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+51 973 250 586 info@treksincusco.com

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek? Trekking to the famous Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world, is a bucket list for many travellers. Often travellers frantically browse to determine the best option to reach Machu Picchu on foot. Both Salkantay Trek and Inca Trail are distinct from each other and offers unforgettable experiences in their own ways.

The Classic Inca Trail takes you through the Royal Road of Incas that the Incas used while travelling from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Salkantay Trek takes you through the scenic route with some captivating views of the Peruvian highland. 

Although it is not simple to answer which of these two trek is the best option to reach Machu Picchu, we have curated the best part and challenges of these treks on this post. 

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek

Highlights and Challenges

Inca Trail Highlights

  • Inca Ruins, Clod Forests and Mountains
  • Offers an exclusive view of sunrise in Machu Picchu from Sun Gate
  • It is not as difficult as Salkantay Trek

Salkantay Trek Highlights

  • Incredible views of snow capped peaks
  • Campsites offer good facility
  • You will be visiting Humantay Lake

Inca Trail Challenges

  • Requires trail permit which tends to sell out six months in advance
  • Inca Trail is expensive. It costs almost double than Salkantay Trek

Salkantay Trek Challenges

  • Most campsites are at higher altitude, so it gets extremely cold
  • Mostly all agencies follow a similar route and same time pattern. It could get crowded some places.

The View:

Inca Trail:

Inca Trail is a perfect combination of all sights. It takes you through high mountain passes, cloud forests and plenty of archaeological ruins of Incas. Some of the exclusive ruins that can be visited only on Inca Trail are, Llactapata, Wiñay Wana, Sayaqmarka. The best, this is the only trail to Machu Picchu that allows you to see the sunrise through Sun gate before reaching Machu Picchu. 

Salkantay Trek:

Although you won’t be passing through many ruins on Salkantay Trek, it offers captivating views of the Peruvian highlands. Most part of the trek is around the snow capped Salkantay peak. The trek is relatively longer and higher than Inca Trail. You will also be spotting many Andean wild animals like spectacled bears, deers, alpacas and more. Unlike, Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek attracts less number of people. 

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek

Cost:

Inca Trail:

Being the most popular trek to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail is the most expensive trek. However, as the saying goes “You get what you pay for”, the camp sites on Inca Trail are much organised and have better facilities. On an average the four days Classic Inca Trail costs USD 500. 

Salkantay Trek:

Salkantay Trek is ideal for budget travellers wanting to experience the best of the Peruvian highland. There are tour operators who offer competitive price with basic facilities. However, you can also pay more and sleep in a proper bed in a beautiful setting. On an average the five days Salkantay Trek could cost anywhere between USD 248 to USD 655 (depending on the facilities). 

Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek

Difficulty:

Inca Trail:

Classic Inca Trail is more of a moderate trail. Any person with a reasonable fitness level will be able to cover 26 miles of trail in four days. The toughest part of the Inca Trail is the hike to the highest point of the trail, Dead Woman’s Pass (13,828 feet). 

Salkantay Trek:

Salkantay Trek is somewhat challenging. If you are doing the Classic Salkantay Trek, you will be covering 46 miles in five days. The trek has many high mountain passes. You will have to be extremely fit and well acclimatised. 

Flexibility:

Inca Trail:

Inca Trail being the most preferred option to most, it tend to sell out soon. To protect the trail, local authorities have imposed permits. As of 2020, only 200 tourists are allowed to enter each day. Normally, it gets booked six to seven months in advance. 

Salkantay Trek:

Salkantay Trek is quite flexible, there are almost daily departures and it requires no permit. So you can even book your trek at last minute. 

Still unable to decide? Check out our Salkantay Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. On this 7 Days trek you will be able to experience the best of both.

Trek Summary

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek

Inca Trail

  • Duration: 04 Days
  • Maximum Altitude: 4215 metres above the sea level.
  • Highlights: Notable Inca ruins like Wiñay Wana, Llactapata and Sun Gate
  • Best Time: March to January
  • Type of accommodations: Camping or Opulent Glamping

Salkantay Trek 

  • Duration: Salkantay Trek 3 Days, 4 Days or 5 Days
  • Maximum Altitude: 4600 metres above the sea level.
  • Highlights: Laguna Humantay, Andean snow capped peaks.
  • Best Time: April to November
  • Type of accommodations: Camping or Luxury Dome Lodges

Trek Options

Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek

Salkantay Trek 

About the author

Why TREKS IN CUSCO? Treks in Cusco provides superior, quality and authentic treks and tours to Machu Picchu and around Cusco. We want you to connect with the treks and the beautiful scenery, Andean people. Which is why our team consists of only locals who have grown up on the land.
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