There’s no arguing when it comes to which is the most popular trek to Machu Picchu – the Inca Trail. However, this trip requires booking well ahead of time and is often sold out. This is one of the reasons you may decide to opt for one of the alternative treks to the Inca citadel.
From treks to other ancient sites and some off the beaten path, or even one that includes cycling – there’s something for everyone. You don’t need to worry about finding your way to Machu Picchu. We’re here to help!.
Here are the top highlights that you’ll enjoy on the excursion:
This is the second most popular trek to Machu Picchu, and it’s no surprise why. This trail is perfect for adventurers and offers a very diverse landscape. You’ll pass through high altitude and cold climates to see Humantay Lake and Salkantay Mountain before you head down through the cloud forest to the warm, tropical jungle.
On your journey you’ll see some amazing flora and fauna, which will include many different animals, coffee plantations, and exotic flowers and fruits. You’ll also make your way through some small communities where you get a chance to enjoy a break and experience how rural Andean life is.
You need to acclimate a few days in Cusco beforehand as you’ll reach 4,600 masl. Trekking can be tough at this altitude, so you need to make sure you’re well-prepared. It doesn’t matter your age or fitness level, as long as you know what to expect. This hike is of a moderate to challenging level. You can opt for options from 3 days to 7 days long.
Treks that visit Choquequirao on the way to Machu Picchu range from 4 to 8 days, and it’s a relatively challenging route. This is a quiet trail as it’s long and the site can only be visited by foot, unlike Machu Picchu where a train is an option.
It’s a very exciting trek to opt for as you get to see two grand Inca sites in one trip. Choquequirao is still being uncovered and it’s just as amazing as Machu Picchu. Due to far less crowds, you can enjoy Choquequirao in peace and enjoy walking around the site and looking at every part in detail.
Be prepared for some fantastic views and to learn a lot on the way about the Inca’s history as well as the surrounding wildlife. Choquequirao was a very important site as it was one of the last resting places of the Incas before the Spanish invasion.
If you’re looking for a quiet trek that gets you up close and personal with the Andean people living in rural zones, then this is a great choice. You’ll pass through several remote communities who dedicate their time to working on the land and raising livestock. They keep their traditions alive with their beautiful textiles.
This route is moderately difficult and offers some wonderful scenery, including lagoons, rivers, waterfalls, and some spectacular views of the snowy Andean mountain range. It’s perfect for soaking up the fresh air and feeling relaxed.
The typical trek is 4 days long and you’ll camp along the way. The temperature can get very chilly, so make sure you pack accordingly.
Another trek off the beaten path where you can enjoy some nice peace and quiet and enjoy your surroundings. You’ll meander through the hills and small communities along the way, whilst also staying with local families, meaning you get to really immerse yourself in their culture.
Huchuy Qosqo is an Inca archaeological site that’s visited by very few tourists, so is perfect if you like to stay away from the crowds. It was an administrative and military centre and has some intriguing structures to observe. It also offers a stunning view of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
This is one of the less strenuous treks to Machu Picchu as it only takes 3 days and the terrain and altitude aren’t as tough as some of the others.
This is one of the least known routes to get to Machu Picchu, meaning that it’s very quiet. However, National Geographic named it as one of the 20 dream walks to take around the world. You’ll see a lot of great things on this trip from guided tours of other Inca archeological sites, locals working the land in extensive fields, and some small traditional towns. You’ll also spot a fair few llamas and alpacas. Best of all, you’ll be constantly surrounded by the stunning Andean mountains.
As with most of the treks in this part of the world, you’ll be heading up to high altitude again. You should spend 2-3 days in Cusco beforehand and make sure you take precautions for the high elevation. You can opt for a 4 or 5 day trip.
This trail is the perfect choice for adventure and thrill seekers. It combines both walking and cycling, making for an exciting route. You’ll come across some small archaeological sites before you finally reach Machu Picchu.
Along the route, you’ll see some beautiful tropical plants and fruits, as well as perhaps spot some of the unique Andean jungle wildlife, including the ‘Cock of the Rocks,’ Peru’s national bird.
The Inca Jungle route is moderate to challenging, so as long as you are well-prepared, you’ll be able to complete the trek. Be aware that you’ll need plenty of mosquito repellent as they are prevalent in this part of Cusco.
This is another route travelled by very few visitors and is perfect for history lovers. You’ll learn a lot about the Incas past as well as how life in the Andes works. It’s an excellent alternative to take you to Machu Picchu.
You’ll visit some off the beaten path archaeological sites that not many get to see. The quarry is also on your route, where the stones to build the Ollantaytambo complex were taken from. You’ll observe some stones that were cut by the Incas there.
This is a moderate option so is a good option for most hikers and for those not looking for anything too challenging. It’s a 4 day trek.