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Mountain Trekking in Peru

Mountain Trekking in Peru

Peru is synonymous with mountains. Seen from the air, the Peruvian territory resembles a crumpled paper of colossal dimensions. The reason for this is the magnificent presence of the Cordillera de los Andes, which runs like a gigantic spine of rock and snow, the Peruvian territory from north to south, modeling its geography and, with it, its landscape and its people – Salkantay Trek Operator.

The Andes unfold in the interior of Peru and form the highest concentration of peaks in the American continent: an intricate system of mountain chains or small ranges – about 20 – crowned by a thousand peaks above 5,000 meters above sea level and more than one thirty above 6,000 masl (Peru Trek Operator). The best known mountain chains are the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash, in the department of Ancash; Vilcanota and Vilcabamba, in Cusco; Carabaya, in Puno; Chila, in Arequipa; La Viuda, in Lima, and Pariacaca, in Junín.

The presence of the mountain range in Peru is so important that it is almost impossible to imagine a landscape in it without thinking of large hills dominating the horizon. Only the Amazonian plain and some areas of the arid coastal desert lack the gigantic lookouts in their trekking landscape. Trekking in the Andes Mountains, in addition to dividing the Peruvian territory into two well-differentiated regions or slopes, acts as a continental watershed or divortium acuarum. Put simply, this means that their summits direct the waters collected by the rains or those that come from the melting of the glaciers towards two diametrically opposed destinations: the Pacific Ocean, to the west, and the great Amazon basin, to the east. The geographical location of a large part of the mountain range, located slightly to the south of the equator line, has a decisive influence on the characteristics of its mountains. The Peruvian Andes thus constitute, to a large extent, a tropical mountain chain, and its summits, although covered with perpetual snow, enjoy the conditions typical of tropical zones.

Its climate is affected by two factors: the warm and humid winds coming from the Amazon jungle and the cold fronts coming from the Pacific (Salkantay Trek Operator). These factors combine to produce a rainy season (between November and April) characterized by heavy rainfall and snowstorms in the afternoon; and a dry season (between May and October) with sunny days and extremely cold and dry nights in which the temperature is often below –5ºC.

The highest peaks or mountains in the Americas are found in the Peruvian Andes, with the exception of some in northern Argentina and Chile. Among them stand out the Huascarán (6 768 masl), the highest mountain in Peru; Yerupajá (6,634 masl), the highest peak in the great Amazon basin; and Alpamayo (5,947 masl), considered the most beautiful mountain in the world in a contest held in Germany in 1960.

Trekking Peru also has almost virgin mountain ranges, which are attractions of great interest for fans of the outdoors and mountain sports. These unique places are home to an impressive succession of landscapes and exceptional wild flora and fauna: the Raimondi puya, which has the largest inflorescence in the world (more than 10,000 flowers) and blooms every 80-100 years and then dies; queñual forests that develop almost on the edge of the snow; ancient yaretas that grow one millimeter a year; herds of graceful vicuñas, possessors of the finest wool in the world; majestic condors that dominate the air; and dozens of tiny hummingbirds that imitate the colors of the rainbow.

These attractions are joined by several cultures of high Andean shepherds and farmers who have preserved ancient traditions of respect for the mountains, the sacred Apus or tutelary divinities of the heights. We invite you to visit them (Salkantay Trek Operator).

Mountain Trekking Salkantay:

Peru is a true paradise for walkers. Practically the entire mountain range, including valleys, plateaus and mountain ranges, is home to trekking circuits with a greater or lesser degree of difficulty. However, only a few of them have been “discovered” as commercial trekking routes.

The rest remains unexplored, waiting for anyone who wants to trek the magical paths of the Peruvian Andes, with its extraordinary network of pre-Columbian trails and its more than 12,000 lagoons, with the deepest canyons on Earth, glaciers and snowy peaks, forests and waterfalls, beautiful towns and, above all, the most hospitable people imaginable. Some are so steep that they are lost in abysses that take your breath away; zigzagging like gigantic snakes that move through the mountain ranges; flat and so long that they seem to get lost in the immensity of the desert; hidden and imperceptible among the thick vegetation of the Amazon forests.

The roads of Peru offer countless trekking possibilities and, of course, more than one ideal combination for hikers of all levels of demand and travel experience. We have the following trekking paths in Peru Operator:

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu:

Part of the more than 23,000 km of roads built by the Incas in South America, it is the busiest trekking route in Peru and perhaps one of the most spectacular in America. Every year, approximately 25,000 hikers from all over the world cover the extraordinary 43 km of this cobbled route, built by the Incas to advance to the impregnable Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, deep in the Cusco mountain jungle (Inca Trail Original to Machu Picchu).

The tour begins in the town of Qorihuayrachina, at kilometer 88 of the CuscoQuillabamba railway, and takes between three and four days of arduous walking. During the route, which crosses an impressive altitudinal gradient – with climates and ecosystems as different as the high Andean puna and the cloud forests – two passes or high passes must be overcome (the largest of them, Warmiwañuska, at 4,200 meters above sea level). to finally conclude with a magical entrance to Machu Picchu through the Inti Punku or Puerta del Inca. One of the main attractions of the route is the network of carved granite Inca settlements that follow one another along the way (Wiñay Wayna, Phuyupatamarca), immersed in natural settings of overwhelming beauty. An exuberant nature with hundreds of species of orchids, multicolored birds and dreamlike landscapes are the ideal complement to this essential route for walkers (Machu Piccho travel).

Numerous tourism companies sell complete packages for this route (including food, camping equipment, and porters). For those who wish to organize the trip on their own, there are porters in the communities of Chillca and Wayllabamba who charge modest prices to help with luggage. It is necessary to bring drinking water and food, as well as complete camping equipment on the trek.

The Machu Picchu administration charges US$ per person for road maintenance (ticket that already includes the right to enter the sanctuary). There are hygienic services and a shelter for visitors in Wiñay Wayna, where one of the most spectacular terraces in Peru stands.

Trekking in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru Operator:

“A great sea of mountains” in Peru, “the Andean Chamonix”, are some of the comments of the mountaineers who visit this place in Peru. Located 410km northeast of Lima (5-6 hours by car and 7-8 by bus), the Cordillera Blanca constitutes the chain highest tropical mountain in the world. It extends for 180 km in a north-south direction and divides the western and eastern slopes of the Andes. Easily accessible via a highway A paved road that starts from Pativilca (210 km north of Lima) and leads to the scenic Callejón de Huaylas, the Cordillera Blanca receives thousands of mountaineers every year in search of conquering its beautiful peaks or touring its spectacular landscapes.

Practically the entire mountain range is protected by the Huascarán National Park (Travel Peru), a paradise of snow-capped peaks, 663 glaciers, 269 emerald lakes and 41 rivers, as well as 33 archaeological sites. The wild flora and fauna constitute an additional attraction to the tours through these mountains: nearly 800 species of flowering plants, among which the Raimondi puya stand out, ancient forests of queñual and cacti that are only found in this mountain range; Andean condors, vicuñas, pumas, tarucas or Andean deer, and more than a hundred of bird species.

The Cordillera Blanca in Peru has an infinite number of trekking circuits; However, some of them enjoy great worldwide fame: the Santa Cruz ravine route is perhaps the most popular of all. It begins in the town of Cashapampa and ends in the Llanganuco ravine, on the edge of its beautiful emerald-colored lagoons, in a journey that usually takes between four and six days. Other popular circuits are: the return to Alpamayo, a spectacular journey between the snowy peaks that takes 12 days; Quebrada de los Cedros, a path that allows you to observe the mountains of the northern sector of the Huascarán Park in a four-day tour; Llanganuco-Portachuelo, simple and of short duration (a day and a half); and Quilcayhuanca ravine, with a gentle slope and two days of travel.

LLama Trekking Olleros-Chavín:

An interesting and novel way of trekking. The Llama Trek is part of the “Llama 2 000” project, a unique initiative undertaken by a group of peasants from the Callejón de Huaylas and the Association of Mountain Helpers of the Olleros-Chavín sector, aimed at promoting ecotourism in Ancash through rescue of their traditional customs. The llama and the alpaca, inseparable pack animals from the Peruvian Andes, are the key to captivating the attention of walkers through a tour through some of the most spectacular trails in the Cordillera Blanca and the Huascarán National Park in the Olleros Chavin mountain – Okidoki Operator.

The mountain trekking route begins in the picturesque town of Olleros (30 km south of Huaraz), where the llamas are loaded with the necessary luggage for the mountain trek. Throughout the four days of walking, in addition to visiting various natural landscapes of great beauty and appreciating the Shaqsha (5,703), Cashan (5,686) and Tuctupunta (5,343) snow-capped mountains, travelers participate in the customs and traditions of the peasants of towns like Shongo (with its imposing sacred monoliths or “huancas”) and Nunupata in the mountains.

The mountain trekking route ends at the spectacular archaeological site of Chavín de Huántar, an important administrative and ceremonial center of the first pan-Peruvian pre-Columbian culture, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. With its dozens of polished stone buildings, plazas and underground galleries, as well as unique nail heads and engraved stelae, Chavín is a mandatory stop for visitors to this mountain region.

Trekking in the Cordillera Huayhuash:

Located approximately 50 km south of the Cordillera Blanca, 250 km northeast of Lima, Huayhuash is considered one of the least known mountain ranges in the world and, at the same time, one of the most beautiful to trek. It extends along 30 km with a north-south orientation, and has a string of snow-capped peaks of great beauty, including Yerupajá and dozens of of glacial lagoons of incomparable beauty (Carhuacocha, Jahuacocha, Mitucocha, among others). The trekking circuit that runs through it in its entirety and covers almost 165 km in about 12 days of trekking is, according to experts, one of the most spectacular on the planet.

The trekking route – the only path that completely surrounds the mountain range – begins in the town of Chiquián (3,400 masl) and requires two days of trekking to reach the heart of the mountain range. On the way, up to five abras or passes are crossed at a great height, and runs through picturesque hamlets of farmers and ranchers such as Llamac, Pocpa, Huayllapa and Pacllón, surrounding the mountain range to the north, then continuing along its eastern slope and completing the circuit on the western side.

A shorter trekking circuit (45 km) is the one that connects Chiquián with the Jahuacocha lagoon, beginning the tour through the towns of Llamac and Pocpa and returning through Pacllón. Extraordinary mountains, crystalline water lagoons, herds of llamas and alpacas, hospitable people and, above all, nature in an almost unaltered state, are the prizes for those who venture to discover this unique hiking circuit.

Trekking through the Colca Valley – Arequipa:

The “Valley of Wonders”, as the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa called it, encompasses a series of trekking circuits of great beauty and recently discovered by adventure tourism. Located 150 km north of the city of Arequipa by unpaved road, it includes a practically endless network of mule tracks that run through its mountains joining colonial farmhouses of unusual beauty. Adding a touch of interest to the route are the existence of beautiful lagoons, unique eroded stone formations and the presence of unique and abundant species of wild fauna and flora, such as the Andean condor and vicuñas, the queñual forests and stands of hundred-year-old yaretas. . The appeal The most impressive of the trekking route are, however, its snow-capped volcanoes, some of them fully active: Hualca Hualca (6,025 masl), Sabancaya (5,976 masl) and Ampato (6,288 masl), among others.

The Colca Valley was, since time immemorial, the home of the Collagua and Cabana ethnic groups, two descendants of the Pucará of the Altiplano and the Quechua of Cusco, who reached an extraordinary level of development in hydraulic engineering: the spectacular system of terraces or agricultural terraces that decorate the steep slopes of the valley is tangible proof of the high technique achieved by these exceptional farmers.

One of the most popular Colca trekking routes is the one that joins the towns of Cabanaconde and Tapay, in a circuit that takes between two and three days of trekking and allows you to enjoy impressive landscapes, towns of the Cabana ethnic group, such as Cosnihua and Malata, and numerous pre-Hispanic remains. Both in the city of Arequipa and in the Colca Valley itself (towns of Chivay and Yanque) it is possible to contract the services of tourism that offer organized trekking and horseback riding packages. In the place there are also lodging services and restaurants for all tastes and pockets.

Trekking in the Vuelta al Ausangate:

Located in the heart of the eastern Andes, south of the city of Cusco, the Ausangate Trekking (6,333 masl) is considered the main Apu or tutelary divinity of the peoples of the southern Peruvian Andes. Access to this massif is through a paved road, taking the route to the town of Ocongate. The trek lasts between eight and twelve days and requires good physical condition, as it crosses passes or high-altitude passes and involves diverse weather conditions.

There are trekking and adventure companies that offer this circuit from their headquarters in the city of Cusco. It is recommended to hire the services of an experienced agency and always have the support of local guides. Among the attractions of this route, in addition to the spectacular Andean scenery that frames it, is a set of Quechua villages that continue to live in the traditional way, developing communal agriculture and camelid herding.

The Tour of Salkantay Trekking:

The Salkantay (6,271 masl), the “magical and wonderful mountain” that rises up dominating Machu Picchu, in the spectacular Vilcanota Mountain Range, constitutes the culminating point of a trekking circuit that combines – with a magnificence rarely equaled – the majesty of a natural setting of great beauty with the attraction of the most famous pre-Hispanic remains in the world: Machu Piccho and the Original Inca Trail.

The route begins by following the old Inca road carved into the rock that leads to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and crosses a mountain pass between the snow-capped Salkantay Trek and Humantay Trek (5,917 masl), to continue along the Aobamba river ravine to Arrive at the Inka archaeological site. From its route it is possible to obtain unique views of most of the most beautiful mountains in Cusco: Wayanay (5,464 masl), Palcay (5,229 masl) and Wakay Willka or Verónica (5,750 masl), located on the other side of the Urubamba river valley. There are trekking and adventure companies that offer this circuit from their headquarters in the city of Cusco. It is recommended to use local guides.

Trekking out of the Mountains:

Mountain trekking not only uses mountain ranges or a complex orography as a setting. Some places on the Peruvian coast combine the vastness and apparent emptiness of the desert with the irregular coastline to create scenes of great beauty and attractiveness for walkers. One of them is undoubtedly the Paracas desert (approximately 250 km south of Lima). Yellow saltpeter plains, fine sand dunes, cliffs eroded by the wind and an extraordinarily rich sea add to the enormous concentrations of aquatic birds and sea lions to create a unique environment on the Peruvian coast.

The Paracas peninsula and bay is crossed by countless trails, many of which constitute top quality trekking circuits. In the extreme north are Bayóvar and its virgin beaches, a natural treasure of the department from Piura. Deep ravines, carved by ghost rivers that come to life every fifty years to shape the landscape with ferocious violence; forests of twisted carob trees; flocks of migratory birds and a desert where the wind reigns, are some of its most unique attractions.

On the other side of the Andes, on the steep slopes that face east, bathed by the constant rains coming from the plain
Amazon, the mountain eyebrow extends. This territory of impenetrable forests, considered one of the last refuges of a particular wild flora (orchids, bromeliads and tree ferns) and of unique and endangered animal species (Andean bear, dwarf deer and yellow-tailed woolly monkey). , was part of the extensive and intricate system of pre-Columbian roads that linked the mountains with the jungle.

One of these routes is the one that leads to the Kuelap fortress, an enclave of the Sachapuyas in the Amazon jungle, known for its spectacular limestone walls built to protect the citadel located on a rocky ridge at 3,000 meters above sea level. Kuélap constitutes the most important archaeological attraction in the entire northeast of Peru, and consists of two gigantic superimposed platforms on which a beautiful populated center is erected. The dimensions (584 x 110 meters) and characteristics of this site make it comparable to Sacsayhuaman and Machu Picchu, in Cusco.

To get to Kuélap it is recommended to fly to Chachapoyas (50 minutes from Lima, it is necessary to hire special flights because there are no commercial flights), since by land it takes a full day’s drive from Chiclayo, located 750 km from Lima. From Chachapoyas you drive to Tingo, in the Utcubamba Valley, and then you ascend a 7 km unpaved road. up to the fortress. Other routes of interest in the eastern Andes These are the paths that descend to the east of Cusco and Puno and constitute spectacular circuits that are little known to trekking fans.





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