Salkantay o Inca Trail: Which one is the best option?

inca trail or salkantay

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Although visiting Machu Picchu is an experience in itself, the truth is that there are different routes to get here, with different peculiarities and activities.

To help you decide, we want to talk about two of the best routes to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail and the Salkantay Trek.

Starting point: Cusco

This is one thing you won’t have to warm up your head about. Cusco is the city from where all the Machu Picchu tours depart, so getting to this city will be indispensable.

From there is when you will have to choose whether the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek, both ending in Machu Picchu, but with a totally different route.

boy taking a selfie in machu picchu

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

This is the original road built by the Inca empire centuries ago. Also known in Quechua (language of the Incas) as Qhapaq Ñan, it was declared in 2014 as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

This road is formed by more than 30,000 kilometers that interconnected the four cardinal points of the Inca Empire, with its capital, Cusco.

In favor of this option of the Inca Trail in 4 days, is that it will allow you to access Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate. It is believed that this was the access gate to the ancient Inca city, and that only invited people passed through here, generally the elite of the empire. Like the reserved area of a nightclub more or less.

travelers group walking along the inca trail

The only drawback, if it really is, is that the Inca Trail tours are small group tours. Therefore, it is difficult to get availability, as they sell out quickly.

But if you finally decide on this option, you will have the security of doing a very quiet trek, with hardly any people, and far from the crowds that are created in other tours.

Finally, you have to know that since this is the original route of the Incas, there is nothing built. There are no camps or accommodations along the way, so you will sleep the 3 nights in tents. It is, without a doubt, a wilder and more authentic route.

ruins inca trail

If you have not managed to book your original Inca Trail, you have a shorter option and usually have more availability. This is the Inca Trail in 2 days. In this one, you will save 2 days of hiking and you can also enter through the Sun Gate. Not a bad option if you want to do this trail and you no longer have availability on the original trail in 4 days.

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Another interesting option to get to Machu Picchu is the Salkantay Trek. This is a newer route, but with some really incredible landscapes.

As in the Inca Trail, you will depart from Cusco for this excursion. Along the way, you will visit the Humantay Lagoon, an impressive glacial lake next to Nevado Salkantay.

person in lagoon humantay green salkantay

The availability for this tour is larger since the trails are bigger and there is no problem of space. However, keep in mind that you will surely find many more people since there are different tours along the Salkantay route.

Another particularity of this trek is that there are campsites and accommodations along the way. If you are looking for more comfort than sleeping in tents, this is the best option.

In addition, you have premium alternatives to the Salkantay Trek, where you can sleep in igloos in the middle of the valleys and mountains. Undoubtedly, it is an incredible experience.

igloos to sleep in salkantay trek

Here your access route to Machu Picchu will be the most common, spending the night in Aguas Calientes, in order to get to see the sunrise at Machu Picchu.

In short… Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek?

Well, like everything else, it will depend on your preferences and availability.

If you go with the tighter time, you can do the Inca Trail in two days, and enjoy, at least one day, the ancient trails created by the Inca empire.

people with trekking poles in the mountains peru

Although if you have more time and there is availability, we recommend the 4-day option, where you will enjoy the trail and the landscapes much more. Remember, though, that you will spend the nights in tents.

If instead you prefer something more comfortable, the Salkantay Trek is a very good option. You will be able to enjoy more comfortable accommodations at night, and during the day you can enjoy the views of Salkantay and the Humantay Lagoon.

We cannot decide for you, although we can tell you that both the Inca Trail and the Salkantay Trek will be one of the best experiences of your life.

traveler jumping in inca trail

Have you already decided: Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek? Which one do you like more?

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