Best Independent Hikes Peru

by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Friends are planning to travel Peru in May / June 2022. Hiking will be part of that adventure.

They’ll bring tents, gear and sleeping bags, looking to hike independently as much as possible.

Both are experienced in the Rocky Mountains. Peru trails can be higher — but I’d consider them no more difficult. Weather is always a factor. I’d recommend they book nothing in advance.

Our #1 independent hike in Peru is Ausangate Circuit and Rainbow Mountains out of Cusco. They’d fly into and acclimatize in Cusco 3326m (10,912ft). Next head for Machu Picchu.

Our favourite hike to Machu Picchu is Salkantay. (Even better would be Choquequirao to Machu Picchu — but that might be difficult to do independently. One guided 7-day adventure for 2 people would cost USD $2275 each.)

I’m recommending they instead take the bus Cusco to the Ollantaytambo ruins. Stay there one night. Then take the train to Aguas Calientes. Walk up to Machu Picchu – 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) in about 90 minutes. Best is to walk in the early morning to arrive at the gates before the tourist buses.

So … Cusco and Machu Picchu to acclimatize. Their first hike would be Ausangate , about 100km south of Cusco.

Next they’d head south towards Lake Titicaca on the well trod Gringo Trail. There are many tourists stops en route.

From the lake they are hoping to detour into Bolivia. La Paz and the local attractions.

For hiking, I’m recommending they bus up to the mountain town of Sorata, Bolivia. Speak to locals on recommended hiking options.

Returning to Peru they’d continue up the coast towards Lima.

From Ariquipa they could hike Colca Canyon and/or climb Misti. Both excellent short adventures.

From Lima it’s a long bus ride north up to Huaraz — one of our top 10 hiking towns in the world.

But when you get there it’s a pleasure to hang out at Cafe Andino planning your next hike or cycling trip.

Many acclimatize on a quick walk to Laguna 69.

Then set off for the very popular Santa Cruz trek.

If time and energy allow, they could resupply and continue immediately on the Alpamayo trek.

Ultimately my personal favourite hike in Peru is the long and challenging Huayhuash Circuit near Huaraz. But it’s not easy to do independently. We hired a mule driver / guide and were happy we did so.


Questions? Suggestions?

Leave a comment.

Related – Best Hikes in South America

Airlines and Camping Stoves 😕


I’ve made hundreds of flight over the years with camping stoves in both carry-on and luggage — and only really had problems in New Zealand. They are VERY strict on all camping equipment, not wanting to introduce foreign pests.

But in 2021 I’ve had stoves questioned twice. The were not confiscated.

Friends had stoves taken and not returned!

Air Canada last week — for example — took my very clean JetBoil and had to have it approved by SOMEBODY before I could take it on the plane.

Here’s the Air Canada policy on that.

Here’s some advice from Backpacker magazine.

And some advice from CyclingAbout.

And advice from MSR.

I’m flying to Europe Nov 1, 2021 with a NEW camping stove in the box. In my carry-on.

Photo by Vanessa Garcia on

Vermont’s Long Trail

I met Alan Wechsler on the John Muir Trail this past summer. I hiked in parallel with his group, finishing the same day at Whitney Portal.

Alan convinced me to put Vermont’s Long Trail in autumn on my personal life list. He suggested I follow the changing of the leaves starting late September and hiking south.

272 miles (437 km). 70 backcountry campsites.


Alan is a writer and photographer based in the Northeast. He recently spent a year section-hiking the Long Trail in various seasons. His 73-page narrative describes the challenge and history of the trail, along with the people he met along the way, and is generously illustrated with his photos. Download the e-book here:


Vancouver Island Trail – Work in Progress

Formerly called the Vancouver Island Spine Trail (VISpine), the Vancouver Island Trail is planned to end up close to 800km long.

About 95% of the Trail has been located and is defined on the ground well enough to be followed/hiked.

However, much of the route north of Port Alberni is not officially open since gaining the permission and support of several Indigenous Communities is on-going and a number of administrative arrangements (land use agreements, Section 57 approvals etc.) have not yet been completed.

Where the Trail is located across private forest lands, detailed planning and location of the trail has been progressing following completion of a Memorandum of Understanding that reflects the co-operative working relationship between Vancouver Island Trail Association (VITA) and Mosaic Forest Management, the timberland manager for both TimberWest and Island Timberlands. …

Current Status of the Vancouver Island Trail

The southern section from Victoria to Port Alberni you can do right now. Brendan Sainsbury cycled it. I’ve cycled all of the southern section, as well — and would say it’s better cycling than hiking.

Alex and Sarah hiked the entire island summer 2021. For them it was 40 days of backcountry camping and nights in motels when they hit small towns.

Magpie and her partner hiked it summer 2020 putting together a LONG video trip report. Watch that here.

Hesquiat Peninsula Trail, Vancouver Island

West Coast Wonders offers a guided fly-in hike over 6-8 days.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

It’s also known as the Escalante Trail as most hikers start at Escalante Point.

Accessing this coastal route requires either a float plane out of Gold River or water taxi from Gold River or Tofino. Or you might be able to kayak.

Hesquiat Peninsula Provincial Park is situated on the west coast of Vancouver Island and occupies most of the eastern shore of Nootka Sound. (MAP) This park is a significant tourism corridor for rugged coastal hiking, boating and sea kayaking. …

This prominent low-elevation peninsula is a significant wilderness area protecting heritage sites, representative old-growth forest stands of Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, white pine and yellow-cedar and a freshwater lake. The park also encompasses a variety of coastal ecosystems including extensive off-shore reefs, boulder, cobble and sand beaches, sea caves, sheltered bays, kelp beds and mudflats.

This wilderness park has numerous hazards and is in a remote area of the coast. Kayaking and hiking along the shores of the Hesquiat Peninsula is recommended for experienced paddlers and hikers only. This undeveloped wilderness park has no facilities, however backcountry camping is allowed.

If you want to know more, download the Wild Isle brochure.

Trip reports:

Michael Paskevicius (2017)

Wolverine (2004)

My NEXT Backpacking Stove – the Stash

JetBoil has finally perfected the hiking stove. It’s called the STASH.

When my MiniMo (orange) finally retires, I’ll switch to the smaller, lighter Stash.

UPDATE. I just bought the Stash for my upcoming trip to Portugal.

I’ll fly with it in the box — unused — so the airline can’t claim it’s a flight hazard.

Read Adventure Alan’s detailed review.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.