5 Lesser-Known Hiking Trails in Peru

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is most certainly an amazing experience. But did you know, the Peruvian Andes has some of the best hiking trails in the world?  While some are famous, other trails are not as popular and are perfect for those adventurers who are looking for an off the beaten path trek through some of the best remote locations in Peru.  Most of our clients seeking adventure elopement, would be interested in knowing about the lesser-known hiking trails in Peru.  Am I right?

Overall, if you are looking for adventure, Peru is the place to be!

Today, our friend, Mark Whitman, is going to share with you today 5 Lesser-Known Hiking Trails in Peru.  So who is Mark and what does he bring to the table?  He is an avid hiker who has experience trekking some of the most famous mountain destinations in the world. In 2014 he created Mountain IQ to share his passion for hiking with other mountain enthusiasts.  So coming along as he gives you the all the insider knowledge on these offbeat hiking trails in Peru!

Peru Hiking #1: The Huayhuash Circuit

This is one of the lesser-known and most challenging treks in Peru. The Huayhuash Circuit is an 81- mile journey with some of the most spectacular views.  100% postcard-worthy!

You’ll begin in the capital city of Huaraz, a great opportunity to take a few days to acclimatize. You will then travel to Llamac to begin your hike. It will take you about 12 days to complete the full circuit and you’ll be hiking around 8 hours per day.

I recommend hiring a local guide even if you have a good hiking experience because the trail is not well signposted. They’ll also have the best insight on the history of the mountains, the culture of the people and provide the best information on the local fauna and flora.

The best time to hike the Huayhuash Circuit is from May to September which can be quite cold but there is less rainfall. Hiking in Peru Tip: Pack well for the cold nights!

You’ll be hiking at high altitudes so know the symptoms of altitude sickness, keep hydrated and take it easy. There is no rush after all.

Furthermore, one of the benefits of hiring a local guide…  Ask your tour guide about the Rio Pumarini hot springs. Close to halfway, this stop is such a treat and an awesome way to break the chill!  If the Huayhuash Circuit isn’t your ideal lesser-known hiking trails in Peru, don’t fret read on for the additional 4!

Lesser-Known Hiking Trails in Peru-  #2: Choquequirao Trek

Number 2 on our lesser-known hiking trails in Peru list is named, Choquequirao. This trek takes you to the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu.  It’s more of an unconventional route. Great for avoiding the crazy crowds and the scenery is incredible!  Note: It’s important to know you require a permit to have wedding photos anywhere in this area.  Our Peru wedding planning and photography team can acquire this for you as part of our process.

So what to expect hiking to Machu Picchu on this offbeat route?  Realistically, it is physically challenging.  Choosing this route, it will take you 9 days to reach Machu Picchu. While on the route, you will also spend an entire day exploring the ruins of Choquequirao, fondly called the ‘little sister’ of Machu Picchu. This is another Incan ruin site that is typically unknown by tourists (as of when this Peru hiking advice post was published), but is sure to become more popular in the future.

Don’t forget you’ll need at least 2 days prior to hiking the trail to acclimatize in Cusco. Most tour operators will include this in your itinerary.

What’s great about this trail is that you can even hike independently, saving you costs on guides or tour companies! The trail is peaceful, and the ruins are exceptionally quiet.  Picture yourself rocking out a hiking elopement in Peru- it would be a stunning spot for adventure wedding photos for sure!!

If this trail interests you, then I suggest booking a trip as soon as possible. There are plans to build a cable car to the Choquequirao ruins which will most certainly become quite popular with tourists. So, go now if you would like to plan an elopement in Peru or even honeymoon, before the crowds find out about this beautiful site!

Best Hike to Less Touristy Ruins in Peru #3 – Gran Vilaya Trek

Maybe you have no desire to see Machu Picchu because of the tourists, but still want to experience ruins?  Then the lesser-known hiking trails in Peru following the Gran Vilaya trek is likely more up your alley.  Beginning in the town of Chachapoyas, this hike is one of the lesser-known trails in Peru and takes you to Kuelap, fondly called the Machu Picchu of the North. It has been rated by hiking enthusiasts as better than the Inca Trail!

Kuelap is a stunning site, just as magical as Machu Picchu! It has massive stone walls surrounding the city which consists of more than 400 buildings overlooking the Utcubamba Valley. It’s surprising there are so few visitors because it is well worth the journey.

Kuelap is one of the largest Incan ruins and is truly impressive. It takes 4 days to complete and is 33-miles long. You’ll be walking through the jungle, finding many archaeological ruins along the way and you’ll come across the friendly people of Chachapoyas.

The hike’s highest point is at 3,348 meters, so it is important to again be clued up on the symptoms of altitude sickness and how to acclimatize.

The Peru hiking trail is very quiet, and you will most likely be the sole travelers on this route. April to November are the best times to take the hike to Gran Vilaya. Still, be aware that the weather patterns can change rather quickly so keep up to date.

Hiking in Peru #4: The Marcahuasi Trek

Looking for a real off the beaten track adventure? Something a little less challenging but still gratifying? Then this is the Peru hike for you! If you find yourself in Lima, definitely check out this hiking trail. Marcahuasi sees very little visitors and is a wonderful day hike for those less adventurous trekkers.  Could also be a nice way to spend your Peru elopement adventure too!

From Lima, you’ll make your way to the tiny village of San Pedro de Casta. Truly, Peru’s most remote village, where you’ll spend the night before beginning your trek the next day. Furthermore, there is a high possibility that you’ll be the village’s only tourists at the time.

This is such an awesome opportunity to really take in the culture of Peru. The people in San Pedro de Casta are very welcoming. Peru Hiking Tip: Practice your Spanish, take in the peaceful sounds (there are no cars!) and absorb the splendor of being in one of the most remote villages in the country!

Firstly, get up early the next day for your trek (hello sunrise!). You’ll want to reach Marcahuasi earlier in the day to have the best views. Most afternoons see cloud cover and some rainfall.

Marcahuasi is 4,000 meters above sea level, so pace yourself and be alert for symptoms of altitude sickness.  No shame in taking breaks, especially if this lesser-known hiking trails in Peru is part of your adventure wedding day.

This is a different hiking experience from those to Machu Picchu. Marcahuasi is truly remote and magical. There are rock formations that resemble human faces, the air is exceptionally crisp and fresh, and this is truly one for the bucket list!

Peru Elopement Hiking #5: Alpamayo Base Camp Trek

Hiking to Alpamayo Base Camp is an awesome experience! It offers the opportunity to hike around the base of Nevado Alpamayo, which was voted one of the most beautiful mountains in the world.  Picture perfect location for Peru elopement photos too!

This is a 10-day trek, beginning in the town of Huaraz. I recommend spending at least 2 nights in the town prior to attempting the trek to acclimatize. It’s also a good idea to do a few day hikes before attempting the Alpamayo Trek.

On day 8 you will have the chance to climb to the Alpamayo Base Camp which is a steep 4-hour journey, but so worth the effort. The views are incredible!

When to take this lesser-known hiking trails in Peru? May to September is the best time to embark on this route. For example, these months will bring the best weather for your hike and the best panoramic views of Cordillera Blanca.

You’ll need to be physically fit for this hike and have previous experience hiking at high altitudes. The hike takes place at around 4,100 meters but the highest point will be at a whopping 4,860 meters.

Hiking independently is an option, saving you costs if you’re tight on budget. But I would suggest taking a guide with you if you are less experienced at hiking, especially at high altitudes.

Planning your Hiking Elopement in Peru

Leaving totally inspired today?  Or immediately wanting to book your hiking trip to Peru?  Maybe you’ve found the ideal spot to hike to for your elopement in Peru!  In conclusion, these lesser-known hiking trails in Peru are by no means less amazing than the more famous routes in Peru. They are peaceful, challenging and truly immersive hiking experiences.

Which route will you choose for your Peru elopement, honeymoon, or adventure trip?  The team at Mountain IQ has awesome hiking advice, resources (like hello Inca Trail Packing List!), and gear to compliment your journey so pay them a visit!  Lastly, our Your Adventure Wedding team or Wanderlust Honeymoons team would love to help you contact us for more information on how to plan your adventurous elopement in Peru!

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