The Best Treks to Machu Picchu

by Freddy June 13, 2022
camino inca machu picchu

Surrounded on all sides by snow-capped mountains, tropical jungle valleys and an abundance of ancient archaeological sites, the sanctuary of Machu Picchu is a hotspot for hikers the world over. If you are a seeking a bucket list adventure to the Lost city of the Incas where you can connect with nature and learn about Andean history and culture, then there is the perfect hike waiting just for you!

This region of Peru is famous for its ancient network of Inca Trails, known locally as Qhapaq Ñan, that meander through the Andes Mountains for over 25,000 miles. The Classic Inca Trail brings thousands of visitors each year to Peru, who seek to embark on a journey of a lifetime to the citadel of Machu Picchu.

While the Inca Trail is celebrated and for good reason, there is also a wide range of treks to Machu Picchu that are often overlooked but are nonetheless worthy of exploration and fame. Here we will provide you with a list of our favourite hikes to Machu Picchu, to enable you to pick the perfect adventure for you!

1. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the principal attractions of Peru. Known locally as the ‘Camino Inca’, it consists of a network of ancient Inca paths that lead to the lost city of the Inca’s through the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. The Classic 4-day Inca Trail is considered to be 1 of the 10 best hikes in the world, and is a 43 km (26 mile) route starting from the check point at Kilometre 82. The trail is notoriously challenging as it ascends and descends over the Andes Mountains, through Amazonian cloud forests and alongside ancient archaeological centers. Therefore, physical ability and thorough preparation, both mentally and logistically is recommended.

The Short Inca Trail is a 2-day excursion, starting at the checkpoint of Kilometre 102. The 13km trail takes you on a journey through Inca history, visiting the impressive sites of Chachabamba and Wiñayhuayna, before culminating at the famous panoramic viewpoint atop the Inti Punku Sun Gate. The 2-day tour treats you to not one, but two chances to get to know Machu Picchu, with the in-depth guided tour of the Inca citadel taking place on day 2.

Due to the prestige of the Inca Trail, it is recommended that you book your place in advance and start preparing yourself for the challenge. Entrance into the Inca trail can only be achieved through entering the official government checkpoints that are stationed along the trail. It is therefore a provision of the Ministry of Culture of Peru that in order to enter, visitors must be accompanied by a licenced tour guide who is registered with an authorised travel agency. Reservations for the Classic Inca Trail must also be secured 3-4 months in advance, due to high demand and a government limit of 500 entries per day.

By order of the Ministry of Culture, the Inca trails are closed during the month of February each year to enable them carry out conservation, maintenance and cleaning work. February is the wettest month of the year in this region, so owing to the constant rainfall and thick jungle fog, it has been determined that the trails would be too dangerous for visitors to attempt. The Inca Trails reopen on March 1 each year.

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2. Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu

The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is considered to be of the 25 best treks in the world by National Geographic. The Salkantay pass at 4,650 meters in altitude, has been a highlight for hikers on the way to Macchu Picchu the world over, and is one of the best alternatives to the Inca Trail for hikers wanting to reach the Lost City of the Incas.

The 4 or 5 day trail takes hikers on an epic 60 kilometer journey through snow-capped glacial mountains and Amazonian jungle valleys. Throughout the trek you will visit the turquoise shores of the glacial lake of Humantay aswell as the Inca ruins of Llaqtapata, which offers a stunning view of the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu from above. The penultimate day of the trail concludes in the town of Aguas Calientes, the official home of Machu Picchu.

Unlike the Inca Trail, access to the Salkantay Pass does not require advanced bookings, special licenses and permits and can even be achieved solo for those looking for a solitary adventure to Machu Picchu. salkantay machu picchu viajes peru

3. Lares Valley Trail to Machu Picchu

The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu is an excellent alternative to the Inca Trail, offering trekkers a fantastic cultural experience and unique opportunity to hike their way through the Sacred Valley to the gates of the Inca Citadel. The trek begins in the mountain town of Lares, with a relaxing dip in its volcanic thermal baths.

The Lares trek is also known as the “Weaver’s Way,” since it passes many isolated indigenous communities and traditional Andean weaving villages that keep the ancient Inca traditions alive. The residents are renowned for their incredible and very time-consuming handicrafts that offer vibrant colours to the surrounding landscape. Along the trail you will also be treated to shimmering glacial lakes, skyscraper mountains and herds of resident llamas and alpacas. 

The hike is a total of 32 kilometres long and takes hikers on a journey through the towns of Lares, Patacancha, Pallata, Pumamamarca, Ollantaytambo and culminates in Aguas Calientes. Unlike the Inca Trail, access to the Lares Trek does not require advanced bookings, special licenses and permits and can even be achieved solo for those looking for a solitary adventure to Machu Picchu. lares trek 4 dias machu picchu viajes peru

4. Inca Jungle Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Jungle Trail to Machu Picchu offers an adrenaline packed ride down trails and along rivers to the iconic citadel of Machu Picchu. Combining the exhilarating activities of downhill mountain biking, river rafting, zip-lining and hiking, you’ll no doubt arrive at the gates of the citadel with a huge smile on your face. A perfect alternative to the Inca Trail for those seeking an unforgettable adventure on route to the Lost city of the Incas. As well as enjoying a white-knuckle ride through the Andes, this tour will treat you to breathtaking views of the Sacred Valley and the historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.

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5. Huchuy Qosqo to Machu Picchu

The Huchuy Qosqo to Machu Picchu Trek offers a great alternative to the Inca Trail for those looking to connect with the picturesque nature of the Sacred Valley whilst camping under the stars of the Milky Way. Along the journey you will befriend the royal Inca estate of Huchuy Qosqo, which means ‘little Cusco’ in Quechua. The trail will treat you to the sophisticated stonework of the Incas aswell as a spectacular panoramic view of the Sacred Valley from above.

In addition to the archaeological complex of Huchuy Qosqo, your journey to Machu Picchu will also take you across the Andean savannah, alongside breathtaking valleys, crystal clear lagoons and the geological magnificence of the Leon Punku Ravine. All before your bucket list moment at the gates of Machu Picchu!huchuyqosqo machu picchu viajes peru


Machu Picchu Viajes Peru can guide you throughout your entire visit to Peru. We have more than 10 years’ experience in the tourism industry, offering our clients a trustworthy service and a wealth of knowledge about the geography and history of Peru. Our vacation plans and tour packages ensure that you have the most fulfilling experience within the timescales you are visiting, getting to know the country’s most prestigious sites and ticking off all your bucket list desires. Our tours make travelling in Peru cost effective and effortless, thanks to their all-inclusive nature of transportation, accommodation, and pre-determined entrance into the tourist sites. From the moment you contact us, we will ensure you are well informed and looked after, and have the perfect customised package to suit your itinerary. Peru is a magnificent country will an abundance of treasures to see and do, so look no further than Machu Picchu Viajes Peru to make your dream adventure a reality!

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