If you want to do the famous inca Trail in Peru, you need to know you have to book this between 2 – 4 month before arrival, according to the time of year. If you don’t, you are likely to discover that the Inca Trail Trek is completely sold out by the time you want to arrange the trek. Do NOT panic! Even though you cannot trek the Classic Inca Trail, there are still plenty of scenic and adventurous options for visiting Machu Picchu and doing some trekking. Here are the most popular alternatives to the Inca Trail Trek:
One option is to take the train to Machu Picchu! There are three different train services that run to Machu Picchu: the Backpacker Train, the Vistadome Train, and the Hiram Bingham Train. Each train service is priced differently to fit the budgets of different travelers. Train tours to Machu Picchu are usually one day tours, but can be combined with an extra night in Aguas Calientes if you want to spend more time visiting the ruins.
The Backpacker Train
This is the cheapest service but still a comfortable mode of travel to Machu Picchu.
The Vistadome Train
This is a faster and more comfortable way of getting to Machu Picchu. Each train carriage has enlarged side, front, and overhead windows providing panoramic views of the mountain terrain on all sides. This is also a more scenic way of getting to Machu Picchu.
The Hiram Bingham Train
This is a luxury train ride and is for those travelers who want to make the most out of their excursion to Machu Picchu. Breakfast, snacks, cocktails, and a lovely dinner with live music are served onboard this exquisite train. Enjoy an afternoon tea at the famous Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, located at the entrance to the ruins. A professional guide will be with you during the whole trip, including the train journey. This is a luxurious, yet pricey way of getting to Machu Picchu.
Besides taking the train, there are also alternative treks that go to Machu Picchu!
This five day 4 night trek follows a remote and ancient footpath in the same region as the Inca trail with spectacular views of the snowcapped Salkantay, which means savage mountain. This trek is an adventurous alternative for those who wish to escape the busier trekking routes. This route crosses the Andes and then descends down into the jungle. It passes through an amazing progression of ecological zones, from sparsely vegetated alpine meadows flanking two spectacular 20,000′ glacial peaks to subtropical forest. The visit to Machu Picchu on the fifth and final day of the trek is made all the more exhilarating having trekked across rugged terrain to arrive at the famous Inca ruins. This trek is more difficult than the Inca Trail, so horses can be used to carry food and equipment.
This four day three night trek takes you well off the tourist trail as you climb out of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and continue over into the valley of Lares. In crossing these mountains you have the chance to enjoy spectacular Andean scenery, including lakes and wildlife. You also visit traditional Andean villages and Inca ruins. Many of the people who live in these villages still dress in traditional clothing and you can often see them far off in the distance in their red and black clothing while tending their sheep or llamas. There is also the opportunity to trek this route in just three days and two nights.
Uchuy Machu Picchu Trek!
This two day one night trek is perfect if you like being in the middle of nowhere and being surrounded by nature! You see evidence of the rich culture left behind by the Incas in the ruins and villages that you visit along the way. This trek visits the ruins of Uchuy Qosqo (small Cusco), situated in the Sacred Valley. It is known as small Cusco because it is said to mimic the exact shape of Cusco but on a much smaller scale. From the ruins are spectacular views over the mountain range Cordillera de Vilcanota. This is a fascinating site where the Inca chief Viracocha lived. His mummy is said to have been discovered here. We also visit the world famous lost city of the Incas – Machu Picchu.
Inca Jungle Trail!
This is definitely a backpacker’s alternative to the Inca Trail Trek. This four day three night trek offers great variety. You will spend day one on bikes and days two and three on foot. This trail passes through some beautiful regions of cloud forest and wonderful spots for swimming before arriving in Aguas Calientes on the third day and seeing Machu Picchu on the fourth day.
We hope that these options will make your Machu Picchu experience magnificent…even if you really wanted to trek the Classic Inca Trail Trek. After reading this article you might even decide to be adventurous and choose one of these exciting alternatives instead of trekking the touristy Inca Trail anyways!