Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

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Pomegranate
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Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by Pomegranate » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:02 pm

Hello all,

Started to plan Machu Picchu travel and got confused a lot.

1) Month and weather. There is a lot of topics over the web and most of it suggest April - October however other folks suggest early January (less crowded, warmer weather, 'real' rain season starts later)

2)Inca Trail / Salkantay. Again, a lot of different opinions... Inca Trail is more 'authentic' but Salkantay Trail is more 'spectacular'...

3)Vinicunca aka Rainbow Mountain. Is it worth visiting? Some folks say - doesn't meet expectations another part says - must visit :oops:

Any experience sharing is highly appreciated :sharebeer

Kiter
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by Kiter » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:02 pm

Went in January ,weather was good,warm .I was with my wife so did not do trek. There were many people there ,but I did want to see it . Its a major attraction that gets millions of visitors ...hard to get away from that . I do not know enough of Salkantay ,but the more remote and harder to get to gives you less people . If you go through Ollantaytambo look for plastic bags flying outside the homes for fresh brewed corn beer .

:sharebeer

sil2017
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by sil2017 » Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:32 pm

I've hiked the 4 days/ 3 nights Inca trail in early September. Beautiful weather.
You have to join with a tour operator for the Inca trail. Also there is a limit of hikers per day for the Inca trail so you have to check if there is availability .

Joeko
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by Joeko » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:20 pm

Did the Salkantay lodge to lodge trek last March. Highly recommend it, the views are amazing and the Lodges are top notch.

Topic Author
Pomegranate
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by Pomegranate » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:37 am

sil2017 wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:32 pm

You have to join with a tour operator for the Inca trail. Also there is a limit of hikers per day for the Inca trail so you have to check if there is availability .
Yeah I'm aware of this, thank you

ILnative
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by ILnative » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:44 am

We went in mid-September of 2013. Hiked the Inca Trail with tour operator Enigma. Was very happy with our choice - they aren't the cheapest - but they supposedly pay their porters better, etc. They also hike you farther the first day - you start very early and the first day is a bit of a bear - but the camping stop for the first night is absolutely gorgeous and remote - and it gets you ahead of all the other groups. Many of the other groups use a first night camping stop that is in a small village with lots of animals roaming around (chickens, dogs) - so more noise, etc. This may have changed - please check as our experience is over 5 years old - but the point is pay attention to the itinerary/ camping stops used by the tour operator if you choose the Inca Trail. Can't comment on your other two questions. This was a top 5 life experience for both of us - well worth it.

xenochrony
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by xenochrony » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:39 pm

I did the Inca Trail via Salkantay. It is beyond spectacular. You will not regret doing it. Prior to the Salkantay route joining up with the inca trail (at Huaylabamba?) there are almost zero tourists, all locals using the route. It is a completely different experience than the Inca Trail and the juxtaposition of the two experiences will leave you breathless. If you choose the Salkantay route, I would strongly advise you to spend one day at the high pass (at the foot of the Salkantay Glacier, in order to explore.

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marti038
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by marti038 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:18 pm

Don't mean to hijack the thread, but I'm curious what this trip cost those of you who have been?

Machu Picchu is probably #1 on my list of places to visit before I die. I'm 37 now with kids 4 & 6. It's my dream to take my wife and the kiddos there for a 3-4 day trek when they're in high school or college. Hopefully, they'll want to go.

xenochrony
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by xenochrony » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:08 pm

marti038 wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:18 pm
Don't mean to hijack the thread, but I'm curious what this trip cost those of you who have been?

Machu Picchu is probably #1 on my list of places to visit before I die. I'm 37 now with kids 4 & 6. It's my dream to take my wife and the kiddos there for a 3-4 day trek when they're in high school or college. Hopefully, they'll want to go.
I did not pay for a formal "tour." I devised the route myself and my team packed all of our own gear. We paid airfare, which was cheap from LAX. Modest hotel in Cuzco was also very cheap. We spontaneously rented horses in some tiny village at the start of our backpacking journey for almost nothing. We brought all of our own food. The total cost of this trip per person minus airfare couldnt have been more than $500 at most, that includes all the frills. The train ride at the end from Aguas Calientes back to Cuzco was also trivial.

Topic Author
Pomegranate
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by Pomegranate » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:10 pm

ILnative wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:44 am
We went in mid-September of 2013. Hiked the Inca Trail with tour operator Enigma. Was very happy with our choice - they aren't the cheapest - but they supposedly pay their porters better, etc. They also hike you farther the first day - you start very early and the first day is a bit of a bear - but the camping stop for the first night is absolutely gorgeous and remote - and it gets you ahead of all the other groups. Many of the other groups use a first night camping stop that is in a small village with lots of animals roaming around (chickens, dogs) - so more noise, etc. This may have changed - please check as our experience is over 5 years old - but the point is pay attention to the itinerary/ camping stops used by the tour operator if you choose the Inca Trail. Can't comment on your other two questions. This was a top 5 life experience for both of us - well worth it.
BTW I saw they offer some lodging nowadays - did you spend all the nights in a tent?

ILnative
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by ILnative » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:15 pm

Interesting about the lodging - no - we tented the whole way. We did rent their sleeping bags and nicer foam pads and that made a big difference. Also paid for a porter - well worth it.

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Pomegranate
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by Pomegranate » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:19 pm

Joeko wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:20 pm
Did the Salkantay lodge to lodge trek last March. Highly recommend it, the views are amazing and the Lodges are top notch.
I requested few tour operators - no one works with lodging :oops:
Would you mind provide the names / contacts?

strbrd
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by strbrd » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:42 pm

This is mildly off topic, but I did a two-day horse trip through Adventure Specialists (https://www.adventure-specialists.com/) in the Sacred Valley and I can't recommend it enough. On a horse you can travel much farther than on foot and this outfit does less well traveled paths (we went to Huchuy Qosqo). Guaranteed substantive interaction with locals. Absolutely wonderful.

camper1
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by camper1 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:42 pm

We used Llama Path as our outfitter and did the Lares Trek as an alternative to the overcrowded Inca Trail. We were very impressed by both Llama Path and the Lares Trek.

hansmatt
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by hansmatt » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:40 am

We did the Salkantay trek from Alpaca Expeditions
https://www.alpacaexpeditions.com/inca ... ntay-7d6n/
Highly recommended, locally owned (not from one of the big Euro companies). They were fantastic. Tents, not lodges. The first 4 days before joining up with the Inca Trail were simply amazing, and were far beyond what I'd hoped. Our group was only our two couples, and we had porters/cook, and guide that were a joy to be around and learn from. Food was ample and tasty. Once we joined with the Inca Trail we were amongst very large groups at designate campground sites, but as we had acclimated and were a small group (this was at the end of May) we were out in front of every group every day. We had times where we didn't see a single other tourist, though we did see porters with gear) for hours at a time. Our guide, Rossel, provided us with a cultural experience that would be tough to beat. At the time pricing was about $1000 a person, to and from Cusco. To date this was our favorite adventure ever. I would do this trip, specifically the Salkantay portion, again without hesitation. The Inca trail...I'd be less enthused having done it.

soitgoes2
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by soitgoes2 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:35 pm

I can only speak to the Salkantay but I had a good experience. I went in early June it was busy but not crowded. I my guide was Edwin Puma I believe he operates as Puma Salkantay these days he is excellent and affordable.

Topic Author
Pomegranate
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by Pomegranate » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:35 am

ILnative wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:44 am
We went in mid-September of 2013. Hiked the Inca Trail with tour operator Enigma. Was very happy with our choice - they aren't the cheapest - but they supposedly pay their porters better, etc.
I got a quote - wow! 70-100% more expensive then others - not sure if they really distribute it across porters or just double their margin but it doesn't make a lot of sense.

mlipps
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Re: Planning Machu Picchu, Inca Trail vs Salkantay?

Post by mlipps » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:47 am

I did the Salkantay trek in 2015. Truthfully, I mostly picked Salkantay over Inca Trail because it was much cheaper. It was harder than I expected, but I also wasn't in great shape at that point. Other people in my group didn't seem to struggle as much as I did.

I really enjoyed parts of the trek, and Machu Picchu absolutely lived up to every expectation, but about 50% of the trek was just sort of "meh" to me. Not that you shouldn't do it, but it's not the most scenic or pleasant hike ever. I particularly remember several hours spent after summiting Salkantay hiking back down on some rustic stairs, where I ended up with a minor knee injury that still bothers me to this day. Not sure that part was worth it for me personally, but I know a lot of other people wouldn't trade their trek for anything, so take it with a grain of salt.

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