The Inca Trail Alternatives
After frantically researching online and writing to tour operators, you realize that there are no more spots left on the traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Local laws only allow 500 people on the Inca Trail each day (including porters, guides, cooks and travelers), so spaces fill up very quickly at the beginning of the year for the most sought-after months of March through October. What to do?
Fortunately, there are a few other inca trail tours with the same level of excitement, culture and natural beauty that are just as inspiring as the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu itself. Read on to learn more.
The Express 2 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Here you will begin your hike of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu at Km.104 (instead of at Km. 82 for the 4-day Inca Trail). You will basically walk the final portion of the traditional Inca Trail, however instead of staying at a campsite that evening, you will sleep at a hotel in the town of Aguas Calientes, at the foot of the mountain where Machu Picchu is located. You will have a guided tour of Machu Picchu on the second day, as well as time to explore it on your own.
- Experience the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!
- Visit the impressive Wiñay Wayna ruins, along the way, set in a steep hillside overlooking the Urubamba River.
- Reach the Inti Punku (Sun Gate), which is the entrance to Machu Picchu (2,350m/7,710ft asl), at the end of your hike, and be rewarded with some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the sacred city.
- Only a two-day excursion, leaving time to explore other parts of Cusco and/or Peru.
- No camping.
- Typically offered in private service at a higher cost.
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
This amazing camping trek runs beneath the sacred Salkantay mountain (6,271m/2,056ft asl), one of the highest and most stunning in the Peruvian Andes, passing through Quechua communities and lesser-known Inca ruins, to finally reach the town of Aguas Calientes on the fourth day. A guided tour of Machu Picchu is part of the fifth and last day. This is a great alternative to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
- Available in shared and private service.
- Camping trip in the Andes Mountains.
- Enjoy exceptional views of Machu Picchu from the El Mirador or Abra Q’elloqasa (2,860m/9,381ft asl) looking point, and enjoy a picnic at the Llaqtapata ruins with amazing views of Machu Picchu and the Salkantay Mountain.
- Visit Machu Picchu on your last day.
- Your first views of Machu Picchu are not from the Inti Punku (Sun Gate).
- This trek is longer than the traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Choquequirao Camping Trek
This is a spectacular and challenging Inca Trail leading to the mysterious Inca refuge of Choquequirao situated at 3,103m/10,178ft above sea level. Choquequirao is considered a “sister” city of similar significance to Machu Picchu as it was built along similar lines. However, because archaeologists long underestimated its importance, the city’s existence was known for almost 300 years before the first restoration was begun in 1993, and it has only recently been accessible to non-academics, quickly joining the ranks of the world’s great Lost Cities.
- Live the adventure of hiking one of the Inca Trails.
- Visit a partially restored, and highly inaccessible Inca city for a genuine experience.
- Very few tourists visit Choquequirao as compared to Machu Picchu for a more intimate feel.
- It is offered in private service at a higher cost.
- A visit to Machu Picchu is not part of this trek.