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Alternative Inca Trail

A lot of people have Machu Picchu on their bucket lists, and the Inca Trail is the most common way to go there by foot.

However there are drawbacks to the phenomenon’s widespread acceptance.

If you’re looking for a new hiking experience, here are three fantastic alternatives to the classic Inca Trail that will get you to Machu Picchu.

Trekking Routes Other Than the Classic Inca Path to Machu Picchu

One of the most well-known hiking trails is the four-day Inca Trail, and with good reason. Very beautiful Andes vistas are explored by foot over the course of four days on a trek along ancient Inca paths. Many significant Inca ruins can be seen along the route.

Most notably, hikers arrive at Inti Punku, also known as the Sun Gate, the iconic entryway to Machu Picchu, where they are rewarded with breathtaking views of the ancient Inca city as morning breaks.

Nonetheless, the Inca Trail is not without its drawbacks.

For starters, there are only 500 daily trekking permits available for use on the trail, with half of those going to guides and porters. This implies that would-be hikers, particularly between the months of May and September, need to make their reservations well in advance.

Second, the route is often busy; this makes the experience feel a little too “touristy,” despite the maximum of 500 people each day. Last but not least, the route is closed in February due to the high likelihood of rain.

In that case, these alternate routes to Machu Picchu along the Inca Trail may be more to your liking if you are not one to plan ahead or enjoy the company of a large group.

Salkantay Trail

The Salkantay trail is great for mountain-lovers. It is the most popular alternative journey to Machu Picchu which goes nowhere near the Traditional Inca Path. The route affords amazing vistas of the snow-capped Mount Salkantay, which peaks at just over 6,200 metres (20,341 feet), and provides an incredibly broad range of spectacular views.

The Salkantay path reaches a maximum altitude of just over 4,600 metres (15,092 feet) and normally takes 5 days to complete, with two additional days spent acclimatising and exploring Cusco.

Lares Trail

Anyone interested in genuine Andean culture should hike the Lares path. This route, the second-easiest alternative Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, passes through several picturesque and distinctive indigenous communities. There are communities here that look just as they did hundreds of years ago.

Typical Andean garb is worn by the indigenous farmers and weavers that hikers will surely come into contact with along the way. You should bring some extra Soles with you to the towns outside of Cusco, as this is where you will find the best prices on locally woven goods.

The Lares Trail takes hikers to the top of a few 4,000-meter (13,123-foot) peaks and offers some of the best vistas in the mountains.

Inca Jungle Trek

Those looking for excitement should hike the Inca Jungle Path. The journey begins with a four-hour drive to the Abra Malaga pass, which stands at 4,300 metres (14,108 feet). Trekkers then mountain bike the 37-mile (60-kilometer) downhill route to Santa Maria.

Spend the night in Santa Maria, then head south to Santa Teresa for an afternoon of excitement on South America’s tallest zip line before returning to Santa Maria for the night.

From here, hikers can reach Aguas Calientes, often known as “Machu Picchu Town,” which is located at the base of the renowned Incan ruins. After three days of mountain biking, hiking, and ziplining, you’ll get to see the historic Inca city.

If you’re young, adventurous, or just plain short on time, the Inca Jungle Trek is the Inca trail for you.

Choquequirao Trek

If you’re looking for a peaceful hike, the Choquequirao path is a good option. Beginning in Cusco, travellers travel for 5 days to Choquequirao, one of the largest and best-preserved Inca sites outside of Machu Picchu.

On the other hand, unlike Machu Picchu, this beautiful location often attracts little more than a small crowd. In this area, you should keep an eye out for flying condors. There is a wonderful three or four day walk that leads from here to Machu Picchu.

As the sun is so harsh in the high season, the journey is best attempted in the shoulder months of the dry season (March/April or October/November) (May-September).

Vilcabamba Trail

The Vilcabamba Trail is the most peaceful option for reaching Machu Picchu. On this hike, you might not run into another group of hikers for miles. The trail passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the region, from the highlands with their snow-capped peaks to the tropical rainforests below.

The five-day trek is challenging, however, and requires hikers to be ready for three days of 10-12 hours of walking each. Only the most hardy and seasoned hikers should attempt this trail.

I think this detour along the Inca Trail is a fantastic opportunity for adventurers of any skill level to test themselves.

Huchuy Qosqo trek

As the shortest trip (at just 17 kilometres), the Huchuy Qosqo is ideal for those who are pressed for time (11 miles). It’s also the least physically demanding route, making it a good option for those who want to hike the Inca Trail but are concerned about blisters.

Tauqaq, a small settlement on the shore of Piuray Lagoon, is the starting point of the trail. The spectacular Incan complex of Huchuy Qosqo is one of the highlights of this two-day hike.


So ends my report on the Inca Trail alternative. Leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts on an alternate Inca trail in Peru, and we’ll do our best to respond.