Which is the better option Inca Trail or Salkantay?

recorrer el Camino Inca

If you are looking for the best excursion to Machu Picchu, it can be difficult to decide between the famous Inca Trail and the lesser known but equally impressive Salkantay route. Both offer incredible experiences. So what is the best way to get to Machu Picchu? Let’s analyze every important detail so you can make a well-informed decision.

General Overview

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trail

What is the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail is recognized as one of the best treks in the world. Although many people think it is always crowded, if you plan well, you can do this trip with fewer tourists. We will discover the historical wonders of the Inca civilization, from Patallaqta to Intipunku. Traversing up and down the breathtaking Andes, the trail ends at the majestic Machu Picchu.

What is the Salkantay Trek?

The Salkantay Trek, although not as well known, is wilder and more challenging, and offers a unique alternative to the Inca Trail. This trail is longer and assures you breathtaking views and an authentic experience in the Peruvian Andes. From the Humantay Lagoon to the cloud forest, you will embark on an unforgettable journey. During this trek, you will encounter a variety of amazing landscapes, from deep valleys to warm jungle.

Difficulty of the Trek: Salkantay vs Inca Trail

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trail

The nagging question: Is the Salkantay route more challenging than the Inca Trail? Both offer unique trails, but it is crucial to consider key factors.

Route Length

  • Salkantay Trek: 5 days, 4 nights, about 74 km.
  • Inca Trail: 4 days, 3 nights, 42 km.


  • Salkantay Trek: Reaches 4,600 meters above sea level.
  • Inca Trail: Reaches 4,215 m.a.s.l. at Warmiwañusca Pass.

Landscapes: Salkantay vs. Inca Trail


Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay trek takes you through deep valleys, the enchanting Humantay Lagoon and a variety of climates, from snow-capped mountains to humid jungle. As you approach Machu Picchu, you will be captivated by the grandeur of the high jungle and the Urubamba River.

Inca Trail

The Inca Trail takes you through tropical jungles and allows you to visit archaeological sites such as Runkurakay and Sayacmarca. It is an experience full of ups and downs that culminates with the breathtaking view of Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.

Weather: Salkantay vs. Inca Trail

Salkantay Trek

Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay trek begins hot at Mollepata and then you will experience temperatures around 0°C at Abra Salkantay. As you descend towards Santa Teresa and Aguas Calientes, the weather becomes hot and humid.

Inca Trail

The Inca Trail takes you from warm temperatures at Piscacucho to temperatures near 0°C at Warmiwañusca Pass. As you approach Machu Picchu, you will find a warmer and more humid climate.

Where to Sleep: Salkantay vs Inca Trail

tents inca trail

Salkantay Trek

Three nights in comfortable accommodations and the last night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Inca Trail

Nights in well-stocked campsites, with three nights in basic campsites along the route.

Costs: Salkantay vs. Inca Trail

Inca Trail 4 days

Salkantay Trek

Between $500 and $700, including guide, equipment, meals and entrance fee to Machu Picchu.

Inca Trail

Between $600 and $1000 per person, covering guide, transportation, meals and entrance fee to Machu Picchu.

Permits: Salkantay vs Inca Trail

Salkantay Trekking

Salkantay Trek

Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu and tour guide.

Inca Trail

Includes entrance ticket to Machu Picchu, transportation, guide and camping equipment.

Conclusion: Which one to choose?

  • Salkantay: For those looking for a challenging adventure with a diversity of landscapes.
  • Inca Trail: For those who crave a historical experience with the epic culmination at Machu Picchu.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal preferences. Both routes will offer you an unforgettable journey to the historical jewel of Machu Picchu, discover the ancient charm of the Incas and the majestic beauty of the Peruvian Andes!

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