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Machu Picchu Trek – Trails and Routes

Trekking to Machu Picchu, either on the Inca Trail or via one of the alternative trails, is an unforgettable experience. The combination of awe-inspiring mountain ranges, diverse flora and fauna, and rich cultural and archaeological sites is hard to beat.

The most popular trek to Machu Picchu is the Classic Inca Trail, which follows original trails that the Inca’s would have taken from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. Along the way trekkers are treated to a wide variety of impressive Inca sites and stunning scenery.

Due to its popularity and concerns over the impact of tourism on the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, the trail is limited to 500 trekkers a day (300 of which are earmarked for porters and guides). Securing a place on the Inca Trail means booking early, particularly during the busiest trekking period in the dry season (May-September – see weather information below).

If you are interested in doing a Classic Inca Trail trek, or one of it’s variants – the Short Inca Trail and the Salkantay / Inca Combo trek –

Alternatively, we highly recommend considering some of the other treks to Machu Picchu, which are all unpermitted, less touristy, often more affordable and offer unique variations on the Classic Inca Trail.

You can review the key differences in terms of itineraries; difficulty and unique characteristics of all Machu Picchu treks , or indeed read the detailed guides we have written for each alternative route:

  • Salkantay Trek: A great 5D/4N trekking challenge with incredible scenery. The highlight on the trek is getting up close and personal with Nevada Salkantay, the 6,271m iconic Andean peak. The second most popular trek in the region after the Inca Trail and voted one of the Top 25 Treks in the World by National Geographic
  • Lares Trek: A less strenuous trekking trail that provides unrivalled opportunities to interact with local Andean communities that have changed little over the past few centuries. Undoubtedly one of the best cultural trekking experiences in the region
  • Choquequirao Trek: The longest and one of the toughest treks in the region, but super rewarding. Choquequirao is an Inca site that is worthy of a visit on it’s own. Combined with Machu Picchu, this trek is fast becoming the ultimate archaeological trekking experience
  • Inca Jungle Trek : Designed with the adrenaline junkie in mind, the Inca Jungle trek combines a massive 60km downhill cycle with trekking, zip-lining and potential river rafting. This trek is most popular with the younger generation and backpackers
  • Vilcabamba Trek: By far the most off-the-beaten path trek to Machu Picchu. On this trek you are guaranteed three things: absolute solitude, unbeatable alpine and jungle vistas and sore legs. Ideal for experienced backcountry trekkers who aren’t afraid of long and tough trekking days
  • Huchuy Qosco Trek: A short and pleasant trek to Huchuy Qosco (‘Little Cusco’ in Quechua), which is just north of Cusco, in the Sacred Valley. Ideal for visitors who would like to do a little trekking before hitting Machu Picchu.

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