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Choosing Your Trek

The Best Treks in Peru

There are so many great treks in the Andes, it can be hard to pick just one! To make sure your once-in-a-lifetime adventure is the perfect one for you, here are a few tips for choosing among the best treks in Peru:

  1. Read the trek descriptions carefully. We’ve done our best to capture in words what you can expect on each trek. Check out the photos, too, to get an idea of what the route is like. This will give you a good sense of what to expect on the trail.
  2. How many days do you have? Don’t forget to factor in the recommended 2-3 days of acclimatization at altitude before beginning any trek. This might limit the length of trek you’re able to hike.
  3. Fitness level matters. Sorry to say it, but some Andean treks are meant for only the most experienced, fittest and well-acclimatized trekkers out there. 
  4. Think about what kind of experience you want – ancient ruins? beautiful vistas? immersive cultural experiences? Some treks offer all three, but most highlight one element or another. You can search our site according to several different categories, including Culture, History, Adventure or Popular.
  5. When do you want to go? As we go over on our Best Time to Hike page, you can choose to hike in either dry season or wet season in Cusco, but some hikes are more suited to one or the other. For instance, the Lares Valley offers some of the best wet season trekking, while you want to stick to dry season for treks to Ausangate or Choquequirao. And remember, any Inca Trail routes require a permit that must be booked at least 6 months in advance for high season dates (April through August) or 3 months in advance for the rest of the year. If you know your dates, BOOK NOW to avoid missing out later!

 

Still finding it tough to decide? We’ve compiled a handy chart comparing ALL our routes. Download the PDF comparing the best treks in Peru for free here!

What is an “Alternative” Trek?

Apus Peru specializes in providing off-the-beaten track trekking opportunities in the Andes, in addition to the Classic Inca Trail routes.

These are sometimes referred to as “alternative” treks because they were originally developed as an alternative to the Classic Inca Trail. But they’re all among the best treks in Peru!

Before 2004, the Inca Trail was open to anyone who wanted to hike it. Since then, government regulations have become increasingly strict, limiting the number of people who get to hike its length on any given day. When the rules were new, some people found themselves unexpectedly unable to hike the Inca Trail and in need of an “alternative”.

However, “alternative” doesn’t mean “second best”! After decades of roaming these beautiful mountains, we know that every route features breathtaking vistas, captivating cultural sites, pristine natural environments and an unforgettable immersive Andean experience! That doesn’t mean we don’t love the Inca Trail, too – it’s called “classic” for a reason.

Should you do an Alternative Trek instead of hiking the Inca Trail?

Generally, what you lose in popularity you gain in unique experiences. Here are a few of the pros and cons:

Inca Trail

  • One of the most famous treks in the world. Instant cred if you hike it.
  • Famous = extremely popular. With an average of 500 souls treading the trail every day, it can feel a bit like a trekking super-highway.
  • Spectacular Inca ruins along the trail, every single day.

  • Well-developed campsites with full facilities.
  • Hike right into Machu Picchu through the famous Sun Gate.

  • Must book at least 6 months in advance. Very strict permit system, and no changes allowed once booked.
  • Breathtaking scenery, and challenging physical demands.

Alternative Treks

  • No one will be amazed to hear you did the “Vilcabamba trek”.

  • This is a true adventure camping experience, with an abundance of time in remote wilderness. Yours could be the only group on the trail.
  • Fewer Inca ruins, and a greater sense of the “real” Peru. More interaction with locals and a sense of everyday Andean culture.
  • Natural hiking trails with few or no facilities. Toilet tent provided.
  • Requires transportation to Machu Picchu following the trek. Stay the night in Aguas Calientes and visit Machu Picchu the next day.
  • More flexibility with departure dates and changes to itinerary.

  • Breathtaking scenery, and challenging physical demands.