Trekking towards Mt Salcantay in The Andes - an excellent alternative to the Inca Trail |  <i>Sue Badyari</i> The impressive ancient ruins of Machu Picchu Salkantay Pass, Peru |  <i>Mark Tipple</i> Ausangate Mountain in Andes (Cordillera Vilcanota) Peru Making short work of the descent from 4800m on the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu |  <i>Maria Tran</i> Panoramic view of the 'lost' Inca ruins of Choquequirao |  <i>Yuri Zvezdny</i> A campsite beneath the Humantay mountain in the Cordillera Urubamba, Peru |  <i>Donna Lawrence</i>

Ways to see Machu Picchu without an Inca Trail permit


Missed out on an Inca Trail permit? Fear not, you can still hike to the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu via these lesser-trekked routes that offer an even wilder and more varied route than the famous Inca Trail.

The Inca trail to the historic Machu Picchu is one of the world's most iconic trekking routes, making it no surprise that the 500 permits allocated a day to explore this classic route run out very fast. 

Currently for 2018, these permits have already sold out for trips until September, so your best bet is to book now in advance for 2019 departures to secure a permit. Or you can enjoy unique routes, like the Salcantay treks which culminate at the phenomenal Machu Picchu site.

As the Inca Trail becomes busier and permits are difficult to get, our Salcantay Trek is definitely the route to take with a stunning pass and an Inca ruin site along this quieter trail. Commencing in Callacancha, the trail takes travellers to Soraypampa, Andenes and Lucmabamba to the road head for our short train journey to Aguas Calientes and the gateway to the 'lost city'.

Our Salcantay trail offers travellers a striking landscape of contrasts and many compelling advantages over the Inca Trail:

  • You can trek near the Machu Picchu sanctuary without having to worrying about permits
  • Experience lush cloud forests, alpine lakes, majestic valleys and snow-capped muntains, including the dramatic peaks of Salcantay and Humantay
  • Enjoy incredible alpine scenery as you cross the Salcantay Pass at 4640m (only 440m higher than the highest point on the Inca Trail)

Salcantay Trek

As you explore the wilderness of the Peruvian Andes, you’ll come across spectacular vistas at Humantay Lake and camp beneath the sacred peak of Mount Salcantay, which stands at 6270 metres high, located south of the Machu Picchu ruins and about 60km west of the city of Cusco. 

While other hikers on this route typically go to Santa Teresa and stay in hostel accommodation close to activities like zip-lining and hot springs, our trekkers stay at our Lucmabamba campsite where you are immersed in coffee plantations with a local family.

Another highlight is the hike from Lucmabamba to the mysterious ruins of Llactapata where Hiram Bingham first sighted the backside of the Machu Picchu structures located across the valley.

This exclusive addition to World Expeditions’ Salcantay trek means trekkers see more elements of the area before hitting the finale at Machu Picchu for vistas of the enigmatic Inca Empire ruins and surrounding mountains.

The Salcantay trek to Machu Picchu is giving the Inca Trail a run for its money with its spectacular close up views of Mount Salcantay and challenging yet rewarding hike over the Salcantay Pass (4640m). The trail has far less trekkers than its famous friend and does not require the same, and often sold out, trekking permits.   Witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the Salcantay, high in the mystical Andes Mountains, a sight which often evokes a deep emotional connection between you and your natural surroundings.   Learn more at

Sunshine over the ancient Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman above Cusco |  <i>Sue Badyari</i> The sacred Humantay Lake, Peru |  <i>Donna Lawrence</i> Happy trekkers enjoying the views of Salcantay, Peru |  <i>Jeanette Kuoni</i> Colourful Peruvian rugs in Cusco |  <i>Richard I'Anson</i> Pass through the town of Mollepata on the way to the Salcantay trek trailhead |  <i>Mark Tipple</i>
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