How to trek to Machu Picchu without an Inca Trail permit | World Expeditions
Trekking towards Mt Salcantay in The Andes - an excellent alternative to the Inca Trail |  <i>Sue Badyari</i> The impressive ancient ruins of Machu Picchu Salkantay Pass, Peru |  <i>Mark Tipple</i> Ausangate Mountain in Andes (Cordillera Vilcanota) Peru Making short work of the descent from 4800m on the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu |  <i>Maria Tran</i> Panoramic view of the 'lost' Inca ruins of Choquequirao |  <i>Yuri Zvezdny</i> A campsite beneath the Humantay mountain in the Cordillera Urubamba, Peru |  <i>Donna Lawrence</i>

Ways to see Machu Picchu without an Inca Trail permit


Missed out on an Inca Trail permit? Fear not, you can still hike to the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu via these lesser-trekked routes that offer an even wilder and more varied route than the famous Inca Trail.

The Inca trail to the historic Machu Picchu is one of the world's most iconic trekking routes, making it no surprise that the 500 permits allocated a day to explore this classic route run out very fast. 

Currently for 2018, these permits have already sold out for trips until September, so your best bet is to book now in advance for 2019 departures to secure a permit. Or you can enjoy unique routes, like the Salcantay treks which culminate at the phenomenal Machu Picchu site.

As the Inca Trail becomes busier and permits are difficult to get, our Salcantay Trek is definitely the route to take with a stunning pass and an Inca ruin site along this quieter trail. Commencing in Callacancha, the trail takes travellers to Soraypampa, Andenes and Lucmabamba to the road head for our short train journey to Aguas Calientes and the gateway to the 'lost city'.

Our Salcantay trail offers travellers a striking landscape of contrasts and many compelling advantages over the Inca Trail:

  • You can trek near the Machu Picchu sanctuary without having to worrying about permits
  • Experience lush cloud forests, alpine lakes, majestic valleys and snow-capped muntains, including the dramatic peaks of Salcantay and Humantay
  • Enjoy incredible alpine scenery as you cross the Salcantay Pass at 4640m (only 440m higher than the highest point on the Inca Trail)
  • Avoid crowded paths as this route has 70% less trekkers to the Inca Trail

Salcantay Trek

As you explore the wilderness of the Peruvian Andes, you’ll come across spectacular vistas at Humantay Lake and camp beneath the sacred peak of Mount Salcantay, which stands at 6270 metres high, located south of the Machu Picchu ruins and about 60km west of the city of Cusco. 

While other hikers on this route typically go to Santa Teresa and stay in hostel accommodation close to activities like zip-lining and hot springs, our trekkers stay at our Lucmabamba campsite where you are immersed in coffee plantations with a local family.

Another highlight is the hike from Lucmabamba to the mysterious ruins of Llactapata where Hiram Bingham first sighted the backside of the Machu Picchu structures located across the valley.

This exclusive addition to World Expeditions’ Salcantay trek means trekkers see more elements of the area before hitting the finale at Machu Picchu for vistas of the enigmatic Inca Empire ruins and surrounding mountains.

Sunshine over the ancient Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman above Cusco |  <i>Sue Badyari</i> The sacred Humantay Lake, Peru |  <i>Donna Lawrence</i> Happy trekkers enjoying the views of Salcantay, Peru |  <i>Jeanette Kuoni</i> Colourful Peruvian rugs in Cusco |  <i>Richard I'Anson</i> Pass through the town of Mollepata on the way to the Salcantay trek trailhead |  <i>Mark Tipple</i>
Ask an Expert
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ADS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Adventure South</div>
Adventure South NZ is unrivalled in their geographic coverage, originality and overall quality of adventures holidays in New Zealand. Choose from walking, cycling, winter or multi-activity holidays, on either the North or South Island.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/AWH.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Walking Holidays</div>
Australian Walking Holidays specialises in small group guided walking adventures. Since 1982 we have been guiding small groups of travellers on Australia's finest walks across our tropical, coastal or red centre landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GCT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Canadian Trails</div>
Great Canadian Trails specialises in active holidays in Canada. With both guided and supported self-guided options available, our unique itineraries draw upon some of Canada's most inspiring parks, trails and landscapes from coast to coast.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/HUM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Huma Charity Challenge</div>
Huma enables those with adventurous spirits to challenge themselves and make a difference for a cause close to their heart. Travel, fundraise and meet life-long friends on one of Huma's meaningful and unique challenges around the world.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/SHX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Sherpa Expeditions</div>
Sherpa Expeditions is a specialist in self guided and guided walking and cycling holidays in the United Kingdom and Europe. Detailed route notes provide a definite guide to places in Europe for active walkers and cyclists.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Youth Adventures</div>
World Youth Adventures is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon'> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.