There’s really only one Peru trek worth doing if you want to see Machu Picchu, right? Uh.. wrong! The popular Inca Trail may hog the limelight, but it’s neighbouring cousins, Lares and Salkantay have plenty to boast about too. The question is: which trek is right for you? Whether you want to beat the crowds, prefer a little extra comfort or fancy a proper challenge, our guide to the best Peru treks should help you make up your mind…
Choosing your Rickshaw trek: Salkantay, Lares & the Inca Trail
Salkantay Trek (the ‘other’ Inca Trail)
Best for: beautiful scenery and a challenge
Salkantay is a serious mountain trek. It may be a bit more challenging, but it’s also doubly rewarding. On the first day, you’ll pass several small villages and a beautiful mountain lake, before the hard work starts with an ascent of about 900m up to Salkantaypampa. On day two, you’ll climb another 600m to reach the highest point of the trek at 4700m, after which the route becomes mostly downhill.
If you’re a sucker for scenery then prepare yourself- this route promises some spectacular views, with green valley vistas giving way to cragged snow-capped Andes peaks. The campsites are more basic than on the Inca Trail – you won’t find hot showers here, though the fresh mountain streams make for natural washing facilities. There are also no permanent toilets along this route, so you’re truly camping in the wild. On our 4-day Salkantay trek, it’s just you and nature. Beautiful and serene, it’s a real Andes trek.
While it’s a stiff walk, your porters will help you carry all the equipment, and by the time you get to the next camp they’ll already have the kettle on. On the last night, you’ll sleep in a guesthouse in Aguas Calientes, letting you rest before heading up to see the sun rise over Machu Picchu on the final day.
There are no permit limitations for Salkantay and this trek can be booked year-round.