The Inca Empire made its home in the Andes and it’s often said that Peru has a unique fusion between history and the natural environment, in what they call “Pachamama”, “mother earth”. For mountain lovers embarking on walking holidays in Peru, you’ll find the scenery comparable with the Himalaya. But it also has an unrivalled history that sets it apart from any other mountainous area in the world.
Machu Picchu is undoubtedly one of the most famous places to visit in Peru. This mist-shrouded Inca citadel is a magnificent archaeological site that stands at almost 8,000ft in the Andes and dates back approximately 500 years. There are several walking routes to the summit including the Salcantay Trek, the Moonstone Trek and the world-renowned Inca Trail.
The Inca Trail is a ‘must’ for any walker and is the most famous trek in South America. It was constructed as a highway connecting Cusco with the lost city of Machu Picchu. The original trail has been carefully and comprehensively restored and, although it can be quite busy at times, it is unquestionably the most rewarding way to arrive at Machu Picchu. When you join one of our Peru trekking holidays, you’ll pass through the impressive mountain landscapes of the Amazonian cloud forest and the snow-capped Andean peaks.
Although our walks in Peru are more than just a simple stroll, they should be within the capability of anyone who is in good health and fitness, and the rewards will certainly justify the physical effort.
Machu Picchu: Placing Peru firmly on the map, Machu Picchu is an ancient archaeological site that can’t be ignored by anyone wanting to explore the country. The ancient citadel was built by the Incas around 500 years ago and is set among the most incredible Andean backdrop of mountains and cloud forests. You can take various routes up to Machu Picchu, but the Inca Trail is arguably the most stunning. Arriving at the Sun Gate on the slopes of Machu Picchu, you’ll enjoy staggering views across the Lost City and the Andes.
Cuzco: Once the capital of the Incan Empire, Cusco is a spellbinding city in the Peruvian Andes and is most famous for its Spanish colonial architecture and archaeological remains. At its centre ornate cathedrals, ancient ruins and agricultural terraces surround the Plaza de Armas in the old city. This is a fascinating place for history lovers wanting to learn more about Peru’s Incan heritage and you could easily spend a day here admiring the architecture. Cusco is also the starting point for the Inca Trail and Salcantay routes.
Amazon Rainforest: The lush canopy of the sprawling Amazon Rainforest is home to some of Peru’s most wonderful wildlife and is a must for nature lovers on walking holidays in Peru. Meandering rivers, lakes and forest trails steer you through the natural habitats of animals such as monkeys, reptiles, giant otters and a whole host of birdlife. As well as exploring on foot, you can also paddle along the waterways in a canoe. This is a unique experience that will jostle your senses as you listen to the sounds of the wild on an extraordinary adventure.
Lima: The city of Lima is the vibrant capital of Peru and is a heady concoction of culture and history, providing a stark contrast against the natural landscapes. There’s no doubt Lima will charm you with its colonial-influenced architecture, coastal backdrop and tropical beats. Dubbed ‘the gastronomic capital of South America’, the city is also home to some of the most sensational food in the world with Peruvian delicacies such as Ceviche, Lomo Saltado, Picarones and Aji de Gallini. Food lovers will be in their element with the wealth of tasty treats on offer.
Lake Titicaca: Lying nearly 4,000 metres up in the Andes on the border of Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca is the largest and highest navigable freshwater lake in South America. But this isn’t the only reason it’s caused a stir with both locals and visitors to Peru – it’s believed by the Incans to be the birthplace of the sun, and that’s one impressive claim to fame! The highland lake is overlooked by imposing Andean peaks and strewn across the plateau you’ll find ancient ruins that tell of its past. The locals make a living from selling handmade crafts and even to this day they harvest their crops by hand. If you enjoy delving into the history of the destinations you visit, this is a great place to find out more about the real Peru.
This was an excellent week of walking. The paths are steep in some places but well defined and Jose guided us with care and attention on the challenging ascents and descents of the Sierra Aitana. The walks were well-paced by Jose but the days are long so you do need to be fit. We trekked through a number of landscapes illustrating the historic and current use of the area and Jose with his local knowledge enhanced our understanding of how this area has evolved over the centuries as well as the current challenges. The views from the walks were amazing – one way you could see the coast from Alicante to Benidorm and beyond and the other the folding valleys and mountains of the interior. The skies were blue and the days sunny and warm and we experienced very little wind even on the summits. We were based at the Hostel Rincon de Pepe where we had a wonderful week being looked after by Raquel. The food was amazing and hearty (three courses plus wine). The terrace was also great place to have breakfast every morning as the sun rose out of the Med, as well as a beer or two after the walk as the sun disappeared behind the mountains.
This is a great week’s walking in a little-known (and underrated) part of Spain. The Aitana range is a compact set of mountains so you get to tick off almost all of it, and there are great views from the top of all the peaks, out to the coast and across to the surrounding peaks. Most of the walks are reasonably demanding, but also rewarding.
Being based in one location, with very short transfers (or none) for each walk makes for a very relaxing week aside from the walking. It’s also a fairly short transfer to/from Alicante Airport.
The vast majority of meals are included which makes it much better value than some other (apparently similarly priced) holidays.
Jose the guide is exceptional: hard-working, helpful, supportive and deeply knowledgeable about the area.