7 Iconic Hikes in Peru

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Last updated Mar 12, 2024

Peru is considered a hiker’s paradise. Because of its diverse landscape, you can hike to breathtaking glacial lakes, snowcapped peaks and passes, jungle rugged paths and ancient ruins. Picking a list of only 7 Iconic Hikes in Peru wasn’t easy, as there are so many options here.

Our list of 7 Iconic Hikes in Peru consists of mostly multiday hikes at pretty high elevations, something to keep in mind when training and preparing for these hikes. Most popular hikes are centered around Cusco and Arequipa and some less visited are centered around Huaraz, northern Peru.

7 Iconic Hikes in Peru Included in This Post



Salkantay Trek

DURATION: 5 Days
LENGTH: 46 miles
HIGHEST ELEVATION: 15,190 ft.
DIFFICULTY: Strenuous
CLOSEST TOWN: Cusco

Machu Picchu
Salkantay Mountain | 7 Iconic Hikes in Peru

Classic Salkantay Trek is 5 days and 4 nights with the last day spent in Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, this hike is getting more popular every year but considering the scenery, you hike through, I can understand why. You see everything from glacial lakes, mountain passes with the backdrop of snowcapped peaks, ancient ruins, coffee plantations, and cloud forests to hot springs. The list goes on.

It is a difficult hike with the highest pass elevation of 15,190 ft. It is important to acclimatize before starting this hike and not put yourself and others at risk. There are many alternatives to this hike and options to ride a horse or take a train if some sections are too difficult.

You can read about our experience on this 5-day adventure here.



Humantay Lake

DURATION: 1 Day
LENGTH: 3.11 miles
HIGHEST ELEVATION: 13,780 ft.
DIFFICULTY: Moderate
CLOSEST TOWN: Cusco

7 Iconic Hikes in Peru
Humantay Lake | 7 Iconic Hikes in Peru

If you want a taste of Salkantay Trek but do not have 5-days to spend hiking, the Humantay Lake hike is a great option. It is a one-day hike, the first day of Salkantay Trek, to an incredibly stunning glacial lake at over 13,000 ft. elevation.

It is not a long hike, but the altitude puts everything in perspective. Remember to take time, walk slowly, take breaks as needed and drink plenty of water. After the hike, you will be rewarded with a delicious lunch before returning to town.

This day hike can be combined with a 2, 3, 4, or 5-day Salkantay Trek.



Inca Trail

DURATION: 4 Days
LENGTH: 28 miles
HIGHEST ELEVATION: 13,829 ft.
DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Strenuous
CLOSEST TOWN: Cusco

7 Iconic Hikes in Peru
Machu Picchu | 7 Iconic Hikes in Peru

Classic Inca Trail is the most popular hike in South America. People from all over the world come to Peru for this hike. However, that is also a reason why others, who are trying to avoid the crowds have started exploring different options such as the Salkantay Trek and Ausangate Trek.

You will be walking on an ancient trail laid by the Incas and visiting some unique archaeological sites (ruins), only accessible by foot. The hike snakes up and down over different mountain passes leading you to the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu.

The classic hike is 5 days, but you can combine it with the Salkantay Trek and make it a 7-Day unforgettable experience.



Ausangate Hike

DURATION: 5 Days
LENGTH: 35 miles
HIGHEST ELEVATION: 17,060 ft.
DIFFICULTY: Strenuous
CLOSEST TOWN: Cusco

7 Iconic Hikes in Peru
Ausangate Trail | 7 Iconic Hikes in Peru

If you are looking for a hike off the beaten path Ausangate hike is definitely it. Unlike the Salkantay and Inca Trail, your group may be the only one on this trail. Of course, apart from llamas and alpacas. All kidding aside, it is a challenging hike due to the altitude (you never come below 13,000 ft).

It is an epic journey through the foothills of Ausangate glacier with visits to glacial lakes and hot springs. There are shorter versions of this hike that can be combined with the visit to Rainbow Mountain.



Rainbow Mountain

DURATION: 1 Day
LENGTH: 4.5 miles
HIGHEST ELEVATION: 16,700 ft.
DIFFICULTY: Moderate
CLOSEST TOWN: Cusco

7 Iconic Hikes in Peru
Rainbow Mountain | 7 Iconic Hikes in Peru

This epic adventure begins with the pick-up at your hotel at 4 a.m. Early starts are a theme of hiking in Peru. Unfortunately, most of today’s adventure is spent driving – 3 hrs. one way.

The hike to Rainbow Mountain is a very popular adventure. The trail is shared with the horses and vendors selling traditional clothing, souvenirs, and refreshments.  The local people use horses to transport visitors not willing or able to hike, but that only gets you part way, to see the rainbow peak, you will have to hike the last part on your own.

Once at the peak, it gets very crowded and lines form to take pictures, but if you walk just a little bit over the pass with a view of the valley you will find complete serenity.

Even though this seems like an easy adventure, Rainbow Mountain is at over 17,000 elevation and that plays a big part in the difficulty of this hike.

You can refer to our step-by-step guide to Rainbow Mountain for more information.



Colca Canyon

DURATION: 2 Days
LENGTH: 11 miles
HIGHEST ELEVATION: 10,830 ft.
DIFFICULTY: Moderate
CLOSEST TOWN: Arequipa or Chivay

7 Iconic Hikes in Peru
Colca Canyon | 7 Iconic Hikes in Peru

Colca Canyon – a two-day adventure for most hikers starts with a 3 AM pick-up from Arequipa and driving for approximately 4 hours before making it to Colca Canyon. It can be done on your own or with a tour guide.

If doing this trek with a tour guide you will most likely stop for breakfast before making it over to Mirador Cruz Del Condor to get a glimpse of majestic Andean Condors flying over the Colca Canyon. The Andean Condors are the major attraction in the canyon and most people travel to this point just to see them.

The trail that you take into the canyon is very steep and dusty with the finish at the beautiful Oasis Ecolodge where you can take a dip in the pool before heading to dinner. The next day’s hike starts before sunrise to minimize the impact of heat, as the climb is scary steep.

After the hike, you will be able to enjoy breakfast, hot springs, and lunch before heading back to Arequipa. At this point, you can also take the option of traveling back to Puno and visiting Lake Titicaca instead of Arequipa. This can also be extended into a 3-day trek.

You can read about our adventure in the Colca Canyon here.



Santa Cruz Trek

DURATION: 4 Days
LENGTH: 31 miles
HIGHEST ELEVATION: 15,580 ft.
DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Difficult
CLOSEST TOWN: Huaraz

7 Iconic Hikes in Peru
Santa Cruz Trek | 7 Iconic Hikes in Peru

Santa Cruz hike in the Cordillera Blanca and the Andes is one of the most scenic hikes. During the hike, you will be surrounded by snowcapped peaks, glacial lakes, and fantastic flora and fauna. As with pretty much all other hikes, getting your body acclimated for this hike is a must. As most of the hiking is over 12,000 ft.

Prepare to be overloaded by the beauty and serenity of this hike.

All of the hikes in Peru are uniquely beautiful and you will not go wrong picking any of these as your next adventure.



Other helpful posts…
Things to Know About Peru
Incredible Colca Canyon 2-Day Trek
Visit To Rainbow Mountain
Peru Itinerary – 7, 10 & 14-Days
Amazing 5-Day Salkantay Trek

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