So why take these routes? Well, for one thing, if you have ever trekked the Inca Trail you’ll know that, like many popular tourist destinations, the crowds are extensive! Not only this, but to trek the Inca Trail you must be accompanied by an accredited tour operator and be in possession of a permit (both cost money). You will also need to book months in advance as there are only a limited amount of permits available each day.
That being said, the Inca trail is an incredible experience and the original pilgrimage path used hundreds of years ago! Let’s quickly discuss the Inca Trail options before we move onto some alternative trails.
The ‘Classic’ Inca Trail is a 4 day journey covering 45km. As the original pilgrimage path this is the most popular and iconic route. For hikers that don’t fancy trekking 4 days there is the ‘short’ route which is only two days long and far shorter (13km). For the more energetic hikers there is the ‘Salkantay’ (combo) route which combines both treks to create an amazing trail that intertwines the Classic trail with some mountainous paths.
Read more about the Inca Trail here.
For the more off the beat trekkers, don’t panic, there are alternative routes!
The ‘Lares’ trail is one of the less trekked paths to Machu Picchu. Its 4 days over 33km. This particular trek is a great way to meet the locals and get to grips with the local culture.
Another trail is the ‘Jungle’ trail which offers an amazing downhill cycle track! If you’re seeking more thrills then look for the zipwire and rafting experience! The cycle track is 60km, however, the hiking trail is only 15km and nice an easy.
The Huchuy Qosko trail is another fairly easy going trek that is 20km long and last 3 days. This trail has beautiful scenery and allows you see the Huchuy Qosko ruins which are great!
For the more experienced hikers there are a few other options. Firstly is the 9 day trek ‘Choquequirao’ which is 69km long. By far the longest trek up to Machu Picchi, the Choquequirao trail takes you through an abundance of scenery and also to the Choquequirao ruins.
Another trail is the ‘Salkantay’ route that is 55km long over 5 days. This one of the least trekked routes and is, therefore, fairly people free. This trek also get you up and close with the Nevada Salkantay!
Probably the toughest trek to Machu Picchu is the ‘Vilcabamba’ trail. This is 55km long over 5 days and provides incredible scenery! If you’re up to it then do it!
I recommend checking out this detailed Machu Picchu guide.
There are literally 100s of trekking companies in Cusco. If you are looking for a reliable and ethical operator I recommend getting in touch with these guys.