Agustín Lizárraga was a Peruvian from Cusco who is considered the Official Discoverer of the Machu Picchu archaeological complex. It is known that in 1902 he discovered the remains of this place and that he had unsuccessful attempts to make it known to the world, since he did not have the support of the government on duty. Nine years later, on July 24, 1911, Hiram Bingham, an American history professor, appears and arrives at Machu Picchu while searching for Vilcabamba, the lost city of the Incas. Bingham was led by a land tenant, Melchor Arteaga, and accompanied by a Peruvian civil guard sergeant named Carrasco. Upon arrival, they found two families of peasants living there: the Recharte and the Álvarez, who used the terraces to the south of the ruins to farm and drank water from an Inca canal that was still working and brought water from a spring. Pablo Recharte, one of the boys from Machu Picchu, led Bingham into the overgrown urban area of the citadel. In 1983, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 2007, it was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Below we present a list of the best treks to Machu Picchu.
The ancient citadel of Machu Picchu in Cusco – Peru, is one of the greatest archaeological treasures in the world. Visiting Machu Picchu is on many a traveler’s bucket list, and for good reason. This former royal retreat is an impressive architectural masterpiece and an important part of the Inca civilization. There is no greater satisfaction than reaching Machu Picchu on your own foot. This is the reason why, in recent years, the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu has become so popular. Permits in high season (summer) are sold out months in advance.
The most picturesque way to reach the citadel of Machu Picchu is by walking through the impressive Andes mountains. However, the most popular path is the old Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu. While the trek is certainly a great experience, there are other alternative treks to Machu Picchu that are definitely worth exploring.
Luckily, the Incas, who were master road builders, laid out routes through the Andes. Many of them are alternative routes to Machu Picchu (or at least you get as close as a quick train ride). Here are a few alternatives, most of which don’t require permissions. Some of these excursions can have multiple variants and can be adapted to fit certain physical conditions.
This iconic trek is considered among the best treks in the world and number one in Peru. The Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu was built during the 14th and 15th centuries by the Inca Civilization, the largest empire in South America (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Colombia); They created thousands of kilometers of roads to connect the most important cities with the great capital of Qosqo or Cusco.
As of March 1 of each year, 500 people will do the Inca Trail daily. This number includes visitors, guides and porters. To do the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, you must book the permits in advance, as they sell out fast.
During the Inca Trail, you will walk the sacred path of the Incas, meet local communities and discover natural monuments such as the Wayllabamba valley, the Warmiwañuska pass, the Pacaymayu gorge and the Wiñaywaya citadels.
The Classic Inca Trail is part of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, a protected area located in the District of Machu Picchu in the Province of Urubamba, Cusco region. It covers an area of 32592 hectares. This sanctuary protects several archaeological sites, mountains and snow-capped peaks, home to endemic fauna such as the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and the Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus). The protected area is about 6,000 m and will reach the warm and humid areas of the Urubamba River at 2,000 m; This variation in altitude will offer a great experience to visitors, allowing them to enjoy different ecosystems every day.
You should know that it has a variable duration depending on the starting point of the tour. It can last 2 or 4 days, so you can adapt the trekking to your time and physical preparation. The itinerary always ends in Machu Picchu, regardless of the days you take.
The Lares trek is one of the hiking trails that lead to Machu Picchu. The route is famous for going through Andean towns where the visitor soaks up the Andean culture. The difficulty of this walk is not much. The penultimate day arrives at Aguas Calientes through the train trip. The last day you visit Machu Picchu and return by train to the city of Cusco.
The Lares trek is known as the ‘Cultural route to Machu Picchu’. The reason? During the walk you will cross Andean towns. There, visitors learn cultural aspects such as the spinning of alpaca garments or the way of working in the fields. Lares is a more cultural trip and perfect for those who want to visit Andean villages, local schools and pristine lakes, walk with llamas and alpacas and enjoy the solitude of the mountains.
The Lares Trek is a fairly quiet trail, off the beaten path. The trek begins in the town of Lares (approximately 40 miles from Cusco). During this hike, travelers can meet and interact with various traditional Andean communities that live in the Lares Valley.
Salkantay is the second highest peak in Cusco, at 6,271 meters above sea level. It is also the name of one of the best treks in Cusco and Peru. The Salkantay trek covers approximately 70 kilometers. After crossing beautiful landscapes such as the slopes of the snow-capped mountain, the Humantay lagoon and the jungle of Cusco; You arrive at nothing less than Machu Picchu, one of the 7 wonders of the modern world.
It is a good alternative option to the Inca Trail, whose forte is the variety of climates and ecosystems that can be admired. You will be surprised to be in a lush jungle and, just an hour later, before an impressive glacier in the middle of the mountain range. An authentic adventure, in scenarios that take your breath away. Another advantage of Salkantay is that the places are not so limited.
The Salkantay Trek is a route that requires between 6 and 10 hours of walking each day. Since these terrains are moderate to challenging, good shape is recommended. Since you will experience high altitudes during the trek, give your body enough time to adjust to the high altitudes of Peru by spending a few days acclimatizing in Cusco or the Sacred Valley.
The dry season is the best time to do this hike. It goes from April to September. Throughout this period, the weather is sunny during the day, but cold at night.
The Ausangate trek is more challenging than some of the alternative trails on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. As a result, it is one of the quietest in the region. You can go days without seeing another tourist in sight.
The Ausangate trail has some of the most impressive scenery of all the hiking areas in Peru. Mossy passes and glaciers add to the mystical feel of this route. You will pass through small towns where time has stopped. The trek offers a wide variety of wildlife, including flying condors and vicuñas. Keep an eye out for chinchillas that are climbing between the rocks. And, if you’re really lucky, you might even spot a bobcat or puma.
You will also have the opportunity to bathe in hot springs and see the rainbow mountains characteristic of the trek! These colorful sandstone slopes are some of the coolest things you’ll see on the Asusangate Trek.
With several mountain passes over 5,000 meters (16,404 feet) high, the Ausangate Trek is relatively difficult. It is best to have experience of multi-day treks in alpine conditions to do this trek. You will need a good level of fitness and stamina as you will be walking through many undulating sections. Also, the elevation changes significantly in a short space of time.
The trail itself is pretty good and well defined, but the weather can be unpredictable in these mountains. It is not uncommon to experience blizzard conditions in these parts. If you can’t handle cold conditions well, this hike is not for you.
After these days of excursions on the Ausangate Trek, we return to the city of Cusco to rest and recuperate. The next day very early (approximately 4:00 am) the hotel pick-up is made to be able to make a trip to the Ollantaytambo station where a train trip is made to kilometer 104 where our adventure begins to make the short Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu.
Please note: this hike is not suitable for first-time hikers. If you are a strong walker and have completed some moderate walking before this then you should be fine.
Huchuy Qosqo or small Cusco from here you can take beautiful views of the other side of the Valley, it is possible to appreciate snow-capped mountains of exuberant beauty such as the Pitusiray snow-capped mountain and in the background of this privileged view of beautiful towns.
The hidden treasure of the Incas is only a day’s walk from the city of Cusco. One of the few treks to Machu Picchu allows you to walk from the city of Cusco to the Sacred Valley and then take the train to Machu Picchu along the Urubamba River.
During this trek to Machu Picchu, you can visit the archaeological site of Huchuy Qosqo, a fantastic Inca site located right at the top of the Sacred Valley with incredible views. You will also enjoy the views of Cusco, and Andean lakes; walk with llamas and alpacas, and take in the fantastic views on the train ride to Machu Picchu.
Huchuy Qosqo is an archaeological site of the Incas located at an altitude of 3,600 meters above sea level, in the province of Calca in the sacred valley of the Incas. This archaeological complex is one of the most important in Cusco due to its architectural level, after Ollantaytambo and Pisac.
One of the main attractions of Huchuy Qosqo, is a building with three floors or levels; The first two are made of finely carved stone and the third level is made of adobe and although it has been without a roof for a long time, it is so resistant that it has remained standing for more than 500 years. In Huchuy Qosqo you can see an esplanade next to an abyss where you can see Inca constructions, terraces, rooms with up to two floors, canals and everything looks spectacular because they are built on platforms.
During this walk, we will be able to appreciate the signs of the Inca constructions; some Inca stairs and small doors with Inca ornaments until you reach the wonder of Huchuy Qosqo. Which is located in the mountains of the Sacred Valley of the Incas; Likewise, from this point you can appreciate the impressive panoramic view of the entire Vilcanota mountain range with its imposing snow-capped peaks.
The Inca Quarry Trail to Machu Picchu is the newest trek that is becoming popular very fast. It is less known than other treks, but it offers impressive landscapes, Inca sites and cultural interactions.
This new hiking tour to Machu Picchu includes visits to the fantastic Inca Sanctuaries of Ñaupá Iglesia, the Perloniyoq waterfalls, the Inca Site of Korimarka, the mysterious Sungate or Intipunku, the Inca Site of Choquetacarpo, the Cachiccata Quarry, the Route of the Stone to Ollantaytambo, and finally, you will end up in the great citadel of Machu Picchu.
The landscapes during the trek from the Inca quarry trail to Machu Picchu are amazing; visiting the local villages, the views of the Maras plateau and the views of the Sacred Valley from the highest mountains make this trip a unique experience that you will remember forever.
The classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu is one of the world's greatest hikes. Along the 45 km you will explore unique andean valleys, lush mountain forest.An exquisite architecture of the Inca sanctuaries, which will dazzle you for its fineness and location within the Andes.
The walk to Machu Picchu along the Huchuy Qosqo route is one of the shortest in Cusco; It is made for people who do not have much time. But even so, they want to take a walking tour before reaching the great Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu. It is very ideal for people who like to enjoy nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the restless city.