Other hiking routes to get to Machu Picchu

As the years went by, little by little new roads or routes were opened to reach Machu Picchu. It seems that the favorite activity to get to Machu Picchu is hiking. Since the Inca Trail route was enabled, little by little new routes were enabled. Here we will present some of them. From now on, comment that the walk to Machu Picchu, regardless of the route you choose, will be one of the activities and probably the most important events you will do in your entire life. So start preparing your hiking or mountain equipment and dare to travel.

In front of the valleys of Vilcabamba, heading to Choquequirao

Hiking routes to Machu Picchu

The most popular hiking route to reach Machu Picchu is the one called the Inca Trail. This tour has 2 variants, one in which 4 days are required to reach the wonder of the world. While the second can only be done in one day, it is quite exhausting, but enriching. The bad side of these tours is that they have a daily access limit and availability usually fills up completely. In this sense, those who want to do the Inca Trail route, in any of its variations, will have to make the necessary reservation in advance so that they can travel on the day that best suits their planning.

Given the massive intentions to reach Machu Picchu by taking a hiking route through the beautiful landscapes of the Andes, new hiking routes were enabled that we will detail later. For the moment we can mention that all these routes will include several days of camping. Likewise, prior bus trips will have to be made. Emphasize that Machu Picchu is approximately 100 kilometers away from Cusco. All travelers and tourists will arrive first in Cusco and from there, the new adventures in the land of the Incas will begin.

Once in Cusco, it is recommended to have a few days to acclimatize. For this, they can do different activities or other tours that do not require great physical effort. The main way to deal with altitude sickness will be to stay hydrated and rest if possible if the symptoms are very strong. Once the body is ready for the hiking trails, you just have to prioritize all the necessary equipment.

As for the equipment for hiking routes, it is recommended to bring equipment that can be used more than once. That is, use utensils that are not disposable. Likewise, try not to leave trash at rest points. In some camps, you can leave the trash you accumulated during your walks.If you travel on your own, make sure to light a fire only in safe areas. During the walk along any of the trails, you will also find a variety of flora, do not tear or damage them. It is important to maintain respect for the environment, especially knowing that there will be more people who will want to see what you see. Finally, make sure to follow the basic rules, even if you make the trip on your own, you will need to be careful not to cause damage to the environment.

Inca constructions
It is important to find out the itinerary and the benefits of these other hiking routes. On some of these routes, it is unlikely to find Inca constructions. This is probably the main factor why everyone leans towards the conventional Inca Trail. However, the walk and some trails will take us through some vestiges of Inca buildings and roads. In short, adventure and delight are assured.

The Salkantay Trek

A group of tourists heading to Abra Salkantay

This is one of the most popular hiking tours to reach Machu Picchu. The walking time can be 4 or 5 days. Everything will depend on the type of adventure you want or the availability of time you have. As its name indicates, this hike is done along the Salkantay route. Salkantay is a beautiful snow-capped mountain that separates the high jungle from the wild territory of the puna, a typical climate of the high Andean areas. The change in geography is common throughout Peru.

Salkantay has a total altitude of 6,271 meters above sea level. During the walk that begins north of Cusco, precisely in Mollepata, approximately 70 kilometers are covered. On the first days, you will experience climates very similar to Cusco, these will vary later, especially from the third day when you can already see the abundant vegetation. This vegetation will be a sign that we are close to Machu Picchu.

Although the route is not controlled by the state, some residents take care of and maintain the roads that will be traveled. For this reason, it is recommended that the route where tourists will travel be not intentionally damaged. One of the attractions of doing this walk is that everyone who dares to do it will be able to see the Humantay Lagoon. A lagoon considered sacred according to Andean tradition. Later on, you ascend part of the snow-capped mountain, until you reach the pass that will connect with the high forest of Santa Teresa.

Once you arrive in Santa Teresa, Machu Picchu is just a few more hours away on foot. From Santa Teresa, follow the road through Lucmabamba that will later connect with the Hidroeléctrica route. In this sense, you can spend the night in Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo. In this way, it is possible to reach the archaeological site on the fifth day with all the energies recharged. Normally everyone decides to return to Cusco by train, at sunset on the fifth day.

The hike from Choquequirao

Getting to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu through Choquequirao will require at least 7 days of activities. Although in some cases the days can be reduced if you combine the walks with more bus and even train trips. However, reaching Choquequirao alone is already one of the most incredible feats that any lover of hiking activities should do. The walk to Choquequirao is exactly 3 days, the third day will be dedicated to visiting the entire Inca citadel.

Choquequirao is larger than Machu Picchu and is also located on the tops of mountains and very close to the rocks. Completing the hike and then continuing to Machu Picchu will take you to learn more about the beautiful valleys that are shaped by the presence of high mountains and rivers. During the walk to Choquequirao, you can see more of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range and the Vilcanota Mountain Range. That is why the walk has different ascending and descending sections that will test your physical capacity.

Like the Salkantay Trek, the Choquequirao route will also connect with Lucmabamba. This place offers exclusive spaces to set up camp, normally arriving at the end of the fifth day. To continue the trip, we continue through Lucmabamba, which follows the lines of the Qhapac. Ñan or Inca Trail so that on the sixth day you reach Aguas Calientes and on the seventh day you can tour all of Machu Picchu. This 7-day itinerary is designed to return by train to Ollantaytambo and then arrive in Cusco.

What is the weather like in Cusco?
The weather in Cusco can vary unexpectedly. This is especially true in the rainy season, where it is common for it to rain in the afternoons after having a sunny morning. Likewise, the different places where the hiking routes will begin have different climates. In some of them, you will feel colder than in others. However, since they all have the destination of Machu Picchu, they will culminate in a more tropical and humid climate.

Lares Trek

One of the most emblematic waterfalls that can be seen during the Lares Trek

The Lares Trek is also known as the cultural tour. It is one of the hiking routes to Machu Picchu that offers experiential tourism and contact with Cusco’s own cultures. These communities still keep many traditions and customs that can be seen in the fabrics, food, and respect for the environment that they demonstrate and teach visitors when planting crops or while caring for animals. Likewise, they create small weaving workshops and more activities.

To do the Lares Trek, a special permit is not required, it will be enough to have the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. But yes, it will be necessary to plan well the previous activities until you reach the sanctuary of Machu Picchu. It is advisable to do this tour with an agency because the necessary contacts are required to do the tour as it is. Otherwise, you may waste time looking for transportation or the right reservation for the train trip.

The train trip takes place on the third day, just after leaving near Ollantaytambo after two previous days of crossing the mountains. That third night it is recommended to rest in the hotels in Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo. This is so that on the fourth day you can make the trip to the wonder of the world and later, make the return trip by train passing through Ollantaytambo to finally return to Cusco.

Huchuy Cusco or Huchuy Qosqo

View of Huchuy Cusco, crossing the route to reach Machu Picchu

It is probably one of the hiking tours that has the most variations. This is because Huchuy Qosqo can get attached to many Inca destinations and archaeological sites. One of them, the most popular and the one we will talk about now is the one that connects with Machu Picchu. This tour will start in the Sacred Valley, passing through Huchuy Picchu to then make the train ride to Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Village. Similarly, other activities can be done from this point.

Huchuy Picchu, in the past, was considered a replica of Cusco, hence its name alludes to Cusco, but with the adjective “Huchuy” which would mean “small Cusco” in Spanish. Although it is difficult to establish this possible relationship, the truth is that the walk through this place allows you to appreciate a variety of landscapes that can rarely be seen. Being located in the Andes Mountains, it offers a variety of mountains and especially a blue sky. The trip to Machu Picchu is done by train, and although the section is short it allows you to appreciate the variation in geography that we mention so much.

Inca Jungle

If it is about adventures with nature, the Inca Jungle may be the best option you can get to get to Machu Picchu. This tour not only allows you to do a walking tour or hiking trails, but it also allows you to do other activities linked to extreme sports. The first of these activities is downhill cycling. The descent is made from a point near Abra Málaga, where the entire travel team prepares to go down the road to the town of Santa María. Here the adrenaline will take over all travelers.

Later on, and if the energy remains intact, the entire travel group can optionally do canoeing on the Vilcanota River. Although this place is already called the Urubamba River. Canoeing and the same descent on bicycles is carried out with expert supervision and transportation ready to act immediately in the event of a problem or accident.

After these activities, it is possible to do the hiking route. As in the previous cases, the walk is made from Lucmabamba to connect the walk along the train lines. That is, by the Hydroelectric route. The walking time this day is only 2 hours, in some cases, it can be extended to 3 hours if breaks or brief stops are made to photograph the place.

The section is safe and practically flat, the elevations are minimal and the route is not as exhausting as it may seem. Of course, if you carry a lot of luggage, it can reduce your endurance and speed for the walk. That is why it is recommended to plan well, both the luggage and the activities that have to be done. If you are not an expert in hiking trips, an excellent option to learn about the route, the hustle and bustle, and some other details is to do the route with an agency and pay attention to the recommendations and the route itself.


By Imachupicchu – Last updated, February 12, 2024

Enjoy the trip to Machu Picchu with the best services

Choose one of the 5 types of tickets

The entrance to Machu Picchu offers discounts for university students, those under 18 years of age and citizens of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia. Children under 3 years enter free! Get your entry to 'mapi' here.

We take you wherever you want in Cusco

The private transportation service takes you to any tourist destination in Cusco. Travel with total security in a private service for you, your partner, your friends or family. Includes pick up service from the airport or transfer to Machu Picchu train station, book here!

An unforgettable train trip to Machu Picchu

In total there are four tourist train services to Machu Picchu: Expedition, Vistadome, Vistadome Observatory and the Hiram Bingham luxury train. They all belong to the prestigious Peru Rail company. Buy the tickets here! Take advantage of the discounts!

Get on the final bus to Machu Picchu

The train trip will leave you in the town of Aguas Calientes, 10 kilometers from Machu Picchu. For this last section you must get the bus to Machu Picchu, a comfortable service that takes care of the environment of the wonder of the world. Buy your bus ticket here!

Tour Machu Picchu with a professional guide

In Machu Picchu the tour guide service is not mandatory. However, most tourists decide to go accompanied by a guide. This way they will be able to fully understand the history and importance of the wonder of the Incas.

Machupicchu all inclusive 1 day

If you do not want to buy each ticket to Machu Picchu separately, it is best to hire an all-inclusive tour. Includes: transfer to the station, train ticket, tour guide, entrance fee and lunch option at the best ‘mapi’ restaurant. Book the tour here!