You might think that there is only one route to Machu Picchu – the famous Inca Trail – but there are actually several ways you can reach this fabled site. Taking one of the alternative itineraries gives you the opportunity to see more of the stunning Andes and some other interesting places along the way.
We’re going to take a look at a few of your options – including, of course, the standard Inca Trail.
The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is one of the most famous hiking routes in the world, with this track cutting through the Andes and leading to the impressive Machu Picchu, nestled among the mountains.
This four-day hike is beautiful and challenging in places, leading you through some of the Andes’ most stunning scenery and past a host of less-famous Inca ruins, including the town of Winay Wayna and the fortified village of Sayacmarca on a rocky promontory.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of this trek is arriving at the Sun Gate early in the morning to see the ruins of Machu Picchu spread out in front of you. You will, of course, have plenty of time to explore this fascinating city in more detail, but that first view will really take your breath away.
High Trail of the Incas
The High Trail of the Incas itinerary is a wonderful option if you still want the classic Inca Trail experience but would also like to see a little more of Peru’s wonderful mountain scenery and visit some lesser-known Inca sites.
This is a six, rather than a four, day hike, and the second day is the most challenging, as you have to cross Inca Chiriasca, a high pass that’s 5,017 m above sea level. This is much higher than Dead Woman’s Pass (4,200 m), which is the tallest point on the standard route.
In the early stages of the High Trail of the Incas, you’ll see some of the most pristine and spectacular scenery you can imagine, with towering mountains, forested slopes and deep valleys all laid out in front of you as you walk.
After the first two days, you’ll join the standard Inca Trail and can look forward to seeing the various Inca ruins along the way before you eventually reach Machu Picchu.
Extended Peru tour
If you still want to see Machu Picchu, but aren’t keen on the idea of hiking for days to get there, there is another way. There’s a train that departs from Aguas Calientes each day, taking travellers up to the ruins and giving you the chance to look around before heading back in the late afternoon.
This is a great option if you’re on an extended tour of Peru and don’t have the time to dedicate to following the Inca Trail for four days. If you choose this kind of trip, rather than one specifically about the Inca Trail, you can see some of the country’s other incredible sights, such as Lake Titicaca, the Santa Catalina Convent in Arequipa and Peru’s capital, Lima.
If this has piqued your interest in Peru’s Inca heritage, there are many tours you can go on to discover it for yourself – there are severalexamples here if you’d like to find out more. So, you can see Machu Picchu, as well as a host of other beautiful ruins, during your travels in this fascinating country.