10 Must-Do Hikes Around Cusco PART 1

The nature surrounding Cusco, Peru is some of the most astounding in the World. Complete with snowcapped peaks, deep sprawling valleys, roaring rivers, ancient buildings, and colorful sunsets and sunrises. These magical landscapes in and around Cusco are ones you’ll want to explore close up, walk through, and take a day or two to slow down to soak it all in. The perfect way to do this is by one of many half-day, day, or two-day hikes in the area. Travel to the Sacred Valley to experience astonishing ruins or stay close by and enjoy remarkable views of Cusco from the nearby mountains. Continue on to find more information on the top ten hikes we offer in this area. All of our hikes include transportation (if necessary), a bilingual guide, and some include meals.

1) Hiking Cusco’s Backyard

Duration transportation (RT): 25 min
Hiking distance: 5 km / 3 mi
Duration of the hike: 2:30 – 3:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy 1-2-3-4-5

Ideal for those getting acclimated to the elevation, this half-day trip is an easy and excellent way to get familiar with the city by hiking through the countryside above it. We begin by taking a short ride to the peak of Huayllarcocha wetlands. Enjoy the view as well as the abundant birdlife surrounding this marshy land. From there we will continue down until we reach a mysterious rock resembling a man’s face, Cara del Inca (Inca’s face). Enjoy a relaxing moment before resuming on our hike to the Temple of the Moon, a stunning and ancient Huaca (ceremonial site). This site is exceptionally unique as it is two caves set in the hillside. Marvel at the ability of the ancient individuals to perfectly carve and align the alters within the caves to bask in the moonlight during certain times of the year. Following the Temple of the moon we descent further down a grassy path to reach the Temple of the Monkeys (Cusilluchayoc). Another ancient Incan ruins complete with carvings of monkeys and other animals. Our tour comes to a close as we continue down until we reach the colorful and bustling San Blas neighborhood of Cusco. This is the perfect, tranquil way to explore the nature surrounding Cusco as well as lesser-known ruins, without the overwhelming crowds or long drive.

2) Hike to the Unknown Ruins of Cusco

Duration transportation (RT): 40 min
Hiking distance: 7.2 km / 4.5 mi
Duration of the hike: 4:00 – 5:00 hours
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate 1-2-3-4-5

This hike is perfect for individuals that might have some physical or time restrictions as it is close by and only a half-day adventure. Similar to the hike mentioned above, we explore the nearby areas including the Temple of the Monkeys. Begin by observing the bustling main square, Plaza de Armas, before resuming up a staircase to the colorful, artistic, and rustic neighborhood of San Blas. Next, we will enjoy the Temple of the Monkeys and the Temple of the Moon. From there, we hike to the archeological site of Inkilltambo Bridge. Enjoy a mix of Incan structures and agricultural terraces while relaxing before we finish our tour with a short car ride back to Cusco.

3) Hike to Huchuy Qosco (2D/1N)

Duration transportation (RT): 1:15 hours
– Day 1: Cusco / Qoricocha lake / Apachetas / Huchuy Qosqo
Hiking distance: 10.3 km (5.8 mi)Duration of the hike: 4:00 – 5:00 hours
– Day 2: Huchuy Qosqo / Lamay / Cusco 2:00 – 3:00 hours
Hiking distance: 3.6 km (2.2 mi)Duration of the hike: 1:30 – 2:30 hours
Difficulty: Moderate 1-2-3-4-5

The ultimate two-day overnight trip for those individuals wanting an active, yet informative tour. Beginning at the shores of the divine Lake Qoricocha (Golden Lake), we will admire the glassy reflection before ascending towards the puna. This peak will be unlike anything you’ve seen before. A barren, treeless high plateau where you’ll be able to spot herds of alpacas and llamas lazily grazing across the terrain. Enjoy lunch out in nature before continuing to Apacheta Pass and Huchuyqosqo. The scenic hike includes views of the surrounding snowcovered Andes mountains.

Day two begins with a well-balanced breakfast before our journey to the Huchuyqosqo site. This ancient site dates back to the early 15th century and is believed to be the home of the eight Inca, Viracocha. This royal Inca estate contains stone and adobe buildings, an impressive great hall, and an irrigation channel that is STILL functioning today. This architectural masterpiece is said to be where Viracocha died. We conclude our hike by traversing down a zigzag path down the mountain to Lamay.

4) Hike through Moray, Maras, and Pichingoto

Duration transportation (RT): Cusco: 2 hours
Hiking distance: 12 km / 7.5 mi
Duration of the hike: 4:30 – 5: 30 hours
Difficulty: Moderate 1-2-3-4-5

This trip is a delightful way to experience the Sacred Valley and the most impressive sites it has to offer. The first stop is Moray, one of the earliest agricultural experiments in existence. These circular terraces create microclimates that allow a plethora of crops to grow. Learn how ancient indigenous people took only the land they had to build a technology that was only matched centuries later with the creation of greenhouses. Following Moray, we continue trekking to Maras. Maras is where the residents mine salt by pooling the salty runoff from a nearby mountain. Stand in awe at the thousands of white and pink saltpans terraced in the mountainside. We will learn about how the site is still run entirely by local families while tasting the salt and studying the beneficial health properties of the mineral. After admiring these two sites we continue hiking to Pichingoto, a remote and lesser-known Inca town. These mysterious and secluded ruins include cave-like stone homes and a Spanish colonial church. Pichingoto is where this full-day experience comes to a close as we hop in the vehicle and make our way back to Cusco.

Stay tuned for the rest of the top ten hikes around Cusco next week!

Want to add one or more of these to your next Peru adventure? Contact us!

Your friendly Peru expert,

Gretchen

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