The 7 Best Hike to Machu Picchu in 2023

Machu Picchu is, without a question, Peru’s most popular tourist destination, and our recommended walks will lead you there. Machu Picchu, above the rushing Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley’s cloud forests, has stood for nearly 500 years. For a considerable portion of that time, nobody knew about it. Travelers have been flocking to Machu Picchu ever since the 1970s, when the site was rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham. The site is known for its mysterious temples and the mythical Incan Gate of the Sun. 

The train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the village at the base of Machu Picchu, is beautiful, and it is now feasible to visit Machu Picchu for the day. On the other hand, we favor the more exciting Machu Picchu treks. Hikes through the Peruvian forest will take you on paths once blazed by the Incas hundreds of years ago. On other excursions, you’ll ascend to lofty mountain passes and look down on snowy peaks that rise high above the skies. In addition, there are shorter day climbs that nevertheless provide spectacular panoramas of Machu Picchu. Let’s take a look at seven of the best, in no particular order: Huayna Picchu, shaped like a shark’s fin, towers over Machu Picchu. You’ve seen it before; postcards of the lost Incan metropolis in the skies feature it frequently. Some of the best views of the UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” may be had from the peak of Huayna Picchu, which is now a popular addition for tourists to Machu Picchu. 

1.Huayna Picchu 

Huayna Picchu is not the easiest walk on our list of Machu Picchu hikes. The north side of the main Machu Picchu citadel is the starting point for a difficult, vertical ascent of 1,000 feet (300 meters). The warden’s hut marks the beginning of the main trail to Machu Picchu, which may be reached either on foot or via a shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes. There is a sudden turn in the road after the first stretch of the trail winds through dense forest and rises and falls. You can either take the long or the short route to Machu Picchu from here.

The front of the mountain can be climbed in a series of zigzags along the short trail, which takes about an hour round trip. It’s a scramble up some steep terrain with some confined spaces. To reach the peak after a lengthier climb, you’ll need to go around the back of the mountain, where you’ll find the mysterious Incan Moon Temple (believed to be a royal burial). 

To the east, you’ll see the massive stone formation known as Phutuq K’usi; to the west, you’ll see the terraces of Machu Picchu; and to the south, you’ll see the shimmering ice sheets of the Salkantay range. The Huayna Picchu hike has two time slots available, between 7 AM and 10 AM. There will be fewer people on the trail in the morning, but there is also a greater likelihood of fog. The latter climb is hotter, but it offers superior scenery. It’s worth noting that in order to climb Huayna Picchu, you’ll need a special permit. 

Huayna Picchu is a sacred peak that only allows 200 people to climb each day, so booking your permission in advance is essential.Hiking Machu1, Huayna Picchu, and Picchu.

2.Machu Picchu Mountain 

Machu Picchu’s eponymous peak towers over the old city from the south. At an elevation of 10,112 feet (3,082 meters), Machu Picchu Mountain is one of the highest nearby Aguas Calientes. As one of the lesser-known day hikes in the Machu Picchu region, you may expect to see fewer people on your ascent to the mountaintop refuge. 

To begin exploring Machu Picchu, locate the guardhouse on the south side of the citadel. It’s about a half-hour stroll from the Sun Gate over a broad dirt pathway that skirts the ancient stone terraces. (Inti Punku). There, you’ll need to provide your passes and passport before proceeding. 

The beginning of the trail to Machu Picchu is wide, paved, and well-maintained, but the mountain quickly becomes steep. The trail soon winds close to massive stones protruding from the side of the hill, and then it goes past clumps of Incan ruins, which can be treacherous to traverse in the aftermath of a downpour. As you near the end of your trek to Machu Picchu, you’ll emerge into more open areas with panoramic vistas of the mountains rising to the east. Finally, a dirt route leads you along an open slope to the mountain top cabin. There, not only can you look south toward snowy Salkantay, but you’ll also be treated to a breathtaking panorama of Machu Picchu’s citadel with Huayna Picchu in the background.

Machu Picchu Mountain only allows 400 hikers per day, so plan ahead if you want to go. The total time to accomplish the hike is around three to four hours. We think this hike is even more ideal for nature purists than Huayna Picchu. Machu Picchu Mountain, in our opinion, offers superior views of the Andes, which tower over the Sacred Valley.

  

3. The classic Inca trail 

The Inca Trail is without a doubt the most well-known hiking route in the world. It travels to the legendary Inca temple of Machu Picchu over a path worn smooth over time by the Incas themselves. The Inca Trail travels through the Sacred Valley, an area rich in archaeological monuments, temples, and relics. The most well-known route to Machu Picchu is the Classic Inca Trail, but there are others. The average time required to finish is four days (and three nights).

The fascinating city of Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, is where most Inca Trail journeys begin. The first checkpoint is located at Kilometer 82 and may be reached via private transportation after a 1.5-hour journey to the town of Ollantaytambo. The first day of the hike is all about getting higher as you explore the incredible Inca grain silos of Llactapata and ascend into the Cordillera Urubamba.

The second day on the Inca Trail is a tough climb above the mist. Llulluchapampa, a lovely highland meadow, is where things kick off, with Huayanay, a massive peak, always in sight. The trail culminates at Dead Woman’s Pass, at an elevation of 13,828 feet (4,214 meters). On day three, you’ll descend to a lower, wetter altitude, where the ancient fortress of Phuyupatamarca stands guard. By the fourth day, you will have entered the Machu Picchu citadel proper, beyond the Sun Gate.

The number of individuals who can trek the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has become increasingly restricted in recent years. There are only 500 daily passes available, but only 200 of those are set up for trekkers. Because the remaining spots are set aside for the IncaTrail’s staff of cooks, porters, and guides, planning early is essential. We’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions regarding the Inca Trail and provided answers to satisfy your curiosity about the Classic Inca Trail Route to Machu Picchu.

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classic Inca Trail for 4 days

4. The Inca Trail Express Route 

Think about going the fast way to Machu Picchu. It’s a day trip that allows you to hike the final section of the classic four-day Inca Trail. Don’t worry; you’ll still be able to visit many of the must-see landmarks that make this route so popular, including the mythical Sun Gate leading into the city above the clouds.

In Cusco, you can count on an early rise. The journey from your hotel in Ollantaytambo to the train station takes around 90 minutes. Then, you’ll take a train to Kilometer 104, where the Inca Trail Express Route begins, taking you past the temples of Chachabamba and up to the breathtaking Paddy Fields of Wiay Wayna. (Winay Wauna). 

From there, you’ll enter Machu Picchu by the Sun Gate at about lunchtime, having passed the Intipata ruins and a short stretch of cloud forest en route. Next, you’ll take a short transfer to the town of Aguas Calientes where you’ll rest for the evening. Your guided tour of Machu Picchu’s ruins will begin the next day.

Keep in mind that the 1-day Inca Trail Express Route requires a special permit. If you’re set on entering Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate on foot but the lengthier, 4-day journey is full, this is an excellent alternative. It’s also a good choice if you don’t have a lot of time in the Cusco Andes but still want to go on the world’s most famous trail.

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one day Inca trail to Machu Picchu

5. Salkantay Pathway

If you come to the Cusco area to see snow-capped mountains that are like sleeping giants, the Salkantay Trail is the most scenic way to reach Machu Picchu. This journey, which passes through some of the Sacred Valley’s most breathtaking scenery, will take serious hikers at least five days to complete. The hike is more strenuous than the Inca Trail, but it offers more remote highland scenery and a more authentic experience of Peru on the way to Machu Picchu.

The first step on the classic Salkantay Trek is a hike from Soraypampa to the blue Humantay Lake. Amphitheatre-like Andean peaks surround Humantay Lake, with the towering peak of Salkantay (20,574 feet / 6,271 meters) standing guard above the lake. The next day, you’ll begin the most challenging section of the hike: ascending to 15,090 feet to cross the Salkantay Pass. (4,600 meters). The air is thin and the mountains seem extremely close, yet the scenery is breathtaking. 

From there, the landscape on the road to Lucmabamba is a gradual decline through verdant jungle and meadows. There, you’ll hike north toward Machu Picchu alongside flocks of hummingbirds and herds of alpacas. Day 5 is reserved for arrival at the world-famous UNESCO site, but most visitors choose to relax at the hot springs of Aguas Calientes first. 

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Salkantay trek 5 days to Machu picchu

6. Vilcabamba Traverse

This is the test for you if you’re looking for difficulty on your trek to Machu Picchu. The Vilcabamba Traverse is often overlooked by tourists in favor of the more well-known Classic Inca Trail and the attractions of Salkantay. If you want a truly secluded and difficult trip, this Machu Picchu hike is for you. The Vilcabamba is a beautifully scenic, permit-free route that passes through some of the Sacred Valley’s most remote regions. 

The first part of the Vilcabamba Traverse goes in a circle around the massive Nevado Veronica peak. In a car, you can travel from the meandering Urubamba River to the arid valleys of the Abra Malaga mountains. Lacing up your boots, you’ll make your way down into the Chaullay Valley, a secluded area full of lush meadows and intriguing pre-Columbian religious sites like usta Hispana. (the mysterious White Rock). In order to reach Machu Picchu, travelers must follow ancient Incan paths, which, as the day progresses, take them higher and higher to the point where they can see rock-ribbed peaks rising over thriving rainforests. 

Day 4 of the Vilcabamba Traverse is the trip’s crowning achievement. It’s also the most dangerous and difficult stretch of the whole journey. Yanococha (at 14,501 feet or 4,420 meters), Tullu Tacanca (at 14,763 feet or 4,500 meters), and Mojon (at 14,796 feet or 4,510 meters) are the three extremely high points along the way. The eastern Andes that climb closer to Lares and Chicón are visible today, as are occasional glimpses of Huayna Picchu and the massive Salkantay. 

After this point, the Vilcabamba Traverse turns westward. It passes through some lower ground dotted with passion fruit orchards and coffee fields, so thirsty hikers need not worry. This is the most physically demanding of the Machu Picchu treks on this list, so be prepared.  

7. Lares Trek

The Lares Trek is a genuine adventure that is often passed over in favor of the more well-known Inca Trail and the more remote Salkantay Trail. It travels via the eponymous Lares Valley, which is located on the less explored eastern side of Machu Picchu. Where the native dialect is Quechua, you’ll find communities of weavers and sturdy alpacas. The Lares route is popular because it allows hikers to avoid crowds without the need to obtain a permit and is therefore less traveled than other trails in the area.

The three-day journey begins with a lengthy bus ride from the village of Lares to the trailhead just below the Huilquijasa Pass. The ascent is strenuous at first, taking you over 4,200 meters (nearly 13,000 feet) above sea level to a plateau with glistening lakes. From there, on the second day, you’ll descend precipitously into a region of ghost towns and snowy peaks. Then you must reach the summit, which rises more than 5,700 meters (15,400 feet). (4,694 meters). The final phase of the journey takes you to Ollantaytambo, where you can relax before continuing on to Machu Picchu.

Weavers Way is a common name for the most well-known variation of the Lares Trek. The hidden valley of Huacawasi, home to Incan artisan towns steeped in history, is a big reason for this. It’s the best cultural option for a Machu Picchu trek, although few people know about it.

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lares trek to Machu picchu 4 days

WANNA HIKE TO MACHU PICCHU? WAYS TO GET READY

To get to Machu Picchu, how much of a climb is it? 

The time it takes to climb to Machu Picchu ranges from 2-11 days, depending on the route you follow.  Although the pandemic has forced the closure of the world-famous Inca Trail trek, there are plenty of other pathways to choose from.  For the sake of everyone involved, we only take small parties on our off-the-beaten-path treks.  We know you want to explore other parts of Peru during your trip, thus most of our treks only last 5 days (4 nights).

Do you need to bring your own gear?  

No, you do not need to carry any of your personal belongings on the journey unless you so choose.  Everything, from setting up tents to packing away sleeping bags and cooking utensils, will be taken care of by our personnel.  Duffel bags are provided so that we can transport your extra gear from one campsite to the next.  A daypack is all you’ll need to bring with you.

When should I expect to feel the effects of altitude? 

Altitude sickness is something for which there is no prevention. There is no way to know if and when your body will adapt until you get in Cusco (11,300ft), and everyone’s experience will be unique. After getting there, it’s best to relax, hydrate heavily (with water, Gatorade, or tea), and take your time getting around.

Tell me about the contents of your day pack.  

You should bring no more than a 30-liter daypack. (not affiliated, but something similar to these would be great).  Any necessities you may have between camps will have to be carried by you. (passport, wallet, snacks, water, and rain gear, for example). Including a water storage bladder would be a nice touch.

How many liters of water should I pack for the hike?  

We suggest bringing a 2L water bottle with you on the journey, although that number really depends on how much water you use on average each day/hike.  Our staff will supply purified water for you to replenish your water bottles at all campsites and lunch locations.

Where can I use the restroom en route?  

While facilities are not provided while hiking, a biochemical toilet will be set up each day at the campsite and the lunch location.  You might have to rely on Mother Nature when hiking.  Remember that it is inappropriate to leave toilet paper on the trail after using a natural restroom.  Bring a garbage bag to contain any waste you generate on the hike.  Leave it at the campground and our crew will remove it off the trail when the hike is over.

Campsites get how cold?  

The temperature during your hike may drop significantly.  It is strongly suggested that you bring thermal leggings.  At night, the temperature drops, and it’s not uncommon to have sub-zero Celsius weather.  If you hire a tent from us, we’ll provide you with an all-weather sleeping bag and liner to keep you toasty inside, as well as a sleeping mat; however, it’s a good idea to bring additional layers, such as a winter hat and gloves, just in case.

How long does the hike to Machu Picchu typically take?

The path to Machu Picchu, known as the Inca Trail, can be taken in a variety of ways. The usual time to reach Machu Picchu through the Classic Inca Trail is four days and three nights, but the hike itself can take anything from three to five days. There is a quicker way to get to Machu Picchu for people who are pressed for time. Starting at Kilometer 104 of the Inca Trail, this hike gets you to Machu Picchu in a day.

CAN BEGINNERS TREK TO MACHU PICCHU?

Absolutely! Machu Picchu can be reached without any specialized knowledge. However, this does not mean you can simply show up in hiking footwear and start hiking. As with any multi-day expedition, you must train and become as physically fit as possible prior to departure. It will be more pleasant the more physically fit you are! 

How Physically Fit Must I Be?

You should be comfortable hillwalking for seven hours per day for two consecutive days. The greatest way to achieve this level is to go hiking on hills! We recommend hiking at least twice a month in preparation for this trip. In the three months prior to departure, attempt to complete two long hikes (6-8 hours at a comfortable, steady pace) on consecutive days while carrying an 8kg pack. In addition to hiking, you should also perform cardio exercises. Here you can find information on how to exercise for Machu Picchu. 

WHAT CONCERNS THE ALTITUDE?

Regardless of your level of trekking experience, high altitude can affect anyone. The most effective way to reduce the risk of altitude sickness is to walk slowly, rest adequately, remain hydrated, and eat regularly. 

Is it simple to locate lodging in Aguas Calientes?

It depends entirely on the season of your visit. During the peak season, rooms tend to fill up rapidly, so it is best to book in advance, whereas during the off-season, there is ample availability.

Can I travel to Machu Picchu by local train?

The local train is only for locals and inhabitants, and it is frequently overcrowded; many passengers also stand. In addition, a Cusco region ID is required to purchase the ticket, so there is no means to obtain a local train ticket.

Can children access Machu Picchu?

However, one should not bring vehicles for children, as they are not permitted. A infant carrier is desirable. In 2021, review the new Machu Picchu entrance regulations.

What about the mosquitoes?

At Machu Picchu, the mosquitoes can be irritating. Bring insect repellents or anti-venom spray to combat mosquitoes.

Do you suffer from vertigo?

Any normal person can complete the Machu Picchu and Mount Machu Picchu hikes. The Huayna Picchu mountain trail, however, is only recommended for those without acrophobia because it is steep and confined.

Where can I locate an ATM in Aguas Calientes?

There are cash machines in Aguas Calientes. The only consideration is whether or not the bank will impose a withdrawal fee and for how much. Because ATMs in Machu Picchu may also be malfunctioning, it is recommended to withdraw currency in Cusco.

How long can I remain in Machu Picchu?

Aside from the ticket indications for a specific time period, nobody forces tourists to leave. Because there is no way to turn back, some individuals move slowly in order to maximize their odds of observing additional park features. 3 to 3.5 hours only in Machu Picchu would be fine, and certainly more than that if the visit includes mountain tickets. Nobody gets fined after all.

How much cargo can I bring on trains?

Baggage exceeding 5 kg / 11 lb and exceeding 62 inches / 157 centimeters in length is restricted. Large carry-on bags can impede the exits, so it is advised to leave them at your hotel in Cusco or the hotel in the Sacred Valley and retrieve them after visiting Machu Picchu. The majority of hotels offer complimentary storage services.

Do I need to buy the entrance to Machu Picchu in advance?

Yes, the Machu Picchu tickets ought to be bout well in advance, this must be the first thing to book since this is subject to availability.

Is there an age limit?

There is not guideline established regarding age limits, this is up to your travel operator and the traveler’s criteria

Are there any restrictions for Machu Picchu?

After August 15th, 2022, there are no longer capacity restrictions at all outdoor Inca sites in Peru. Machu Picchu trains and shuttle buses are at 100%. Only the Inca bridge and the Sun gate remained closed until further notice.

Is bus travel hazardous? (Aguas calientes to Machu picchu)

 As with everything in life, there is a certain level of risk involved.

Is an internet connection available?

If you possess a Peruvian SIM card, you will have access to the internet. Otherwise, you will not have Internet access unless you use the hotel’s services. However, the majority of hotels, restaurants, and cafes in the town of Aguas Calientes offer free WiFi to their visitors. There, you can utilize it for any internet-based operation you require.

Is a travel agency required for a trip to Machu Picchu?

Yes, if you want to save time, you should consider using a local travel agency, as the majority of tourists prefer the convenience of a pre-arranged tour to hopping between boleterias and buses.

Where can I find the most breathtaking photographs of Machu Picchu?

The best photographs can be obtained from the Sun Gate, the Guardian House, and Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain Summit.

When is Machu Picchu’s closing time?

Never, Machu Picchu is accessible 365 days a year; the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is closed 365 days a year.

When should you avoid visiting Machu Picchu?

Trains to Aguas Calientes may be affected by a landslide in January due to nonstop rainfall, thereby complicating the traveler’s itinerary.

When is Machu Picchu most affordable?

The entrance fee to Machu Picchu is US$45, regardless of the season. If you are a student or minor, you may be eligible for a discount, but you must present valid identification before booking your ticket.

How much are tickets to Machu Picchu?

The price of the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu varies by travel agency, as some charge an additional service fee.

What is the ideal period of year to visit Machu Picchu?

From June to August, the weather is drier and travel is simpler, but it is peak vacation season in the northern hemisphere. Keep in mind that three major Peruvian holidays – Inti Raymi (June 24), Peru’s Independence Day (July 28), and Santa Rosa de Lima (August 30) – fall during this time. These celebrations attract large numbers of Peruvian tourists, resulting in higher lodging costs and larger crowds. During the months of October through April, prices and visitor numbers can decline significantly. January has the most precipitation. Consider August, September, or October for near-perfect weather and manageable throngs.

Can I camp in Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel?

In 1983, Machu Picchu was designated by Unesco as a world heritage site. Since then, in order to preserve the historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, the Peruvian government has implemented strict measures and regulations limiting the amount of time you can spend in the citadel, requiring all visitors to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide, and making it impossible to camp inside Machu Picchu due to its delicate nature.

Is one day sufficient to explore Machu Picchu?

You can visit Machu Picchu on a Day excursion, but staying overnight in Aguas Calientes is recommended. A full-day excursion permits approximately six hours at Machu Picchu, coinciding with the busiest times. If you plan to remain overnight, you will have more time to explore the ruins after the majority of visitors have left, or you can revisit the citadel the following morning very early.

Does Machu Picchu shutter during the wet season?

Fortunately, Machu Picchu is open year-round; however, you should secure your tickets well in advance.

What mountains are Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu?

The exhilarating Huayna Picchu Trail, which traces an ancient Inca path, ascends Sugarloaf Hill in front of Machu Picchu. Tickets for the Inca Trail must be purchased at the same time as your entrance to Machu Picchu. The arduous vertiginous hike up a steep, narrow set of Inca-carved stairs to the Summit takes between 2 and 3 hours round-trip, and there are Inca structures called the moon temple at the summit. Bring insect repellent with you.

The Mount Machu Picchu, Hiking up Machu Picchu is an additional option. Entrance is permitted between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Tickets must be purchased simultaneously with entrance to the site.

Important Note

  • In 2022, children over 3 years old are required to purchase an admission ticket.
  • Which mountain is superior, Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu?
  • This is a difficult question to answer, so there are tourists who prefer Huayna Picchu mountain and others who prefer Machu Picchu mountain. Consequently, both mountains are climbable.
  • Before making a decision, you should compare the two options:
  • Hiking time. The journey to Huayna Picchu can take between two and two and a half hours. Huayna Picchu is closer than Machu Picchu Mountain, which requires between 3.3 and 3.4 hours to reach.
  • Altitude increase.-With Machu Picchu as the starting point at 8038 ft / 2450 masl, it is 270 m up to Huayna Picchu and 600 m up to Machu Picchu Mountain.
  • Each mountain has 400 permits divided between two time periods. Since Huayna Picchu is the more popular of the two mountains, reservations sell out in advance.
  • Both peaks offer spectacular views of the ancient citadel and its environs.
  • Summit altitude.- The summit of Huayna Picchu is approximately 8923 feet / 2720 meters above sea level, while the summit of Machu picchu mountain is approximately 10,000 feet / 3050 meters above sea level.

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