7 Different Ways To Get To Machu Picchu

Published November 4th, 2019

So you wanna Machu Picchu? Expect an avalanche of questions—which route are you taking? Trek, train or both? Do you have a permit? Which month are you going? Have you worn in your boots yet?

And, did you know only 500 people can trek the Inca Trail per day? (Which actually equals 200 travellers and 300 porters and guides.)

If your Adventure 2020 goal is reaching the Lost City of the Incas, then you need to check out our DEALS page and fully actualise yourself seeing the sunrise over Machu Picchu…

Our good friends at Intrepid offer these Top 3 routes to get to Machu Picchu…

Can’t I just go it alone, you ask? “Nope. Sorry. Solo trekking of the Inca Trail is no longer permitted. Take it up with UNESCO,” says Intrepid. 

Read on for route details & more!

1. Classic Inca Trail

Also known as: Salkantay Route
Difficulty level: Moderate to challenging

The mother of all South American treks, there’s no denying the Inca Trail is special. Follow in the footsteps of the great lost civilisation as you hike from Cusco through the Sacred Valley, the ruins of Ollantaytambo, and through the Sun Gate for your first sight of mighty Machu Picchu.

2. Inca Quarry Trail

Also known as: Cachicata trek, Soqma trail or Chaski Trek
Difficulty level: Moderate

This trail takes in lesser-known ruins and the chance to get off-the-beaten path. The best part? You’ll still end up at Machu Picchu, and you don’t need a permit to book your spot on this trail. Legend has it this route follows the old tracks of the Inca Empire’s ‘runners’ known as chaski messengers who could run so fast they could bring fresh fish from the Pacific Ocean to the emperor in the mountains in Cusco.

3. Choquequirao Trail

Difficulty level: challenging

If you’re serious about getting a unique Inca experience, this one’s for you. Heading to the ruins of Choquequirao, believed to be up to three times larger than Machu Picchu, you’ll see some seriously scenic valleys, conquer steep paths, walk through misty clouds and spy snow-capped peaks. And, of course, step foot on the sacred Machu Picchu, no permit required.


As well as 4. the One Day Inca Trail

Difficulty level: easy

Sure hiking is great, but if you’re on a bigger journey around South America, and don’t have time (or simply don’t want to hike!), you can still experience the magical beauty of this Wonder of the World and get a taste of trekking in Peru, with a short and sweet 4-hour trek from the train station known as ‘Km 104’ and join the Classic Inca Trail to the Sun Gate and onto Machu Picchu.

There’s a number of ways to get to Machu Picchu, whether you’re a keen hiker or want to break up the trip with buses and train rides too.

Here’s some alternatives, too:

5. Vilcabamba Traverse Route

Difficulty level: challenging

Set off for a week long trek through nearly 100km of mountainous terrain. You’ll start in the town of Cachora and cross the Apurimac River canyon to the remote ruins of Choquequirao. The terrain feels ancient and untouched, and links up to the path to Machu Picchu.

6. The Lares Route

Difficulty level: moderate

The Sacred Valley is a well known drawcard en route to Machu Picchu, but it’s understandably busy. Beyond the Sacred Valley you’ll find the Lares Valley, where the locals still dress in traditional Andean clothes, farm by hand and raise herds of llamas and alpacas, as they have for centuries. Along the route you’ll get views of Mount Veronica and a number of high-altitude lakes, ending in Ollantaytambo, just a 90 minute train ride to Machu Picchu.

7. The Lodge Trek

Difficulty level: moderate

Pretty much the Classic Inca Trail, but instead of camping out, you’ll stay in a fancy lodge and enjoy a gourmet meal and cocktails at the end of each day. If you’ve got the cash to splash, this is the luxe option.


So, when’s the best time to go?

High season = April to October, with the most popular time to trek the Inca Trail being June and August. If you want to avoid the crowds, try May or October. The only month you can’t go in, is February, when the Peruvian government closes the trail for maintenance.

Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.

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