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Machu Picchu Route Recommendations Kandoo | Machu Picchu Routes
Kandoo Adventures: June 1st 2020

Machu Picchu treks on Inca trails

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There are thousands of miles of Inca trails that connect Machu Picchu with what was the huge Incan Empire. Of these, the Classic trail was the main pilgrimage route from Cuzco, the capital of the Incan Empire, to Machu Picchu. Trekking this trail became so popular that it was being badly damaged. To prevent this, the Park Authority introduced a permit system which strictly limits the number of people on this route. Permits do sell out very quickly.

With the number of people allowed on the Classic trail restricted, interest in other Inca trails increased quickly. There are now many Inca trails that are well established as trekking routes. Out of all these, we run treks on the routes which offer a range of scenery and length of trek to suit all trekkers. A map showing the different routes is below together with a brief description of each route. For each route there is also a detailed description, map and a 3D animated fly-through of the route. 

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Classic Inca Trail

Classic Inca Trail

| 7 Days
Prices from £1099 Prices from $1425 Prices from

The Inca trail is the most well-known of all the trekking routes to Machu Picchu. Arriving at the famous Sun Gate, your first view of the iconic ruins is every bit as good as the hype. Book now to get a permit in 2020.

Budget Inca Trail - trek only

Budget Inca Trail - trek only

| 5 Days
Prices from £849 Prices from $1095 Prices from

This is our "trek only" option of the Inca trail. Perfect for those who have other travel plans in place, just come along and join us for the trek. The trek only option starts and finishes in Cusco, leaving you free to make your own accommodation arrangements.

Short Inca Trail

Short Inca Trail

| 3 Days
Prices from £529 Prices from $685 Prices from

Want to visit Machu PIcchu and arrive at the famous Sun Gate but short on time or don't fancy a longer trek? The Short Inca trail is the one for you. Enquire now.

Salkantay trail

Salkantay trail

| 8 Days
Prices from £1079 Prices from $1395 Prices from

This is a great high mountain walk around the 20,500-feet-high Mount Salkantay. After that it cuts through the beautiful Mollepata Valley and passes Salkantay at an altitude above 15,000 feet before traversing to arrive at Aguas Calientes.

Budget Salkantay trail - trek only

Budget Salkantay trail - trek only

| 6 Days
Prices from £899 Prices from $1165 Prices from

This is our "trek only" option of the Salkantay trail. Perfect for those who have other travel plans in place, just come along and join us for the trek. The trek only option starts and finishes in Cusco, leaving you free to make your own accommodation arrangements.

Inca Trail via Salkantay

The Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek combines the magnificent wilderness scenery of the Salkantay region with the cultural interest of the classic trail. Starting to the West of the Inca trail it crosses a high path and joins the main trail at Wayllabamba before continuing to arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.

Lares trail

Lares trail

| 7 Days
Prices from £999 Prices from $1295 Prices from

This trek is an excellent alternative to the Classic Inca trail. It visits authentic Andean communities and passes stunning mountain, lake and valley landscapes. Starting in the Sacred Valley it really takes you away from the crowds.

Vilcabamba trail

Vilcabamba trail

| 8 Days
Prices from £1249 Prices from $1625 Prices from

This five day trek takes you right off the beaten track and far into the jungle where the Incas made their last stand against the Spanish. As well as enjoying a wealth of flora, fauna, snow peaks and impressive valleys, trekkers visit some of the last domains of the great Inca empire. The route runs through the sparsely populated Cordillera Vilcabamba, which looks much the same as when Hiram Bingham first explored here.

Ausangate Trek

Ausangate Trek

| 10 days

With several high passes to cross the Ausangate trek is not for the faint hearted and a good level of fitness is required. You will be rewarded by quiet, uncrowded trails, spectacular glacial lakes, stunning snow-capped peaks. And of course you get to see the unusual red scree landscapes of the Rainbow Mountains of Vinicuna.

Choquequirao Trek

Choquequirao Trek

| 12 Days
Prices from £0 Prices from $2397 Prices from

Choquequirao, meaning Cradle of Gold, is an Incan City built during the late 15th and early 16th century. It is thought that Pachacuti, the Incan Emperor responsible for commissioning Machu Picchu, founded Choquequirao. This trek s a challenging hike taking you off the beaten track to the fascinating Incan city of Choquequirao and the famous city of the Incas, Machu Picchu.

Huchuy Qosqo

Huchuy Qosqo

| 6 days

An excellent alternative to the Classic Inca trail. If you're short on time but still fancy doing a little bit of trekking before hitting the highlights of Machu Picchu, then the Huchuy Qosqo trail is perfect for you. With only 17km of trail and a maximum altitude climbed of 4350m, it is ideal for those looking for an introductory trek in the Peruvian Andes.

Permits for the Inca trail

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Since 2004 permits have been required to trek the classic Inca trail. The system is policed very tightly. Only 500 permits are issued and all porters, guides and cooks on a trek need a permit. This means the real number of permits for tourists is about 150.  As a result permits sell out very quickly. For more information about permits for the classic Inca trail see here.

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Alternatives to the classic Inca trail

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Whether because of lack of permits or because you are looking for a route that takes you away from the relatively busy classic Inca trail, there are some great alternatives that you might consider.

In a similar length trip there are three alternatives that we would recommend . 

Lares trek | This trek has a distinctly different feel to the Inca trail. Rather than trekking through uninhabited countryside seeing Inca ruins each day, you start from the Sacred Valley and trek through all the traditional farming villages in this region. The way of life in these villages has not changed much for over 200 years and the trek gives you time to really enjoy and explore their fascinating culture.

Salkantay trek | This alternative is for trekkers who prefer their mountains to their archaeology. It approaches Machu Picchu from the south trekking around Salkantay Mountain. It is a much quieter route than the classic Inca trail.  National Geographic rate this as the best alternative to the Inca trail.

Ausangate trek |  Another fantastic alternative, the highlights of the Ausangate trek are undoubtedly the spectacular Rainbow Mountains. These multi-coloured sandstone mountains might not have the reputation of Machu Picchu but in terms of "wow" factor they are right up there.

For a more detailed description about the options see

Frequently asked questions

Routes to Machu Picchu

Top Six Alternate Routes to Machu Picchu

  1. The Salcantay Route is the classic Inca Trail and offers a constantly engaging experience with a plethora of diverse landscapes, plants, and fauna to keep you interested. Also be sure to check out the route’s smorgasbord.

  2. The Lares Route, mostly undiscovered, we couldn’t even tell you what you would find on this route. Definitely the most adventurous trail to Machu Picchu

  3. The One-Day Inca Trail, as the name suggests, will only take you one day to get to your destination, which is really good considering others take 6 days to complete.

  4. Vilcabamba Traverse Route will take you to tons of ruins and lots of opportunities to view the breathtaking landscapes of Peru.

  5. The Lodge Trek. is one of the more newer trails created to Machu Picchu, you’ll get luxury meals every evening and is typically considered less crowded than the Inca Trail.

  6. The Chaski (or Cachicata) Trail, is great for the less experienced trekker as it’s significantly easier than the other treks listed.

Alternative treks to Machu Picchu

Alternative Inca Trail Treks to Machu Picchu

  • Salkanty trail, typically everybody’s go-to after the classic Inca Trail, is perfect for any mountain lovers.

  • Lares Trek will take inside the villages of the Inca people. Experience the Inca culture first hand.

  • Inca Jungle Trail, as its name suggests, puts the trekker smack dab in the dazzling jungles of Inca

  • Choquequirao Trek, campsites are well maintained along these routes giving trekkers plenty of quality places to stop and recuperate.

  • Vilcabamba Trail is great if you want lots of vistas and relaxing on the train.

  • Huchuy Qosqo Trek gives its trekkers incredible insights on the marvelous feats of Inca agriculture and architecture.

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