If you love long trails and eco friendly tourism Cusco has options for everything you could imagine. This is about the best of the best Hikes, Treks and Trails in Cusco. Discover incredible and unique trails in the archaeological capital of the world
Best Hikes Cusco has to offer
Cusco the place with the Trails
Cusco is one of the famous regions in Peru for a reason. The geography varies from, mountain, to river, to forest, to plain and invites adventurers to explore natural and historic wonders alike. The most famous archaeological sites in all of America are in Cusco. Choosing between the multiple options of trek in Cusco is difficult because each one has a unique appeal, but surely it will be an experience that you never forget.
The government of Cusco has had to increase the amount of permits to make the Inca Trail and other trail options as it greatly increased the number of tourists arriving in this region in search of an experience in nature. It is difficult to define a high season because throughout the year Cusco is home to thousands and thousands of travelers who arrive from the remotest points of the world. But the winter, April-September is the dry and temperate season and thus sees the most travelers.
This region offers all kinds of sports such as canoeing, abseiling, zip line, bungee jumping and hang gliding. But undoubtedly the most popular activity is trekking. Some travelers arrive prepared for the difficulty of the trekking but there are others who, when they ignore the circuit or perhaps underestimate the difficulty, struggle before they are halfway there. That’s why in this post we will tell you about the trek and the level of difficulty so that you will be prepared for the journey.
The Best Season for Hiking Around Cusco
There is no “best season” to trek in Cusco but there is some things that can help plan when to travel to the region. June and July are the months that are considered high season since there are many visitors who circulate along the Salkantay route and the Inca Trail, then return to Ausangate, Ollantaytambo, or the Vilcabamba trail to the Choquequirao Complex. There are also tourists who, being less experienced, make treks around Cusco and follow the storied archaeological route from Sacsayhuamán or cross the Sacred Valley.
Another important detail is that Cusco is more than 3,300 meters above sea level (msnm) and many stretches of trekking are done at heights that exceed 4,500m. For this reason you must be prepared for altitude sickness.
The weather is another factor that influences when choosing a trekking route through Cusco. From October to March is the rainy season, therefore, the worst time of year to make a trek through the region. Most tourism companies stop offering packages that include trekking because the trails are waterlogged or there is a risk of landslides in more mountainous areas.
Machu Picchu is the most famous tourist attraction in Peru, so it is the most desired by travelers. But it is not the only interesting or mind blowing feat of Incan construction. If you want a more unique experience, opt for new routes, many of them will take you to the archaeological complex but on trails you could never have imagined.
Why take a walk in Cusco?
The landscapes you will find in Cusco a spectacles in of themselves. At times you may find it hard to pull yourself away from such beauty. In a few kilometers the temperatures and environment can change drastically. In Cusco you will find ancient paths between the jungle and the mountain, many of them used by the Incas. And a large number of roads connect any point of the region with Machu Picchu. We can help you choose the right roads so you can choose the type of hike that you like best.
Some of the most popular treks in Cusco
- Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Salkantay Trail – Machu Picchu (Tour por la montaña Salkantay)
- Ausangate Trail
- Huchuy Qosqo – Machu Picchu
- Choquequirao Trail
- Inca Jungle trail to Machu Picchu
- Lares – Machu Picchu
- Inca Trail(clasic) a Machu Picchu
The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
It is considered one of the best treks in the world, it is home to natural and historical importance that is unparalleled. The Inca Trail was one of the most used during the time of the Empire. Currently this trail crosses numerous archaeological sites throughout Cusco and takes the traveler from the cold of the mountains to the heat of the jungle. Doing the Inca Trail involves 4 days of trekking through the region, between majestic landscapes that go from the mountain and rivers of icy water to the jungles edge.
It is recommended for those in solid physical condition. It is not exceptionally difficult but you should be in good health before beginning. The experience is marvelous. Hiking lasts for four days before entering the city of Machu Picchu, crossing various other ruins and archaeological sites. The view from Inti Punku (the sun gate) is a must for first time visitors.
As this is one of the most chosen trails for travelers, and considering that tickets are sold with a limit of people per day, we recommend that before traveling to Cusco buy your pass to go to Machu Picchu by the Inca Trail. There may not be an available date for up to 6 months.
Salkantay – Machu Picchu
The route from Salkantay to Machu Picchu is considered among the top 10 of its kind in the world.
It is famous for its landscapes, its roads and also for the very high difficulty it entails for the traveler.
This trek involves about 4 or 5 days from the start Machu Picchu. It crosses through mountain ranges as high as the Andes Mountain Range has to offer as Salkantay is 6,250 meters above sea level. It is a mountain somewhat overshadowed by the majesty of Machu Picchu but it is incredibly beautiful. If you take this route and you will be one of the few that have done it since most tourists pass on this option because of the difficulty.
TThe cold drops below 0 degrees. Go prepared. Challacancha, Soraypampa, the Salkantay pass or Chaullay, are some of the communities and tourist sites that you will meet along the way. Travel time is up to 8 hours per day in these difficult conditions. Mornings begin early to see the sunrise along the trail.
Without a doubt this is one of the best trails to Machu Picchu if you can manage it.
The 5th highest mountain in all of Peru is Ausangate, also considered the guardian of Cusco by the Incans. The max altitude is 6,384 meters above sea level. Close to Asuangate are the two rainbow mountains of Peru, Palcoyo y Vinicunca.
You can trek through this region and choose the routes that suit your tastes. The concrete thing is that this area implies a certain difficulty since it is a steep trek, at a high altitude and very cold. Depending on the number of attractions you wish to visit, the number of days you are in this area can vary.
Ausangate was considered an APU or a spirit of the mountain to which many Andean communities pay tribute to ask for protection and good harvests. Hiking through this mysterious place will fill your soul and demand from you body such that you will enjoy it twice as much when you reach the highest camp.
Very close to there are the mountains of Vinicunca and Palcoyo rainbow mountains. The latter does not imply a great effor, the only difficulty is the height. On the other hand, Vinicunca, which is more famous, does have a harder walk at 5,000 meters above sea level.
The site Huchuy Qosqo is in the heart of the Sacred Valley between Pisac and Ollantaytambo
El complejo arqueológico Huchuy Qosqo está ubicado en el corazón del Valle Sagrado de los Incas, entre las comunidades de Písac y Ollantaytambo. Going from Cusco involves doing one of the most popular trails for travelers with less experience. The route is impressive and you will be amazed with the beautiful landscapes.
When the Chancas, rivals of the Incas, besieged Cusco in 1,438, the locals left the capital of the Inca Empire to take refuge in the Huchuy Qosqo Palace. Years later, during the time of the conquest, with Pizarro in command, he found an Inca mummy in Huchuy Qosqo, and ordered to burn it. It was an important refuge for the empire and today there are many traces of that era of splendor.
It is one of the easier paths from Cusco. The trail crosses multiple archaeological sites and ancient villages in the Sacred Valley. You can choose to stop at this place or continue on another path to the historic and natural sanctuary of Machu Picchu.
Getting to Choquequirao on foot is one of the more challenging hikes in Cusco. An ancient Inca city larger than Machu Picchu. It is hidden under the brush and the jungle. Currently only 30% of the archaeological complex is uncovered and enormous efforts are made to clean up the area and remove the veil to this mysterious site.
The road to Choqueqirao lasts 4 or 5 days, according to the speed you move.
El trekking a Choquequirao puede hacerse en 4 o 5 días, de acuerdo a la velocidad que quiera imprimirle al trayecto. You will traverse up and down mountains between very steep paths in the direct sun. If there is bad weather it is advisable not to go because it can become very dangerous.
It has some architectural similarities with Machu Picchu but many historians believe that this place will be even more important when they finish cleaning the area. Going to Choquequirao implies a true adventure and you need to be in top physical condition to go to this place. But your effort will be rewarded with incredible views, eternal silences, and an experience that will be unique and unrepeatable. This site is enigmatic and full of magic. Do not miss the chance to live a truly different adventure to anyone who has ever lived. If you want to go to Machu Picchu, from here you have a route to reach the archaeological complex. It is also demanding but you will enjoy it if you got that far.
Inca Jungle to Machu Picchu
If you want an experience full of adrenaline and that combines hiking with other adventure sports, then the Inca Jungle is what you’re looking for. This road takes you to Machu Picchu but combining a complex route that includes several adventure sports.
Trekking with this option will allow you to hike through recently discovered Inca roads that connect with the main Inca Trail and also with the most important jungle towns such as Santa María and Santa Teresa, on the way to the archaeological complex. The Inca Jungle can be done in 3 or 4 days, depending on the activities you want to do and the time available.
The stone paths are in very good condition, they aren’t difficult. In addition to trekking you can go downhill biking, rafting, zip lining, and rafting. Each activity allows you can contemplate majestic landscapes around you. The Inca Jungle’s descent by bicycle is considered among the best landscape experiences in South America.
Lares – Machu Picchu
The route that takes you to Machu Picchu through Lares is very chosen by travelers who want to get away from the mass tourism characteristic of the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Walk. This trek lasts around 4 days and will take you through few crowded places. The Lares walk gives you the chance to see and share with Andean communities that still preserve ancient customs. While walking along these trails, you will observe the families that make up these communities, practicing their trades such as agriculture, raising animals that produce wool and meat, and making typical handmade garments. The hospitality of these people will enchant you so enjoy this cultural experience. This trek takes you to Machu Picchu but not for the Inti Punku (Puerta del Sol) you can combine the walk with the possibility of boarding a train from Ollantaytambo towards the archaeological complex. Enjoy this alternative to know the Sacred Valley and Lares by an unusual but very special route.
With all the details on the table, it is only necessary to pack your backpack and take a deep breath. You will walk a lot, but we assure you that your effort will be rewarded so what do you expect to choose the best trek in Cusco?