The majestic Machu Picchu is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a World Heritage Site. Over half a million people visit Machu Picchu each year, this means more than 2500 visitors every day.
It is difficult to enjoy a holiday in the Lost City of the Incas and feel truly lost in the awe and wonder of the area while surrounded by thousands of people.
The famous Inca ruins rest atop a mountain that is 2400 metres high in a remote location approximately 100 kilometres away from Cusco, the nearest City and former capital of the Inca Empire.
Cusco is the gateway to Machu Picchu. From there, you can choose how you want to reach the Lost City:
- By train and then a short hike
- The Classic Inca Trail which is a 4 day 3 night hike
- The Lares Trek which is also a 4 day 3 night hike, but the 3rd night is spent in a hotel
- The Inca Jungle Trek which is an adventure-packed 4 day 3 night hike that includes a few adrenaline-fueled activities
- The Salkantry Trek which ranges between 3 and 5 days depending on the optional activities along the way
- The Choquequirao Trek which is a true adventure lasting 8 to 9 days and includes walking through the Choquequirao ruins. You can also find 4 and 5 days trek.
- The Vilcabamba Trail which is a lesser-known trail of 5 days and 4 nights
- The Lodge Trek which entails moving from hotel to hotel with short hikes during the day and lasts 9 days and 8 nights
- The Chaski (or Cachicata) Trail which includes a bus and train ride and a little less hiking and lasts 4 days and 3 nights
- Huchuy Qosqo (Small/Little Cusco) Trek which is a short 3 day 2 night trip, the last night is spent in a hotel
- Yavero Expeditions tour which is an 11 day river-based tour
In this post, we want to tell you about five of the least crowded routes you can take so that you can truly enjoy all that this remote and breathtakingly beautiful part of Peru has to offer you.
1. The Inca Jungle Trek
This trek is the most action-packed way to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu and includes activities like river rafting, downhill mountain biking, and zip-lining.
You will hike through Inca trails that are newly discovered along a route that is full of spectacular views, unique places, and mountains covered in jungle.
The first two nights you will sleep in hostels and on the third night you will stay in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.
2. Salkantay Trek
A popular alternative to the crowded Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek is more rugged and remote and therefore less frequented by tourists. The trek starts in Mollepata, a small town 100km from Cusco, and ascends into the breath-taking beauty of the Andes Mountains before finishing in Aguas Calientes from which you can hike or take a short bus ride to Machu Picchu.
3. Choquequirao From 4 Days
Choquequirao is the lesser-known little sister of Machu Picchu, according to LonelyPlanet.com. The name literally means ‘Cradle of Gold’ and will have you feeling like you have stumbled upon a lost treasure. The reason it is not well known is its remote location. The nearest roads are at least one-and-a-half day’s hike away.
The ruins are only 40% excavated but even so, they are big enough that you will need one full day to explore it; unlike big sister, Machu Picchu, where you are forced to rush because of the queues of people waiting behind you. If crowds get you down you will love Choquequirao as it is, in the truest essence, a lost city that received very few tourists by comparison.
4. Vilcabamba Trail
Not for the faint-hearted or the weak-kneed, this five-day trek takes you far into the jungle through the sparsely populated Cordillera Vilcabamba. It crosses three consecutive high mountain passes before descending into the dense jungle and up again to bring you to the well-deserved prize of Machu Picchu.
5. Yavero Expeditions Tour 11 days
For those who enjoy river-based adventure mixed with hiking the Yavero expedition is for you.
The journey begins in Paititi, the Incan City of Gold, and ends at the mountain top ruins of Machu Picchu. The river carries you through the mountain hills of the rain forest to the heart of the Amazon jungle and along stretches of class 3 and 4 rapids on the Yavero River. You will pass through Pongo Mainique Canyon with the breath-taking Tonkini Waterfall. Mainique Canyon divides the upper and lower portions of the Urubamba River and is full of natural riches for anyone who chooses to visit it. The biological diversity of the canyon is incomparable: scientists believe that the Pongo de Mainique may contain more wildlife species than any other area of its size anywhere else in the world. It is a place of inestimable natural beauty that has great spiritual significance for the people of the area.
Part of the tour includes a stop at Matoriato national reserve where you can acquaint yourself with the Machiguenga Indigenous community who live along the river. You will have an opportunity to share in their simple and unfamiliar way of life.
This expedition tour includes a full guided tour around Machu Picchu plus you can also hike to one of the top Mountains that set behind Machu Picchu.
No matter which route you choose to get to Macha Picchu, be it by train, bus, car, boat, on a mountain bike, on foot, or any combination of the above, you will be rewarded with the magnificence of the Andes Mountains, the majesty of the Amazon Jungle, the might of the Urubamba river, and mysticism of the Indigenous communities who live in a world lost to time and oblivious of the hustle and bustle of the world we live in.
There is an option that suits any level of fitness, from the hiking fanatic to the adrenaline junky to the not-so-adventurous. Peru and Machu Picchu await.