Hiking Trails to Machu Picchu

The 4 top hiking trails to Machu Picchu in 2023-2024

Machu Picchu is the most prominent destination in Peru and there are trails that will take you to well-trodden destinations and off-the-beaten-path trails. The archaeological center of Machu Picchu is located in the cloud forests of the Sacred Valley of the Incas at an altitude of 2400 masl and is surrounded by mountains such as Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu, Phutucusi and in the lower part with the Willcamayo River (sacred river), which makes this place unique and wonderful.

Walking to Machu Picchu is the best way to get to Machu Picchu through unique and important trails that will definitely be medicine for your mind and body.
Here we show you some of the most outstanding options.

Classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu 4 days

One of the best-known hiking routes in the world, the Inca Trail (also known as Qhapaqñan) begins in Colombia and continues through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile before reaching the magnificent Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. UNESCO has designated this road as a World Heritage Site.

Along the Inca Trail, you’ll see tropical species such as orchids and eucalyptus, as well as rainforests and historic stone paths once used by the Incas. There are also impressive mountains, a wide variety of birds, and lush cloud forests. There are spectacled bears on the Inca Trail.

You will also visit a number of interesting historical sites:

  • Llactapata
  • Wayllabamba
  • Runkurakay Phuyupatamarca
  • What’s up, hello, Inti Punku

The Inca Trail is a tourist hotspot for 11 months and is closed for maintenance in February compared to Machu Picchu which is open all year round. It is one of the most popular hiking routes in the world. The Inca Trail is at its best between April and October. The road is closed for repairs every February. One of the best things you can do in Peru is explore the country’s diverse landscapes and experience its unique flora and animals up close.

How would you describe the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail is a historic path built by ancient men that leads directly to Machu Picchu. Five hundred people pass by every day. A minimum of four months in advance is recommended for reservations.

Details of Inca Trail 4 days

  • Distance: 43 km / 26 miles
  • Average walking distance per day: 12 km / 7.5 miles
  • Highest altitude: ~4200 m / 13777 ft (Warmiwanusca Pass, also known as Dead Women Pass).
  • Number of days: 4D/3N (can be extended to 5D/4N for hikers who wish to spend an additional day in Machu Picchu) and the trail becomes much slower
  • Difficulty: you would have to be physically in good condition and know how to use the sticks to walk, with these instructions you should not have problems
  • Best time: The dry months from May to September are the best. Please note that the trail is the busiest at this time. The rainy months of March/April and October/November can be good months. The trail is closed in February and very wet in December/January. So if you want the dry season you must reserve 6 months in advance.
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Route Guide: 4-day Inca Trail

Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu 5 days

The Salkantay Classic Trail is a well-traveled path that hikers take to get from Cusco, the Inca capital, to Machu Picchu. At its highest point, the Salkantay Classic Pass, the 46-mile-long Salkantay Classic Trek reaches an altitude of 15,090 feet (4,600 meters). While most people spend between four and six days on the classic Salkantay trek, the trip can be extended to a mammoth eight-day expedition through the Peruvian Andes if you wish.

The Salkantay Trek Classic is unique in its kind due to its isolation. On the Salkantay Classic trip, you will meet between fifty and a hundred more travelers every day, or maybe more. Add to that the fact that you will visit some incredible places, such as the crystal clear waters of Lake Humantay and the winding trails of the desolate valley of Huayraqmachay, continuing the journey towards the jungle where you can visit the hot springs of Santa Teresa, to continue to the next day to the ruins of Llactapata and ending at the imposing Machu Picchu. This is the trip for you if you want to see the wilder side of South America.

Details of Salkantay Trek 5 days

  • Distance: 75 km / 46 miles
  • Average walking distance per average day: 12 km / 7.5 miles to 21 km
  • Maximum altitude: ~4600 m / 14777 feet (Salkantay Pass).
  • Number of days: 5D/4N (you can also do it in 4 days without losing anything you visited)
  • Difficulty: you should be in good physical condition and know how to use walking sticks, with these instructions you should have no problems
  • Best time: The dry months from May to September are the best. since there are sunny days and blue skies and the rainy months are from October to March
  • Accommodation: Lodges
  • Route Guide: Salkantay trek 5 days

Choquequirao trek 8 days

Choquequirao is considered the sister of Machu Picchu and both Inca sites were very important in Inca times today the trail can be done in 9, to 8,5,4,3 days. The Choquequirao Archaeological Complex, which dates back to the 15th century and is located at the top of the Vilcabamba mountain range, can only be reached on foot. Although Choquequirao has terraces, temples, plazas, and aqueducts like Machu Picchu, there is a very big difference between the two: around 3,300 people go to Machu Picchu every day, but only 100 to 150 people go to Choquequirao on average.

In the native language, Quechuan, Choquequirao means “Golden Cradle.” The city was built in the late 1500s when the Inca kingdom was at its strongest. It is in the Vilcabamba Valley. Experts think that it was built about the same time as Machu Picchu. Like its sister site, Choqueaquirao was not found by Spanish conquistadors. Instead, the story goes that the Spanish traveler Juan Arias Diaz found it in 1710. Due to how far away the site is, excavation didn’t begin until the 1970s. Since then, work has been going on to uncover and fix up big parts of the ruins that are still covered by jungle.

Details of Choquequirao trek 8 days

  • Distance: 83 km / 51 miles
  • Average walking distance per average day: 8 km / 3.5 miles
  • Maximum altitude: 4350  m / 1434 feet
  • Number of days: 8D/7N (you can also do it in 7 days without losing anything you visited)
  • Difficulty: you should be in good physical condition and know how to use walking sticks, with these instructions you should have no problems
  • Best time: The dry months from May to September are the best. since there are sunny days and blue skies and the rainy months are from October to March
  • Accommodation: Lodges, tens
  • Route Guide: Choquequirao trek 8 days

Lares trek to Machu Picchu 4 days

On the Lares route, we will approach rural Quechua communities, where you will have the opportunity to live, savor, and breathe their unaltered customs and traditions, despite these modern times.

After crossing the cold glaciers and mountains of the Lares Valley, you will be able to immerse yourself in the warm climate, which characterizes the great jungle area of the Inca trail.

The enigmatic archaeological complexes will give you a beautiful vision of the ancient history that dominated these imposing lands. Each trail is adorned with beautiful orchid flowers, crystalline waterfalls, the enveloping mist of the cloud forest, and mountain landscapes that will take your breath away.

The ancient Incas used this pilgrimage route to the sacred city of Machu Picchu; If you dare to explore it, you will feel that disconnection from the chaotic world is the best thing that could have happened to you.

You will not regret it!

Details of Lares trek 4 days

  • Distance: 33 km / 21 miles, depending on the route you want to take
  • Average walking distance per average day: 10 km / 6 miles
  • Maximum altitude: 4450 m / 15333 feet
  • Number of days: 4D/3N (you can also do it in 3 days without losing anything you visited)
  • Difficulty: you must be in good physical condition and know how to use poles, with these instructions you should have no problems
  • Best time: The dry months from May to September are the best. since there are sunny days and blue skies and the rainy months are from October to March
  • Accommodation: Campsites
  • Route Guide: Lares Trek 4 days

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 to 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. An 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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