Moon Travel Guides Author Offers Four Best Ways to Travel to Machu Picchu

Moon Travel Guides Author Offers Four Best Ways to Travel to Machu Picchu

Berkeley, California

When visiting Peru, most people think there's only one option for trekking to Machu Picchu: the four-day Inca Trail hike. Fortunately, now there are at least three alternative routes for reaching the famed Inca citadel-each with its own unique sites along the way. This summer, Ben Westwood, author of Moon Machu Picchu, shares four of the best ways to make a pilgrimage to the lost city of Inca.

The Four-Day Inca Trail Hike

This hike, which threads two 4,000-meter passes on the way from the high Andes to the cloud forest, has become a signature experience for arriving at Machu Picchu. The first and second day are the toughest; the fourth day is a short hike to Machu Picchu, followed by the full ruins tour.

The Two-Day Inca Trail Hike

If camping is not for you, or you are short on time, try the abbreviated version of the Inca Trail. In order to take in the final set of spectacular ruins at Wiñay Wayna, trekkers start farther down the trail and enter Machu Picchu at dawn through the Sun Gate. You spend your first day hiking the Inca Trail and seeing ruins and your first night sleeping in a hotel at Aguas Calientes, at the base of Machu Picchu. The second day is spent exploring Machu Picchu.

The Salcantay Five-Day Trek

While the trek past Nebado Salcantay, a 6,000-meter-plus peak, does not contain the stone paths and ruins of the Inca Trail, this five-day trek offers a wilderness experience and spectacular views of the surrounding snow-covered peaks. It's also far less expensive than the Inca Trail, and trekkers are free to hike independently (unlike on the Inca Trail, where everyone must sign up with a licensed agency). The trek is longer and higher than the Inca Trail, but new sustainable eco-lodges have been built along the Salcantay route to allow trekkers to travel fast and light and stay in relative comfort.