Peru Trekking Guide
Peru is the ideal travel destination for a number of reasons. It has rich historical and cultural significance, and its natural beauty is unparalleled. Tourists from around the world have started to throng to the country, which still has many hidden treasures to offer. Adventurers have been enamored with the country, falling in love with its treks and ancient trails. If you have been wanting to go hiking and explore the culture of a country at the same time, Peru is the destination for you.
Before you pack your bags and set off on a magical trip to Peru, there are a few things you should consider- when you should visit Peru, and what are the exciting treks that await you! Read on to find out more!
Best Time to Visit
If you want to visit Peru with the intention of trekking, the best time to visit Peru is between April and October. The weather is dry enough to permit trekking without any issues. June to August is the peak season, as the holidays draw a lot of international tourists into the country. You should book your tickets and accommodation in advance if you’re traveling during this period.
If you want to avoid the crowds, you should travel to Peru between April-May, or September-October, when the weather is still pretty dry, and the tourist flow is pretty low.
Between November and March, there will be rains. The wet weather might shut down a number of trails around the country- so if you’re traveling during this season, you should check up with the park authorities to see if the trails are open.
- High Season: June-August
- Best Season: April-October
- Low Season: November- March
Top 4 Treks in Peru
This is a trail you should definitely not miss. The Inca Trail leads right to Machu Picchu, and is the most popular trail in Peru. You will pass through spectacular Andean scenery, thick Amazonian jungles, to explore ancient Inca ruins along the way, before reaching the spectacular Sun Gate at the entrance of Machu Pichhu.
Since this is the most popular destination in Peru, it is advisable for you to book your tickets well in advance. The Inca Trail requires you to have a licensed guide, and not more than 500 people are allowed on to the trail per day. The trail fills up months in advance, especially during peak season, so book your spot at least 6 months prior to your holiday.
- Best Time to Visit: April-May, September-October
- Altitude: 13,800 ft.
- Duration: 2- 7 days
Salkantay Trek is the best trek option for those who want to explore more of the Peruvian Andes. Starting at the Sacred Valley, this trail will take you through some of the most spectacular routes through the Willkapampa mountain range. The trek will take you through a number of ancient routes through the Savage Mountain. Even though it is constantly sold as an alternative to the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trail is fantastic in its own right.
The Salkantay Trek is at an overall low altitude, so if you’re not used to the thin air, this is a good spot to start. The trek ends at Santa Teresa, which is quite close to Machu Picchu, so you can still visit the spectacular ruins without having to do the Inca Trail.
- Best Time to Visit: April-October
- Altitude: 15,000 ft.
- Duration: 5 days
The Lares Trek is another gorgeous counterpart to the Inca Trail. It starts right outside Cuzco, and will take you through the Lares Valley, along Ollyantambo, and the beautiful Andean farmlands. The Lares Trek is higher in altitude, but shorter in distance compared to the Inca Trail.
What’s unique about this trail is the fact that it puts you right amidst the local communities. You will be able to explore the local Quechua culture and way of life along the way- including their weaving and crafts! There are a number of organizations that allow you to volunteer and participate in outreach programs for the locals as well!
- Best Time to Visit: April- October
- Altitude: 15,000 ft.
- Duration: 3-4 days
The Choquequirao Trek is a stunning destination for history buffs who want to explore the magic of ancient Incan city. This is quite a long trek (taking a minimum of 4 days) but it will take you through the Willkapampa mountain range, to explore the beautiful Cradle of Gold. You have to drive up 5 hours from Cusco to reach the trailhead for this trek.
This is one of the most adventurous trails available in Peru. It is usually considered the toughest of the treks in the country- as the ups and downs, and the altitude can be quite physically demanding. But, if it is adventure you seek, this is the best place for you to find it!
- Best Time to Visit: May-October
- Altitude: 15,314 ft.
- Duration: 4- 12 days
How to Handle Altitude Sickness
Peru is definitely a beautiful country, with a lot of adventure to offer, but the altitude might be a problem for some. Altitude sickness (known as soroche) in Peru, occurs when a person is over 8,000 ft. (2500 meters), and is caused by lack of oxygen in the blood.
The symptoms include dizziness, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, etc. Altitude sickness can affect almost anybody- including those who are fit. It is better for you to consult a physician to determine the likelihood of you getting sick on your trip. However, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to avoid altitude sickness.
- Talk to your doctor before you leave, and see if you should take some Diamox/ acetazolamide on the trip with you.
- There are many types of altitude sickness- including acute mountain sickness, high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE). Learn the symptoms and treatment for each before you go.
- If you are going trekking, you should give yourself 2 to 3 days in order to acclimatize.
- If this is the first time you’re hiking at such a great altitude, book yourself on a longer trek. This will allow you to trek fewer hours a day, and help you acclimatize better.
- Keep yourself hydrated at all points. Drink a lot of water whenever you can, but avoid caffeine or alcohol, as they tend to dehydrate the body.
- Cocoa, which is found in abundance in Peru, is known to alleviate altitude sickness. You can consume cocoa in the form of tea, brownies, or even the leaves themselves!
- Keep track of how much you’re ascending every day. If you slept at an altitude of 8,000 the first night, you should not sleep at an altitude of more than 10,000 the second- no more than 1000 to 2000 ft. increase in altitude per night.
- While trekking in Peru, it is better for you to sleep in lower altitudes, and then hike higher. For instance, if you’re trekking in Cusco, spend the night in Sacred Valley, and then hike up to Urubamba, or Pisac.
- Many hotels in Peru offer oxygen supplements. Check with your accommodation and see if this oxygen supplement is available, as it will come in handy in dire situations.