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Alternative Treks to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Visiting Machu Picchu is on many travelers’ bucket lists. Since 2005, the Peruvian government has created many regulations to preserve the Inca Trail. One of the most important is the limit of people hiking every day on this famous trail; only 200 tourists are allowed to begin the hike. However, nowadays there are many alternative treks to the Inca Trail that reach Machu Picchu when the Classic Inca Trail is sold out. The most popular treks are the Salkantay Trek, the Lares Trek, the Short Inca Trail, and the Inca Jungle Trail.

Machu Picchu Treks
Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru

My name is Vidal, and I have been leading groups to Machu Picchu for about 13 years through the different routes that exist in Cusco. And now I will provide you with some options that can help you plan your next adventure to Machu Picchu.
In the following post, we’ll show you which is the best Alternative Treks that you should consider hiking to Machu Picchu if the Inca Trail is sold out.

Best alternative hikes to Machu Picchu

The Classic Inca Trail 4-Day tour to Machu Picchu is without doubt the best way to explore this iconic Inca site. However, for the summer season, also known as the highest season in Cusco (May–August), the tickets can sell out really quickly. If you are planning to hike on this trek in the next few years, we recommend booking in advance (at least 6 months) because many travelers want to hike during the dry season. As we mentioned before, only 200 tourists can hike every day with their authorized tour companies, guides, and porters’ teams, such as Vidal Expeditions.

Let’s see below what other options on the Inca Trail you have to reach Machu Picchu.

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

This hike is a great option for hikers with limited time who still want to hike a small portion of the Classic Inca Trail and see Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate. The most popular tour is the 2-Day Short Inca Trail with a night in Machu Picchu town.
The hike offers stunning views of valleys, Inca archaeological sites, the original Inca path, history, and a lot of biodiversity. Explore the beautiful Wiñaywayna Inca site and get an incredible view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, also called Inti Punku. Visit Machu Picchu in the afternoon once the crowds have left it, and early in the morning on the second day.
You also have the option to visit Machu Picchu on a day hike through our 1-day Inca Trail Tour.

Reaching to Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate
Machu Picchu View from Sun Gate

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

If you love exploring incredible mountain landscapes, this hike is what you are looking for! The Salkantay Trek offers breathtaking vistas of different scenery in Cusco, from snowcapped mountains, turquoise lakes, picturesque Andean villages, and lush forests to the iconic Machu Picchu as the final destination. The most well-known tour is the Salkantay Trek 5-Day, which starts in Cusco and ends with a visit to Machu Picchu.
Nowadays, this trek has become more crowded than the Inca Trail due to the lack of regulation. You could easily find more people, some new buildings on the way, campsites, lodges, cabins, shops, and restaurants.

Lares Trek to Machu Picchu

Hiking to Machu Picchu is one of the most adventurous ways to discover the beauty of the Andes. And what the best way hiking through the Lares Trek 4 Days. Spend incredible days in the high Andes visiting some gorgeous local villages, learning the local traditions, and being amazed by the fantastic landscapes near the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Ride on the train with scenic views along the Urubamba Valley and discover the hidden city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, on the last day of your journey.

Lares Trek 4 Day
Hiking on Lares Trek

Inca Jungle Trail

One of the most incredible adventure tours in Peru, the Inca Jungle Trail, combines different activities while you are approaching Machu Picchu. Mountain bike from the Andes to the lush jungle, with various landscapes that change while you descend from 4,300 meters to 2,000 meters. Whitewater rafting in the Urubamba River with incredible views. Hike in the forest, visit some local farms for bananas, coffee, avocados, oranges, and coca, and see many wildlife. Walk on the Inca Trail and be amazed by its breathtaking vistas. End your hike at the hot springs of Cocalmayo, Santa Teresa. Fly on the zipline and explore Machu Picchu before the crowds arrive.

Inca Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu
Biking and Hiking to Machu Picchu

Huchuy Qosqo Trek

Hike to the remote area near Cusco and the Sacred Valley. The Huchuy Qosqo Trek 3 Day will transport you to small communities in the Andes, where the time stops and their people keep the ancient traditions. Visit some of the most incredible Andean scenery, where the Incas have built a net of Inca trails and their temples with such amazing views of the Sacred Valley.
Enjoy the train ride from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu on a panoramic train trip. Have a guided tour of Machu Picchu early in the morning, avoiding the crowds. Definitely, you will have a different experience of a lifetime taking this trip.

Huchuy Qosqo trek, Peru
Beautiful view of the Sacred Valley

Choice your best alternative trek to Machu Picchu

Now that you know more about the alternative treks to Machu Picchu, whatever your choice, Machu Picchu will be at the end of your trip. And definitely, you will have the most incredible experience hiking in the Andes, surrounded by fantastic views and happy local people who will give you a warm welcome. It is in your hands that you enjoy every minute of your trek, and we will be there to help and create an unforgettable experience.

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