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Salkantay Trek vs Inca Trail

Salkantay Trek or Inca Trail:  The Road Less Travelled or the Royal Trail?


The Incas used many trails to approach their most revered site, Machu Picchu and you too have alternatives to the most well known, the Royal Road of the Incas.  Have you considered the Salkantay Trek?   Let us compare the two.
Build 500 years ago, the Salkantay Trek is more challenging than the Inca Trail. The 62 km trek can be done in the recommended 5 days or 4 days if you are short of time. This trek is longer than the 43 km Inca trail and you Do Not need a permit in advance for the trek as you do for the Inca trail. You must book the Inca Trail trek at least 3 months in advance and can expect no refunds or flexibility if you need to make changes.  This is a very crowded and regulated trek with over 200 people on the trail at any given time – a veritable royal highway! The Salkantay Trek is the road less travelled and less crowded – more difficult and wilder.
You will have a chance to admire stunning views of the Salkantay and Humantay glaciers, view the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu and relax at the Santa Teresa hot springs.  This trail is different than the Inca Trail:  the only ruin you will see along the way is Llactapata, and rather than hiking into Machu Picchu through the Inti Punti you will arrive in Aguas Caliente and have the opportunity to take the bus to the ruins or walk the path at a time of your choosing.  While this might deter some from this trek the compensations are: fewer trekkers, more time to meet the locals and a more undiluted trekking experience.  There are very basic facilities with basic or no toilet facilities and cold or no shower facilities.

Salkantay Trek (4 days)

Inca Trail (4 days)

Degree of difficulty : Very Challenging: Wilderness camping

Degree of difficulty : Challenging: Not technical; many staircases

Length of the Trek: 62 Km (38.5 miles)

Length of the Trek: 41.5 Km (26 miles)

Max. altitude: 4.640 (15.215 feet)

Max. altitude pick: 4.200 (13.800 feet)

Number of trekkers on the trail   Approx. 40

Number of trekkers on the trail:  Approx. 200

Main attractions: Views of the Humantay and Salkantay glaciers – Llactapata archaeological ruins and views of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary

Main attractions: Archaeological Inca ruins Llactapata, Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna and entry to Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate

Facilities: Showers in the campsite with only cold water; basic or no toilets

Facilities: No showers available; toilettes in all campsites.

 

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