The Many Ways to Machu Picchu

Machu Pic­chu is a must-see for adven­tur­ers trav­el­ing to Peru. Most vis­it the site via the Inca Trail, but few real­ize there’s more than one way to wit­ness the famed Incan ruins. The Clymb brings you a list of alter­na­tive treks that avoid the crowds and do not require dif­fi­cult-to-obtain per­mits like the Inca Trail. Each of these routes still include a vis­it to Machu Pic­chu. It’s time to explore the road less traveled.

Lares, Salkantay, Ausangate, Choquequirao, Inca Trail

Lares Trek
Begin­ning 40 miles north of Cus­co, this route takes you through the Lares Val­ley, east of the Urubam­ba moun­tain range, and con­cludes with a trip to Machu Pic­chu. The route is both qui­eter and eas­i­er than the Inca Trail while still pro­vid­ing an authen­tic cul­tur­al expe­ri­ence. Most of the Andean com­mu­ni­ties func­tion as they have for the last 500 years, and you’ll see many local weavers and farm­ers car­ry­ing on their col­or­ful tra­di­tions. No Per­mit Required.

Salka­n­tay Trek
A stun­ning­ly beau­ti­ful alter­na­tive to the Inca Trail, the Salka­n­tay trek mean­ders through incred­i­ble land­scapes of low­land jun­gle giv­ing way to high alpine ter­rain and glaciat­ed moun­tains. You’ll cross the Salka­n­tay Pass at 15,000 feet before descend­ing into a cloud for­est. On your way to Machu Pic­chu, explore the pris­tine Inca ruins of Llac­ta­p­a­ta. No Per­mit Required.

Ausan­gate Trek
The Ausan­gate trek leads hik­ers through some of the wildest and most des­o­late areas in the Peru­vian Andes. Tra­vers­ing the Cordillera Vil­can­o­ta, you’ll make your way over sev­er­al high pass­es and through low alpine val­leys and rur­al vil­lages before con­clud­ing your adven­ture at Machu Pic­chu. If you seek soli­tude and the chance to immerse your­self in sweep­ing land­scapes, this is the trek for you. No Per­mit Required.

Choque­quirao Trek
If you’re look­ing for undis­turbed scenery, incred­i­ble nat­ur­al land­scapes, and a vis­it to awe-inspir­ing Machu Pic­chu, this route deliv­ers. Named for the ruins of Choque­quirao, an ancient city that arche­ol­o­gists believe was found­ed by the same emper­or that com­mis­sioned Machu Pic­chu, the route explores less­er-known ruins that receive sub­stan­tial­ly less traf­fic, due to the rugged land­scape. No Per­mit Required.

Inca Trail Trek
After all is said and done, if you can’t shake the desire to walk in the foot­steps of Incan kings, you can always hike the most famous trekking route in South Amer­i­ca: the Inca Trail. Ascend through lush jun­gle along rugged moun­tains before reach­ing the Sun Gate for a once-in-a-life­time sun­rise view of Machu Pic­chu. With per­mits restrict­ed to 500 per day by the Peru­vian gov­ern­ment, remain­ing 2019 dates are extreme­ly lim­it­ed. Act quick­ly for the best chance at reserv­ing your dates of choice. Per­mit Required.