For many travellers, it’s safe to assume that Peru is synonymous with the 15th Century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Close to 1 million tourists make a beeline and go on a pilgrimage every year to visit this awe-inspiring ancient city. Whilst this iconic archaeological site is often the highlight of their travels to South America, the country of Peru has a lot more to offer as well. We’re talking about hiking in Peru’s deep rugged canyons, sandboarding your way down giant dunes and having your breath taken away at the world’s highest navigable lake. Here’s our guide to the best hiking spots you can experience in just the southern part of Peru!
The world’s second deepest canyon is only 7 hours away from the city of Cusco. At an altitude of approximately 3,650m above sea level and almost 3,400m at its deepest point (making it nearly twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the US), witnessing the sheer scale of this natural wonder slicing through the Andes mountain range is an experience in itself. Don’t forget to bring along coca leaves to help you with any bouts of altitude sickness.
One of the most popular trails in the region starts at Cabanaconde, a small village. Hiking down the mountain for 2 hours will get you to another remote village called San Juan. There isn’t much there except for a flowing river but it offers complete serenity that feels worlds away.
Continue your hike to Sangalle, also known as ‘The Oasis’. Aptly named as it’s a spot of lush greenery hidden at the bottom of the canyon and is a perfect spot to enjoy a dip in the pool or play a game of soccer. With only 2 resorts here, prices are high so may not be the most budget-friendly, but it’s a beautiful backdrop to rest your tired feet from the trek.
To finish off the epic hike, there’s an extremely steep mountain to climb as the last challenge. Once you’ve reached the summit, you would’ve climbed up about 1,400m in around 3 hours. Now that’s something to brag about!
This desert village is built around a small natural lake surrounded by sand dunes, located approximately 75km away from the southern coast of Peru. If you need a break from the mountains and the sea, you need to go here for some adrenaline-pumping sandboarding and buggy rides to scale windblown dunes that are often a few hundred metres high.
The exhilarating buggy rides on the sand dunes are worth every penny. You’ll be holding onto your seat and screaming with excitement the entire time!
Catching the sunset from the top of the sand dunes is truly unforgettable. The colour of the sky turns orange and for a small window, you can admire the calm silhouette of the endless sand dunes in the distance before it goes dark.
If you want to test your physical endurance and cardio, walk to the top of the sand dunes to get an amazing view of the village.
Although this city, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, doesn’t offer much, it’s the tours to the islands on the world’s highest navigable lake that are worth the visit.
Peruvian tribes still continue to live and thrive on some of these islands, building their homes from reed and living their lives floating on this sacred freshwater lake.
A hike around Amantani, the biggest island on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, is a living exhibit of ancient Andean culture. The men and women all wear traditional clothes and their main livelihood comes from either farming or producing textiles.
Hiking in Peru allows you to reconnect with what the natural world has to offer and to immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage. If you’re planning to visit, don’t just limit yourself to the well-trodden sights as there’s so much more to explore and discover.
Writer: Arranged Travelers
Photographer: Arranged Travelers