The 10 Best Multi-Day Treks in Peru

Don't skip this list when researching your options for hiking and trekking in Peru! This list covers the best trails in some of the most remote mountain ranges which is the best way to see the country. Using my personal experience and research I've delivered an assortment of both popular and under the radar treks across Peru.

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1. The Huayhuash Circuit

stingynomads huayhuash circuit

Starting Point: Llamac

Ending Point: Llamac

Type: Circuit

Difficulty: Advanced

Length: 80 Miles

Elevation Gain: 38,000 Feet

Max Altitude: 18,000 Feet

Number of Days: 8 – 12 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


The Cordillera Huayhuash is located north-east of Lima in the northern section of Peru. Considered by many South American trekkers to be the most remarkable trek in the Andes, the Huayhuash Circuit will take you up close and around numerous 6,000m peaks.


The views are sweeping as the trail navigates over high mountain passes surrounded by snow-capped peaks that tower above glacier lakes. A highlight of this trek is the “Three Lakes” section which used to be an alternate route but has widely become the most popular section on the route.


The main difficulty of this trek will be the altitude since the trail rarely dips below 14,000 feet but if you give yourself time to acclimate and take a couple warm up day hikes, you should be in good condition to power through the high passes.


2. The Ausengate Circuit

ausangate circuit

Starting Point: Tinki

Ending Point: Tinki

Type: Circuit

Difficulty: Advanced

Length: 40 Miles

Elevation Gain: 10,000 Feet

Max Altitude: 16,700 Feet

Number of Days: 3 – 5 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


This trek is one of the many based out of the Cusco region of southern Peru. The trail circumnavigates the massive glacier peak of Ausangate which can be seen from the summit of Vinicunca, better known as ‘Rainbow Mountain’.


This trek has developed variations over recent years with the increase in road infrastructure and development around Rainbow Mountain. Many trekkers choose to use Rainbow Mountain as the start end point now, something that was impossible prior to 2017 when Rainbow Mountain sat below a glacier summit undiscovered.


If you choose to start from Tinki, there are plenty of motorbike taxis to shuttle you up to Upis to begin the trail and cut out some roadwalk elevation.


In terms of the trail it is said that this area has the highest density of Alpaca in Peru and I can attest that was true in my experience.



3. Choquequirao Trek

Choquequirao Peru

Starting Point: Capuyilloc

Ending Point: Capuyilloc

Type: Out & Back

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 30 Miles

Elevation Gain: 16,000 Feet

Max Altitude: 10,000 Feet

Number of Days: 3 - 4 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


Choquequirao translates to ‘Cradle of Gold’ and these ruins are nothing less than spectacular. The ruins are estimated to be only 40% excavated so they shall only continue to get more impressive.


At this moment the only option to reach these ruins is by hiking which keeps them desolate in comparison to the Disney World size crowds of Machu Picchu. The future may be different as talks have circled around installing a cable car to the summit but after so many years of talk and no action, it seems unlikely the plans will go through.


Take your time exploring all the sections of the ruins including the House of the Waterfall which has insane, literal cliffhanging terraces to walk around freely, and the Llama Terraces which are not to be missed either.


The trail is very well-built and has numerous huts along the way so trekkers can do this with a minimal size pack which helps with the long stretched of ascent and descent on this trek.


For an even greater experience you can check out my experience of linking this trek into the Salkantay Trek and finishing at Machu Picchu here for a total of 80 miles of trekking.


4. Salkantay Trek

bemytravelmuse best peru hikes

Starting Point: Challacancha

Ending Point: Machu Picchu (Aguas Caliente)

Type: Point to Point (Thru-Hike)

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 43 Miles

Elevation Gain: 12,000 Feet

Max Altitude: 14,000 Feet

Number of Days: 3 – 4 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


This is the most popular alternative to the Inca Trail for trekkers looking to get the experience of hiking to Machu Picchu. This trail is popular among guided groups but by no means is a guide required here unlike the Inca Trail.


The trail goes through high-altitude mountain passes with views of the 6,000m Mount Salkantay. The popular highlight of this section is Lake Humantay which is a vibrant turquoise blue glacier lake located at 14,000 feet.


With this trek you will get full exposure to the various Andean landscapes. After coming through the high-altitude pass you will drop down to Collpapampa which is a small hiker village and continue onwards into the so called ‘cloud forest’ which is the ecosystem that contains Machu Picchu.


There are some sections of road walk directly after Collpapampa due to vast mudslides that have riddled the original Salkantay Route out of commission for the foreseeable future.



5. The Inca Trail

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Starting Point: Ollantaytambo (approx.)

Ending Point: Machu Picchu

Type: Point to Point (Thru-Hike)

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 21 Miles

Elevation Gain: 9,500 feet

Max Altitude: 13,900 feet

Number of Days: 3 – 5 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


This is the quintessential trek in Peru, and definitely if you’ve heard of any, it’s been this one. This famous route is the only way to arrive to Machu Picchu without coming through the town of Aguas Caliente first.


A guide is required and booking is typically needed in advance of a month plus especially during high season of the summer.


Although some people opt to only do self-guided treks, this should be on every trekker’s bucket list. Thisl is pristine trail used by the Incas who pilgrimaged to Machu Picchu and was built to provide the best views on the approach in.


With this you’ll also get to enter through the sun gate of Machu Picchu – a place that’s almost impossible to see now without arriving there because of recent updates to ticket routes of Machu Picchu.


6. Colca Canyon

colca canyon alltrails

Starting Point: Cabanaconde

Ending Point: Cabanaconde

Type: Circuit

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 15 Miles

Elevation Gain: 6,000 Feet

Max Altitude: 11,000 Feet

Number of Days: 2 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


Located in southern Peru outside the city of Arequipa this popular trek is designed for people with little backpacking experience to take on over the course of two days typically.


The first day includes a descent into the canyon with the second day including the climb back up to the starting point atop the canyon.


There are lots of places to take in the views and rest in the basin of the canyon including popular hot spring stops.


This is also one of the best places in the Andes to spot Andean Condors, one of the largest flying bird in the world!



7. Santa Cruz Trek

santa cruz trek lonely planet

Starting Point: Vaquería

Ending Point: Tzactza

Type: Point to Point (Thru-Hike)

Difficulty: Advanced

Length: 30 Miles

Elevation Gain: 6,000 feet

Max Altitude: 15,500 feet

Number of Days: 3 – 4 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


Although this route has limited elevation gain over it’s 30 miles, the entire hike is high-altitude making it difficult for trekkers.


This is a premier route in the northern Cordillera Blanca range that has an abundance of good campsites throughout the trek.


The walk includes a couple high-altitude passes, snow-capped peaks, glacier lakes, and grassy valleys. Popular among guided treks but easy to do without, this is a great option for a shorter multi-day hike in the northern Cordillera’s of Peru.


8. The Lares Trail

lares trail handluggageonly

Starting Point: Quishuarani

Ending Point: Ollantayambo

Type: Point to Point

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 18 Miles

Elevation Gain: 7,000 feet

Max Altitude: 15,200 feet

Number of Days: 2 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


This is another option that tour groups do combined with Machu Picchu. They will do this 2-Day trek that starts about 45-minutes north of Cusco and then take a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Caliente where guests stay the night before going to Machu Picchu.


This route can be done that way self-guided or can choose to do this separate of Machu Picchu entirely. The AllTrails route does this as an out & back rather than point-to-point. Unless desired this is unnecessary as there are ample buses and colectivos that run from Ollantayambo back to Cusco.


No pre-planning transportation is needed, just wait on the side of the road and a van will come pick you up for a small price.


The Lares Trail is a nice route that requires little travel from Cusco but provides great glacier and alpine lake views.



9. Volcan Misti

volcan misti

Starting Point: Chiguata

Ending Point: Chiguata

Type: Out & Back

Difficulty: Advanced

Length: 24 Miles

Elevation Gain: 9,000 feet

Max Altitude: 19,000 feet

Number of Days: 2 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


Outside of Arequipa in southern Peru a massive stratovolcano towers the city and this is the hike that leads you to the top of the volcano.


There are shorter routes that can be done as a point-to-point hike however starting or ending in Chiguata is the easiest for arranging public transportation.


The summit is located at 19,000 feet and is sometimes covered in snow. Reaching the top is an incredible feat of strength due to the altitude and the tough sandy soil that you will be climbing.


There are campsites located at 16,000 feet so you can stop there and start again in the morning to reach summit for sunrise!


10. Cordillera Blanca Traverse (CBT)

the hiking life

Starting Point: Hualcallan

Ending Point: Pastoruri Glacier

Type: Point to Point (Thru-Hike)

Difficulty: Advanced

Length: 252 Miles

Elevation Gain: A lot!

Max Altitude: 16,000+ Feet

Number of Days: 17 Days

Maps & Routes: See Map Here!


The Hiking Life is a website blog I enjoy a lot and saw this as one of Cam’s Peru hikes. It completely embodies the best of Peru hiking on a full thru-hike style adventure in the Cordillera Blanca which is home to the largest peaks in Peru.


The first half is said to have mostly well-built trails while the other half included much bushwhacking and trailblazing. It’s a route that most will never think to do but cool to know it’s out there waiting to be hiked!



Hope you enjoyed this list, drop a comment if you have any questions!

 

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Photography exclusively by Dan Oliver unless otherwise stated and cited. Embedded maps are provided by Embed Google Map (embedgooglemap.net) and map images shown are provided as stated and cited.

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