If you’ve already visited Peru and experienced the majesty of the ancient Inca Trail, you might think there’s nothing that can quite compare to it. But for many, hiking one of the Inca Trail alternatives proves just as exciting. There are several other trails that offer picturesque landscapes, local culture and ancient history that competes with any location along the Inca Trail, so let’s take a closer look.
Hiking the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu
There’s more than one way to get to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu. One of the most popular Inca Trail alternatives is the Salkantay Trail, which travels through the Cusco Valley. The high altitudes provide some of the most breathtaking panoramic views you’ll ever see. However, altitude sickness is also quite common, so many choose to stay in the neighboring town of Cusco for a day or so, enjoying the local cuisine and culture while acclimating to the higher altitudes.
Once you set out upon your trek, you’ll travel along a trail that’s been in use for hundreds of years, complete with the backdrop of the snow-covered peaks of the Andes. With a local guide, you’ll learn about the culture and history of the area, as well as catch rare glimpses of some of the local wildlife. Some highlights include descending from the famous Apacheta Pass through tropical cloud forests and relaxing at the hot springs of Aguas Calientes, then trekking up the mountain to Machu Picchu.
The Lares Trek
According to many local tour guides, the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu is actually the most picturesque, although the Inca Trail is arguably the favorite of many. In just four days, you’ll experience a vast variety of different ecosystems as you make your way through the Lares Valley. There are amazing glacial peaks, steamy jungles, and fertile valleys, as well as some of the area’s oldest settlements. Before leaving, don’t forget to bone up on your Quechua, the local dialect spoken by the farmers and tradespeople in the villages you’ll pass through along the way.
Visitors will experience views of immense beauty as they hike around high-altitude Pachacutec Lake and the glacial peaks of Pitusiray, Sawasiray, and Chicon. After trekking for several days, you’ll finally reach the town of Ollantaytambo, then board a train to Aguas Calientes. The majestic peak of Machu Picchu is then just a short trip away.
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If you want to experience the majesty of Machu Picchu and get to know a different side of Peru, consider embarking upon one of the alternative tours from Inca Trail Deals. Our popular 5-Day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu offers incredible landscapes where lowland jungle gives way to glacial mountains. The Ausangate Trek offers visitors a tour of the lesser-known regions of Peru, with a backdrop of llamas, glaciers, turquoise lakes, and natural hot springs.