Hiking to Machu Picchu: Which is better Salkantay or Inca Trail?
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Hiking to Machu Picchu: Which is better Salkantay or Inca Trail?

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Hiking to Machu Picchu: Which is better Salkantay or Inca Trail?

To begin with this blog, we will discover a little more about the most famous Classic Inca trail in South America and the Salkantay trek, the snow peak principal apu of Cusco.First known as the Classic Inca Trail, a walk that departs from the Sacred Valley of the Incas and has Machu Picchu as its final destination.On the other hand, the Salkantay trek is an alternative hike to the Traditional Inca Trail and it consists of reaching Machu Picchu through snow-capped peaks, abundant vegetation, fauna, lagoons and a high-Andean landscape.Are you determined to get to Machu Picchu on a hike but still do not decide between the two main alternatives? The famous Inca Trail or the Salkantay Snowy Route. Both options offer unforgettable experiences, but each one in its own way. We invite you to read about the differences between the Inca Trail and the Salkantay Tour.

Differences in the Salkantay vs Inca Trail:

Both routes have different geographical characteristics. The 4 day Inca Trail stretches 42 kilometers from its beginning at kilometer 82 of the railway line, in the sector of Piscacucho. The maximum height is in the Warmiwañusca pass, at 4215 meters. During each of the four days, we will have different terrains, including trails in hard ground, slopes on mountainsides, stone steps, slightly muddy terrain among others. Find many reasons to book the Inca Trail. On the other hand, Salkantay Trek has a length of approximately 46 kilometers, which are traveled in five days. Start in the town of Soraypampa, south of Machu Picchu. The highest place will be the pass of the snowy Salkantay, at almost 4600 meters high. The walk goes along more rustic trails than the Inca Trail. We will appreciate the extensive Andean pampas, trails with cloudy landscapes in front and the occasional puddle out there


Landscape differences:

The experience in both routes will offer you views of the geography of the Andean highlands from two different points of view. In the four days of the Inca Trail you will first have the mountains of the low mountain range, with eucalyptus forests and some plants of the sub tropical region. The sun will be a faithful companion. Do not forget to bring a hat and sunglasses in your backpack for the Inca Trail. During the second day, the ascent through the mountains will show us a wild but charming landscape. A mist that dominates the peaks of mountains and the cold typical of the Warmiwañusca pass. The scarce vegetation makes the view of shades of browns.The third day of walking will be starred by the change of landscape. The return of the vast flora of the jungle eyebrow and the overwhelming heat as they move along the path. Finally, on the fourth day, you will wake up in the ruins of Wiñaywayna and make the great entrance to Machu Picchu through the famous Inti Punku or Sun Gate. The snowy Salkantay on the 5-day trek route will offer us views of more rustic of nature. Being a less popular option, the path is freer and you will feel the disconnection you are looking for. The first day of walking will be dominated by the landscapes of the Peruvian highlands. Small plants and the mid-day sun until you reach the extensive pampa of the first camp. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to visit the magical lagoon of turquoise waters, the Humantay lagoon. The second day will be the ascent to the Salkantay Pass, where depending on the season, you can have a white landscape next to the great sacred snow. The third and fourth day will be the descent where the streams and fruit tree plantations reappear. You will see waterfalls, forests and others. Finally we will arrive at the town of Aguas Calientes where we will rest for the guided tour during the fifth day.The charm of the Andean nature such as wild birds, the whisper of the eucalyptus forests, the mosses in the high mountains, the rocky landscapes and the blue sky will be present in both options.
salkantay trek vs Inca Trail

Difference of the attractions in the route: 

Discover the Inca archaeological ruins on the Inca Trail!!. The Inca Trail, being the way used to communicate the ancient peoples in the times of the ancient Peruvians, has ruins of different enclosures used at the time. During the hike we will explore the following archaeological sites of Wayllabamba, Llactapata, Runcuracay, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñaywayna. Our guides will give you the best explanation of the history and past of these enclosures. The attractions of the Salkantay Trail are more of nature. The great variety of landscapes and the feeling of being in the middle of the flora and fauna is one of the best experiences you can enjoy in Peru.

Differences of arrival to Machu Picchu:

Both routes are destined to have the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu as its final point. However, the way to access is different. On the Inca Trail, after traveling the 42 kilometers of the route we will arrive at the Inti Punku or Sun Gate, where we will directly enter the citadel. On Salkantay trek, the end of the fourth day is in the town of Aguas Calientes, where you will spend the night. It is on the fifth day where you can get to know Machu Picchu.

Interesting information:

  • Flora: During the Inca trail you will enjoy the sight of more than 300 species of orchids, shrubs, ichu, straw and typical trees from the Inca period. On the other hand, during your trip in Salkantay Trek you will observe straw or ichu, crops ; Then, a characteristic flora of the jungle eyebrow, coffee, banana, avocado, pineapple and coca leaf crops will appear.
  • Fauna: Inca Trail is a privileged place of endemic species of birds, butterflies, insects. There are also species, such as the spectacled bears, vizcachas, lizards, etc. Salkantay Trek will show us some south american camelids, llamas and guanacos, mainly skunks, vizcachas, in the lakes diversity of aquatic birds, butterflies and fauna of the jungle.
  • Weather: Inca Trail is characterized by its Semi-tropical, warm and humid days, cold nights, rains (November - April). Minimum temperature :6º C - 11º C (June), Maximum temperature: 20º C - 26ºC (June). Salkantay show us rainy season from November to April, Minimum temperature: between 5º C - 11º C (June) at Abra Salkantay, Maximum temperature: between 20º C - 26º C (June) at Sahuayaco Beach.

Advantages and disadvantages of Inca Trail:



  • Know several archaeological centers, along the way. 
  • Walk through different ecological floors. 
  • Enjoy a varied range of typical flora and fauna of the jungle. 
  • Enjoy different climates. 
  • Know one of the most visited tourist attractions in Peru. 
  • Inca Trail Machu Picchu guarantees the proper execution of your walk. 
  • It will be a positive and unforgettable experience.


  • Admission is limited, only 500 people per day 
  • In high season (June - October), tickets are sold out

Advantages and disadvantages of Salkantay Trek:



  • Walk through different ecological floors. 
  • Walk accompanied by the extension of the Eastern Andean Mountain range. 
  • You can be at the foot of one of the highest snow-capped mountains of Cusco, the Salkantay. 
  • It allows you to walk towards Machu Picchu, by a less congested route. 
  • You are guaranteed an adequate organization of your trip.
  • You will have an unforgettable experience.


  • You need to acclimatize in the City of Cusco, for one or two days before starting the walk. 
  • You can be affected by soroche or altitude sickness.


In case you want to know in depth the history of the ancient Incas or want a challenge for your physique, the Inca Trail tours are the best option. The Salkantay Trek tours are recommended for nature lovers and anyone who wants to get out of the routine. Whatever option you choose, SALKANTAY TREK MACHU is ready to make your trip an unforgettable experience. We have  years of experience making the vacation of passengers from all over the world a reality. Contact us to receive a personalized quote and we invite you to see the testimonials of travelers like you. 


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