Peru Trekking Guide- More Than Just the Inca Trail

Follow in the footsteps of the Inca on an unforgettable hiking adventure along the Inca trail, or one of the lesser known but still amazing trails. 

The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Days trekking: 4 / Length: 43km / Max altitude: 4,200m
Who offers this option: Peregrine, Intrepid, Exodus, Chimu, G Adventures

The classic Inca Trail is the most famous trek in Peru that retraces the steps of the ancient Incas. This trek is both difficult and unmissable with a mix of high altitude passes, lush valleys and even a section of rainforest before culminating at sunrise at the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu. 

Inca Quarry Trek


Days trekking: 3 / Length: 26km / Max altitude: 4450m
Who offers this option: Peregrine & Intrepid 

The Inca Quarry Trail offers hikers incredible Andean scenery, challenging mountain passes and the opportunity for local interactions with the trail winding through villages in the Sacred Valley. 75,000 people a year trek the Inca, but the Quarry Trail doesn’t even come close. You’ll get all that beautiful Andean scenery more or less to yourself (apart from the odd Quechan village or friendly llama). 


How is the Inca Quarry Trek different to the Inca Trail?

On the Inca Quarry Trail you camp for two nights and the third is spent at a hotel in the gateway town of Aguas Calientes. You could enjoy a nice shower and a massage in town before taking a day trip to Machu picchu the next morning. Unlike the classic Inca Trail, permits are not required for the Quarry Trail. Horses not porters!

Lares trek to Machu Picchu

Days trekking: 4 / Length: 33km / Max altitude: 4400m
Who offers this option: Chimu, G Adventures 

A popular alternative to the Inca Trail, and slightly easier than the Salkantay trek, this 4-day trek is guaranteed to please! It ends in Machu Picchu, as per the Inca Trail, with a day at the ruins to enjoy. And along the way, there are great opportunities to interact with the friendly, Andean locals. If you want to escape into the wild, experience local living in Peru and still challenge yourself on a hike, the Lares Trek may be more suited to you. 

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu  


Days trekking: 5 / Length: 44km / Max altitude: 4600m
Who offers this option: Chimu, G Adventures, World Expeditions

A stellar alternative to the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek is – along with the Classic Inca Trail – named by National Geographic as one of the world’s 25 best treks. Throughout this trek, you’ll hike past lesser-visited but equally striking Inca ruins and will traverse a kaleidoscope of landscapes, including the Salkantay Pass at 4600m, cloud forests, valleys covered with wildflowers as well as waterfalls and glacial lakes. The Salkantay Trek will see you reach Aguas Caliente, the base town of Machu Picchu, from where you can either hike up to Machu Picchu (1.5hrs) or take the bus instead.


Mountain Lodges of Peru  

Days trekking: 6  / Length:  / Max altitude: 4638m
Who offers this option: Chimu

Avoiding the tourist crowds, this route to Machu Picchu is as much about culture and luxury as it is trekking. Have your bags transferred on the trek by horses, mules or porters while you carry a day pack during the day and relax in the jacuzzi with a cocktail at your luxurious mountain lodge by night.

Click here for our blog post on Mountain Lodges of Peru

The Moonstone Trek 

Days trekking: 4 / Length: 39km / Max altitude: 4600m
Who offers this option: Exodus

Named after an ancient and mysterious stone carving along its route, the Moonstone Trek is the little-known alternative to the Inca Trail. The Moonstone Trek is Exodus’ alternative trek if you miss out on Inca Trail permits. There’s not much in it, but the Moonstone Trek is a little higher than the Inca Trail. At these altitudes, every meter counts, so it’s slightly more difficult.


Trek to the Lost City of Choquequirao

Days trekking: 8 / Length: 103km / Max altitude: 4660m
Who offers this option: Exodus, G Adventures

Escape the crowds on this challenging, unusual trek through Peru’s mountainous region. This varied trek is constantly moving up and down the climatic zones, leading you up steep paths through dense cloud forest, over spectacular scenic passes and along ancient Inca paths to the Vilcabamba’s best kept secret: the lost Inca city of Choquequirao. Machu Picchu may draw the crowds, but Choquequirao will awe you in its secluded splendour. If you like being off the beaten path, are intrigued by rich history and crave dramatic landscapes dominated by lofty, snow-capped peaks, this is the trek for you.


The 1 day Inca Trail 


Days trekking: 1 / Length: 15km / Max altitude: 2730m
Who offers this option: Peregrine & Intrepid 

The 1-day Inca Trail is a great option for those wanting to experience trekking in Peru, but don’t want to do the full 4 days. This trek starts in from the train station known as “Km 104” and after a steep ascent, it follows the last portion of the Classic Inca Trail. Trekkers enter Machu Picchu at the sun gate in the afternoon where there will be some time to take a few photos before taking a short bus ride down to Aguas Calientes to spend the night and re-join the rest of the group. This trek is subject to permit availability, must be pre booked and will incur a surcharge.

Huayhuash Circuit

Days trekking: 7  or 12 / Length: 65 km or 165km / Max altitude: 5350m
Who offers this option: G Adventures, Chimu, World Expeditions

Comparable to the Himalayas and the Rockies in terms of snow-capped alpine beauty, Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash is a mountain climber’s dream come true. Located in one of the most remote sections of the Andes, the range asks a lot from those who trek it. Rest assured that your mountain guide has all the expertise, equipment, and encouragement needed to get the most out of these majestic peaks. Great on its own, this trip gets even better when paired with a Machu Picchu trek or any other Peru-based adventure.

Photo credit: Graham Cameron who trekked with G Aventures in October 2017

Ausangate Trek

Days trekking: 5 / Length: 67km / Max altitude: 5400m
Who offers this option: Chimu, World Expeditions

Trek for five days along the “Camino del Apu Ausangate” route in Vilcanota’s Cordillera, in the shadow of the sacred snow-capped Apu Ausangate that rises to 6,372 metres. This breathtaking trek takes you through one of the most pristine mountain ecosystems in the world, past glaciers, snow-capped peaks, rivers and alongside herds of llamas and alpacas and to the incredibly beautiful Rainbow Mountain.

Llamas and horses owned by the shepherds of the Chillca community accompany us on our trek carrying our trek gear. Each night is spent in an eco-friendly Andean Lodge or “Tambo” with meals prepared by experienced chefs who serve up a variety of delicious Peruvian dishes using local produce. On some evenings, the local villagers entertain us with authentic traditional music.

 The Ausangate Trek is one of the highest altitude hikes in all of Peru and joins Huayhuash in being one of the most rewarding yet least-known Peruvian attractions of all

Have an extra day in Cusco?

One day Rainbow Mountain Trek

Days trekking: 1 / Length: 12km / Max altitude: 5055m

Rainbow Mountain is one of the most beautiful, and beautifully hidden, treasures of Peru. The earthly rainbow of vibrant colours is an indescribable visual feast, and the fact that it is also one of the least-known wonders of South America certainly adds to the appeal for discerning explorers. Only a handful of visitors to Peru manage to include a phenomenal trek to Cerro Colorado, or Rainbow Mountain, every year.

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