The Six Alternative Routes to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan citadel set high above the Peruvian Andes above the Urubamba River. This UNESCO site, often referred to as ‘The Lost City of Incas’ is one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire and also one of the most popular and spectacular set of ruins in the World.

Are you looking for an off-the-beaten path route to Machu Picchu? Are you looking for another trekking experience that can immerse you deeply into the Andean culture? Then read on for six alternative ways to reach Machu Picchu on foot, some with the help of the train as well!

Six alternative routes

1. THE SALCANTAY ROUTE
The classic Inca Trail is famed for the diversity of its topography, its ecosystems and its difficulty.
Trip Length: 5 to 8 days
Difficulty Level: Medium to difficult

2. THE LARES ROUTE
The Lares Valley sits on the northern edge of the Sacred Valley and is a world where traditional Andean life continues much as it has for centuries. Off the beaten track but ends near the historic ruins of Ollantaytambo, and from there the train trip to Machu Picchu is only 90 minutes.
Trip Length: 3 to 5 days
Difficulty Level: Medium

3. THE ONE-DAY INCA TRAIL
If you are short on time can opt for this truncated version, which begins at KM 104 of the Machu Picchu train line. Hikers can choose between walking ahead the same day to Machu Picchu, or spending one night on the trail, so as to be able to enter the lost city at dawn via the Sun Gate.
Note: The one-day Inca Trail requires one of the 500 daily Inca Trail permits, and therefore must be booked far in advance.
Trip Length: 1 day (2 if you camp overnight)
Difficulty Level: Medium

4. VILCABAMBA TRAVERSE ROUTE
This weeklong walk covering 60 mountainous miles is not for the faint of heart or weak of legs. Trekkers traverse mountain range, cross rivers and valleys, and cut through several of Peru’s diverse biozones. The trek ends a short walk or train ride from Machu Picchu.
Trip Length: 7 to 13 days
Difficulty Level: Difficult

5. THE LODGE TREK
This new route is for those who want to hike like an old-school Andean explorer by day but sleep between clean sheets each night after cocktails and a gourmet meal, and who don’t mind paying for the privilege
Trip Length: 7 to 11 days
Difficulty Level: Medium

6. THE CHASKI (OR CACHICATA) TRAIL
This high-altitude route follows some of the same paths as the Chaski messengers might have used, and takes in scarcely visited Inca buildings, water channels, and quarries, where one can see first hand how the Inca obtained the stone they used in their building projects. The trail ends at Ollantaytambo, where you hop onto the train to Machu Picchu.
Trip Length: 3 to 5 days
Difficulty Level: Medium