Our Networks


Inca Trail vs Salkantay Trek


camino inca vs salkantay trek -classic inca trail vs salkantay

Inca Trail vs Salkantay Trek

You are planning your adventure in Peru, a popular country for lovers of trekking and getting to know Machu Picchu, and you have some doubts about choosing between the Inca Trail, which is one of the best trek in the world, and the Salkantay Trek, which has become popular in recent years. for its impressive landscapes, in this article you will find the differences between both hikes and it will help you make your best decision.

What is the Salkantay Trek?

The Salkantay trek is the second most popular trekking route to Machu Picchu in the Cusco region. This hike offers visitors the most amazing landscapes. You will descend from the highest mountains in the Cusco region to the warm jungle.

Along this route, there are animals such as alpacas, chinchillas, as well as the exotic flora of the jungle, along this route we also find small waterfalls.

What is the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail is one of the most famous routes worldwide and iconic in Peru, considered one of the 10 best treks in the world. This trek combines adventure and Inca history.

On this trail you will travel along ancient paths that the Incas used more than 500 years ago, it is a paved path full of steps up and down between the Andes mountains until you reach the edge of the jungle and the Sun Gate where you will appreciate Machu Picchu in the distance.


Both treks have different distances with different unique views, but it is very important to know the itineraries that each company manages.

Inca Trail Distance.

The Inca Trail starts at km 82 or Piskacucho, and lasts 4 days and 3 nights, as we also have the Premium Inca Trail of 5 days and 4 nights, the distance is 43km / 26 miles, known for its cobbled path and stairs.

Salkantay Trek Distance.

The Salkantay trek begins from the town of Soraypampa at 3920 meters above sea level, from this point you can visit the famous Humantay lagoon, here adventurers travel a distance of 60 km /37 miles in the classic Salkantay of 5 days and 4 nights.

Altitude on the Inca Trail vs Salkantay Trek

We must consider that the Cusco region is around 3400 m and the different routes have mountains higher than 4000 meters. Altitude sickness will be a common problem on your adventure, we recommend arriving 2 days early so you can acclimatize. (Cusco Andean hike offers its clients an acclimatization tour included in the service).

Inca Trail Altitude

We have as the highest point of the Inca trail the pass of the dead woman or warmiwañuka at 4015 m / 13830 feet, and then we have the second pass of runkurakay at 3950 m. These steps are found on the second and third day of the Inca trail.

Salkantay trek altitude

The highest point of the Salkantay trek is at 4630 m /15190 feet, 415 meters higher than the Inca trail. The Salkantay Pass is on the second day of the trip.

Landscapes of the Inca Trail vs Salkantay trek

Inca Trail 

The Inca Trail, known for its wonderful views, archaeological centers and variety of orchids that one can find along the way, is also the only trek route that leads to the Sun Gate where you can see Machu Picchu for the first time.

Salkantay trek

On the Salkantay trek you will be able to appreciate the Vilcanota mountain chain and the famous Humantay lagoon and you will pass through deep high Andean valleys with fantastic views, and cross different microclimates from the cold mountains to the edge of the jungle.

Availability Inca Trail vs Salkantay trek

On the Inca trail, a certain number of permits are offered per day and unlike the Salkantay trek, it is available all year round.

Permits on the Inca Trail

There is a limit of 500 people who can travel the Inca trail per day, this includes Guides, Porters, cooks and travelers. Approximately between 170 to 200 are tourists.

These permits tend to sell out very quickly due to high demand in the months of May, June, July and August.

We recommend booking the Inca Trail 6 to 7 months in advance for high demand months.

To be able to do the Inca Trail you need an agency authorized by the Peruvian government such as Cusco Andean hike that meets all the requirements.

Salkantay Trek Permits

Unlike the Inca Trail, entry to Salkantay does not require any permit, it is open all year round and there is no limit on visitors. To be able to carry out this adventure you only need to reserve your entry ticket to Machu Picchu through the new joinnus platform of the Ministry of Culture.

We recommend booking the Salkantay trek between 4 to 3 months in advance, because admission to Machu Picchu can sell out very quickly.

Cost of the Inca Trail vs Salkantay Trek

How much does the inca Trail Cost?

The price of the Inca Trail in the group service varies from 700 to 1,200 US dollars, a much lower price than this and the travel agency would be committing the crime of exploitation of the carrier.

Before booking this experience, we recommend that you carefully review the services included, such as the extra porter (you will carry your personal utensils during the trip). Otherwise you would have to hire a carrier which would be more expensive.

How much does the Salkantay Trek Cost?

The price of the Salkantay hike is much lower than the cost of the Inca trail. The Salkantay trek costs on average 550 to 650 US dollars.

A cheaper price in Salkantay trek should check what is included, some agencies offer without including the return train ticket, hotel, buses up and down to Machu Picchu, in the end you will have to pay a higher cost.

We recommend that you hire a travel agency that includes everything in the service like Cusco Andean Hike.

Weather on the Inca trail vs Salkantay Trek

Both routes are located in the middle of the Andes mountain range where the weather is almost unpredictable, it can even rain in the middle of the dry season, we always recommend being prepared for all types of weather, although we only have two well-defined seasons (rain and dry).

  • Rainy season (November to April).

In this season it is not what many think of having rain every day, we may even be without rain for several days, but the possibilities are greater.

  • Dry season (May to October).

In this season temperatures can reach -4 at night and during the day we have a blue sky with a sweltering sun

We recommend bringing waterproof clothing as we may have occasional rain showers.

Both hikes end in the mountain jungle (Machu Picchu) and therefore it is much wetter and has a much greater chance of rain.

Camps on the Inca Trail vs Salkantay Trek

Cusco Andean hike is an adventure trekking company in the Cusco region, therefore, we will provide you with the best 4-season camping equipment for extreme climates, we create unique adventures and real camps.

  • Inca Trail Camps

You can only camp in places assigned by the Ministry of Culture and the Sernanp institutions in charge of the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu. All camping equipment and food are carried by porters, bathrooms can be found in each campsite

  • Camps in Salkantay Trek

Currently it can be done in 2 ways in a lodge and camping, Cusco Andean Hike takes the less crowded route with real camps in the middle of the mountains so you can enjoy and observe the stars and last day we spend the night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.


Now you know some differences between the Inca Trail and Salkantay Trek and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Whatever your decision, you will be making the best one and we guarantee that you will enjoy it.

If you do not find availability on the Inca Trail, you can opt for these alternatives such as the Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, the short version of the Inca Trail for 2 days and you can even combine them.

If you liked this article, share it!



You did not find what you were looking for? We also have these that may interest you.

amazing experience with cusco andean hike - official - tour operator INCA TRAIL

Chat with a travel expert 24/7