Choose Your Next Machu Picchu Hike: Exploring 7 Unique Treks

At Skyhook, we know embarking on a Machu Picchu hike is a life-altering experience.
Let’s help you navigate the labyrinth of trekking options and Machu Picchu hike tour cost with our epic hiking and travel tips Machu Picchu, ensuring you find the path that resonates with your adventurous spirit.
From the mystical Inca trails to the mysterious Machu Picchu Temple of the Sun and the rugged terrains of Salkantay, we’ve got you covered with numerous Machu Picchu circuits to choose from.

Machu Picchu Trekking: 7 Unforgettable Treks

Discover the magic of Machu Picchu Peru tourist attractions through these seven unforgettable treks, each offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
We at Skyhook will even help you get a Machu Picchu permit and figure out what to pack for the Inca trail before going on your trek!
machu picchu (7-day inca trail)
The best view of Machu Picchu.

1. Salkantay Trek (8 Days)

The Salkantay Trek spans eight days, making it one of the longer options for reaching Machu Picchu. 
When it comes to its Machu Picchu hike difficulty, the Salkantay isn't for the faint-hearted. The trek reaches an altitude of 4,650 meters above sea level at Salkantay Pass, the highest point of the journey. 
You’ll need a good level of fitness, as you’ll be hiking an average of 10 miles per day.

Highlights and Attractions

This trek offers a smorgasbord of natural beauty, from dense rainforests to spectacular mountain terrains. 
You’ll start your journey in the old colonial city of Cusco, pass through the Sacred Valley, and explore ruins like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. 
The trek also includes a visit to the incredible Hamantay Blue Lagoon. If you’re lucky and the weather permits, you’ll even get to stargaze through Inca constellations.

Unique Features

What sets the Salkantay Trek apart are its diverse landscapes and accommodations. You’ll experience a mix of wild camping spots and unique stays like glass-roofed cabins for stargazing and Hobbit-inspired houses. 
The trek also offers a cultural immersion, as you’ll get to taste local produce from remote coffee farms and avocado plantations along the way.
Did you know? The Salkantay Trek was named among the 25 best treks in the world by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine.
See also: Salkantay trek without guide, Salkantay trek packing list and Salkantay trek difficulty
hiking the lares trek

2. Inca Jungle Trek

The Inca Jungle Trek is a 4-day adventure with a simple Inca trail training plan that combines hiking with extreme sports like biking, zip-lining, and rafting. 
It’s a moderate trek, suitable for those with a reasonable fitness level. The trek starts with a drive to Malaga Pass at 4,350 meters. It includes various activities that make it less strenuous than traditional hiking routes.

Highlights and Attractions

This trek is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. Day one kicks off with mountain biking down Malaga Pass, followed by a 2-hour white-water rafting trip. You’ll also get to zip-line across 12 platforms, suspended 250 meters above the valley. 
The trek includes parts of the historic Inca Trail and offers spectacular views throughout. You’ll pass through small villages, orchards, and rivers and even get to relax in the thermal baths of Cocalmayo.

Unique Features

What sets the Inca Jungle Trek apart is its blend of adventure sports and traditional trekking. You’ll get to experience mountain biking, white-water rafting, and zip-lining, all while soaking in the rich history and culture of the Incas. 
The trek also includes visiting Aguas Calientes, a small town near Machu Picchu, where you’ll spend a night in a comfortable 3-star hotel.
Did you know? The longest zip line on this trek is a whopping 1000 meters long. Talk about a ride to remember!
machu picchu guide

3. Inca Trail from Cusco

The Inca Trail from Cusco is a 4-day trek that takes you through some of the most iconic Inca ruins. It’s a moderate trek, but the altitude can make it challenging. 
The highest point is Dead Woman’s Pass at 4,215 meters. You must be in good shape and acclimatised to the altitude, as the trek involves steep ascents and descents.

Highlights and Attractions

This trek is a history buff’s dream come true. You’ll walk the same paths the Incas did hundreds of years ago, passing through ruins like Runkurakay and Sayacmarca. 
The trek culminates in the arrival at the Sun Gate, where you’ll get your first breathtaking view of Machu Picchu. Along the way, you’ll traverse cloud forests and subtropical jungles, offering a diverse range of flora and fauna.

Unique Features

What sets this trek apart is its historical significance. You’ll be following the original Inca Trail, which was once used by Inca messengers. 
The trek also includes a guided tour of Machu Picchu, where you’ll learn about its history and significance. Additionally, the trek offers the opportunity to add extra days to your trip to visit Rainbow Mountain.
Did you know? Dead Woman’s Pass, the highest point of the trek, is so named not because of any grim history but because the mountain outline resembles a woman lying down when viewed from certain angles.
8 day salkantay trek

4. The 4-Day Inca Trail

The 4-Day Inca Trail is a classic trek that offers a condensed experience of the longer Inca Trail. It’s a moderate trek, but the altitude and steep ascents can make it challenging. 
The trek includes a personal porter to carry up to 5 kg of your belongings, so you’ll only need a daypack with essentials.

Highlights and Attractions

This trek is all about experiencing the Inca Trail in a shorter time frame. You’ll pass through various landscapes, from cloud forests to mountainous terrains. 
The trek includes visits to iconic ruins like Runkurakay and Sayacmarca. The highlight is, of course, arriving at Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, just like the original Inca messengers.

Unique Features

What sets this trek apart is its focus on convenience and accessibility. It includes a personal porter and offers trekking poles for rent to assist your balance and reduce knee impact. 
The trek also provides boiled water after each mealtime, starting from lunch on the second day. If you’re 60 or above, an additional porter is recommended for your convenience.
Did you know? Trekking poles are highly recommended for this trail, especially if you have knee problems. However, metal-tipped poles are not allowed as they can damage the trail.
5 day salkantay trek (machu picchu)

5. Salkantay Trek (5 Days)

The Salkantay Trek (5 Days) is a slightly shorter version of the 8-day trek, but it still packs a punch. The trek reaches an altitude of 4,650 meters at Salkantay Pass, and you’ll be hiking an average of 10 miles daily. This trek is challenging, so a good level of fitness is essential.

Highlights and Attractions

This trek offers a condensed yet equally stunning experience of the Salkantay route. You’ll traverse through dense rainforests and mountain terrains and even visit the Hamantay Blue Lagoon. 
The trek starts in Cusco and passes through the Sacred Valley Cusco, offering a rich blend of natural and cultural experiences.

Unique Features

The 5-day version of the Salkantay Trek offers a more streamlined experience for those short on time. While it doesn’t include all the unique accommodations like the 8-day version, it still offers a mix of camping and stays in local guesthouses. 
You’ll also be able to visit hot springs in Aguas Calientes. However, the entrance fee is not included in the tour cost.
Did you know? The Salkantay Trek (5 Days) doesn’t visit the hot springs of Cocalmayo located in Santa Teresa, unlike its 8-day counterpart. So, if hot springs are a must for you, you might want to consider the longer version.
taking photos at machu picchu

6. Lares Trail

The Lares Trail typically takes about four days to complete and is considered a moderate trek. While it doesn’t reach the high altitudes of some other treks, it still requires a decent fitness level. The highest point is around 4,450 meters, and you’ll hike approximately 6 to 8 miles daily.

Highlights and Attractions

This trek is a cultural gem, offering a more off-the-beaten-path experience. You’ll pass through remote Andean villages where you can interact with local Quechua-speaking communities.
The trail also offers stunning views of snow-capped mountains, emerald lakes, and lush valleys. It’s a quieter alternative to the more popular trails, giving you a more intimate experience with nature and local culture.

Unique Features

What sets the Lares Trail apart is its focus on cultural immersion. You’ll be able to visit local markets and schools and even partake in traditional weaving demonstrations. 
Unlike other treks, the Lares Trail offers homestays in local villages, giving you a unique insight into the daily lives of the Andean people.
Did you know? The Lares Trail is often called the “Weaver’s Way” because of the rich textile traditions you’ll encounter in the local villages.
machu picchu llamas

7. Short Inca Trail (2 Days)

The Short Inca Trail is a 2-day trek that offers a condensed experience of the classic Inca Trail. On the first day, you’ll hike about 12 km (7.5 miles) to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. 
This trek is considered relatively mild, requiring only a basic fitness level. The maximum altitude reached is 2,730 meters (8,956 feet).

Highlights and Attractions

Your journey starts with a train ride to Kilometer 104 (KM 104), where you’ll begin your hike. The trail takes you through a dense cloud forest teeming with various plants, flowers, and birds.
 If you’re lucky, you might spot some local Machu Picchu wildlife like Viscachas or the rare Spectacled Bear. The trek culminates with a stunning view of Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail Sun Gate, often bathed in the golden light of late afternoon.

Unique Features

This trek is perfect for those short on time but still want to experience the magic of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. It includes a 3-star hotel stay in Aguas Calientes and a 2-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu. 
It's the best time to hike Machu Picchu because you’ll also have the option to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, although this comes at an additional cost.
inca trail sign

Things to Consider Before You Go On Your Machu Picchu Hike

Here are a few things you must consider before you go on your Machu Picchu hike:
  • Best Time to Visit: The ideal time for trekking to Machu Picchu Mountain is between April and October, during the dry season. The driest months are June through August, but these are also the busiest. If you prefer fewer crowds, consider going in the shoulder months like April, May, September, or October.

  • Required Fitness Level: When determining a typical Machu Picchu hike distance, the difficulty of the various treks differs, but a basic to moderate level of fitness is generally required. For the more challenging treks like the Salkantay Trek, a higher level of fitness is advisable.

  • Acclimatisation in Cusco: It’s crucial to spend at least two days in Cusco before starting any trek to acclimatise to the high altitude. This is especially important for treks that reach altitudes above 4,000 meters. For guests over 60, it’s recommended to spend at least three days acclimatising so you avoid getting Machu Picchu altitude sickness.

This iconic Peruvian city itself has a rich history and plenty of Cusco attractions. Spending a few extra days there not only helps with acclimatisation but also allows you to explore the city’s many gems.
machu picchu signage

Conclusion

If you're looking for things to do in Machu Picchu, embarking on a trek to Machu Picchu is a Peru adventure that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. From the adrenaline-pumping Inca Jungle Trek to the culturally rich Lares Trail, there’s a journey for every type of adventurer.
Choose wisely, prepare thoroughly, select the best travel insurance for Machu Picchu, and let the magic of the Andes transform your soul with us at Skyhook Adventure.

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