Every year Peru receives many tourists looking for adventure, and they couldn't have chosen a better place! The country is famous for having the best hikes in South America and some of the best in the world, Salkantay, for example, is on National Geographic's list, but it is not the only one that deserves attention. Trekking in Peru is a must for anybody who loves outdoor activities and enjoys having contact with nature. Home to the second biggest mountain range in the world, the Andes, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Peru offers a variety of treks. Here you will get to know the best hikes in Peru for beginners and those looking for soft trekking alternatives.
Las Lomas de Lachay
A couple of hours from Lima lies the Chancay district, where you'll find a surprising amount of greenery. The area offers a unique perspective on the different ecospheres of Peru: right next to the desert are bright-green forests. This diversity is one of the things that makes Peru such a remarkable country.
The Antankallo waterfall
The Antankallo waterfall is waiting for you in Huarochirí, just 74 km from Lima. It's a popular destination for families and those who want to escape city life and dive into nature for a day or two. The route takes you toward the town of Matucana in the highlands of Lima. From there, you will begin a two-hour walking tour. The road has slopes and zigzagging roads that will allow you to appreciate the valley's beauty.
Chinchero to Urquillos
This incredible, easy trek will include extraordinary views of the Sacred Valley and stops at archaeological sites. The route begins in the district of Chinchero and will take you to the town of Urquillos. Before starting the trek, make time to visit the archaeological site, the colonial temple, and the Inca terraces. This trekking route lasts about four hours and is all downhill. Along the way, you will see canals and colonial houses surrounded by eucalyptus trees. You'll make your way to the banks of the Vilcanota River until you reach Poc Poc, a 25-meter-high waterfall.
Huchuy Qosqo Day Hike
Several treks that take in the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo (Little Cusco) are possible, and the two-day version is considered one of the easiest alternative treks to the Inca Trail. Another option is a one-day hike starting at Patabamba, Chinchero, or Tauqa and passing the ruins on the way to Lamay. The highlights are the seldom-visited ruins and the unspoiled Andean scenery. The trailhead is a short drive from Cusco. The one-day version is moderately challenging, but proper acclimatization is required as the maximum altitude gained is above 4,300m. No permit is required.
2 Day Inca Trail
If you don't have enough time for the four-day classic Inca Trail, a two-day Inca trail can be the perfect hike in Peru. Transport is organized from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, where a train ride completes the journey to kilometer 104. From there, the trail takes in the archaeological sites of Chachabamba and Wiñaywayna before reaching the highest point on the hike, Intipunku, the Sun Gate (2,750m). The path then descends to Machu Picchu itself. Although permits are more accessible than the classic Inca Trail, you should reserve early to avoid disappointment. The trek is not too hard, but acclimatization is recommended.
This half-day hike leads to a unique archaeological site near Cusco, the colonial village of Maras, and the ancient salt pans. Hikers take transport from Cusco to the fascinating Incan agricultural 'laboratory' of Moray. From there, it is a relatively easy walk of around six kilometers to Maras and on to the salt pans. The maximum altitude is 3,200m, and no permits are required. This hike is suitable for all fitness levels.
Lake Humantay is sometimes visited as part of the Salkantay Trek. For those who don't have the time or stamina for this high-altitude trek, it is possible to do a one-day hike to Lake Humantay. After taking transport from Cusco to Soraypampa (3,900 m), it is a three-hour, 10 km round-trip to the lake and back. The maximum altitude reached is 4,200 m, so acclimatization is necessary, but the hiking itself is not overly taxing, and no permit is required.
Touring the Huascarán National Park in Áncash does not have to be complicated.
Hike to the Keushu lagoon and its ruins. Or walk to the Huandoy snow-capped mountain or reach the lagoons of the Llanganuco stream.
Visit the town of Recuay, the district of Ticapampa, or the Conococha lagoon with a visit to the fossil remains and traces of reptiles discovered in 2007 in the Antamina deposits.
This hike is recommended for those getting accustomed to the altitude as it is relatively easy and only takes half a day (approximately five hours) to reach 3,725m. You can take a colectivo (shared taxi) to Chiwipampa, where the trail starts. While the lake is not quite as spectacular as many others in the area, the scenery is magnificent, and you get a feel for rural life in Peru!