There are several routes, roads, and paths leading to the famous Inca Ruins of Machu Picchu. Each one is beautiful in it’s own right and you are sure to hear differing perspectives and opinions about which one is the best. Everyone will have there own opinion, but when it comes to determining the best way to Machu Picchu, a more personal question must be asked: “What type of traveler are you?”
This question can be broken down into smaller questions that will help you to choose what route to Machu Picchu fits you best. The most important question being, “How much time do you have available to travel?” This makes the largest difference when deciding what path to take, since some roads can take several days and can be rather exhausting. Which leads us to our next question, “How physically fit are you?”. There are some routes that will require a good amount of athleticism and endurance, so you’ll want to make sure your ready for a challenge as well as acclimatized to the area as the altitude on some routes can be over 15000 ft (4500 m). These two simple questions will put you well on your way to determining which path is right for you.
There are of course a multitude of other questions that could be asked, but for now let’s switch over from asking questions to giving answers. For this blog, we have decided to outline three of the main routes you can take to reach Machu Picchu: Train directly to Machu Picchu, Salkantay Trek, and Inka Jungle Tour. Before discussing these tours in depth let us briefly highlight a few other possible options: Inca Trail, Lares Trek, and Choquequirao Trek.
Inca Trail: This path should take you about 2 to 4 days and you will often hear it is one of best routes you can take. You will travel through Inca Ruins, captivating mountains, cloud forest, and subtropical environments. There are a variety of wildlife and plants to see along the way as well. You will be trekking a lot and at altitudes up to 13780 ft (4200 m).
Lares Trek: This is a 4 day tour that can also be done as a completely separate trip, but if you would like to take a route that is off the beaten track then you might look into doing this tour. However, you will end up traveling by train to Machu Picchu at the end of this trek. The trek is of average difficulty and will reach altitudes of 15,680 ft (4780 m).
Choquequirao Trek: If you have a lot of time on your hands, this 7 to 11 day tour will take you to the enchanting ruins of Choquequirao as well as the more famous Machu Picchu ruins. It is a pretty intensive trek and will get you up to altitudes of 15320 ft (4670 m).
Okay, now let us discuss the three main options brought up earlier: Train directly to Machu Picchu, Salkanay Trek, and Inca Jungle Tour.
Train directly to Machu Picchu
This option is great for those short on time and those not wanting to have a very physical journey.
- You will be on a train so you will not be exerting yourself very much allowing you a chance to relax on your way to Macchu Picchu.
- This trip can also be completed in a single day, so if you are tight on time it is a very alluring option. Just keep in mind that in order to do this your whole day will be full leaving you no room for anything else. You can extend the journey to 2 days if you wish by staying one night in the town of Aquas Calientes. This option would allow you more time to explore the charming town and the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu.
- You will probably save some money with this option, but not too much. You will be probably still spend a minimum of $140 USD.
- More time to explore other areas and attractions in Peru and Cusco.
- The variety of landscapes you will pass through will be less than other options and you will also not get the chance to see as many things since the trip is shorter and you will not be getting off the train that much.
- You will not have many chances to interact with local communities along the way, so don’t expect to learn about modern day life and culture of native Peruvians.
- There will be no camping, active recreation, or additional adventures like trekking, biking, zip lining, or rafting (of course some people may find this to actually be a good thing)
Best for what type of traveler?
This option is best suited for people that are either limited on time and/or want to make sure they see as many attractions in Peru as possible. It is also very fitting for people who do not want to be very physical and would rather have a relaxing journey to Machu Picchu. This tour is also very family friendly and appropriate for all ages.
The more active options: Salkanay Trek and Inca Jungle Tour
This tour is usually organized during several select months during the year, mainly from May to October. It is not recommended that you do this trek during the rainy season, which lasts from around November to April. It is an active tour that requires trekking the entire way and lasts for about 4 to 5 days, with the final day being dedicated mostly to the ruins of Machu Picchu.
- This tour is all about trekking and will give you the opportunity to hike through a some beautiful landscapes.
- It is pretty warm during the day, but can get a bit chilly at night.
- The trek takes about 5 days and should give you plenty of time to explore the nature of the high mountains.
- Though beautiful, the diversity of the landscape and wildlife can be a less than other options.
- Accommodation will be simply tents as you will be camping a lot (of course, this may be exactly what you are looking for)
- Chillier nights.
- Takes about 5 days.
- You won’t get the chance to travel through the jungle.
- The high altitude of 15220 ft (4640 m) can be rather difficult to acclimate to.
Best for what type of traveler?
The challenging nature of this trek makes it eat suited for those that are physically fit and love trekking. If you love camping and being in the wild and you don’t mind some chilly nights, then this could be the tour for you.
Inka Jungle Tour
This tour is the only one that is offered all year round and it provides a variety of activities and adventures along the way. This tour takes 4 days. On the first day you will bike from altitudes of about 14100 ft (4300 m) down to 4920 ft (1500 m), then go rafting, and finish with a little bit of hiking. The next day will consist of trekking along ancient Inca paths and on the third day you will have a chance to do some zip lining! On the fourth and last day you will trek to Machu Picchu and learn about some of the history of the Inca Empire.
- There is a great variety of landscapes included in this tour from snowy peaks to humid jungles, you will definitely experience a variety of sights.
- You will also have the chance to do more than just trekking. You will be biking, rafting, and even zip lining!
- The accommodation will be in hostels rather than tents.
- Temperatures will stay pretty warm during the day and the night
- The tour lasts for 4 days, but can be reduced down to 3 if necessary
- You will only be at high altitudes, around 14240 ft (4340 m), for a short time.
- You’ll have the opportunity to explore the jungle and possibly coffee and fruit plantations.
- It is a very active and full tour so it can be quite exhausting.
- The activities can be a bit more risky than what other tours will offer since you are doing more than just trekking, making it a less family friendly option.
- Usually takes 4 days.
- There are quite a lot of mosquitos along the way.
Best for what type of traveler?
This is a great tour for those people that like extreme sports and living on the edge. It’s also nice for people want to have very active days, but want to rest somewhere more comfortable than a tent. So if you are looking for adventure without camping, this might be the tour for you.
We hope that this article has made it easier for you to determine which route to Machu Picchu is best for you. As always, keep in mind that what might be best for one person might not be the fitting option for you. If you have any more questions about the tours please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info on the our tours that lead to Machu Picchu please click on the appropriate link: