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The Top Hikes to Machu Picchu

mountain of machu pichu

There are many ways for travelers to get to Machu Picchu and hiking is one of the more popular ones. Taking a multiday hike through the Andes and into Machu Picchu can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Travelers will be delighted to find out that there are several options for multiday hikes to the Incan fortress. There are however three major hikes that stand out among the rest. The classic Inca trail, The Express Inca trail, and finally the 5-day Salkantay Inca trek. Let’s go over each so travelers can know what to expect if they ever plan to reserve one through a Peru travel agency.

The Classic 4 Day Inca Trail

The classic 4-day Inca trail to the Inca sanctuary is the most popular hike out of the three, this class route is actually one of the most popular hikes in the world. There are 500 permits allowed each day and they are always sold out 3-6 months in advance. If a potential hiker wants to book this trip they will need to ensure their reservation several months before they plan to actually travel. The popularity of the trek is related to the cobblestone paths that took the Incas to Machu Picchu, the beautiful Andean and rainforest landscapes, and the entrance through the sun gate into the stone city of the Incas. The 4-day hike includes camping in the Andes, all the necessary permits, supplies, porters, guides, and lastly a chef to prepare the meals.

The 2-Day Express Inca Trail

The 2-day express trail leading to Machu Picchu is the quickest hike of the three. It doesn’t quite have hikers walking into Machu Picchu via the sun gate. Instead, the 2-day experience will have hikers trekking for all of day 1 until finally reaching a small town called “Machu Picchu pueblo” which sits directly at the bottom of the Machu Picchu mountain. Hikers will then spend one night in a hotel of their choosing in the small village, the following morning hikers are taken via a short bus ride to Machu Picchu to begin the guided tour of the complex. Typically this hike forms part of a more complete Peru package including other destinations before and after the short hike.


The 5-Day Salkantay Trek

The 5-day Salkantay trek is usually described as one of the more difficult hikes to Machu Picchu. The description is mostly used because of the high elevation the hike takes the traveler through, at one point groups will reach over 15,000 feet above sea level. The tradeoff for the high elevation is a more off-the-grid type of hike that focuses more on seeing wildlife than touring Inca ruins on the way to Machu Picchu. The Salkantay trek includes 5 days and 4 nights of hiking and camping under the crisp highland sky before reaching “Machu Picchu pueblo” on the evening of day 4 of the hike. Travelers will enjoy an evening in a hotel of their choice and have the chance to visit the local hot springs. The next morning travelers will head up to Machu Picchu and tour the complex for around 4 hours in total. Once the tour is over, groups return to Machu Picchu Pueblo to catch the train back to the city of Cusco.


Regardless of which hike you choose, the challenge of hiking through the Andean wilderness will be there along with the sense of accomplishment when you finally reach the Incan city of Machu Picchu.