Hiking To and Around Machu Picchu

I just had a story in the Sunday Boston Globe on hiking to Machu Picchu. That link goes to the online version. I haven’t seen the hard copy yet but the photo they used is from my Inca Trail hike about four years ago. Since that time, rates have pretty much doubled, as I discussed in this post from last summer, Higher prices in Peru.

At the risk of sounding like Mr. Bummer, if you are a backpacker on a budget, forget hiking to Machu Picchu. You’re looking at a bare minimum of $400 now for the Inca Trail and not all that much less for the alternatives. Honestly, if I were going there now as a shoestring backpacker, I would do some independent hikes in the Sacred Valley and then take the train to Aguas Calientes, joining the throngs at the monument but going in the afternoon after the crowds have thinned out.

If you have the money though, it’s an awesome experience and that article points you to some alternate treks, including the Lares, the Salkantay, and the long and rugged Choquequirao trek. It lays out the current prices and what you can expect in terms of conditions and difficulty.

The two key takeaways are this: plan as far ahead as possible to secure a spot during popular months and don’t underestimate the physical conditioning and acclimitization necessary to make it through. I’ve seen two people turn back, one carried by a horse, two needing oxygen, and one getting weak-kneed at a high pass and needing to be helped down to a lower altitude. And I’ve only been twice! When you start out at 10,000 feet, it’s easy to get winded.

Read the full article.

  1. marina villatoro

    i felt the same way when i was there. it’s not made for a backpackers budget! i ended up doing the 2 day hike which was more than i had budgeted for the week. but, you only live once, and how often to get to this part of the world:)

  2. Jean - OurExplorer Tour Guide

    More visitors, higher prices, less space.
    But think hiking in Machu Picchu will be worth the efforts and money, coz it’s such a mysterious and amazing place.

  3. Alyssa Lyndley

    Hello, Cusco has many tourist attractions and activities that tourists can do. I traveled with my family last summer and had a good time. All we did the Inca Trail and it was an unforgettable experience. If you have the opportunity to travel to Peru visit Cusco and hire a travel agency that arranges everything. I did it with TurPeru and was very good, I recommend it. Its website is http://www.turperu.com.pe

  4. alex

    Hey, Nice pics, nice description
    Im glad to have fallen on this article
    Im a hiker myself, as a complementary source, id like to put this link to my site
    Keep writing !
    And put more pics :)!

  5. paul

    I now live in Peru and have taken the Inca trail to machu picchu a few times, the salkantay and even the lares trek. this part of the world is pretty amazing , i just can’t do it enough times or take to many pictures of the inca citadel. I actually work with an agency here now so in case anyone needs additional information on machu picchu you can access it here http://www.peruvacationtours.com/othertopics/machu-picchu-tours/

  6. Bob

    I definitely have to hike Machu Pichu, it’s one of my plans to do as long as I’m young ;)

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