There are many of us who enjoy a good trek and have done so all over the world, but you may be surprised to know that in the high Andean country of Peru on the continent of South America has some of the most beautiful treks in the world. Thousands of tourists flock to Peru every year to do trekking. Without a doubt the most popular of the treks in the Inca Trail. This four-day walk is world-famous and includes some impressive Inca ruins and cloud forests to pass and explore. Due to the popularity of the trek, the entrance tickets sell out months in advance and Inca Trail availability can be hard to come by so you if you plan to do the walk keep that in mind. All around the Cusco area, there are Inca Trail alternatives to explore the Andes and to arrive at Machu Picchu.
Let us look at some of the alternatives to the Inca Trail tours that are just as spectacular and a lot less crowded. The Lares Trek, a four-day trail that starts in the Sacred Valley at Huaran. The first day you will walk uphill for a few hours to the first campsite at the farming community of Cancha Chanca. Be amazed at the scenery and can see how the farmers live and make a living. On the second day the hike gets a little harder climbing to a pass of over four thousand meters so your stamina will be tested, on this day you will pass glaciers, lakes, and valleys that make the hike easier on the eyes but not on the legs. After lunch, the going is a little easier as you will descend to the Quiswarani community and the Queunocha Lagoon, where you will camp for the night.
On day three you will reach a pass of over four thousand five hundred meters. The pass featuring some amazing views of Pitusiray and Colquecruz mountains. The Trek has many lakes and is covered with wildflowers and after a few hours, you will arrive in Lares where you can enjoy the hot thermal springs. In the afternoon, you will be taken to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Aguas Calientes where you will spend the night. On the morning of the fourth day, you will catch the bus up to Machu Picchu for a private tour of this incredible Inca City.
Another great trek in the Cusco area is the Salcantay trek, which also ends at Machu Picchu. The first day starts with a walk to Soroycocha, where the first campsite is located; from here, there are uninterrupted views of Mount Salcantay. On day two a long trek awaits to the Salcantay Pass, the highest point on the trek, there are views that will take your breath away, with glaciers and the magnificent Vilcabamba Cordillera, in the afternoon descend to the cloud forest and the Salcantay River. Day three the weather will change, as you will enter the jungle, following the Cochora River, the scenery will also be greener. This day the camp will be set up at Lucmabamba. Day four sees the trail go to the Q`ekkiqasa lookout where you will see an excellent view of Machu Picchu and have an outdoor picnic. In the afternoon you will walk to the train station at the hydroelectric plant to catch the train to Aguas Calientes, on the last day of this five-day trek you will have a tour of Machu Picchu.
Take a look at a four-day trek called Choquequirao (pronounced Chocky-key-Rao) this trek does not finish in Machu Picchu like the other treks and hasn’t got the high passes that the other hikes have. Starting at Cachora and continuing along a zigzagging to Playa Rosalina. Then onto Choquequirao, you will return along the path you came to the beginning. On this trek, you will see the most breathtaking scenery and mountains.
The last trek we should mention is the Inka Jungle Trail, this trail is a mixed bag of biking, rafting, trekking, and zip-lining, it starts early on the first day with biking in the morning and ends the last day with an early hike to Machu Picchu, a fun four days for those who like hiking and adventure.
These are a few of the Inca Trail alternatives, which you might want to investigate when planning your Peruvian trekking adventure. All the treks have special attractions and most have spectacular mountain views and Inca Ruins.
Take the time to read the history of Machu Picchu and learn about the Inca times, when it is thought to be a sacred temple for the Inca rulers. Learn about its modern-day discovery when in 1911 an American Yale professor, Hiram Bingham while looking for the lost city of Vilcabamba discovered Machu Picchu with the help of a local farm boy. Hiram Bingham reports that the ruin was covered in jungle and that he never found any treasures, making the claim that the ruin was deserted more feasible. It is a great idea to look at your Inca Trail Map and other trek maps to know what to expect on your trek and learn a little about the trek that you are about to take.