Is this South America or the Swiss Alps?
Most people trek to Machu Picchu on the classic Inca trail. We learned there are many ways to trek to the Machu Picchu area, and the classic Inca trail sells out quickly. So we selected a trail called the Salkantay trail. All trails in the area are actually Inca trails (or pre-Inca trails the Incas improved upon). Salkantay Mountain is really high (20,574 feet) and the pass we hiked over is 15,088 feet. The top of the mountain is beautiful – glacier covered and craggy and spectacular looking against a crystal blue sky!
The really cool thing about this trail is the variety. The first and second days are spent hiking up to the pass (with one night spent camping near a glacier… brrh), and in the afternoon of the second day you hike down into the jungle. The third day is relatively easy hiking along a river canyon, on the flanks of the surrounding mountain, and on the fourth day there is a morning of zip-lining from one mountain top to another and an afternoon hike in a pleasant jungle to the town of Aguas Calientes, from which one goes to Machu Picchu. A 30 second video of Char zip lining is here.
Trekking here is luxurious compared to backpacking. The trekking companies have guides, horses, horsemen, and cooks. The
horses carry all the cooking and sleeping equipment. The tourists hike and when they get to camp, it’s all set up, with a “happy hour” (no alcohol) and dinner waiting. Even lunches are hot cooked meals. Eating well is not a problem!
Below are some photos to inspire you to do this trek!