Inca Trail vs Alternatives Treks
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Inca Trail vs Alternatives Treks

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Inca Trail vs Alternatives Treks

Although it’s true, there are many treks you can choose in your stay in Cusco. Each has a special charm, but there are things to consider. 


How much time do you have for your trip?


Depending on the trek you choose, you should keep in mind that most of them require that you get acclimatized 2 or 3 days before the trek, you’ll need it more if you come from a low-altitude area. For example, if you are going to take the Salkantay Trek 5 Days, you will need a total of seven days.


Availability Required


In case you want to make the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you need to book your trip 3 or 4 months in advance. There are only 500 spaces available.


What kind of experience do you want to have on your trip?


Each trek has its own characteristics. There are some treks that represent a great challenge on the physical level and a greater degree of difficulty such as the snowy mountain of Salkantay. However, the Lares trek will allow you to be more in touch with the local people, with their way of living and with their ancestral customs.

On the other hand, the trek along the Inca Trail is more traveled and it offers fewer moments of true tranquility (If that’s what you are looking for) since is the favorite for most people who seek to enter the citadel of Machu Picchu by the Intipunku or Door of the Sun. 

inca trail alternatives

Apu Salkantay


Living culture, archaeological sites and landscapes


The Inca Trail is characterized by several archaeological sites distributed along the road and accompanied by beautiful landscapes.


The Salkantay trek represents a challenge for many due to the physical effort that is carried out on the second day. This route has beautiful landscapes and high Andean jungle eyebrow.

The Lares trek is more experiential because you will be able to share moments with the inhabitants of the area and contemplate its way of life. In the route you will be able to watch a variety of ecological floors from the puna to the jungle eyebrow.

The Huchuy Qosqo trek is the less demanding, it lasts only 2 days.
Some treks have everything but some others have pros and cons. 


Difficulty of the Trek and Physical Condition.


Both are directly related. If you do not have a good physical condition, the trek to Choquequirao may be more difficult than normal. The Choquequirao Trek is suitable for people with a good physical condition and with previous trekking experience. But the trek you choose will depend on what you consider difficult and, of course, it will depend on your physical condition. You are going to be the person who will make the trek so you should try to be really realistic about your physical and health status.

Coquequirao-trek-to-Machu-Picchu Choquequirao arqueological site


Why are called alternatives treks?


The alternate routes used by the Incas to reach the Sacred City of Machu Picchu are called in this way. The entrance to the Inca Trail must be booked months in advance so if you did not found the ticket for the Inca Trail in the dates you have available, then, you will need to do an “alternative trek”.


What makes the Inca Trail so special?

  • It’s one of the most famous treks in the world.
  • It arrives directly to Machu Picchu for the Royal Trail of the Incas – there’s no other trek that does it. 
  • You arrive to Inti Punku, the famous “Door of the Sun” with an impressive view above Machu Picchu at dawn. 
  • You visit a wonderful set of spectacular ruins every day.
  • Awesome landscapes – Like snowy mountains, an exuberant dense cloud forest and a jungle.
  • Good installations and good services in the camps. 
  • Despite the large numbers of people, the moments of solitude in the mountains still exist.
  • The feeling of having made a famous trek. 

What is the wrong thing about it?

  • 500 people go every day (the tourist and the journey staff are included).
  • It’s necessary to book with 4 months of anticipation on the high season and you NEED to make the trek on the date you have booked. Changes are not allowed. If someone cancels, his permission will not be used. There’s no waiting list. 
  • There are groups of 25 people (the maximum size of groups of people in the Apus Peru is only 10).
  • The camping sites and the installations are full – It’s not a real wilderness camping experience or an adventure experience. 
  • It’s like a freeway with lots of people on the road. 
  • The locals could be a little tired of seeing the tourists. 

inca trail alternative



Positive aspects of the alternative treks.

  • In some treks (Vilcabamba for example) your group could be the only one going that day. 
  • Adventure and isolation feeling. 
  • A real wilderness camping.
  • What is lacking in ruins is often compensated with cultural interaction like getting to know the local people. 


Negative aspects of the alternative treks.

  • None enter directly into Machu Picchu.
  • They are not well known which may give you doubts about making the right decision. 
  • There are no spectacular archaeological sites that you can easily find on the Inca Trail. 


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