5 Ways to Hike Machu Picchu - AdventureTripr

5 Ways to Hike Machu Picchu

Marjorie Geling · January 28, 2022
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Here are the 5 alternative hikes to Machu Picchu
5 ways to hike Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is classified as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, and there is no denying that this massive man-made structure surrounded by mountain peaks is one of the most incredible views to appreciate. Ancient Incan ruins mystify and intrigue travelers and historians alike, and is a must-do for tourists in Peru.

Due to the Pandemic, most Inca Trail reservations for 2020 have been rescheduled for 2022 and beyond. This means that obtaining Inca Trail permits until 2023 is not going to be as easy as it used to be. If you're planning your own trip, you’ll need to know which hike you want to do before arriving, since there are multiple ways to experience this splendor and all will need reservations made in advance. Not sure what to choose? We got you covered! Here are 5 ways to hike Machu Picchu.

1. The Inca Trail

The most popular hike to Machu Picchu is the classic Inca Trail
The most popular hike to Machu Picchu is the classic Inca Trail

Perhaps the most popular trek in Peru is the Inca Trail, which combines the best parts of both worlds: the snow-covered Andes Mountains and lush Amazon Basin forests. It's an ancient route that leads from the Sacred Valley into the heart of the Andes. The mountain scenery rewards hikers with awe-inspiring views, and the opportunity to visit ancient ruins along the way. However, be aware: the secret is out! This beautiful trail is strictly regulated due to a high number of visitors, so be sure to secure your trip well in advance.

Trail Facts

Trek Difficulty: Moderate

Trek Duration: 4 Days

Maximum altitude: 13,780 FT

Permits required: Yes

2. Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay Trek is listed as one of the 25 best treks in the world by National Geographic
The Salkantay Trek is listed as one of the 25 best treks in the world by National Geographic

The Salkantay trek is ideal for those seeking a more difficult alternative to the Inca Trail. There aren't many ruins, but you'll be rewarded with unforgettable mountain scenery. You'll hike higher and for a longer distance than the Inca Trail, looping around glacial Mount Salkantay. Unlike the Inca Trail, which has constant foot traffic, this less-traveled route provides a good opportunity to see wildlife such as deer, chinchillas, and spectacled bears.

Trail Facts

Trek Difficulty: Hard. Preferably for experienced, fit hikers.

Trek Duration: 5 Days

Maximum altitude: 15,092 FT while crossing the Salkantay Pass

Permits required: No

3. Lares Trek

Lares Trek takes you deep into the heart of the Andes, to a remote landscape of mountains and lakes
Lares Trek takes you deep into the heart of the Andes, to a remote landscape of mountains and lakes

As one of the most beautiful and uncommercialized treks in the Sacred Valley, the Lares Trek is slightly easier than other treks in the area. Hikers can look forward to mountain views, lakes, and waterfalls that aren't on the main trail. If you want to get a real sense of traditional Andean culture, this is the hike for you! With fewer trekkers than other routes, you’re sure to have an authentic trekking experience, as well as the opportunity to visit traditional local villages.

Trail Facts

Trek Difficulty: Moderate

Trek Duration: 4 Days

Maximum altitude: 14,925 FT while crossing the Ipsaycocha Pass

Permits required: No

4. Huchuy Qosqo Trek

The Huchuy Qosqo Trek takes you on an absolutely stunning route through the hills to the lesser-known Inca site of Huchuy Qosqo.
The Huchuy Qosqo Trek takes you on an absolutely stunning route through the hills to the lesser-known Inca site of Huchuy Qosqo.

The Huchuy Qosqo trek is the shortest and easiest of the Machu Picchu alternative hikes.

The path is conveniently located just north of Cusco, making it the perfect choice for those who don't have a lot of time in the area, or who want to do some hiking without putting in too much effort. This trek will provide gorgeous scenery and fewer tourists.

Trail Facts

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Trek Duration: 2 Days

Maximum altitude: 14,764 FT 

Permits required: No

5. Vilcabamba Trek

The Vilcabamba trek's remote trail is the hardest Machu Picchu hike on our list
The Vilcabamba trek's remote trail is the hardest Machu Picchu hike on our list

The Vilcabamba trek to Machu Picchu is a hidden gem that hasn't been overrun by tourists. The trail is remote, beautiful, and extremely quiet. Trekkers can traverse snow-capped mountains on authentic and well-preserved Inca trails. The route runs through the sparsely populated Cordillera Vilcabamba, which looks much the same as when Hiram Bingham first explored the area a century ago. This trek is not for the faint of heart or weak of legs. It is a particularly challenging route with long trekking days and tough ascents and descents.

Trail Facts

Difficulty: Hard

Trek Duration: 5 Days

Maximum altitude: 15,092 FT while crossing the Tulla Tacanca Pass

Permits required: No

Easy 1-Day Hike

The train trip to Machu Picchu is the quietest way to get to know the Inca City.
The train trip to Machu Picchu is the quietest way to get to know the Inca City.

If you don’t prefer hiking, and if you running out of time, you can trek to Machu Picchu via train from Cusco to a location on the trail known as Kilometer 104. Then it's a 15-kilometer (9-mile) hike through the Sun Gate to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary.

BEFORE YOU GO

Before embarking on your trip, be aware of the new Machu Picchu regulations:

The Peruvian government issued new measures to be taken into account when visiting the Inca city. They are regulated by the "Regulation on Sustainable Use and Tourist Visits for the Conservation of Llaqta of Machu Picchu" and  Machu Picchu Heald Guidelines (COVID) approved by the Ministry of Culture in Cusco.

• At the moment, Machu Picchu only allows 1116 visitors per day. It is strongly advised that you book a tour package to ensure that you are guaranteed entrance and tickets to the sacred site.

• Groups of more than (8) people are also not permitted to enter Machu Picchu, including tour guides. This equates to up to (7) tourists and one (1) tour guide. This regulation is in place is done to prevent social bubbles from mingling.

• The Ministry of Culture also requires a complete Vaccine Card or a negative COVID test in order to enter the ancient site.

There you have it, 5 ways to hike Machu Picchu! We hope you're excited for an adventure to the Sacred Valley  For more trips on traveling in Peru, check out our blog “The 10 Best Things to do in Peru”, which will guide you in preparing for a spectacular Peru Trip. 

Ready to book your trip?  Head over to our 9-Day Inca Trail and Rainbow Mountain trip - that's two huge bucket list items ticked off in one trip!

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