Whats Wrong with The Inca Trail?
Nothing! The Inca Trail is classic and iconic but there are some things to note. Firstly, there are a limited number of licenses permitted by the Peruvian government every year so if you have a specific date you’d like to travel you need to be quick to book. For example, this blog is being written in August 2017 and permits to walk the Inca Trail have sold out until Mid November. This is common. As you may have guessed, the trail can also be busy. Around 70,000 people walk this trail every year so some consider it to have lost its magic and wilderness appeal, as a result of so many tourists the idea of a genuine inca trek has become diluted to some. Having said that, it’s still iconic and is the dream trip for thousands of people! The items we note are just to be considered and are reasons why other treks are gaining in popularity.
What Is The Salkantay Trek?
The Salkantay trek is quite famous in its own right but it’s not iconic, at least not yet. The National Geographic Adventure Travel magazine named this trek as one of the top 25 in the world so it must be pretty good!. No permits or licenses are needed to trek this route (yet) and so logistically it’s a little easier. It’s also far less crowded with very few tourists every year. The trek is up Mt Salkantay, rising 6,271 meters above sea level which is higher than the Inca Trail and the trek itself is more demanding. The trek is in the same area as the Inca Trail and follows and ancient footpath. This really is an authentic trek.
Does The Salkantay Trek End At Machu Picchu?
No but it is close and most guided treks (including ours) end at Aguas Calientes from where you can catch a ride (or a private bus on our tour) to Machu Picchu for a guided tour. The best time of course is in the morning before the crowds turn up.
How Difficult Is The Salkantay Trek?
It’s a difficult question to answer but it is more strenuous than the Inca Trail primarily because it is higher, the paths are less worn, the facilities aren’t as modern along the way and in places it can be a steep climb but people of all ages manage this trek so long as there is reasonable physical condition. Without washing to sound bossy, a little training goes a long way! We would note though that even with training under your belt some acclimatisation is a good idea. Its well worth speeding a few days in Cusco before setting off.
What Does The Local Tourist Board Say?
Roger Valencia, expert trekking guide and President of the regional Chamber of Tourism of Cusco says:
“The Salkantay Trek offers a different experience to the Inca Trail and delivers the best vistas of the Salkantay mountain as well as superb hiking. Also, you don’t need porters. We see a lot of travellers on the Salkantay Trek using animals, such as mules. You get really close to the majestic Mt Salkantay, and it’s possible to stay either in lodges or camp”