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Best Machu Picchu hikes

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Best Machu Picchu hikes

There is nothing like the satisfaction of arriving at Machu Picchu by your own feet. This is the reason why, in recent years, the Machu Picchu Inca Trail hike has become so popular. The time when a traveler could get to Cuzco and hire an excursion on the Inca trail for the next day - or week or year - has long since passed. To control the roadblocks, the Peruvian government has limited access to 500 people a day, including porters. The Inca Trail book 2019 and Machu Picchu tickets 2019 in high season (summer) are sold out months in advance. 

Luckily, the Incas, who were masters of road construction, traced routes through the Andes. Many of them are alternative routes to Machu Picchu (or at least you get as close as in a quick train trip). Here we present the best Machu Picchu hikes, for most of which no permits are necessary and can be contracted from any reputed agency in Cuzco. Some of best Machu Picchu hikes can have multiple variants and can be adapted to fit certain physical conditions.  


Best Machu Picchu hikes


Short Inca Trail 

This is the short version of the famous and amazing Inca Trail Cuzco, for those who have little time available, but in no way want to miss this unique walk and enjoy beautiful landscapes and diversity of plants such as the Orchid and variety of birds. This 2 day Inca Trail tour is 11 kilometers long, which starts at Km 104 of the Cusco - Aguas Calientes railway line. The walk lasts approximately 6 to 7 hours until you reach the Puerta del Sol known as Inti Punku, where you can get the first panoramic views of Machu Picchu. 


Duration of the tour: 2 days 

Difficulty level: Easy


The Salkantay Route 

The classic Inca route is famous for the variety of its topography and its ecosystems, but the varied selection of the Salkantay trek 2019 is even more impressive. Mount Salkantay 6240 meters high is one of the sacred "apus", or sacred peaks, in the Inca religious Olympus. Even today it is venerated in the traditional Andean religion. This excursion, assisted by mules, crosses the beautiful Mollepata valley and crosses beyond Salcantay at an altitude of 4.5 kilometers. From these cold heights, the road descends to a subtropical forest with fog, where it meets an ancient Inca road (part of the network of the primitive Capac Ñan, which linked the far reaches of the empire) that heads towards the ruins of Llactapata, recently rediscovered. From there, one can contemplate about three kilometers through the valley a different, lateral view of the Machu Picchu complex. A downhill walk ends at the small train station, where a shuttle service runs through the Urubamba River to Aguas Calientes, the city at the foot of Machu Picchu.  


Duration of the tour: from 5 to 8 days

Level of difficulty: Medium to difficult 




The Lares Route 

The Sacred Valley, through which every day hundreds of thousands of visitors travel by train on their way from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, has a fame justified by its beauty. It is also a bit crowded. Under the peaks covered by a thick layer of snow that mark the northern edge of the Sacred Valley, lies the Lares valley. Here, life goes on as it has throughout the centuries. Local inhabitants dressed in traditional Andean clothing plant potatoes with their hands, care for the herds of llamas and alpacas and weave their clothes, as they have done for generations. These farmers and artisans may be the only people you see for days. This excursion usually leaves the small town of Lares, home to some famous hot springs, and runs through many villages. Along the way there are very close views of the peak of more than 5400 meters high, Mount Veronica, and many high mountain lakes. It ends near the historical ruins of Ollantaytambo, and from there the train trip to Machu Picchu is only 90 minutes. 


Duration of the tour: from 3 to 5 days 

Level of difficulty: Medium  




Inca Jungle

This tour includes an advance of approximately 5 hours by bicycle on day 1, all an adventure and a challenge; the following days combine walks with tours of the cities on the route and their attractions. Finally, the last trek to the citadel of Machu Picchu for an excellent tour with professional guides. 


Duration of the tour: from 3 to 4 days 

Difficulty level: Easy


Vilcabamba trek

This walk that lasts a week covers 96 mountainous kilometers and is not made for the weak legs or heart. Leaving the city of Cachora, on a two-day excursion, the Apurimac River canyon, 1.6 kilometers deep, is crossed to the remote ruins of Choquequirao (the name means "Cradle of Gold" in Quechua), which in The last few years have become famous for their resemblance to Machu Picchu. The route continues - at some points along primitive Inca stone roads - through the sparsely populated Vilcabamba mountain range, which is practically the same as when Hiram Bingham explored it for the first time a century ago. The crossing runs through a mountain range, crosses rivers and valleys, and passes through several of Peru's biozones: dry scrub, tropical forests with fog and punas (high mountain plateaus). The route ends in a short walk or train ride from Machu Picchu. 


Duration of the tour: from 7 to 13 days 

Level of difficulty: Difficult  


Choquequirao trek 

The ruins of Choquequirao are an ancient Inca city located between the mountains belonging to the snowy Salkantay in Cusco. In 1909, the American explorer Hiram Bingham visited this place of difficult access. The trekking route from the city of Cusco to Choquequirao and from this point to Machu Picchu is the most complete and challenging that exists in the ancient 'Capital of the Incas'. Travel ancient Inca roads surrounded by the most picturesque landscapes. On average it travels 115 kilometers in 8 days and 7 nights of intense walking. The main points are Choquequirao and Machu Picchu. It reaches heights of up to 5,085 meters above sea level (m.s.n.m.) to sites of only 2,000 m.s.n.m. The most important points of the section are the archaeological complex of Choquequirao, known as the 'Last refuge inca' and the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, one of the Wonders of the World. 


Duration of the tour: from 8 to 9 days 

Level of difficulty: Difficult 


Options to visit Machu Picchu in Classic Tours



Other Alternatives to Machu Picchu hikes


  • Tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 1 day 
  • City of Cusco Tour, 1 day
  • Inti Raymi 2020 Festival, 1 day



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