The Inca Trail is the most famous trek to Machu Picchu but the Lares, Salkantay and Choquechaca treks all have some unique selling points. Read on to find out which one will be best for you.
First up you need to decide whether you’re happy to camp or if you’d prefer to stay in luxurious lodges when you’re trekking near Machu Picchu. Both the Lares and Salkantay trails come with the option of luxurious lodge accommodation and gourmet meals. All the camping treks include a Thermarest mattress and a decent sleeping bag as well as a quality tent (check out our Inca Trail Packing List here) which is pitched for you. You’ll also be able to make use of a portable tent restroom.
A glacial lake on the Salkantay route (Photo: Felipe Ernesto)
Regardless of which trek you choose, porters will carry your belongings and you’ll get all your meals cooked for you. If you choose a lodge to lodge trek in Lares or Salkantay, you can experience everything that the Inca ruins have to offer without compromising on luxury. You’ll enjoy gourmet cuisine, comfortable beds, hot showers and relaxing outdoor Jacuzzis.
The Inca Trail is a spectacular trek that’s on the bucket list of almost every adventurous traveler. This famous trail is listed as one of the best treks in the world. As you traverse the ancient paths, following in the footsteps of the Incas, you’ll witness majestic mountains, explore luscious forests and experience the tranquillity of subtropical jungles. The Inca paving stones and ruins add intrigue to this once in a lifetime experience. The final day culminates with your arrival at the mythical Sun Gate which overlooks Machu Picchu, The Inca Trail is the only trek where you’ll actually get to Machu Picchu on your own two feet.
You can't beat the satisfaction of getting here on your own steam. (Photo: Ian Armstrong)
The advantages of this trek are that you’ll have the opportunity to explore an abundance of archaeological sites and the Inca stone road is still well preserved in some sections of the trail. You can choose whether you want to complete the Inca trail in a group or privately. This trek requires you to make a booking six to twelve months in advance. The popularity of this route results can also result in crowded campsites which are not always well maintained, that’s why we offer portable tent rooms and small group sizes. If time is short ask one of our Destination Experts about the possibility of hiking The Two Day Inca Trail.
The Lares Trail is an awesome opportunity to experience the majestic beauty of the Peruvian Andes. The route takes you through tropical forests and bamboo groves. Along the way, you’ll witness awe-inspiring views of the Salkantay and Humantay glacial peaks as well as the Soyrococha glacier lake. You can expect to experience life in Andean villages and to discover fascinating Incan sites, such as Killarumiyoc and Llactapata. The Lares valley is renowned for its traditional weavers, who produce exquisite textiles. The Lares trek provides an alternative route to the Inca trail and it’s one day shorter, making it slightly less arduous. Another advantage of signing up for the Lares trek is that you don’t need a permit to walk this route. The pathways and campsites along the trail are less crowded than other routes to Machu Picchu. This trail allows you to spend a night in a hotel to freshen up before you visit the breathtaking Incan citadel. The Lares Trek, like the Salkantay Trek can be done as conventional camping trek or as a luxurious lodge-to-lodge experience.
Morning visitors (Photo: Paulo Phillipidis)
The Salkantay Trail is an authentic Andean trekking experience if ever there was one. If you enjoy challenging treks and you’re curious about the ancient civilization of the Incas, then this is the right trail for you. The massive mountain passes and high altitudes make the Salkantay Trail more suited to bona fide mountain goats. You can expect to see wondrous snowmelt rivers and diverse mountain scenery and you’ll be amazed by gorgeous views, glacial lakes and the Salkantay peak, which plays an intriguing role in Incan mythology. The advantages of selecting the Salkantay Trail are that it’s less crowded and it offers you the luxury of staying in a lodge at the end of each day's hike. This route is one day longer than the Inca trail. You’ll also get a chance to freshen up in a hotel before visiting Machu Picchu.
Insert your visage here. (Photo: Maria Theresa Yap)
The Choquechaca Trail is nestled deep within the Vilcanota mountain range so it offers you a tranquil trek away from the crowds. A visit to this isolated valley is an opportunity to learn more about the local culture which predates the Incan Empire. The Choquechaca Trail is the result of a collaboration between SA Expeditions and local families, which offers you an experience that is both unique and unforgettable. Not only will you get a chance to have an authentic adventure, you’ll also be contributing to the economic development and conservation of the region. You can expect to immerse yourself in the spectacular natural beauty of the region, which includes Azul Cocha (Blue Lake), llama pastures, wetlands, forests, and waterfalls. A highlight of this trail is the Pumamarka ruins. If you are looking for a trek that offers you much more than the tourist routes, this one has your name on it.
The Sinchi family have been weaving traditional textiles for generations.
Want to experience the majesty of the Andes for yourself? Get in touch with one of our Destination Experts or check out our other trekking adventures here. And don’t forget to pack your hiking boots!