5 full day tours you can’t miss while you are in Cusco
If you like to travel off the beaten track, this post is for you. Indeed, there are a lot of things to do in the region of Cusco. Most of them are amazing but are also super crowded with tourists, just like Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain or Humantay Lake. If you like to enjoy the silence of nature and to discover little-known places with great photos opportunities, you will for sure enjoy these five hidden gems of Peru.
1. Waqra Pukara
The mystery around Waqra Pukara is complete. Was it an astronomical observatory? A fortress? A sanctuary? One thing is certain and it is that this mystery contributes to the atmosphere when visiting this stone construction overlooking the Apurimac Canyon. You will need to walk for around 3 hours in order to get to Waqra Pukara. You will go through a lovely path with several lakes and stone constructions and enjoy the fauna and flora of Peru. The walk is not easy, but you will just appreciate even more your picnic with the view over Waqra Pukara when you finally get there. This trek is a really great day trip from Cusco to enjoy nature and to avoid crowds of tourists but is also a really great way to train before going on longer treks such as the famous Inca Trail. It is also an excellent opportunity to see the impressive Apurimac Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world, and if you are lucky enough, you might even see some condors!
2. Seven Lakes of Ausangate
You dream to see a turquoise lake with a glacier? On this tour, you will not only see one lake and one snowy mountain, but you will see seven lakes, different snowy peaks and the highest peak of the region, the Ausangate. The trek lasts between four and five hours and is gentle. You can even take a horse for 70 soles if you feel sick from the altitude or if you do not want to walk. You will have plenty of time to complete the hike and take tons of photos, and as it is not a popular place, you will most likely hike alone with your group and enjoy the silence of nature. When you finish your hike, you will have time to enjoy a good lunch and to relax in the thermal baths before heading back to Cusco. The scenery of this trip is breathtaking, the hike is gentle and in opposition to Humantay, you will meet absolutely no one on the trek, except maybe a few alpacas.
3. Ananiso Canyon
Do you want to go totally off the beaten track? You will truly enjoy the tour to Ananiso Canyon. This canyon is located about three hours and a half from Cusco, close to the Rainbow Mountain. On the way, you will have amazing views on the highest peak of the region, the glacier of the Ausagante. Moreover, from far away, you will enjoy a view over the red valley near the Rainbow Mountain. You will then have a view from the top of the canyon, where you will feel like the earth split just for you. You will then go inside the canyon for a walk following a nice river and crossing several bridges. You will even visit a cave where you can see a few paintings. This trip is really easy and ideal if you just arrived in Cusco and want to visit the region without going on long and exhausting treks. Moreover, this place is totally out of the tourist’s radar and you can enjoy a quiet and amazing day alone with the nature.
4. Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain
You want to see the stunning colors from the rainbow mountain, but the long hike up Vinicunca scares you? There is a little-known but great alternative. If the hike up Vinicunca is challenging as it is going up a lot, is long, and the altitude can cause problems to some people, the way from Palccoyo is easier, shorter and mostly flat. Moreover, as Palccoyo is a new route, you will also most likely be alone with your group or with a few other groups. Your pictures will then be better, and you will also see three rainbow mountains instead of just one with the classic tour to Vinicunca. This tour is a must-do in the area.
5. Chonta Canyon
You want to see the condors but didn’t plan any time in your trip to go to the Cañon de Colca in Arequipa? The tour to Chonta is probably your best alternative. Indeed, on this tour, you will walk for about one hour along the stunning Apurimac Canyon before getting to the condors’ mirador. From there, you will enjoy the stunning view while patiently waiting for the flight of the condors. The hike is easy and offers amazing views on the snowy peaks of Humantay and Salkantay, in addition to the canyon. If you wait a long time for the condors, you will hike your way back to the community on Chonta with an amazing sunset over the canyon. This day-trip will also make you discover some less-known ruins in the region, such as Quillarumiyoc, the Inca “Moon Temple”.