Peru is one of the most diverse countries on the planet, it has the Sierra in the Andes Mountains, the Jungle around the Amazon River and the Coast next to the Pacific Ocean. But if you are one of the people who is going to skip all this, to go straight to Machu Picchu in Cusco, then you may be interested in entering Machu Picchu… in a less conventional way. You can choose between one of the amazing Treks to Machu Picchu, or other incredible Treks in Cusco, among which are some of the most amazing hiking trails in the world.
In Cusco the search for new circuits increased. This is due to the increase in travelers from various parts of the world throughout the year. For this reason, the permits to the Inca trail and neighboring trails have multiplied. Therefore, Cusco has options for each type of traveler, whether it be day hikes, in places with height and slopes or a simple group walk. The important thing is the adventure.
This region offers the possibility of practicing all kinds of sports such as canoeing, rappelling, zip-lining, bungee jumping and hang gliding. But without a doubt the most popular sport is trekking. Next we will tell you how these paths are so that you can choose the Cusco and Perú vacation packages that you like the most.
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The 5 best treks in Cusco
1. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu:
It is considered one of the best trekking in the world, for the value of the nature where it is developed and also for the historical importance it has. Currently this trail passes through numerous archaeological sites.
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of those experiences that can change your life, unique and unforgettable; one of the best hikes in the world. You will walk for 4 days to enter the Inca City of Machu Picchu. The Inca trails will take you through beautiful landscapes, with mountains, rivers, exotic vegetation, and flooded with Inca sites; Although you need to be in good physical condition, it is a simply wonderful experience. However, if you want your first view of Machu Picchu to be from the Puerta del Sol (Inti Punku), but you do not want to walk for 4 days, you can choose the short Inca Trail (2 days).
Important: The income to Machu Picchu by the Inca Trail must be reserved 6 months before; otherwise, it will be impossible for you to enter Machu Picchu through Puerta del Sol.
2. Salkantay trek – Machu Picchu:
Many renowned publications place the Salcantay Trek among the 10 best hiking trails in the world; Although it is quite a challenge to cross the very high mountain passes, an even greater challenge is not to enjoy it. It is a 4 or 5 day journey to Machu Picchu, through one of the highest mountain ranges in the Andes Mountains. Although the Salcantay mountain, 6,250 m. high, it is one of the most beautiful mountains around Machu Picchu, not all people dare to challenge it. The Salcantay mountain is still venerated by the people of the Andes, as it was in the time of the Incas. You will cross the Salcantay Mountain, beautiful mountain passes, a beautiful cloud forest, beautiful lagoons, and part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas towards Machu Picchu.
You will hike through mountain ranges as high as the Andes Mountains. Challacancha, Soraypampa, the pass or pass Salkantay, Chaullay, are some of the communities and tourist sites that you will visit along the way. Treks are up to 8 hours a day in these difficult conditions. You will camp and get up very early in the morning to see the sunrise at this point.
3. Hike through Ausangate
The fifth highest mountain in all of Peru is the “Ausangate”, also considered the protective or guardian mountain of the city of Cusco. You can trek through this region and choose the options that best suit your tastes. The specific thing is that this area implies a certain difficulty since it is a steep trek, with a lot of height and very cold. Depending on the number of attractions you want to visit, the number of days you are in this area, 4 hours from Cusco by vehicle. A trek through this mysterious place will fill your soul and demand it in such a way that you will enjoy twice as much when you reach the highest camp.
This beautiful snow-capped Cusco, impresses the eye, for its incredible natural formations; There are not only beautiful water bodies such as the Sivinicocha, with turquoise waters, but also stone forests, glaciers and high plains that seem to make this natural attraction a paradise on earth, especially for those tourists who are interested for adventure sports since, the geographical accidents of Ausangate make it ideal for practicing sports such as rock climbing, ice climbing, trekking, among other activities.
4. Trek to Choquequirao
The trekking to Choquequirao can be done in 4 or 5 days, according to the speed you want to print the journey. Specifically, you will go up and down mountains between very steep trails and with the sun hitting you all the time. If there is bad weather it is advisable not to go because it can become very dangerous for your physique. This ancient Inca city, which is even bigger than Machu Picchu, is hidden under the undergrowth and jungle. Currently only 30% of the archaeological complex has been discovered and enormous efforts are being made to clean the area and remove the veil from this mysterious site.
Just some time ago, a French engineer visiting Machu Picchu discovered a hidden door that thousands, no, millions of people overlooked. Just below the building of the three portals in the urban center of Machu Picchu, there is a secret door that could be the tomb of Pachacútec. However; In the same way, part of the Inca city of Choquequirao is still under huge amounts of brush, so more than a tourist excursion, it is an exploration trip to an ancient Inca city, considered the sister of Machu Picchu, for the impressive similarities in design and architecture. Although good physical condition is required, it is an experience that every adventurous person should do. The Trek to the Inca City of Choquequirao is a unique hiking experience, and if it is not yet considered among the best treks in the world, it is because they have not yet finished digging it up; an enigmatic place whose history is still being investigated. This hike takes 4 days, although there are shorter versions. And it can be concluded with a dream ending in Machu Picchu.
5. Lares trek – Machu Picchu
This trek lasts about 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. Such as agriculture, the raising of animals that produce wool and meat and the manufacture of typical handmade garments. The hospitality of these people will enchant you so enjoy this cultural experience. 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 Trek.
Although the Lares Walk to Machu Picchu is not a technical walk in itself, the 4-day tour has been specially designed for people looking for a more exclusive route (less crowded), away from the classic excursions such as the Inca Trail. or the Salcantay trek. The Lares trek allows you to see Andean communities lost in time; while walking the trails of lares, you will see how these people live dedicated to agriculture, the raising of animals that produce wool and meat and the manufacture of typical handmade garments; enjoy your hospitality. Although this walk will not take you to Machu Picchu through the Puerta del Sol (Inti Punku), it will give you the opportunity to board the train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu; So you will not only enjoy an amazing walk, but also one of the most amazing short train routes on the planet, through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Aguas Calientes, the town below the Inca city of Machu Picchu.
Short hikes in incredible landscapes
The road to the mountain of 7 colors – After Machu Picchu, the mountain of the 7 colors is the second most visited tourist attraction in Cusco. It is famous for its soil whose proliferation of minerals resemble the colors of the rainbow. To get there, you must necessarily go on a 5-kilometer walk through altitudes that exceed 5,000 meters above sea level. For many, this hike is part of the adventure. For others, it is a difficult stumbling block to overcome. For the latter, there is the option of renting the service of a horse. The cost of the tour is approximately 50 US dollars per person.
The way to the Humantay lagoon – The turquoise waters of the Humantay lagoon offer one of the most beautiful landscapes of Cusco. It is located at the foot of the snowy Salkantay, 4,200 meters above sea level. To get there, after a car trip, you have to take a short 2-kilometer uphill walk. Due to the steepness of the road and the more than 4 thousand meters of altitude, the section is difficult for many visitors. For them there is the option of renting a horse. For others, this short route is a great adventure full of beautiful landscapes. The cost of the tour is approximately $ 50 per person.
The road to Putucusi Mountain – El Putucusi is one of the three peaks that surround Machu Picchu, after Huaynapicchu and Machupicchu Mountain. Walking its slopes is considered a difficult adventure because they are not traced as roads but rather rocks must be climbed and followed by winding sections. That is why this adventure is only recommended for people in good physical condition. The walk begins in the town of Aguas Calientes. Admission is free. From the top you have a spectacular view of Machu Picchu and all its natural surroundings.
The road to Waqrapukara – The archaeological site of Waqrapukara was a fortress and religious site of the Canchis culture, which was conquered and taken by the Incas. It is famous for its horn-shaped rock building (its name means’ horn-shaped fortress). To get there, after a trip by car from the city of Cusco, a short ascending walk must be made until reaching the highest part, where the site is located. On the way you can appreciate all the natural landscape beauty of the Andes Mountains. The tours have an approximate cost of 50 dollars per tourist.
Hikes near Urubamba
Huchuy Qosqo Trek – Machu Picchu
The route through Huchuy Qosqo is one of the classic walks in Cusco; the complex is based on the Sacred Valley of the Incas, then the cities of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. When the Chancas, rivals of the Incas, besieged Cusco in 1,438, the Inca left the capital of the Inca Empire to take refuge in the Palace of Huchuy Qosqo, already at the time of the conquest Gonzalo Pizarro found an Inca mummy in Huchuy Qosqo, and ordered to burn it. It is one of the easiest hikes in Cusco. This walk will take you through various archaeological sites and typical towns of the Sacred Valley of the Incas; but is one of the best hikes near Urubamba, andyou can stop at this place or continue on another path to the Historic and Natural Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.
Hike to the Perolniyoc Waterfall
This is one of the best know hikes near Urubamba. The waterfall has an approximate drop of 80 meters. The current of water that forms is shallow. We can appreciate lush vegetation formed by the spray of water at the base of the waterfall.
We will find a great variety of flora on the site, among which the elderberry, the qeuña and the chachacomo stand out. The base of the waterfall is located at 3460 meters above sea level.
It has an extraordinary set of architectural constructions of Inca origin, although there is also a record of pre-Inca occupation by the Cugma manor. In this place, two-story houses were built: Qolqas (which served as warehouses), lodging rooms called Kallanqas and a ceremonial enclosure. The archaeological site was restored between 2013 and 2016 via the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Cusco.
Within this archaeological zone four funerary contexts associated with vessels, pots, tupus, spóndylus and others were located.
Hikes near Ollantaytambo
Hike to Inti Punku
One of the best Ollantaytambo hikes is the trek to Inti Punku. It is an astronomical and strategic viewpoint built by the Incas used as a kind of watchtower for the access routes to Machu Picchu, from the Amazon jungle on the other side of the mountains from this door you can see the Nevado de la Verónica or Wakay Willka or “Sacred Tears” a snowy peak that was sacred to the Incas.
Walk to the Archaeological Site of Pumamarca
The Archaeological Site of Pumamarca in Cusco, is a place little frequented, however, it is worth knowing. In this place you can see architectural structures such as: platforms, Inca trails, canals and others that will help you clear your mind.
Pumamarca, is surrounded by architectural structures such as: Inca trails, Andes, among others. However, one of the structures that stands out the most in the archaeological site is the existence of the Qolpas.
The staggered shape of its structures stands out in the Archaeological Site of Pumamarca. It should be noted that the structures have a height of approximately 5 m, showing an efficient construction technique. Definetely you can not miss this Ollantaytambo hike if you visit Cusco.
According to some chronicler, these tiered structures were military in nature, and apparently the space was used for battles between the Spanish and the Incas during this time.