Treks of South America – Part 1: Peru

Outdoors & Animals

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

As a vast and diverse continent, featuring varied terrain and impressive natural wonders, South America lends itself to many unique trekking opportunities.

With geographical variations in Colombia in the north to Patagonia in the south; the Andes in the west to the Amazon in the east, South America has played host to major expeditions by pre-Colombians, European explorers, and modern day travellers.

Once upon a time, treks were needed for commercial and cultural exchange, expansion, and regional development. These days, Goway offers treks to Globetrotters looking to recreate and retrace a past time. With physically challenging experiences to top regions and sites, we offer travellers a different sort of view, literally by getting off the beaten path.

Goway has on offer all of South America’s famous treks. Some are well known, others not so much, but all offer a physical challenge from the easy to the extreme, the chance to retrace the steps of explorers who have gone before, or simply the chance to walk around, through and to some of the world’s most famous examples of Mother Nature’s art work.

We dive into the top treks here…

Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru

PERU

The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail in Peru is probably South America’s most famous walk, and one of the world’s top five. The trail begins in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which itself is dotted with many stunning ruins, and takes trekkers towards the end goal – the ceremonial site of Machu Picchu.

Inca Trail campsite
Inca Trail campsite

With options of 5 day, 4 day and 3 day trails, trekkers walk along ancient Incan highways. The nature of the surroundings – the Andes Mountains – made the use of the wheel impractical, so the Incan empire was built on trails and tunnels, all to be traversed on foot. One trail system was for the common man and another system for the Incan royalty. On the famous Inca Trail you journey on both.

It is a spectacular trek through the high Andes with a chance to visit extraordinary ruins, enjoy beautiful mountain views, walk through strikingly different climatic zones, and finally experience the unique feeling of arriving at Machu Picchu by foot.

The trail can be done by anyone aged 12 to 80, but is physically challenging and pre-trip training is advised. Different length of tent-based options with basic services are available, and a comfortable 5-day luxury version is also a popular option.

Sun Gate at Machu Picchu
Sun Gate at Machu Picchu

Baby Inca Trail
Short on time, physical preparedness, or simply don’t have an interest in 4 or 5 days of hard trekking? Then our 2-Day Baby Inca Trail is the perfect solution.

Starting further down the valley and joining the Traditional Inca Trail at the ruins of Winya Wanya, the 2-Day Baby Inca Trail option offers a physical challenge and the chance to enter the ruins of Machu Picchu through the famous Sun Gate. Only about 15 kms in length covered over 1 day, the trail is short, relatively easy, and offers great views of the valley and Machu Picchu. Day 2 is spent in and around the ruins themselves.

Suggested Itineraries:
5-Day Trekking the Inca Trail

4-Day Traditional Inca Trail
2-Day Baby Inca Trail
5-Day Luxury Inca Trail

For the full rundown on all the Inca Trail options, download our PDF version of Goway’s Inca Trail Manual:

Goway’s Inca Trail Manual

Trekking to Machu Picchu

Salkantay Trek
While the classic Inca Trail still is renowned around the world as the top trek in Peru, our Mountain Lodges to Machu Picchu trek can claim to 2 things the traditional Inca Trail cannot:

1. Each night’s accommodation is in purpose-built 4 star lodges with comfortable beds, sit down meals, and are located in more remote and peaceful routes.

2. While approximately the same length as the Inca Trail (+/- 42 kms), overall and relatively speaking, the Mountain Lodges to Machu Picchu trek is less strenuous due to its more undulating route versus a more severe up and down path on the 4 day Inca Trail trek.

The trek follows the much less travelled Salkantay route, taking the trekker through more rural settings, but equally magnificent views of the Andes, and retracing many of the multitude of traditional Inca trails.

Arrival into Machu Picchu is through the “back door”, which then requires the trekker to walk in to the valley below, catch a train to Aguas Calientes, and then enter the ruins proper by the main gate.

No less challenging than the 4 day Traditional Inca Trail version, the Mountain Lodges to Machu Picchu trek offers a more remote and tranquil option in reaching Machu Picchu.

Suggested Itinerary:
8-Day Mountain Lodges to Machu Picchu


Next:
Treks of South America – Part 2: The Patagonias (Chile and Argentina)
Treks of South America – Part 3: Colombia, Galapagos, and Antarctica