Cusco is a hiker’s paradise, and the variety of landscapes in the surrounding Sacred Valley is incredible. Many of these hikes pass through small towns where the indigenous culture is still very present. Even though Cusco is a popular destination, there are plenty of amazing hikes in the Sacred Valley that don’t attract crowds. Here are the 6 best day hikes in Cusco!
Maras-Moray Hike – Of all the hikes near Cusco, this is my favorite because of the variety it offers. You’ll see fascinating Inca ruins, salt pools, an authentic town with Wild West vibes, and tiny farming villages. I saw a woman herding goats through the plaza of Maras and was joined by a farmer who wanted company on his walk to town. The trail on this incredible hike is easy to follow, and you are unlikely to see any other tourists.
Take a colectivo from Ollantaytambo to Urubamba and another colectivo to Maras. Then walk 6 km on a marked trail to Moray archeological site. To get to the Salineras from Moray, you’ll walk back on the same road to Maras town. Then walk 4 km downhill to the salt pools. To get back to Ollantaytambo, it’s a 2.5 km walk downhill to the main road, and you can wait for a colectivo here. It took me 7 hours total and it was an incredible day!
Laguna Humantay – One of the most popular tours is to this beautiful blue lagoon at the base of a snow-capped mountain. This may be the most spectacular scenery in the Sacred Valley, but it loses some points for the crowds. The hike to reach the lagoon is 75-90 minutes and tours from Cusco cost S/90.
Chinchero to Urquillos – Chinchero is the town the Incas called the birthplace of rainbows, and it has a very unique archeological site. When the Spanish arrived in Chinchero, they burned the Inca temples and built a beautiful church on top of the ruins. The views from here are stunning and the 2-hour hike through the valley to Urquillos is superb. Part of the hike is along marked Inca trails, and the mountainous scenery is breathtaking.
To get to Chinchero take a colectivo from Jirón 21 de Mayo street, labeled Colectivos Chinchero on Google Maps. After the hike, walk to the highway from Urquillos and you can catch a colectivo back to Cusco.
Huchuy Qosqo – These ruins hardly receive any visitors because you can only reach them on foot. The hike to get there is 25 km, but it’s delightful and mostly flat. It’s a great way to get away from the crowds (only saw 3 tourists), and the transport and entrance only costs S/14 total. You’ll pass through an abandoned village and walk Inca trails to reach the ruins, where you are rewarded with excellent views.
Huchuy Qosqo dates back to pre-Inca times and it later became the royal estate of the eighth Inca, who fled here during a revolt. Find out how to get to the trailhead of Huchuy Qosqo.
Rainbow Mountain – A must-visit not only for the rainbow mountain but for the equally impressive surrounding scenery. There will be crowds, but if you’re acclimated and in good shape, you can surpass them. The 4 km hike to the 5,036-meter high viewpoint takes 90 minutes on average, but for some, it will take less than an hour.
Kinsa Cocha – This 3-hour hike between lakes at 4,000 meters altitude is stunning. The landscape is completely different from the rest of Peru, and you will see alpacas and remote Inca-style houses. The good news is the trail is almost always empty and the entrance is S/3. The bad news is the taxi from Pisac costs S/120 round trip.