Cookies

At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more


March 06th, 2014

Trekking in Peru

Half-Peruvian and a Journey Latin America tour leader for over 20 years, Adrian Gallop is a keen trekker who has scaled the heights of the Andes across South America. Here he tells us why Peru's trekking continues to draw him back.

There are many great trekking destinations in the world - the Himalayas, the Rockies, the Atlas mountains, but there is definitely something that makes Peru stand out.

Try as I might, I still can’t quite identify that decisive factor. At first I thought it had to be that unrivalled combination of Andean mountains, Atacama desert and Amazon rainforest. Or maybe it’s the rich indigenous culture (past and present) with those magnificent Inca ruins and colourful markets. Or could it be the wildlife - the llamas, alpacas and condors?

Whatever the reason, if you’re keen to find it out for yourself there are two main trekking areas in Peru where you should start: Cusco in the South, and Huaraz in the North.

Cusco lies on the eastern side of the Andes, where the mountains descend towards the Amazon rainforest. Treks in this region often pass through cloud forest, where colourful orchids decorate the vegetation, attracting hummingbirds and noisy flocks of parrots. Snowy peaks rise above tropical valleys, with trekking routes climbing over high passes on the edge of the snow line.

As Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire, the area is dotted with the ruins of ancient temples and palaces, all of which are found in spectacular locations. These provide an excellent focus for treks, with routes often following old Inca trails that wind their way between these sites. There is no better cure for tired limbs than watching a beautiful sunset in the Andes from a 500 year-old Inca temple.

In contrast to the more temperate south, trekking in northern Peru provides a pure and breathtaking high mountain experience. The town of Huaraz lies in the fertile Santa river valley, surrounded on all sides by Peru’s highest mountains (more than twenty peaks over 5000 metres) including Huascarán, at 6768m Peru’s highest peak, and Alpamayo, once voted the most beautiful mountain in the world.

On one side of Huaraz is the Cordillera Blanca (the "White Mountains") and facing it, the Cordillera Negra (the "Black Mountains"). Just over the horizon sits a third mountain range called the Cordillera Huayhuash, the setting for Joe Simpson’s best-selling mountaineering book 'Touching the Void'. Recently declared a protected natural area, the region boasts the largest concentration of glaciers and turquoise glacial lakes in the world’s tropical zone. The two most popular treks in the region are the 4-day Santa Cruz trek, which can done by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness, and the 8-day Huayhuash Circuit, a more remote and challenging high-altitude trek.

Most trekking in Peru is done at high altitudes, with acclimatisation therefore essential before you set off. Once on the trail, pacing yourself is the key, and with most of your equipment fortunately carried by mules (or by porters on the Inca Trail), you will only need to carry your daypack. The optimum trekking season runs from May to October, and although sunny and warm by day it can be freezing at night. Make sure you pack for every possible weather and temperature variation.

Whatever it is that makes trekking in Peru more than just the sum of its parts, up in the wonderful Andes beyond the reach of civilization, there’s certainly enough interest and beauty to keep you coming back time and time again.

Our favourite treks in Peru:

Post a comment

Upcoming Events

See full Event Listing

Other articles you may like

Browse our inspiration area of the site. It's packed with insider travel tips, Top5s, competitions, events, recipes and holiday ideas for Central and South America sure to whet your travel appetite.

Journey with the UK's NO1 specialist in travel to latin america

The Leading Specialists

  • Since 1980
  • The original pioneers in travel to Latin America - the first and still the best
  • Award-winning holidays, crafted with care
  • Nobody knows Latin America better

Travel with the Experts

  • All our staff are in-depth Latin America specialists
  • Our team shares  a unique insight into Central and South America
  • Get the inside track with expert advice based on first-hand experience

Choice and Flexibility

  • The widest range of options
  • No limitations on how you can travel
  • A genuinely personal service geared to understanding your needs
  • The journey you'll love, in a style to suit you
Wanderlust

Food and Travel Magazine Readers' Awards - Tour Operator of The Year 2016

Selling Travel Agents Choice Awards - Best Tour Operator to Latin America 2016

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award 2013

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards - Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine Awards - Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards - Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator 2016

Wanderlust Readers' Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2015

British Travel Awards - Best Small Tour Operator to Central and South America 2012

Latin American Travel Association - Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine Awards - Best Specialist Tour Operator 2011

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/travel-inspiration/travel/trekking-in-peru

Page ID: {808C5BE5-B86E-44C1-AF42-677C0BD6F5FF}

Page Name: trekking-in-peru

Page Display Name: Trekking in Peru

Page Template Name: T031-PapagaioBlogPost

Page Template ID: {ECC6A232-9784-4CC7-BA26-18421546B8F5}

Parent ID: {DC65CFB2-D81C-4A04-A7F8-0A1B3D88E7EB}

Parent Name: travel

Parent Display Name: Travel

Parent Template Name: T029-PapagaioCategoryListing

Parent Template ID: {4D163066-ED7E-48E6-AF31-34B6C47536CD}