Salkantay Trek vs Inca Trail

Salkantay Trek  Vs Inca Trail Trek



Is one of the best trek to Machu Picchu, and an alternative to the traditional Inca Trail for reaching to citadel of Machu Picchu. This Trek crosses the Salkantay Pass at 15091 feet and descends into the beautiful cloud forest and passes the Inca ruins of Llaqtapata, with a great view of Machu Picchu.

The trail starts in Mollepata, a couple of hours away from Cuzco and ends in Santa Teresa or Hidroelectrica giving access to Aguas Calientes for Machu Picchu. The trek is not as popular as the overbooked Inca Trail but many find it just as beautiful.

This trek (also sometimes called the Salcantay Trek), was named among the 25 best Treks in the World, by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. The part around Mount Salkantay has some outstanding views and the descent later down to 1,000 m above sea level is quite gorgeous and not too steep.


Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu


The Inca trail is one of the most popular treks in Peru and South America. It starts from Chillca and follows a route to Machu Picchu, The Lost City of the Incas.

Many countries have mountain ranges with beautiful scenery and Peru itself is richly blessed in this respect with many other areas for hiking. However the scenery is only one of the elements responsible for the magic of the Inca Trail. Can there be any walk anywhere in the world with such a combination of natural beauty, history and sheer mystery and with such an awe-inspiring destination? The various ruins along the way serve to heighten the hiker's sense of anticipation as he or she approaches what would surely find a place in any new list of archaeological wonders of the world - Machu Picchu.

Walking the Inca trail can be very rewarding and is possible for all ages as long as you are fit. Over the course of the Trail, you gain and lose 1000 meters several times, all of which is over 3000 meters where oxygen is noticeably thinner. Acclimation to the altitude is a must, with generally a minimum of 2 days advised before starting the hike, and good physical condition advised. The journey winds through the valleys and hills of the surrounding area, taking you through the scenic landscape, from high alpine to cloud forests.

Many agencies operating from Cusco offer organized hikes along the trail, providing most of the equipment (tents etc) and people to carry it. Also, don't forget that the trail ends at Machu Picchu. When you hike the Trail, you get to descend from the Sun Gate (Intipunku), and it is recommended to reach the Sun Gate at dawn to see Machu Picchu before the busloads of tourists show up around 10AM.

The trail is scattered with ancient monuments and Incan sites and is definitely worth the effort.

Since 2001, the Peruvian government has instituted a quota system on how many travelers can be on the trail on any given day and the permits now sell out months in advance for the high season. Permits for the entire current year usually become available at the beginning of January. Availability can be checked at the Ministry of Culture - Cusco Region website [1]. You must book with an authorized tour operator well in advance of the date when you wish to walk the trail, as it is not allowed to organize the trek yourself. Don't expect to pick up last-minute cancellations either, as tour organizers must register client passport numbers with the government, and they are strictly checked at control points on the trail.


It depends what you are looking for... The Inca Trail is the classic trail over the original "inca road" to Machupicchu, arriving at the Intipunku (Sun Gate) for the sunrise over Machupicchu.

Salkantay is the no.1 alternative to the Inca Trail - most people do this route because they cannot get on the Trail or they want to avoid the crowds. It is more of a nature trail, and actually has much better landscapes than the Inca Trail, but you do miss out on all the arceological sites that are on the Inca Trail! There are no ruins on the Salkantay route.

Salkantay is a lot cheaper than the Inca Trail as well. 

With Salkantay Trek you also do get to experience the sunrise over Machu Picchu, because you arrive in Aguas Calientes on the 4th day and then on the 5th day you get up early to walk up to Machupicchu for the sunrise.

The Inca Trail is part of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, a protected area of 32,592 hectares, managed by the National Institute of Natural Resources, INRENA. Every visitor must obey park regulations that prohibit littering, cutting or damaging trees, removing or damaging stones of ruins and the Trail, removing plants, killing animals, lighting open fires or camping in the archeological sites (only authorized campsites can be used)


Llactapata Lodge is located in a magical place, with the most beautiful views of the most renown Inca archeological site.



Salkantay hike to Machu Picchu is one of the most amazing treks in Peru and perfectly combines cultural and natural beauty like no other ones.


  • Inca Trail Llactapata to Machu Picchu
  • Inca Trail Llactapata to Machu Picchu

Inca Trail Llactapata to Machu Picchu



Dominant Mountain  2019