Every time someone decides to go to Machu Picchu, a difficult question arises. How to get there? Of course, you need to keep in mind that no one will have the best answer for you personally, but i hope that my comparisons will make it easier for you to decide…
Without any doubts, the visit to Machu Picchu is an adventure of lifetime. This historical spot is not only one of the most important archaeological sites in Latin America but one of the most important in the whole world. Machu Picchu is not only amazing itself, it is also an outstanding example of man’s interaction with his natural environment. I am sure that everyone wants to enjoy both their time in Machu Picchu and their time getting to it, however that may be.
In this case, there is definitely something I can do for you!
There is many sayings telling us that we can only appreciate something by seeing a difference, by comparison. That’s why i prefer to show you the most important differences between each of these three possibilities and describe the pros and cons for each of them. I believe that with all the information that you will find below, your decision will be very simple. So let’s check what difference is between the Salkantay Trek, Inca Jungle Tour and train tour to Machu Picchu.
Before starting to analyze these three options, it would be useful to say a few general words about the diversity of the roads leading to the Machu Picchu.
The most popular ways to reach Machu Picchu
You should keep in mind that there are quite a lot ways to get to Machu Picchu, of which you can see below:
- Machu Picchu by train: 1 or 2 day tour
- Salkantay Trek: 4 or 5 day tour
- Inka Jungle Tour: 3 or 4 day tour
- Inca Trail: 2 or 4 day tour
- Lares Trek: 4 day tour
- Choquequirao Trek: 7-9 day tour
You also need to be aware that all of the possible ways to get to Machu Picchu are unique, beautiful and worth seeing. If you try to get an advice from the firsthand experienced to try and find the best option to reach Machu Picchu, it will probably be a bit hard. Almost everybody would refer to the beauty and great sights on their way. You should remember that while choosing a tour. You can’t go wrong, there are only different tours: all of them are amazing, interesting and worth going! Your preferred match will depend on your personality, expectations, possibilities, physical condition and desires.
From the list above, I choose only three tours, the most popular, but of course there are other options worth taking into consideration. Here is some information about other tours:
Inca Trail: In many places you will probably read that this is the best option to go to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail can be perfect only for very adventurous people full of energy, not necessary for all. For example if you do not like hiking for 4 days, spending nights in a tent, I doubt you will enjoy it.
Lares trek: I will also not compare the Lares trek to Machu Picchu, because for me it is not the road going directly to the Lost City of the Incas. You can do this trekking as a completely separate trip, which I highly recommend.
Choquequirao trek: The beneficial part of this trek consists in the possibility of seeing two in one, which means that you can see during one trip the wonderful, beautiful Inca Ruins of Choquequirao and Machu Picchu. But the negative part about this trek is that it is really hard and long. It takes between 7 – 11 days, depending on the skills of the participants. I will write more about this in another article, because this kind of tour is for smaller groups of adventurers. Here I would like to focus on the roads that can be done by most of us.
More active Inka Jungle Tour and Salkantay Trek or train tours to Machu Picchu
Among the most popular tours to Machu Picchu chosen by tourists (except Inca Trail Tour, for which the entrance is very limited) are: train tours; Inka Jungle Tours or Salkantay Trek Tours. Below you will find some ideas about them as well as the most important differences. I hope it will help you to create a perfect mix of your values, preferences and time availability.
In the moment when you start to plan your trip to Machu Picchu you need to answer 3 important questions:
How much time do you plan to spend exploring this spot and other things on the way: 1, 2, 3 or 4+?
Do you feel yourself physically fit enough?
Do you prefer the active lifestyle?
The answer for these basic questions can help you decide which tour will be the best for you.
Possible pros of one/two days train tours to Machu Picchu?
-They don’t require good physical condition and are available for the majority of people.
-If you choose the one day train tour to Machu Picchu, there is something you need to take into consideration. It will be a long and exhausting day. Of course when you will reach your main destination – Machu Picchu, unique landscapes and atmosphere will reward the effort. There is an option of spending a night in Aguas Calientes, a small town just below the Machu Picchu ruins and do some extra treks around, but in that case a two day tour would be a better choice. This will allow you to enjoy more not only Machu Picchu ruins but also the city and its neighbourhood. You can also save some money, but not too much.
-You will have more time for exploration of other interesting spots near Cusco.
Possible cons of a one/two day train tour to Machu Picchu?
-Less beautiful landscapes and views during the way (because it is the shorter version).
-Less possibilities to meet with local communities on the way, to learn about life of Peruvians living in other parts of Cusco.
-No camping in the mountains.
-No physical, active recreation.
-No extra adventures, like trekking, biking, zip line or rafting.
For which travelers this option may match more?
In case you have a limited holiday in Peru or in the Cusco region, a one day tour to Machu Picchu by train might be the best and actually the only option for you. It can also be an alternative for all of you who do not like or for any reason cannot do trekking or other adventure activities. It can also be the only choice for all of you who plan to visit other places in Peru and for the Cusco region have only 2-3 days.
Active tours to Machu Picchu: Inka Jungle Tour or Salkantay Trek Tour?
If you not limited by time issues and can have at least 4 days and of course if you prefer an active holiday, you will probably be interested in taking one of the several day tours leading to Machu Picchu. The next question you will have to solve, which tour to choose: Inka Jungle or maybe Salkantay? Again, there is no unique answer for that, however there are very clear differences between these two options and if you know them, the choice will be easy. So before your final decision, read carefully 🙂
Inka Jungle Tour
This is the only tour offered all year. Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, Lares are closed in Febuary and Choquequirao is not available in rainy season (between November – April).
This tour provides several different adventure activities along the way:
Day 1: biking from more than 4 300 meters above sea level to around 1 500 meters above sea level; after a short break rafting and at the end, a little bit of hiking
Day 2: trekking through real Inca paths
Day 3: zip line and trekking
Day 4: trekking and an interesting history lesson about the Inca Empire with the ruins of Machu Picchu as the main attraction
Possible pros of the Inka Jungle tour to Machu Picchu?
-If you prefer enjoying the diversity of landscapes, from high, snowy peaks to the jungle.
-Many different activities, not only trekking but also biking, zip line and rafting
-Accommodation – in hostels (sometimes very basic), but not in the tents
-Warm during the day and during the night but at the same time more humid
-General time of the tour: 4 days, but there is possibility to do it in 3 days (without one part)
-The highest point: 4 340 m.a.s.l. and only for a while, so it is much easier to adapt to the high altitude
-Experiencing the real jungle, with a possibility to see coffee plantations and plantations of all seasonal fruits, as well as a lot of different jungle birds
Possible cons of the Inka Jungle tours to Machu Picchu?
-It takes 4 days
-It is very active
-Mosquitos along the way
This is the best option for whom?
If you are a proactive traveler and admirer of extreme sports, if you like changes and doing different things every day, if you don’t like sleeping in tents, probably the Inka Jungle Tour would be the best choice for you.
Salkantay Trek Tour
One of important things to note about this tour is that it’s organized only several months during the year (not recommended in rainy season: November – April)
Provides one activity: trekking
Day 1: trekking
Day 2: trekking
Day 3 and/or 4: trekking
Day 4 and/or 5: trekking and a lesson about the history of the Inca Empire with the ruins of Machu Picchu as the main attraction
Possible pros of Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu?
-Warm during the day, colder during the night but less humid
-General time of the tour: 5 days, but there is possibility to do it in 4 days (if you are in good physical condition)
-Lots of mountain scenery
Possible cons of Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu?
-Less diversity, can be a little bit boring, – especially for experienced and active travelers. The provided accommodation is usually in tents but on the other hand sometimes it is nice to sleep high in the mountains
-Lack of jungle experience
-Landscape similar – higher mountains
-The highest part: 4 640 m.a.s.l. so can be a little bit more difficult to adapt to high altitude
This is the best option for whom?
If you are big fan of trekking and if it is not a problem to wander for 4 or 5 days, if you like to sleep in the tents, or if you do not want spend a lot of time in the jungle.
So, now you know all about the most popular tours to Machu Picchu. Good luck in choosing the tour that matches you the best and enjoy the incredible, unforgettable experiences that await you in the Lost City of the Incas!
So, now you know all about the most popular tours to Machu Picchu. Consider all PROs and CONs before choosing a tour. Good luck in finding what’s better for you and enjoy the incredible, unforgettable experiences that are ready to embrace you in the Lost City of the Incas!
If you are also looking for good travel company based in Cusco, who offers all of the above mentioned tours, you can check Inka Jungle Tour. They have great services, new equipment and good, english-speaking tour guides. Here is the link to their website http://inkajungletour.com/. It is the only company to offer a really unique itinerary. They have a private lodge in the jungle, so the first night you will spend in a house in the jungle with a local family instead of in the town of Santa Maria.