If you arrive to Lima thinking of it as a coastal city with great food, you’re not wrong. But there’s a bit more to it that many tourists miss as they pass through- you can find some of the greatest treks in Peru just outside the capital city. Anywhere from 1-4 hours outside of the main tourist areas, you’ll feel a million miles away surrounded by highland culture and some of the most beautiful views in the country.

 

Best-Treks-Lima-Peru---The-Borderless-Project

People always ask how long to stay in Lima, and considering all the surrounding activities might keep you around a bit longer: while 2-3 days is enough time to explore the city, you should definitely allow time for some of these off-the-beaten-path treks that a majority of travelers miss. If you’re a fan of trekking, want to see something most people don’t, or just have a little extra time to explore, you’ll absolutely enjoy visiting any of these spots not listed in the guidebooks. Just get there before everyone else fnds out!

 

Lomas de Lucumo

From June to November you can feel like you’re in the jungle without leaving the capital, Las Lomos de Lucumo is a nature reserve one hour from central Lima, full of giant green valleys and stunning rock formations. Getting there is easy, simply take a bus from the center of Lima to Pachacamac (South of Lima), and tours leave from here.

 http://www.lomasdelucumo.org/

 

Read more: The Best Ceviche in Lima: Local Spots That Are Way Better Than Five Stars

Read more: The Best Bars of Lima: For Locals and Travelers Alike

 

Lomas de Lachay / Castillo de Chancay

Only two hours north of Lima (Chancay District), you’ll find the green paradise of this scenic reserve. A protected area of the city, it’s also home to an incredible variety of birds and mammals that most people have never even heard of.

 

Palakala Falls

Just three hours from Lima are beautiful waterfalls high in the mountains of San Jerónimo de Surco (district of Huarochirí, less than one hour from Chosica). The complete hike from the town to the Palakala Falls should take about 4 hours, and along the way you’ll see views of the town and valley below, archaeological sights, a chapel and a few other waterfalls (Huanano and Machay). The locals in the area are extremely friendly and will often walk with and guide visitors. Some people camp for a night, others just make a long day out of it. If you stay overnight though, you can also allow time to spend in the little town of San Jerónimo de Surco, which often have festivities associated with the church each weekend. Definitely not the typical Lima experience.

To get there, take a bus or collective car from Central Lima to Chosica (about 1 hour), and from Parque Echenique in Chosica you can catch a combi to San Jerónimo de Surco (2 hours). From there, any local will point you in the direction to start the hike.

 

Rupac

Called the “Machu Picchu Limeño”, it’s an Incan ruin in the middle of beautiful green mountains and jungle. It’s definitely more of a journey to get there than to some of these others, but it’s a wonderful trek and the ruins are a major reward at the end. In total, it will take you 9 1/2 hours to get from Lima center to the ruins, but there are places you can stop or camp along the way, and it’s worth the journey.

From Parque Universitario in downtown Lima you can grab a bus to Huaral, a town 2 hours north. From there, take a collective taxi to the town of Florida (2 hours; Keep in mind, if you plan to go home on a Sunday, that you will need to arrange with your taxi driver to return to pick you up after the trek. Nobody works on Sunday in Florida and you won’t be able to get a ride out otherwise). From Florida you will begin walking, it’s 1.5 hours to “Pueblo Fantasma” (“Ghost Town”), and your driver will point you in the direction to walk. This is the best stopping point if you want one, some people camp here and continue the rest of the way in the morning. This is your last stop before Rupac’s “Machu Picchu”.

From “Fantasma”, walk 4 hours uphill. When you see a sign that says “Welcome to Rupac” you can use your anger towards whoever put the sign 30 minutes early to fuel the rest of your hike. And then, at long last, you will reach the campsite with the ruins directly in front of you.

Rainy season is November to March, so if this is when you’re going, be prepared!

 http://mundoaventuratravel.com/tour/rupac/

 

Marcahuasi

This spot, only four hours from Lima, is one of the most magical places you’ll find in the country, and our personal favorite. Four hours from Lima you’ll find yourself at the base town of San Pedro de Casta, a peaceful pueblo at the top of a giant valley. Two hours walking up and you’ll pass all of the terraced farmland of San Pedro de Casta, you’ll see local farmers and their animals on the same path as trekkers, At the top, you’ll understand why we endlessly recommend this trek: the campground is an old ritual ground for the town surrounded by bizzare giant rock formations, and the back side of the mountain is where you will see the most incredible sunset amid dramatic scenery. (We were so in love we wrote all about our experience here.)

 

Marcahuasi-Sunset-Side-Rocks---The-Borderless-Project

 

When trekking up, you’ll see the path splits at one point: difficult to the right, easier and longer to the left. The right offers views of a ton of ruins and the treks most famous rock formations, while the left offers sweeping views of the mountain ranges beyond. We recommend taking the long way up, short way down (or opposite if you want a challenge), because you’ll want to see both.

Getting there is an adventure in old buses along steep cliffs, but you will leave having had an incredible experience. Details on how to get there here.

 

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