preferences.
The trek passes through stunning cloud forests, which are home to a vast array of flora and fauna, including orchids, bromeliads, and a variety of bird species. Hikers will also have the opportunity to witness the traditional lifestyle of the local communities, such as the Andean farmers who still cultivate the land using traditional methods.
One of the most significant highlights of the Gran Vilaya Trek is the Fortress of Kuélap, an archaeological site that dates back to the 6th century. The fortress is situated on a mountaintop and is surrounded by towering walls and over 400 circular houses. The Chachapoya people built the fortress to defend themselves from the Incas, and it is believed to have been a significant cultural and religious center for the civilization.
In addition to Kuélap, the trek takes hikers to several other archaeological sites, including the Revash mausoleum, which contains beautifully preserved tombs decorated with colorful friezes.
The Gran Vilaya Trek offers a unique opportunity to explore the history, culture, and natural beauty of Northern Peru, away from the more tourist-heavy destinations.
Booking a Guide for Multi day Trek in Peru:
As you can see Peru offers a variety of breathtaking multi-day treks. When it comes to exploring these stunning routes, trekkers have the option of either guided or self-guided tours.
Guided treks come with the advantage of an experienced and knowledgeable guide who will provide a wealth of information about the trail, the culture, and the history of the area. The guide will also assist in logistics, such as organizing permits, transportation, meals, gear, pack animal or porter luggage transport, and accommodation, leaving you free to focus on enjoying the trek itself. Additionally, guided treks offer a higher degree of safety, as guides are trained to handle emergency situations, and carry first aid kits and communication equipment. So whether you are booking a full day hike or a multi day trek, a professional local guide through a tour company is the best way to experience the trails in peru.
In conclusion, Peru offers some of the most spectacular multi-day treks and bucket list adventures in the world, ranging from the high-altitude snow-capped mountains of the Andes to the lush Amazon rainforest. Each trek offers its own unique challenges, rewards, and breathtaking scenery that will leave you in awe. From the iconic Inca Trail to the lesser-known Ausangate trek, there is something for everyone. Whether you are an experienced hiker seeking a new challenge or a nature lover looking to immerse yourself in Peru's stunning landscapes, these 12 best multi-day treks in Peru are sure to satisfy your wanderlust and create unforgettable memories. So, pack your bags, lace up your boots, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime in this beautiful country. There is a Peru hiking trail suited for everyone. For information about the best times to hike and visit peru check out our blog - PERU’S WEATHER AND SEASONS: WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?