Did you know there is more than one trail to reach Machu Pichu? The most popular route is the Inca Trail which allows you to walk in the steps of the ancient Incas. There is also the Salkantay Trek which has its own spectacles, the main one being the solitude and closeness to nature, since the trail takes you far away from the crowds. Both trails are incredibly historic, beautiful and lead to one of the most amazing wonders of the world. It’s just a matter of deciding which trail is best for you.
Average duration: 4-5 days
Grading: Moderate to Strenuous
Highest point: 4215 m
Availability: Tourist permits capped at 200 per day, must book far in advance.
Facilities: mid-range camping, porters available to carry bags.
Best suited for: Hikers that want to walk in the trails of the Inca’s.
Seeing the ruins for the first time after a four-day hike in the ancient Incan highlands is as close as you can get to imagining how the original explorers felt. Many people dream of this, and for them the Inca trail is the only way to do it.
Average duration: 5 days
Grading: Moderate to Strenuous
Highest point: 4600m
Availability: No permit restrictions, average of 50 hikers per day. More last-minute booking flexibility for group tours than Inca Trail.
Facilities: There are options from camping to luxury lodges. Porters are available to carry bags.
Best suited for: Experienced hikers that want to get off the beaten path. There are hundreds of hikers on the Inca trail each day, and even if you hire a private guide, you’ll still be surrounded by others. Many consider this to be part of the fun and community spirit of an Inca Trail holiday, but if this really isn’t your thing, you might prefer the Salkantay Trek.
You will spend 2 days exploring the colorful markets and impressive ruins of Cusco, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Your four-day hike on the Inca Trail will lead you through cloud forests, past soaring peaks and colorful village communities to the sacred site of Machu Picchu. It’s a well-earned prize for those that follow its ancient paths!
You’ll follow an ancient Inca trading route through the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. Trek under the shadow of Humantay Peak, past the glaciated peak of Salkantay (6270m) and through 9 different eco-zones that include the lush coffee and banana plantations of the Santa Theresa Valley. Note that you do not arrive directly at Macchu Picchu on the Salkantay Trek. On your final day of the trip you’ll have an early rise and travel to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.
You will be walking through the Andes – therefore no matter what trip you chose you should be in good physical shape with plenty walking experience before-hand. It’s also important that you spend a few days acclimatizing since you’ll reach over 13,000 feet on both trips.
It’s a moderate walking trip, you cover 45km in just 4-5 days, walking up to 9 hours most days at high altitude. It is accessible to most walkers since you are in good hands with the incredible porters however it is important to build up your walking experience in the months prior to the trip. You’ll be camping for three or four nights in basic conditions, and you’ll have a limit on your luggage – so you must be prepared to rough it.
The walking itself is known to be slightly more strenuous since the trails are steeper, wilder and rougher in certain parts. It can often be colder terrain. The great thing about our luxury trip is your rewarded with lodges at the end of each day where you can relax in the hot-tub.
We hope this helps with your decision but remember no matter which route you chose, your going to meet amazing people, learn new things and finish at the most spectacular wonder of the world Machu Picchu!
Here at Macs, we have quite a selection of trips in Peru, from the classic Inca Trail to Salkantay in Luxury. If you have any questions about the trips give us a shout, our Destination Specialists would love to help.