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Trekking vs Hiking, what's the difference?

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 12-10-2023

When it comes to exploring the great outdoors, two terms are often used interchangeably: trekking and hiking. While both activities involve walking in natural landscapes, they have distinct differences in terms of terrain, duration, and intensity. Here, we will explore the nuances of trekking and hiking, helping you choose the adventure that suits your preferences and fitness level so that you can make the most of your Peru adventure vacation.


Valencia Travel offers a wide range of Peru adventure tours for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike. Set out on your Peru adventures along The Salkantay Trek. This epic trek takes you through stunning mountain scenery and cloud forests to the iconic Machu Picchu.

Bridge on The Salkantay Trek


Trekking - A Deeper Connection with Nature

Trekking is often associated with longer journeys that take you into remote and rugged terrain. Here's what sets trekking apart.


On Peru adventure tours, the Huayhuash Trek is a challenging high-altitude trek that takes around 8-14 days to complete. The route takes you through remote mountain passes, turquoise lakes, and snow-capped peaks, offering some of the most spectacular scenery in the Andes.

Glacial Lakes, Huaywash


Distance and Duration

Treks are typically multi-day excursions, spanning several days or even weeks. They require a higher level of commitment, fitness, and preparation due to their extended duration.


Challenging Terrain

Treks often take you through challenging and varied landscapes, including mountain ranges, dense forests, or desert terrain. You might encounter steep ascents, descents, river crossings, and varying weather conditions. On a Peru trek, the high altitude of the Andes brings its own challenges, such as adequate acclimatization, but the rewards of trekking in pristine natural environments are priceless. 


Peru's Andean terrain offers a wide variety of trekking experiences for all levels of adventurers on their Peru adventure tours. The Andes are home to some of the highest mountain passes in the world.

Andean Terrain


Carrying Gear

Trekkers often carry backpacks with camping gear and supplies for self-sufficiency in the wilderness. This added weight can make the experience more physically demanding. On a Peru adventure trip, Valencia Travel has a team of support staff to carry the essential trekking items. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu uses Porters to carry all the camping equipment for example, whereas the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu uses Mules and Muleteers to carry the camping equipment and supplies for the duration of the trek.


Cultural and Remote Exploration

Treks often lead to remote areas, allowing you to immerse yourself in diverse cultures and connect with local communities. Trekking in Peru you will experience indigenous traditions, practices, and lifestyles along trekking routes such as The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu, which will bring you into close contact with remote Andean communities.


Trekking in the Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain region on your Peru vacation packages offers some of the most stunning and remote landscapes in Peru.  The trek offers breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, and herds of alpacas and llamas grazing on the high-altitude plains.

Local Lady Ausangate Region


Scenic Rewards

The breathtaking views and unique experiences that come with trekking are often worth the physical challenges. It's a chance to truly escape into the wild and leave the city life far behind you. A remote trek such as The Ausangate Trek will take you into some of the most remote areas of The Andes, where you can escape from it all.


The Cordillera Blanca in Peru offers excellent opportunities for mountain climbing.  This Peru adventure vacation includes climbing mountain peaks ranging from easy to extremely difficult. Popular peaks include Huascaran, the highest mountain in Peru.

Stunning Cordillera Blanca


Hiking- A Day in the Great Outdoors

Hiking, on the other hand, is a more accessible and versatile outdoor activity. Here's what defines hiking.


The Temple of the Moon is an ancient Inca site located in the hills surrounding the city, offering the perfect Cusco day trip. The Temple of the Moon is located in the hills above Cusco, near the more famous Sacsayhuamán archaeological site.

Temple of The Moon, Cusco


Shorter Duration

Hikes are typically day hikes from Cusco, although they can range from a few hours to a full day's adventure. They offer flexibility in terms of time commitment.


The hike to Rainbow Mountain is one of the most popular Cusco tours. It usually takes around 3-4 hours hiking time, depending on your fitness level and acclimatization to the high altitude. The trail is moderately challenging, with steep sections and high altitude making it more strenuous.

Rainbow Mountain Day Trek


Varied Terrain

Hikes can encompass a wide range of terrains, from well-maintained trails in national parks to more rugged pathways. The difficulty level can vary, but hikes are generally less strenuous than treks.


Cusco Peru tours are perfect for photographers. Photographic opportunities in the Cusco region are amazing. The Inca Trail, Rainbow Mountain, and Salkantay trek offer amazing scenery for photographers.

Photo Opportunity


Lighter Load

Hikers typically carry a smaller daypack with essentials like water, snacks, and safety gear. This allows for a more leisurely and less physically demanding experience.



Hiking trails are often well-marked and accessible, making them suitable for people of all fitness levels. Some trails are family-friendly and even accommodate strollers.


Cusco tours off spectacular day hikes such as Huchuy Qosqo. Huchuy Qosqo, meaning "Little Cusco" in Quechua, is an archaeological site located near Cusco, Peru. It was an ancient Inca administrative and religious center, believed to have been built during the reign of Emperor Viracocha.

Taking in The View


Local Exploration

Hiking can be an excellent way to explore local landscapes, enjoy a quick nature escape, and maintain a regular fitness routine.


Day Hike near Cusco


In the debate of trekking vs. hiking, the choice ultimately depends on your personal preferences, fitness level, and the kind of outdoor experience you seek. If you're up for a multi-day trekking adventure into the wild, trekking offers a deeper connection with nature and a chance to challenge your physical limits. On the other hand, if you prefer a more accessible and less strenuous day trek from Cusco in the great outdoors, hiking provides the perfect opportunity to explore scenic trails and stay active. Whether you choose trekking or hiking, one thing is certain: nature has something to offer for everyone, and both activities are excellent ways to appreciate its beauty. So, lace up your boots and get ready for your next outdoor adventure! Find out more here about our multi-day treks and day hikes from Cusco.


Trekking tours and hiking tours in Peru are excellent options for your Peru vacation package. Hiking along impressive Andean trails on your visit to Peru is nothing short of incredible!

Huaraz Trekking Group