The best Trails to Machu Picchu

Camino Inca a Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, the jewel of Peruvian tourism, stands out as the epicenter of the fascinating trails that lead to this historic sanctuary. The country, intertwined with ancient trails, has witnessed the flow of history through these ancestral routes. Some of these paths, carefully constructed of stone, and others worn by the passage of time, provide access to landscapes of breathtaking beauty. Of all the trails experiences Peru has to offer, those leading to Machu Picchu are undoubtedly the most rewarding and exciting. Awarded “The World’s Best Tourist Attraction” by the World Travel Awards, Machu Picchu is the dream place for nature and history lovers.

1. Inca Trail: The Route of the Incas

The best Trails to Machu Picchu
Inca Trail

Typical Duration: 4 days
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

The Inca Trail, also known as Qapaq Ñan, is a 700-year-old network of trails that links the Sacred Valley of the Incas with the original entrance to Machu Picchu at the Sun Gate. This ancestral trail, which played a fundamental role in the flourishing of the Inca empire, provides an unparalleled experience by allowing hikers to appreciate the cloud forest from an expert’s perspective. Given its popularity, it is crucial to plan ahead, as permits tend to sell out quickly.

Important Tips:

  • Book early due to high demand.
  • Find out about restrictions and requirements before starting the adventure.

2. Salkantay Trekking: Ecological Diversity

The best Trails to Machu Picchu

Typical Duration: 5 days
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

The Salkantay Trek, highlighted by National Geographic as one of the six best alternatives to Machu Picchu and one of the 25 best treks in the world, offers ecological diversity superior to the Inca Trail. It is more affordable, less traveled and less restrictive. From the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the rainforest, this trek will leave you breathless. Make sure you are well prepared to get the most out of this experience.

Additional Tip:

  • Consider the glamping option for a unique experience.

3. Trek to Lares: Discover Rural Life in the Andes

Lares Trek

Typical Duration: 4 days
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

The Lares trek, highlighted by National Geographic, allows you to explore authentic rural life in the Andes. Along the way, you will interact with local farmers and artisans, immersing yourself in their daily traditions. Less traveled than Salkantay, this trail allows you to enjoy panoramic views of mountains, lagoons and valleys, offering an authentic and less explored experience of the Andes.

Top Tip:

  • Relax in the medicinal hot springs in the village of Lares before the hike.

4. Ancascocha Hike: The Hidden Inca Trail

The best Trails to Machu Picchu

Typical Duration: 5 days
Difficulty Level: Moderate to challenging

Known as the Hidden Inca Trail, the Ancascocha trek winds through the towering Andes, offering spectacular scenery and remoteness. National Geographic lists it among the “20 Dream Trails for Hikers”. From waterfalls to cloud forest, this trail is a hidden treasure of Peru. Enjoy a unique experience, away from the crowds, exploring nature in its purest state.

Exclusive Tip:

  • Don’t miss the dazzling Ancascocha Lagoon.

5. Huchuy Qosqo Hike: Jewel of the Sacred Valley

Typical duration: 3 days
Difficulty: Moderate

Located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Huchuy Qosqo trek leads to an extensive Inca military and administrative center, an archaeological site accessible only on foot. Meaning “Little Cusco”, this trail offers a pilgrimage through picturesque scenes of the Andes. Less traveled than other trails, it offers a more intimate connection to Inca history and majestic scenery.

Revealing Tip:

  • Start the hike at the Tambomachay archaeological site in Cusco.

6. Choquequirao Trek: The “Cradle of Gold”.

Typical Duration: 7 days
Difficulty: Challenging

Rated by National Geographic as one of the most beautiful hikes and one of the six best alternative routes to Machu Picchu, Choquequirao takes you to the archaeological complex that means “cradle of gold” in Quechua. More extensive and impressive than Machu Picchu, this historic site was the last Inca refuge from the Spanish conquistadors. The difficulty of this hike is comparable to the ascent to Mount Everest Base Camp.

Top Tip:

  • Experience the grandeur of Choquequirao, partially excavated and full of mystery.

7. Inca Quarry Trek: Between Inca Ruins and the Cachicata Quarry

Typical Duration: 4 days
Difficulty Level: Moderate to challenging

With various names, the Inca Quarry Trek is another of the six best alternative routes according to National Geographic. Unique in allowing hikers to visit lesser-known Inca archaeological sites and the Cachicata quarry, this trail offers a diverse experience. From waterfalls to the site of Racaypata, this hike combines exploration of Inca ruins with interaction with local life.

Unique Tip:

  • Enjoy the experience of walking through one of the Sun Gates of the Incas with the snow-capped mountain of Veronica as a backdrop.

8. Inca Jungle Trek: Multisport Adventure

Typical Duration: 4 days
Difficulty: Moderate

This adrenaline-filled adventure takes you to Machu Picchu not only hiking, but also biking, rafting and ziplining through the cloud forests of the Andes. With the opportunity to relax in the hot springs of Cocalmayo, this hike is a perfect combination of adventure sports. Connect intimately with Mother Nature as you explore the less traveled corners of the Andes.

Adventure Tip:

  • Get ready for a unique expedition that challenges your physical limits and connects you with nature in an exciting way.

Each of these treks offers a unique experience towards the majestic Machu Picchu. From the authenticity of Huchuy Qosqo to the grandeur of Choquequirao, choose the one that resonates with you. These experiences will leave a lasting impression, taking you through breathtaking landscapes and revealing the rich history of the Peruvian Andes.

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