Trekking the Andes
The Inca Trail is without doubt the most popular trekking route in South America, but due to its popularity it does not offer a genuine wilderness experience. This trek involves walking from ruin to ruin with some breathtaking views. The Peruvian Andes offer a wealth of more isolated routes that are not as popular as the Inca Trail. The best time to enjoy climbing and trekking is from May to September during the dry season and because of the different altitudes along the Andes there are many microclimates. All these treks require acclimatization to high altitude.
Peak Ausungate is located in the south of Peru between Cusco and Puno and it is the highest peak in this area of the Andes, it traverses Cordillera Vilcanota and Cordillera Carabaya. The highest point is the route from Chilca to Pukaqocha in the Paso de Palomani where the altitude reaches 5,100m/16,732ft. This trek on the Ausangate offers the experience of observing the lives of people living in one of the most remote areas of the Altiplano of Peru. Their lifestyles have changed little from the Inca times several hundred years ago.
Mount Ausungate – Photo Caroline Shannon
Cordillera Vilcabamba stretches for about 260km/160m northwest from the city of Cusco. This trek offers the variety of high Andean glaciers and the subtropical rainforest. This section of the Andes has deep canyons that have been eroded by rivers from the melting glaciers. The ruins of Vilcabamba are along the way, this was the last stronghold of the Incas before the Spanish conquest. The trail will eventually join the Inca Trail that leads to the lost city of Machu Picchu.
Peak Alpamayo is considered the most beautiful mountain the Andes because of its unusual shape. It is located in the Cordillera Blanca in the department of Ancash. The highest point of the peak is 19511 ft / 5947 m and many passes are at 4,600 to 4,900 m. The Alpamayo is Alpine grade AD, or fairly hard. This hike is recommended for hikers with experience and acclimatized to altitude. Climbing the Alpamayo is risky, in 2003, 8 climbers were killed by an avalanche. There are many hiking options close to Alpamayo such as the Santa Cruz Trek, which offers shorter routes but beautiful scenery.
Nevado Huascaran is the highest peak in Peru and is located in the Cordillera Blanca, the western range of the Andes, in the department of Ancash. It was name after Sapa Inca Huascar, one of the rulers of the Inca Empire. The summit of the Huascaran reaches 6,768 m/22,205 ft. The peak is divided into South and North Huascaran, the summit of the South Huascaran is 113 meters higher than the North peak. The Huascaran is rated as PD, however because of changes in climate the peak has also changed making it steeper and more difficult to climb.
At high elevations the pressure of oxygen diminishes so the quantity of oxygen molecules per breath is lower than at sea level making us feel sick.
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the ten most popular trekking trails in the world. It encompasses archeological sites of the ancient Inca Civilization and various ecological and biodiverse areas in the tropical Andean forest.
It is estimated that around 1.5 million tourists visit Cusco every year, and the city of Cusco have become the main tourist attractions in Peru and one of the most visited in South America.
The area is well known for its herds of llamas and alpacas and for its traditional lifestyle. Lake Titicaca is its main attraction. Puno is the Folklore capital of Peru.
The Inca civilization was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. Understanding it gives a more clear view of the current society in Peru.