The Best Hiking Routes in Cusco
So you’re thinking of hiking in Cusco? ¡That´s awesome!
There are routes for everyone, from low to high physical fitness, as well as day trips to week-long hikes, and almost all of them end up in Machu Picchu on the last day of the trek, such as The Incas Trail, Salcantay Trek, Lares etc.
If you are here to decide which hike to take, you are in the right place, let us help you choose the best option to get to Machu Picchu.
Keep in mind before choosing any of these routes it is necessary to have some kind of experience or take an acclimatization program.
Below are some of the most popular routes along with a couple of less popular ones. These routes will provide an ideal starting point for your trip, whether you are a professional hiker or a beginner. We have classified them according to difficulty to help you understand a little more about the challenge each one presents.
Classic Inca Trail 4 days 3 night
The Inca Trail is the best trekking option in Peru with a lush green cloud forest full of wildlife, Andean mountain passes, a vast landscape sprinkled with ruins of the Inca civilization… and is accessible only to those who follow this famous trail.
The official Inca Trail to Machu Picchu takes 4 days and 3 nights, for a total of about 43 km, (26 miles).
The trail from beginning to end, is a sacred part of what was once an extensive network of Inca roads in inca times.
If you haven’t trained enough at home, you need a quick training program to do the 4-day Inca Trail smoothly, although being fit will help a lot. We suggest the best preparation for this trek is the treadmill exercises with steep slopes and stairs, as the second day will be the most difficult, as you will be reaching two peaks that day.
Salkantay Trek 5 Days
The Salkantay trek is also considered one of the best treks in the world, this trek features a variety of ecosystems in Peru; from deserts and jungles, to mountain passes and blue lakes.
The route begins in Mollepata, a small town 100 km from Cusco area. The trail takes you through some incredible natural areas of the Andes with amazing landscapes and amazing wildlife.
The Salkantay trekking is a high altitude route, a good acclimatization is essential to do it and a good physical condition of course.
The main difference between the Salkantay hike and the classic Inca trail is that the Salkantay replaces the Inca ruins with a very diverse set of landscapes.
The starting point of the trek and is located at 3,600 m.a.s.l and the highest point of the trek is 4, 590 m.a.s.l.
The best thing is that no permits are required to do the trip to Salkantay unlike the Inca trail, so it is possible to make this trip on your own.
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu 4 Days 3 Nights
The Lares hike is probably the most picturesque and wildest near Cusco. Salkantay is also beautiful, but Lares is far more remote. There are different routes through the mountains starting from Lares hot prings or anding in Lares hot springs, either route consists of trekking through valleys, mountains, rainforests, up and down hills, past lakes, waterfalls and villages.
HuchuyQosqo Trek 3 Days 2 Nights
The tour to Huchuy Qosqo takes you to one of the most important archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley. Explore the impressive terraces, patios, ancient inca trails, plazas, temples, three-story buildings and the advanced hydraulic system of Huchuy Qosqo, and end the tour at the Inca Site of Machu Picchu.
If you’d rather hear the sounds of nature (the singing of birds, the babbling of streams, the chewing of flames) than hundreds of other hikers walking along the trail, this is your journey!
The HuchuyQosqo hike is highly recommended by our team of local guides as the best option after the 4 day Inca Trail, believe it or not on the Huchuyqosqo route you will hike along the original Inca trails connected to beautiful constructions as well as amazing viewpoints over the Sacred Valley in the town of Lamay, the trek does not require much physical condition to do so but it does require that you have been acclimatized at least 2 days prior to the trek.
Choquequirao Trek 4 Days 3 Nights
This gorgeous secret city also known as “the sister of Machu Picchu” was explored by the American man, Hiram Bingham before discovering Machu Picchu in 1911.
It can be done as a separate hike or combined with a hike to Machu Picchu and can be completed either independently which is cheaper but more challenging or with a tour company – more expensive but much easier.
The ruins are well preserved, with only 40% excavated. The Choquequirao complex is quite large, it takes at least a full day to explore it, the highest point to be reached is 3000 m.a.s.l. Once you reach the ruins of Choquequirao you will feel like you are in paradise, the views are spectacular.
Humantay Lake trek 1 Day
The trek to Humantay blue lagoon is undoubtedly one of the best day trips that can be done from Cusco, the path is easily visible from afar, so there is no option to get lost.
The hike takes between 40 minutes to an hour at the most, and although this route is usually connected with the 5-day Salkantay hike, visiting the lagoon is one of the best parts of this trip. The steep but short one hour hike takes you to an incredible blue lake at the bottom of a huge glacier at 4000 m.a.s.l.
Rainbow Mountain 1 Day Trek
The Rainbow Mountain is located at 5,200 meters high, which is equivalent to more than 17,000 feet. The altitude of the Rainbow Mountain, is only slightly lower than the Everest Base Camp
However, you don’t need to be totally in shape to do it, since there is the option of going up on horseback, although it is not the best option if you want to avoid the mistreatment and overworking of the horses, the climb takes from 1 hour to 2 hours but if you do it on horseback it will take you 30 minutes, if you don’t have much experience doing long hikes this trek to the colored mountain is the best option, just make sure you are fully acclimatized to avoid altitude sickness.