Best Alternative Trek to Machu Picchu: Inca Jungle Trail or Salkantay trek?

03 Jan
De Beste alternatieve trekking naar Machu Picchu: Inca Jungle Trail of Salkantay Trek?
Wednesday January 03, 2018 - Posted by to Adventure Travel, Peru Travel

Best Alternative Trek to Machu Picchu: Inca Jungle Trail or Salkantay trek?

We have all heard of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Peru. The Inca Trail is probably the most famous trek of South America, a unique experiences for many travelers. But did you know there are many alternative routes to get there? The most famous alternative hikes from Cusco to Machu Picchu are the Salkantay Trek and the Inca Jungle Trek.  Let’s point out the differences to make your choice easier in case you have either decided to do one of those treks. Needless to say both are great alternatives for when the Inca Trail is sold out.  So, what is the Best Alternative Trek to Machu Picchu: Inca Jungle Trail or Salkantay trek?

To start:  the main difference between the Salkantay trek and the Inca Jungle trek, is that the Salkantay Trek is 100% hiking, whilst the Inca Jungle Trek combines hiking and mountain biking.

The second big difference is about the uphill hiking: where the Inca Jungle trek starts with a downhill mountain bike tour, the Salkantay hike goes up steep. The higher you get the colder it will be. For the Inca Jungle hike it is the other way around: the more you descend the warmer it gets. Walking the Salkantay trek means you will go to warmer places as well, but only after the first two days. On the third day, you will pass through hot, jungly valleys.


The Best Alternative Trek to Machu Picchu: Inca Jungle Trail or Salkantay trek?



Zip Lining and River Rafting

Both treks to Machu Picchu offer the opportunity to go zip lining. But only the Inca Jungle trek has the possibility to go wild water rafting too. Going for a full adventure trip means you get to go biking, hiking, zip lining and water rafting during the Inca Jungle hike.

Don’t assume that the Salkantay trek is boring compared to all this adventure activities that the Inca Jungle Trek offers. Because it’s certainly not! Climbing up Salkantay is a great challenge. Not everyone can make it on their own to the 4,600 meter high top. Some people need a horse to help them – but eventually everyone makes it.



The Best Alternative Trek to Machu Picchu: Inca Jungle Trail or Salkantay trek?


The Weather during the hikes

Another important difference between the two hikes to Machu Picchu is the temperature. As mentioned above Salkantay gets cold, especially during the second night, whereas the Jungle Hike gets hot. It is up to you what you prefer most: Walking in hot, sweaty, jungle temperatures or walking in a colder mountain climate. Note that while walking you will get warm, so you won’t really notice the cold at Salkantay when moving.


The views

The views are also completely different on both treks. Walking the Inca Jungle Hike you get to see green nature, coffee plantations and some tame monkeys. You will see the snowy peek of the Salkantay mountain, but from a distance. Doing the Salkantay hike you get to walk through bar lands, see some condors if you are lucky and you will feel the cold of the snowy mountain right beside you.



The Best Alternative Trek to Machu Picchu: Inca Jungle Trail or Salkantay trek?



The Last Day of the Hikes

The last days of the hikes are more or less the same. Both hikes take you to Santa Teresa where you can visit the Hot Springs. From here, you head to Hidroeléctrica where you can opt to go zip lining. The last night of both hikes will be spent in a hotel in Aguas Calientes, and the last day, visiting the old Inca Citadel.


Machu Picchu Tour

A guided tour in Machu Picchu is included for both of the treks. After a guided tour, you will be given free time to explore the ruins (with the time limits of your entry ticket)

According to testimonials and trip reports of people that have done both hikes, the Salkantay trek is more strenuous.  Because of the high altitude it is best to acclimatize in Cusco for a few days before starting this trip. For people will lexx experience in hiking, or families with kids, we mostly recommend the Inca Jungle Trek.


Are you interested in one of those treks to Machu Picchu?

Check out our discounted fixed departure dates or contact us for more information.




Are you interested in find out more?

Don’t  hesitate to contact one of our trip advisors in Cusco that will help you to plan your trip to Peru and the best option for our hike to Machu Picchu. 

If you consider other options for traveling to Machu Picchu, we recommend you read this post, as it explores all the available options to go to the Inca Citadel including the costs:

What does a Trip to Machu Picchu really cost?




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