Machu Picchu, what does this name mean to you? Visions of hill side ruins steeped in mystery, legends of ancient civilizations, even the mystery of why the ruins were built fascinates many people, or is the story of the Spanish conquistadors slaying the Inca population, many different stories and legends that surround the beautiful Inca citadel, but whatever you believe Machu Picchu is one of the most spectacular set of ancient ruins you will ever visit. These days Machu Picchu luxury travel is on most people’s bucket list, there are many Machu Picchu luxury tours, but if you seek an alternative to the train journey to travel to Machu Picchu then one of the many treks may be the answer for you.
There can’t be anything more satisfying than to arrive into Machu Picchu by your very own feet, and the famous Inca trail has always been the most popular, but gone are the days when you could do the trek by yourself, today you need to do the trek with a licensed operator. The Inca trail to Machu Picchu is one of the world’s best hikes and without a doubt the most popular in Peru, the trek consists of 4 days and 3 nights camping, you will walk up to passes a feat in itself and down to rivers, which is a challenge to the knees, but the reward will be on the final day when you reach Inti Punku (the sun gate) where you will have first spectacular view of Machu Picchu. Permits are required for this trek and these sell at months in advance, so if you want to do the Inca trail you will need to book very early. The Inca trail passes many different ruins and cloud forests on your way to Machu Picchu, the trail is surrounded by flowers and the view the mountains are unforgettable, so if you are up to the challenge this trek is an unforgettable experience.
Apart from the Inca trail there are other alternative treks to consider, the first of many being, the Salkantay trek, this mule assisted hike cuts through the lovely Mollepata valley and continues past Mt Salkantay at an altitude of 15000 feet, from here the trail goes down to a subtropical cloud forest to the ruins of llactapa, from here you will follow an ancient Inca highway until you will have your first view of Machu Picchu. This trek can be done in five or eight days depending on the time available and has a difficulty rating of medium to difficult. This is an enjoyable trek for those who love adventure.
The next one on the list is the Lares route, if you like to meet and interact with local communities, this is the trek for you. On the northern end of the Sacred Valley sits the Lares valley. This trek usually begins in the tiny town of Lares, famous for its hot springs, and passes through several local communities. You will pass the majestic Mt Veronica and several scenic lakes. the trek finishes in the town of Ollantaytambo where you will board the train to Machu Picchu. This trek is three to five days and has a medium level of difficulty. For those of you who love nature the Lares Trek will be the one for you, the photo opportunities are abundant.
One of the most difficult treks you will do in the Cusco region is the Vilcabamba travelers route or the Choquequira trek, this week long walk will cover around 60 miles. Starting in the town of Cahors, then a two-day hike to ruins of Choquequira, which some have compared to Machu Picchu. The route continues along an ancient Inca highway, through mountain ranges, cross rivers and valleys. The trek ends with a sort of walk to Machu Picchu. The trek lasts seven to ten days and a difficult level, for the experienced trekker. This trek is a challenge for even the most experienced hikers so be prepared.
The next on the list is the Inca jungle trek, 75 kilometers which includes 60 kilometers of cycling and 15 kms of trekking. This trek is relatively easy as most of it is done by bicycle, but the good news is that most of the cycling is done downhill. The walk itself is easy and enjoyable. This trek is four days and has an easy difficulty level, this trek is best done in the dry season, May to September, as biking in the wet season could be difficult. But bring the bug spray as you will be bitten.
As you can see there are many alternatives to hikes to Machu Picchu so depending on your available time and your hiking abilities, remember most of these treks you will need to book early and all of the trek you will need to use a licensed Peruvian agent. But all will be a lifetime memory for you and your travelling companions.