While there are dozens of routes that connects to Machu Picchu, the most popular is the Inca Trail. What makes this trail so special? The reason is simple: the Inca Trail hikes directly to Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.
But why pay so much for this hike when you can enjoy more beautiful trails for less? Unlike the Inca Trail, you do not need to book months in advance for these alternate hikes, and neither do you need a guide. Best of all, you won’t get the crowds of people that come with hiking the Inca Trail.
Want to experience something different than the millions of people who do the more well-known hikes? Lace up your boots and check out these amazing trail options that avoid the rush of tourists.
The Huayhuash Circuit is an 80-mile hike closely located to Huaraz, the gateway city to the many hiking options in the area. This seven-day, challenging trek tests your lungs at a high altitude. The Huayhuash Circuit is fast-gaining popularity among travelers thanks in part to the famous Joe Simpson’s book and its subsequent film, “Touching the Void.”
Much of the trail is rugged and remote, making it an ideal place to experience nature at its finest. You’ll spot glacial lakes, snow-topped peaks, and overlooks offering stunning views. Due to the fact that it is so remote, you’re more likely to see fewer travelers than you would on the Inca Trail. This is hike where some experience is necessary in order to remain safe and since it is likely that you will be far away from any assistance if something happens.
Starting from Cusco, the Lares Trek is a preferred alternative for those who missed out on securing a permit for the Inca Trail. This trail offers one of the most beautiful treks in Peru. It also brings you closer to the locals who call the mountains home since you are likely to be staying in their homes along the way. Lares Trek allows you to learn more about the rich history and traditions of the indigenous Quechua people. Keep an eye out for condors and alpacas as you explore!
If you’re looking for an authentic and challenging adventure, the Ancascocha Trek (also known as the Hidden Inca Trail or the Super Inca Trail) has got you covered. The trail takes you through beautiful mountain vistas, stunning lakes, spectacular waterfalls, and glacial peaks. You will also find an array of alpacas, llamas, and wild condors–bring your camera. The Ancascocha Trek is a rewarding hike for experienced hikers due to its steep altitude gain, distance, and final summit. Make sure you have some hiking buddies to help you out on this one!
If you love history, this is the hike for you! When you want to dive deep into the lost Incan cities, the diverse landscapes of the Choquequirao Trek is the place to be. Renowned for being “the other Machu Picchu,” the hike take you to the heart of the Choquequirao Archeological Complex via the Vilcabamba mountain range.
It’s not a very popular hike, which means that it’s ideal for those who want a break from seeing tourists overrun the area. While Machu Picchu sees more than 2000 visitors daily, the Choquequirao trek attracts a little over 20. It can be challenging, but the Inca ruins are well-worth the extra effort in order to reach them. Best of all? It is still possible to hike onto Machu Picchu on this trail.
If you still want the feel of the Inca Trail without the crowds (and the chance to end at Machu Picchu), Salkantay is your best bet. You don’t have to have a permit in order to hike it and the prices are much more affordable than anything you could find to hike the main trail. Expect a big change in altitude–you will be up 15,190 feet above sea level, so it’s essential that you take a number of days to acclimatize in Cusco before you head out on this hike. If you are looking to spend more time in your hiking boots, this hike is also typically five days versus the four-day option for the Inca Trail.
If you want to explore some of Peru’s best scenery, then you need to experience these hikes in Peru that are not the Inca Trail. They are also more sustainable options–allowing you to enjoy your trip without contributing to overtourism.
Have you ever tried any of these hikes?
Like this post? Pin it!