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The scenic Peruvian Andes

Mountains of Peru

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Peru is synonymous with mountains. Seen from above, Peru's territory resembles a colossal sheet of wrinkled paper. The reason is the presence of the magnificent Andes that, like a giant backbone of rock and snow, cut across Peru from north to south and mold its geography and with it, the landscape and the people.

The Andes spread across Peru, forming the largest concentration of snow peaks of the Americas. They are an intricate system of large and small mountain ranges -approximately 20 of them- crowned by a thousand summits that tower over 5,000 meters and more than thirty that rise above 6,000 meters. Mountains in Peru are so pervasive that it is almost impossible to imagine a landscape without soaring peaks looming in the horizon. Only in the Amazon plain and some areas in the arid coastal desert does the land flatten out.

Such unique mountainous areas are home to an impressive succession of landscapes and exceptional animal and plant wildlife, that include: the Puya Raimondi, a plant with the largest number of flowers in the world (more than 10,000) which blooms only once every 80-100 years; queñual forests that grow almost on the edge of the snow line; century-old yaretas, that grow scarcely one millimeter a year; small herds of graceful vicuña whose wool is considered the world's finest; majestic Andean condors that dominate the skies, and dozens of tiny hummingbirds that feature all the colors of the rainbow.

Several high-Andean civilizations of farmers and livestock herders -who follow millenary mountain traditions of paying homage to the sacred Apus or sacred mountain guardians- add to the attractiveness of the area. So come and see for yourself!

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

In the heart of South America lies Peru, a land celebrated for its breathtaking mountainous landscapes that allure outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers from around the world. Among its treasures are the mighty Andes, a mountain range spanning 23,000 kilometers (approximately 14,000 miles), and home to Peru's most famous trekking route – the legendary Inca Trail.
The Inca Trail is an awe-inspiring 43-kilometer stone-paved road built by the Incas, annually attracting some 25,000 hikers who embark on this arduous but spectacular journey. This historic trail leads to the enigmatic citadel of Machu Picchu, hidden amidst the lush Cusco cloud forest.
A Trail of Altitude and Ecological Diversity
Beginning at the village of Qorihuayrachina, at kilometer 88 of the Cusco-Quillabamba railway, the Inca Trail spans three to four days of strenuous hiking. Along the way, adventurers traverse a remarkable variety of altitudes, climates, and ecosystems, from the high Andean plain to the enchanting cloud forest. The journey entails crossing two high-altitude passes, the highest being Warmiwañuska, standing tall at 4,200 meters.

The appeal of the Inca Trail lies in its harmonious blend of Inca ruins, majestic mountains, exotic vegetation, and extraordinary ecological variety. The trail meanders over high passes, through cloud forests, and into subtropical vegetation, offering glimpses of over 250 orchid species, rare birds, and endangered animals like the spectacled bear.

Preparation for an Unforgettable Experience

Advance preparation is vital for trekking the Inca Trail, particularly between April and September, when hiking permits are limited to 500 per day. Reservations must be made in advance, preferably the previous year before the Peruvian government opens the sale of permits in October. Acclimatization to high altitudes is essential, making it recommendable to spend a few days at elevation before the trek.

Highlights of the Trail
Day 1:
Embark from Kilometer 82, following the Urubamba River to Llactapata ruins, and camp at Huayllabamba.
Day 2: Challenge yourself with a climb to Warmiwañuska pass, descending to Pacaymayo camp.
Day 3: Traverse two passes, visiting the ruins of Runkuracay and Sayacmarca before reaching Phuyupatamarca camp.
Day 4: Witness the majestic sunrise at Inti Punku, the Gateway of the Sun, before exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu.

Visit the curving walls of Sacsayhuaman in the Andes mountaing range during your Peru tour
Visit the curving walls of Sacsayhuaman in the Andes mountaing range during your Peru tour

Peru's Breathtaking Mountain Ranges and Iconic Peaks

Peru is a country that captivates the hearts of outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers with its stunning and diverse mountainous landscapes. From majestic snow-capped peaks to vibrant, mineral-rich summits, these mountains are a paradise for nature lovers. Here are some of Peru's most visited mountains and the remarkable mountain ranges they are located in.

Peru Mountain Ranges

  • Chila mountain range
  • Chonta mountain range
  • Cordillera del Cóndor
  • Cordillera Apolobamba
  • Cordillera Blanca
  • Cordillera Carabaya
  • Cordillera Central 
  • Cordillera de Rentema
  • Cordillera Huayhuash
  • Cordillera Negra
  • Cordillera Occidental
  • Cordillera Oriental 
  • Cordillera Vilcanota
  • Huaguruncho mountain range
  • Huallanca mountain range
  • Huanzo mountain range
  • Huaytapallana mountain range
  • La Raya mountain range
  • Pariacaca mountain range
  • Puwaq Hanka mountain range
  • Raura mountain range
  • Serra do Divisor
  • Urubamba mountain range
  • Vilcabamba mountain range

Popular Mountains and Peaks in Peru by Regions


Nevado Alpamayo
Altitude: 5,947m (19,511 feet)
Mountain Range: Cordillera Blanca
Hike/Trek: Alpamayo Circuit Trek
Difficulty: Challenging

Nevado Huascarán
Altitude: 6,768m (22,205 feet)
Mountain Range: Cordillera Blanca
Hike/Trek: Santa Cruz Trek, Huayhuash Trek
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Pisco Peak
Altitude: 5,752m (18,871 feet)
Mountain Range: Cordillera Blanca
Hike/Trek: Ishinca Valley Trek
Difficulty: Moderate

Mateo Peak
Altitude: 5,150m (16,896 feet)
Mountain Range: Cordillera Blanca
Hike/Trek: Primarily used as a training ground
Difficulty: Moderate


Altitude: 6,384m (20,945 feet)
Mountain Range: Cordillera Vilcanota
Hike/Trek: Ausangate Trek
Difficulty: Challenging

Nevado Salkantay
Altitude: 6,271m (20,574 feet)
Mountain Range: Vilcabamba Mountain Range
Hike/Trek: Salkantay Trek (alternative route to Machu Picchu)
Difficulty: Challenging

Huayna Picchu
Altitude: 2,693m (8,835 feet)
Mountain Range: Andes
Hike/Trek: Usually visited from Machu Picchu
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain)
Altitude: 5,200m (17,060 feet)
Mountain Range: Andes
Hike/Trek: Vinicunca Trek
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging


Nevado Chachani
Altitude: 6,057m (19,872 feet)
Mountain Range: Andes (near Arequipa)
Hike/Trek: Chachani Summit Trek
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Misti Volcano
Altitude: 5,822m (19,101 feet)
Mountain Range: Andes (near Arequipa)
Hike/Trek: Misti Volcano Trek
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

The Andes region, covering the central section of Peru, is home to these magnificent mountain ranges. From the Cordillera Blanca's majestic snow-capped peaks to the vibrant beauty of the Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru's mountain ranges offer a wide range of experiences. Whether you're a seasoned mountaineer or a nature enthusiast seeking breathtaking landscapes, Peru's mountains promise unforgettable adventures in this South American wonderland.

What to Know About the Cordillera Blanca in Peru

The Cordillera Blanca, aptly named "white range" in Spanish, stands as a remarkable mountain range within the larger Andes range, stretching over 200 kilometers in a northwesterly direction. Nestled in the Ancash region, this awe-inspiring range runs parallel to the Santa River valley, also known as Callejón de Huaylas. Its prominence is crowned by several peaks soaring beyond 6,000 meters (19,690 feet), encompassing a total of 722 individual glaciers, with the pinnacle being the highest mountain in Peru - Huascarán, towering at 6,768 meters (22,205 feet). Among these jewels are the captivating Alpamayo and the renowned "Paramount Pictures peak" Artesonraju.

This extraordinary region, known as "Yurak Janka" in the Quechua language, was designated as Huascaran National Park in 1975, a distinction further amplified by UNESCO's recognition in 1977 and 1985, declaring it a "Biosphere Reserve" and "Natural Heritage," respectively.

The breathtaking valleys, adorned with turquoise glacial lakes, cradle treks that traverse the Cordillera Blanca's dramatic peaks. Here, amidst this picturesque landscape, a vibrant array of adventure travel and tours in the Peruvian Andes and the wider Cordillera de los Andes in South America beckon. From trekking and hiking to mountaineering, climbing, mountain biking, and horse riding, this region offers an abundance of heart-pounding activities. Contact us to learn more about how to include them in your Peru adventure.

When to visit Cordillera Blanca
May to September form the prime climbing season, offering long stretches of dry and sunny weather, interrupted only by occasional unstable days. The Cordillera Blanca's unique formation results from the dynamic interaction between the South American continental plate and the Nazca plate. With its proximity to the Pacific coast, this mountain chain, less than 100 kilometers away, displays a series of once-glaciated U-shaped valleys, allowing for relatively convenient access to base camps from Huaraz within a day's reach.

For the seasoned climber
Scaling these mighty summits is often accomplished in alpine style, with small teams venturing to one or two high camps. Though the use of burros (donkeys) to transport backpacks to base camps is common, elaborate expedition infrastructures with porters, multiple camps, or fixed ropes are not required.

Spectacular views of Machu Picchu on a trip to Peru
Spectacular views of Machu Picchu on a trip to Peru

Packing Guide for a Journey to the Peruvian Andes Mountains

A trip to the Peruvian Andes Mountains promises exhilarating adventures and breathtaking vistas. To ensure a safe and enjoyable journey, it's essential to pack wisely. Here's a comprehensive list of items to include in your backpack:

  • Warm layers: Fleece jackets, insulated vests, and thermal base layers are essential for fluctuating temperatures.
  • Waterproof jacket and pants: Prepare for unexpected rain showers and protect yourself from damp conditions.
  • Hat and gloves: Keep your extremities warm during chilly nights and high-altitude treks.
  • Sturdy hiking boots: Choose comfortable, waterproof footwear for rugged terrain and long walks.
  • Socks: Pack moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.
Gear For Hiking and Trekking
  • Backpack
  • Trekking poles
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Sunglasses
Health and Safety
  • High-altitude medication (in case your trip includes hiking or trekking)
  • Specific prescribed medications
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Insect repellent
Documentation and Essentials
  • Passport and visa
  • Travel insurance
  • Money and cards
  • Camera and binoculars
  • Maps and guidebooks
  • Extra batteries and charging devices
Personal Items
  • Toiletries
  • Towel
Remember to pack light while ensuring you have all the necessary essentials for your trip. Embrace the breathtaking beauty of the Peruvian Andes Mountains and cherish every moment of your adventurous exploration.

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