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Walking Holidays to Peru

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Cusco

The popularity of the Inca Trail and the scarcity of available spots have led to the opening of several alternative hikes of varying length and difficulty.

 

The two-to seven-day Salkantay trek is named for the same named for the 6,270 meter (20,500 feet) peak of the same name.It begins at Mollepata, four hours by road from Cusco, and is a strenuous hike thet goes through a 4,800 meter (15,700-feet) pass. The Salkantay excursion joins the Inca Trail at Huayllabamba.

 

The Ausangate trek takes its name from the Nevado Ausangate, 6,372 requiers a day of travle each way from to six days on the trail. Nearly the entire excursion takes you on terrain over 4,000 meters (13,100 feet).


Multidays hikes through the Lares Valley, north of Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, offer a little bit of everything for anyone who enjoys the outdoors; a series of ancient trils once used by the Inca wind their way through native forest and past lakes fed by runoff from the snowcapped ,mountains nearby. Excursions also offer a cultural dimension, with spots at several traditional Quechau villages along the way. The Lares trek compares in dificulty to the Inca Trail.


The lesser-known but remarkably rewarding trek to Choquequirao (cradle of gold) takes in stunning Andean scenary as you make your way to ruins that have been heralded as Machu Picchu's "Sacred Sister". The site, another long-lost Inca city still under excavation and not yet engulfed by mass tourism, sits at 3,100 metres (10,180 feet). The 4 to11 day treks entail a series of steep ascents and descents.


The Chinchero- Huayllabamba trek has two selling points: it can be acomplished in one day-about six hours-and is downhill much of the way, although portions get steep. the hike begins in Chinchero, north of Cusco,and follows an Inca Trail that offers splendid views as you descend into the Sacred Valley towards the small village of Huayllabamba.

 

Arequipa

Cotahuasi Canyon is an awesome place to explore by foot. The backdrop of snowcapped Volcano Coropuna and Solimana is fantastic, the high desert plains offer a rest from the steep upward  Rocky Canyon terrain, and the untouched Villages provide a cutltural aspect. Hikes can go between 1,830 meters (6,000 feet) and 6,400 meters (21,000 feets) in heigth so prepare for the altitude. Temperatures remain about 65-70º F during the day, dipping below 45ºF on any given night. Ancient Inca  paths wind troughout the canyon and its terraces.

Sipia Falls is a solid three-to-four-hour trek from Cotahuasi Village and it's a hard-on-your-knees hike down that includes two bridge crossings, but the first taste of being in the canyon is a surreal experience. It is also possible to reach the by hailing a colectivo or in your own 4x4 from the Cotahuasi road to the Sipia Bridge where the road ends. From here it is a 45 minute hike to the falls.

If you are going on a multiday excursion, continue on the trail from Cotahuasi to sipia to the Chaupo Valley and the citrus tree village of Velinga, a good place to camp. From Velinga it's on to Quechualla where you will pass through the 1,000-year-old old Wari ruins, rock for ests, and cactus forests. One of the last major points along this route is Huachuy where you can again camp, Beyond this point things get trickier as you will have to cross the Rió Cotahuasi. Many guides use a  cable system to reach Yachau Oasis, Chaucalla Valley, and eventually Iquipi Valley.
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