Essential things to know before hiking in Peru
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Lares Valley, Mount Salkantay, Mount Ausangate and any number of half day walks and one day hikes around Cusco. Colca Canyon and Huaraz in other parts of the country. Peru is one of the best places to hike in the world, and certainly the best place to trek in South America.
If you are planning your Peru route now, and you really want to get to know the real Peru, then you should certainly consider including a trek or hike. Whether you are an experienced trekker or a beginner, Peru offers so many options for getting out into the Andes or even the Amazon basin, and to walk and camp under the stars. Below, our Peru travel experts offer their advice for hiking in Peru:
Most hikes in Peru are at high altitude: Be sure not to underestimate the effect of altitude, so you won’t find yourself struggling on a multi-day trek or even on a one-day hike. The human body begins to feel the effects of altitude at around 2500 meters, and many of Peru’s most beautiful destinations are situated at over 2500 meters! Make sure you spend a few days in the cities of Cusco or Arequipa to acclimate before starting your hike.
Organized tours and independent hikes: In Peru, reputable and experienced trekking companies offer excellent services for all of Peru’s most popular hikes. Even if you are a fan of independent walking, you might like to consider booking a trek with a good outfitter and operator, just to take care of all the logistics, including camping gear and transport to the trailhead, and in some cases even porters or pack animals. And of course, it can be fun to join a group and meet other travelers from all over the world! And remember, in the case of the Inca Trail, government regulations designed to the protect the route mean you will have to use an official Inca Trail operator.
Multi-day hikes and day trips: If you don’t have much time to see everything you plan to visit in Peru, or if you’re not a keen walker, then consider experiencing a half-day or one-day hike somewhere in the hills around Cusco, or in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. And whether you’re planning to walk the Inca Trail or just explore ruins outside Cusco, make sure you prepare well. Spend time walking before you leave home, and be sure to use those new hiking boots before you arrive in Peru!
Walking is not always free: Remember that on some hiking routes in Peru you may have to pay. Entrance fees are often charged for entry into Peruvian national parks, or to the ruins and archaeological sites that you will want to visit at the end of your walk. If possible, make sure you buy these tickets in advance, or that you have enough cash with you in local currency.