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Hiking in Peru - Activity Info. - Peru

Hiking in Peru

Hiking in Peru affords travelers with the opportunity to take in some of the best scenery the Andes have to offer. Often, hikes and treks will stop by Inca ruins too.

Hiking the Inca Trail and its alternatives

The most famous hike in Peru, perhaps in the world is the Inca Trail and thousands travel to Peru each year to trek this route and enjoy its final reward—Machu Picchu. However, with an Inca Trail bursting under the strain of the volumes of hikers, a number of other, alternative hikes are gaining in popularity, so don’t limit yourself to the well-trodden path. See Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu Trekking for more information on alternative treks. 

Note: only 500 people per day area are allowed to hike the Inca trail (porters and guides included), so to avoid disappointment it is recommended to register at least five to six months ahead of the trek. Be aware that the Inca Trail is closed during the month of February. Trekking the Inca Trail independently is not an option: you need to go with a tour operator. 

Sacred Valley Hiking

There is also great hiking in the Sacred Valley region. Here, Ollantaytambo makes a good starting out point. If you're a hiker that also appreciates history, you'll love the options in this area as many of them take in ancient Inca ruins or agricultural terracing. Hikes that you might want to try include those of Pumamarca, Pinculluna and Huayoccari.

Hiking in the Cordilleras

The Cordilleras offer hikers an array of hikes and treks for varying abilities, with hikers rewarded with breathtaking landscapes—jagged peaks and sweeping valleys. If you want to hike in this region, Huaraz makes for an excellent base and is a good starting point for many hikes and treks. It is better to hike in the dry season, between May to September, although the months of April, October and November can be fine for hiking too. Some trekking highlights include the Santa Cruz to Llanganuco route, arriving at stunning blue lakes, the Olleros to ChavĂ­n trek which terminates at the ChavĂ­n de Huantar fortress temple, Huayhuash and Alpamayo.  

Hiking in the Colca Canyon

The Colca Canyon is another part of Peru where hikers will be spoilt for choice with spectacular hiking in one of the world’s deepest canyons, with the possible bonus reward of spotting a majestic condor or two, more if you are lucky. Hikes in this area include steep forays into the canyon to the lush oases that can be found at the bottom. Close by, in the countryside surrounding Arequipa, hiking opportunities also abound. Great hikes can be had on El Misti and Chachani, two of the mountains surrounding the city.

Altitude Sickness when hiking in Peru

When you are hiking in Peru, be aware of altitude sickness. Don't plan on doing long hikes within your first few days. It is important initially to rest for a few days and drink lots of bottled water. Once you are hiking, be on your guard for symptoms of altitude sickness, which include severe headaches, drowsiness, confusion, dry cough, and/or breathlessness. If symptoms continue, it is important to get to a lower altitude and rest. Altitude sickness can come on suddenly if you experience a sudden change of altitude.

Hiking Equipment

In addition to altitude sickness, make sure that you are appropriately equipped with a decent pair of hiking shoes, a wind / waterproof jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, quick-drying pants and plenty of warm gear. It gets really cold at these high altitudes—don't head out unprepared, even if it looks nice and sunny. Don't forget your sunscreen—despite the cold, the sun can burn you more quickly at these altitudes. Be sure to take lots of water and snacks too.

Activity Info., Hiking Info.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Peru: Trekking and Climbing in Peru,

View Peru Map

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