Machu Picchu, it’s a dream destination and a bucket list favorite for both seasoned travelers and occasional jet setters. Most people have seen the photos of colorfully dressed locals, smiling llamas and the impossible green color of the site, but not everyone really understands how to travel to this famed destination. If you are planning your Machu Picchu itinerary and want the low down on how to actually travel there, this is for you.
The Inca Trail
As one of the most popular routes to reach Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail is actually made up of 3 connecting trails. With the One Day, Classic and Mollepata trails, hikers can experience multiple types of environments like the alpine tundra, cloud forest, Incan ruins, tunnels and settlements. More well used than other Andean treks, the government has put a limit on how many people can hike it each year, making advanced bookings extremely important. With only 500 people in total allowed on the trail per day, 200 which are guides, bookings go quite fast. And, if you are planning on visiting Machu Picchu in February, be aware that the trail is closed for the entire month due to cleaning.
By taking the Classic Trail, hikers can expect to trek for 4 or 5 days although a 2-day trek is possible if starting from 104 Km. By starting from Cusco by the river Urubamba, trekkers can begin from either 82 Km or 88 Km.
The Salkantay Trail
Not only one of the most interesting Peru treks but also one of the 25 best treks in the world according to National Geographic Traveler, the Salkantay trek is open to everyone. Imposing no limitations and requiring no permits, it makes a good alternative to the crowded Inca Trail. With views of the mountains and rain forests, this ancient footpath is located northwest of the city of Cusco by less than 50 miles.
Trains to Machu Picchu are another option for those who aren’t up for the strenuous treks. Open since 1999, Perurail has been delivering passengers to both Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca all throughout the year. Visitors to this famous landmark can choose between three different trains, The Expedition, Vistadome and Hiram Bingham for an unforgettable journey. The Hiram Bingham offers a luxurious and exclusive service that is both personalized and relaxed while the Vistadome has panoramic windows, live performances and even a fashion show. If you decide to take the Expedition, you can look forward to snacks, drinks, Andean decorations and even on-board shopping.
Another option for train travel is Incarail, a line that offers a handful of riding options. Choices start from economy which offers stunning views, comfy seats, snacks and drinks or opt for executive class which offers the same but is a bit roomier. Standards are raised even higher in first class where guests receive a welcome cocktail and a gourmet menu selection. The best of them all is the presidential seating which has an open bar, welcome bottle of champagne and a tasting menu.
Whichever way you choose to travel to Machu Picchu, you are bound to take in stunning views, have a memorable experience and be rewarded with one of the world’s most intriguing sites at the end of the journey.