Walking in Peru
from the classic Inca trail to less-trodden paths through the Sacred Valley, culminating at Machu Picchu
The Inca, despite their other successes, never discovered the wheel - and perhaps they didn't need it, because Peru is a country made for walking.
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The 5 day hike to Machu Picchu that everyone has heard about! This is a superb high altitude trek that combines stunning mountain scenery, diverse ecosystems, and the unsurpassed archaeological riches that line the royal Inca road to the citadel of Machu Picchu. The biggest challenge is the slow, hard walk up to Dead Woman’s Pass, 4,200m, but descending through the cloud forest along Inca stairways can be challenging on the knees too. The views along the way make it all worth while, and to arrive at Machu Picchu through Intipunku (the Sun Gate) with the iconic site below you is an awe-inspiring sight. A limited number of permits are available each day, keeping numbers down, and doing the trek in four nights helps avoid the busiest camp sites.
Day-by-day itinerary: www.lastfrontiers.com/articles/view/walking-in-peru-inca-trail
Distance hiked: 42km (ranging from 7-12km, 5-7 hours per day) | Accommodation: Camping | Maximum altitude: 4,215m | Maximum daily ascent: 1,200m | Maximum daily descent: 800m | Guide price: £1,525 (shared) - £2,140 (private)
A comfortable and fascinating alternative to the traditional Inca Trail, this 7 day hike arrives to Machu Picchu via the Llactapata Inca Trail. Hike through an area of pristine natural beauty, over high passes, including the Salkantay pass at 4,638m, along local paths and mountain tracks, and through several unique ecosystems, with the luxury of a soft bed and hot shower at the end of each day's hiking. Apart from one challenging day (horse backup available!) the trek is moderate and covers approximately 59km (37 miles) and, whilst there are some steep uphill and downhill sections, the scenery and views are unforgettable.
Day-by-day itinerary: www.lastfrontiers.com/articles/view/walking-in-peru-salkantay-lodge-trek
Distance hiked: 59km (ranging from 6-16km, 3-7 hours per day) | Accommodation: Comfortable lodges | Maximum altitude: 4,638m (Salkantay pass) | Maximum daily ascent: 800m | Maximum daily descent: 1,063m | Guide prices: £2,750 (March - Mid December) or £3,665 (April - October)
This itinerary is a wonderful option for families or those seeking a culture-focused experience, and includes a combination of hikes and ground transfers. The beautiful Lares Valley, which joins the famous Sacred Valley of the Incas near Ollantaytambo, is characterised by towering peaks and turquoise lakes, majestic waterfalls and lush valleys. Explore the charming towns and hidden villages famous for their weaving skills and colourful textiles, and discover seldom-visited archaeological sites. Amazonas Explorer operate a 4 night camping option and Mountain Lodges of Peru (MLP) operate a 4-6 night lodge option, all of which can be combined with the 1 day Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu on foot.
Day-by-day itinerary: www.lastfrontiers.com/articles/view/walking-in-peru-lares-trek
Distance hiked: 55km (ranging from 7-19km, 5-7 hours per day) | Accommodation: Lodges or Camping | Maximum altitude: 4,450m | Maximum daily ascent: 750m | Maximum daily descent: 1,250m | Guide price: £1,4750 - £3,000
If you are looking for a unique and challenging way of reaching the lost city of the Incas, this is the adventure to choose. It is an advanced-level 10-day trek across diverse terrain and through a variety of ecosystems, from the heart of Cusco all the way to Machu Picchu. The trek allows one to experience the unforgettable scenery and captivating culture of the region, by hiking 120km along less-travelled paths, through traditional Andean villages and past remote archaeological sites. The route follows part of the ancient Antisuyu Inca Trail which heads towards the Amazon jungle, and culminates by entering Machu Picchu via the iconic Sun Gate (Intipunku). Some nights are spent at comfortable mountain lodges, and others are spent camping under the stars.
Day-by-day itinerary: www.lastfrontiers.com/articles/view/walking-in-peru-black-diamond-trek
Distance hiked: 120km (ranging from 4-20km, 3-8 hours per day) | Accommodation: Camping and lodges Maximum altitude: 4,680m | Maximum daily ascent: 780m | Maximum daily descent: 1,900m | Guide price: £4,580
Go further - alternative treks in Peru
Examples include: treks in the Cordillera Blanca, one of South America’s most beautiful mountain ranges which encompasses many of the highest peaks of the Andes; a hike to Choquequirao, a preserved Inca outpost situated on a promontory above the Apurimac river in the Vilcabamba range; a trek around Ausangate, 6,384m, which dominates the Cusco valley.
Further information: www.lastfrontiers.com/articles/view/walking-in-peru-remote-treks