Peru offers wonderful opportunities for city exploration, culture discovery, culinary enjoyment and day hike experiences that will add short, fun, scenic adventures to your vacation. Peru day hikes can be done on your own or as guided tours. They can be stand-alone experiences or ones that are added to a multi-day adventure like the Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek. Options include hikes to stunning mountain lakes, dramatic alpine landscapes, unique rock formations, cultural sites and more. Make the most of your time in Peru by exploring on foot!
Many of these hikes will be at moderate-serious elevations, so it's important to make sure you're properly acclimatized for your chosen hike.
Humantay Lake mesmerizes visitors with its crystal-blue waters and remote mountain setting. This trail clocks in at 4.5 miles roundtrip, making it the perfect acclimatization hike for one of your first trekking days near Cusco. Begin your hike in a rolling green valley, where horses graze, and glaciated peaks tower in the distance. Steeply gain 1400 feet of elevation as you ascend the trail under the watchful gaze of Mount Salkantay and Mount Humantay. When you arrive at the lake at 13,779 feet, catch your breath in the thin air as you observe the freezing water cascades from the glacier above.
The trailhead for Humantay Lake is about 3 hours from Cusco. Many tour companies offer day hikes or include this trek as part of a longer itinerary. If you hike this trail with a guide, they will arrange transportation to and from the trailhead. However, if you choose to hike alone, you will need to rent a car or hire a private taxi to get to the trailhead.
Rainbow Mountain is quickly becoming a must-see destination near Cusco. You may have seen photos of the vibrant, rainbow-colored alpine ridges surrounded by towering, glaciated peaks. This is Rainbow Mountain. It is at an elevation of over 17,000 feet so the elevation on this hike is a very serious consideration. We recommend people add this day hike tour onto the end of one of our multi-day treks because you will already be acclimatized. Another option is to add Rainbow Mountain on to the end of your time in Cusco, which is over 11,000 feet in elevation. The hike is moderate length at about 5.5 miles. It climbs approximately 2,200 feet each way though, which makes this a steep hike. If you're able to acclimatize and you're up for an unforgettable one-day adventure, Rainbow Mountain is a great choice.
Kinsa Cocha, which means "three lakes" in Quechua, is a stunning hike just 45 minutes from Pisac in the Sacred Valley. The first lake is accessible from the parking area; however, as you traverse through the rocky valley, the views only get better. You’ll likely see more alpacas than tourists on this trek, so carry adequate water, food, and gear. Hikers should account for about 3-4 hours on the trail.
Some tour companies offer day hikes to this region, but it is a lesser-visited destination, so these trips can be difficult to book. Hiking groups can also hire a taxi from Pisac to reach the trailhead. The highest point on the trail is around 15,000 feet, so make sure to acclimatize before attempting this remote hike.
Laguna 69, an icy blue glacier-fed lake, sits deep in the Cordillera Blanca. As one of the most stunning day treks in the region, it’s no surprise that Laguna 69 is also one of the most popular. You certainly won’t be alone on the trail, but the nonstop views will distract you from the hoards of people. When you arrive at the lakeshore, take some time to relax by the turquoise waters under Chacraraju’s snow-covered face.
The lake sits at just over 15,000 feet, so be sure to acclimatize before attempting this trek. If you want a little more solitude on the trails, avoid peak season from July through September.
Many tour companies run full day-trips to Laguna 69, so it is very affordable. However, many local tours don't include a guide and only offer transportation to and from the trailhead. If you want to escape the crowds, take a taxi to the trailhead. If you arrive before 11 AM, you'll be ahead of the tour groups. This option is quite expensive but beneficial for travelers who want to move at their own pace. Just make sure you secure a ride back to town, too!
Marcahuasi is a bit of an oddball in this list of mountain treks: this "stone forest", just east of Lima near the town San Pedro de Casta, is home to many strange and mystic rock formations. This unique destination is the perfect weekend getaway from the bustling city of Lima. Hikers can reach the rock formations in a day from San Pedro de Casta, however, many hikers opt to throw on backpacks or load up donkeys and camp beneath the Amphitheatre—a beautiful rock fortress that shelters a grassy plateau from harsh weather. Marcahuasi gets much less rain and has more moderate temperatures than other classic Andes trails, so it is a great year-round trekking destination.
From Lima, take a collectivo to Chosica. Once in Chosica, you’ll change buses and catch another to San Pedro de Casta. The entire journey takes between 3 - 4 hours. Once you arrive in town, the trail to Marcahuasi is easy to find.