When it comes to the land of the Incas it’s clear that many places worth visiting like Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, or the Sacred Valley in the south. If you’re planning your own Peru route right now, the chances are that you’re already a keen hiker who can’t wait to take on the Andes, Cordillera Blanca, jungle paths, and walk Incan trails to hidden ruins – or perhaps you’re a reluctant hiker trying to work out exactly how you’re going to manage to so many hikes in the space of a few weeks! What about the altitude? Which ones can’t you miss? What do you need to pack?
It is Absolutely Beautiful
We could fill this post with way too many beautiful landscapes and vistas from the countless hikes we have done in Peru (after all we don’t just want to focus on the dull, practical bits but provide you with a healthy dose of inspiration and wanderlust too!).
But there really are some special moments and places than you will only be able to see with your hiking boots firmly strapped on – that’s why so many travellers still fall in love with Peru when they’ve got blisters on their feet, and had to start the day’s walking at 4 a.m.
The quickest way for someone to ruin their Peruvian adventure, or really struggle on a day or multiday hike, is to underestimate the impact of altitude – the effects of which can be felt once you venture beyond 2500m above sea level (spoiler alert – a lot of Peru is over 2500m).
As most treks in this part of the world include sections that far surpass this limit, it’s easy to understand why altitude is something that should not be underestimated by any first time hiker or visitor in Peru.
Organised tours or Independent hikes
The good news for people who travel in a similar style is that some of the best hikes in Peru can be done independently – it just requires a little bit of research and planning on your part
If you prefer to join a group, or to have the peace of mind which comes from being led by a guide, then you will have no issue finding the right tour for you at any of the hiking hubs in Peru.
Tip | If your heart is set on conquering the Inca Trail – undoubtedly the most magical way to arrive at Machu Picchu – then it’s important to know that you can only do the hike with an approved tour company and it’s necessary to book months in advance (especially if hiking in Peru’s high season in June – September).
Multi-Day Hikes or Day-Trips
If you don’t have the time or inclination to take one of Peru’s famous multiday treks which last from 4-8 days and involve camping, then the good news is that there are a multitude of excellent, accessible, and affordable day-trip hikes in both the north and south of the country.
If you’ve got a decent level of fitness, are acclimatised to the altitude and have a good sense of adventure, then very few of the day-trip hikes in Peru should cause you any issues.
As is hopefully now pretty clear, hiking was a big part of our own Peru itinerary and is central to many other traveller’s plans here. If you fall into the bracket, then we recommend packing at least a pair of good quality waterproof hiking boots, plenty of hiking socks, and a lightweight versatile fleece , alongside several other key pieces of hiking clothes and equipment.
Purchasing good quality hiking gear is always the best idea, as it should last for all your adventures for years to come. However, if you’re low on luggage space or your budget is a little tight, the good news is that you can rent or buy key pieces of equipment from a variety of shops in Cusco, Huaraz, and Arequipa or from your tour company i.e. hiking poles, sleeping bags.
The seasons in Peru
Having travelled in Peru during both the rainy and the dry season, we can happily confirm that hiking is generally possible and enjoyable in each, but they will provide you with potentially two very different hiking experiences.
- DRY SEASON
The dry season, coinciding with winter in Peru, falls between the months of May and October.
Days during these months, expect blue skies and very little rain providing perfect hiking conditions. However, for obvious reasons, this is also the most popular time to visit the country, and all but the most off-the-beaten-path hiking trails will be busy.
- WET SEASON
December to March is when the rains start to fall, and boy does it get wet. Note that it is not possible to do the Inca Trail in February.
If you’re a newbie to hiking and a little concerned about how you’ll manage, then we recommend buying a lightweight, collapsible / telescopic set which fold up and fit easily into your backpack when not in use. If you don’t want to invest in a good set of hiking poles, then it is usually possible to rent them from most tour operators or buy them in Peru.
Take a positive mental altitude
It is the most essential component for everyone who has successfully completed the hikes. There will be moments on a steep incline or another false summit where you feel like giving up. View it as an opportunity, a goal, and a motivation to get in shape, do some more preparation hikes at home, and to push your own comfort level.
Don’t get lost
Like the proper millennials we are, we have long given up on paper hiking maps and instead rely on several apps when hiking (alongside a healthy dose of pre-hike research) to ensure we don’t get lost or stranded in the middle of the Andes.
The beauty of each of the below alternatives is that the maps and routes can be stored offline and used with GPS, so you don’t have to worry about internet connection (just make sure you download the map and research the route before you set off and bring a fully charged phone and lightweight battery pack!).
If you are looking for hikes in Cusco. You need to check our list of hikes. We are Inti Sun Trek a reliable and safe travel agency, with a trained staff that will help you to live an unforgettable experience.