Salkantay trek vs inca trail

Salkantay Trek vs Inca Trail Which one to choose?

There are decisions in life that are very difficult to make, especially when it is a debate between two places that you want to know, which could be happening to you between the Salkantay trek vs Inca trail Trek; because both places are majestic and very demand for their beauty and characteristics.

If you are worried about which option to choose between the Salkantay trek vs the Inca trail, you have come to the right place! At Inca Trail we will help you with this difficult decision by telling you the pros and cons of each place, so you can easily choose the one that suits your tastes and needs, so don’t miss it!


It is a sacred mountain that will give you magical and unique memories thanks to its landscapes, which you can appreciate in the Salkantay trek of 5 days or 4 days.

During the tour, you will be able to see high mountains, know the nature of the place, and the locals, as well as unique trails that will take you to Machu Picchu, known as that alternative to the most exciting and popular Inca Trail.

The word Salkantay means “wild” or “invincible”, which precisely defines this tour, because there are quite hard and high areas that can generate the so-called “altitude sickness”, Even so, you should know that none of the tours are created for professional climbers, so do not worry, they are perfect for tourists.

It is a unique experience in which you will see diverse flora and fauna, such as orchids, llamas, vizcachas, rainforests, condors, spectacled bears, and much more, but best of all if you do not like crowds of people, this is the ideal route, as it is less populated than the Inca Trail.

Dificultad y altitude

Its route is approximately 75 kilometers, which means that it is quite long to walk, but you should not stop trying! During the hike, you will find other archaeological sites such as Llaqtapata, a place that according to history was a resting place for its founders. 

In addition, it has an altitude of 4600 meters above sea level, so you should take it easy and enjoy every step you take, because in general, the weather is quite warm and cold, which makes the walk something bearable and enjoyable.

Disponibilidad y costos de Salkantay

To do the Salkantay trek there are not so many regulations and restrictions, which means that it is a little simpler in this sense, given that, the tourist agencies can set their own rules, there are no quota limits, and even the camps can be established in the areas chosen by the guides; in addition, there are no reservations so far in advance and prices range between $200 and $1800.

Other pertinent information is related to the costs, because, although there are no permits for this route, it still requires an entrance fee when arriving at Machu Picchu and a train ticket for the return to Cusco, both prices are very variable according to certain elements that they offer.

The train transfer can range from $37 to $504, while the entrance to Machu Picchu will be according to certain conditions. The general entrance fee is approximately 64 soles, while university students pay only 50% of that total, as well as for minors; however, children under three years of age do not pay.

Salkantay Lodging

There are no pre-established accommodations, on the contrary, the team can determine along the route the most ideal place to set up camp, but if what you want is more comfort there are certain areas along the way where there are some shelters that have hot showers and beds.

In addition, on the first night, there is the possibility of making reservations in some peculiar glass tents, which will allow you to have wonderful night views, while on the last night, you can stay at the Hotel Aguas Calientes if you wish.

Salkantay trek

What only Salkantay can offer you

When you do the Salkantay trek, you will have great surprises, among which we can mention the following:

  • Variety of landscapes: in one moment you can be in a valley and in another you can be in a forest, but not only that, also in the tour you will pass by babbling streams, by the Humantay Lake, and of course, by mountains covered by snow that will leave you beautiful panoramic views.
  • You don’t need to book in advance: this is because there are no permits to apply for that are quickly exhausted by the demand, which gives you a better chance to arrive in Cusco and purchase the tour immediately.
  • More economical: it is a less demanded hike, for this reason, it is more economical and also saves money for the permit, so it is an ideal plan to go in a group.

Inca Trail

This is a very popular route, since it connects Cusco with Machu Picchu, through which you can observe archaeological structures such as Llactapata, Phuyupatamarca, Runkurakay and others that will leave you wanting to know more.

This Inca trail was very important for its inhabitants since it was the main source of communication between the imperial capital and Machu Picchu. In addition, it is only a stretch of the total of roads that formerly connected six countries, so it symbolized domination at the political, social, cultural, and more, and it is for this reason that today is a World Heritage Site.

Throughout the hike, you will encounter a diversity of flora and fauna, such as the beautiful alpine tundra, a cloud forest, ferns, orchids, shrubs, pumas, condors, giant otters, Andean frogs, butterflies, and much more that you will encounter as you immerse yourself in this historic trail.

Difficulty and altitude

Its difficulty can be described as moderate, with a distance of about 46 kilometers, for which you must have a previous physical preparation in terms of constant walking; but, above all, to acclimatize to the altitude, which in this case is a maximum of 4215 meters, the reason why you could suffer from altitude sickness.

You should know before you start that the hike will be quite rough ascents and descents, which means that there is something demanding in the route and therefore the legs must be strengthened.

Inca Trail availability and costs

The availability of the Inca Trail is one of the biggest drawbacks, motivated that there is a daily limitation for the tour, allowing only 200 tourists, which means that you must book in advance your permit through one of the agencies authorized to do so.

The costs of the Inca Trail will depend on which trek you choose, if it is one, four, or five days; also, if you want it with all the comforts or only some of them, however, the prices oscillate in the following way:

  • One day hike Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: $397.
  • 2 days Inca Trail: $500.
  • 4 day Inca Trail Trip: $750.

Accommodations on the Inca Trail

If you do the classic route, which lasts four days and three nights, you will have the opportunity to stay in campsites where the porters will bring tents to sleep and eat, and house a large number of people, but there are also more luxurious and therefore more expensive options, but which are more exclusive and private.

What only the Inca Trail can offer you

This route offers many particularities, not in vain it is the most famous way to get to Machu Picchu, and among the most outstanding are:

– Important culture: along the way you will find different ruins of the Inca civilization, learning a lot about the history of these people.

– Exclusivity: not everyone can walk it, so if you were granted the respective permission, feel lucky, it is a unique and revitalizing experience for both body and mind!

Frequent questions of Inca Trail vs Salkantay

Is the Salkantay trek more difficult than the Inca Trail?

Definitely, yes, there is greater difficulty in the Salkantay trek, for many reasons, but the two most relevant are the altitude and the distance, since in this route there are more days that are occupied to finish it, while the Inca Trail can be done in four days.

However, at this point, it is important to note that the difficulty is rooted in factors such as the physical capacity of the traveler, there are those who find the journey easier than others.

What is the difference between the Inca Trail and the Salkantay trek?

Inca Trail hikeSalkantay trek
DifficultyIt is a little more moderate in physical demand.a little more demanding, steeper.
Distance46 kilometers65 kilometers
Height4200 meters.4630 meters
DurationThere are 1-day, 2-day with hotel or camping, and 4-day routes.Minimum 4 days and Classic 5 days.
AccessRequires permits and requires booking in advance.Does not require permits and does not require prior reservations.
Table of difference between on Inca Trail vs Salkantay

Is the Inca Trail or the Camino de la Cantera better?

The answer to which is better is a bit ambiguous since it depends more on you than on any other aspect; that is to say, it will be according to your preferences, to what you want and expect from the trip, since, on the one hand, the road to the quarry is less crowded, therefore, if you like tranquility and solitude on the road, this is your Better option.

Another aspect to take into account is that on the Inca trail there is more infrastructure that takes you back to the Inca past, therefore, it is richer in culture and history than that of the quarry; but either of the two will offer you great landscapes and unforgettable routes.

What is the easiest trail to Machu Picchu?

To get to Machu Picchu there are several options, however, the easiest is the one that is done in two days along the Inca trail, which in total is approximately 16 kilometers long, so moderate physical preparation is necessary.


Now it’s up to you to decide which option is the winner between the Salkantay VS Inca trail; Well, as we told you at the beginning, it depends on your budget, tastes, and expectations.

Likewise, if you cannot decide on the Inca Trail vs Salkantay trek, remember that in Inca Trail we have other options for you at the best price and with an unforgettable experience such as the sacred mountain of Ausangate, Rainbow Mountain, and much more so that you can learn about the culture and history of the Incas.

Contact us!