The Sacred Valley and the neighbouring Urubamba and Lares valleys are home to many popular Peru trekking routes. The most famous of course is the traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, but some of the alternatives are just as spectacular. These include the lodge-to-lodge option provided on the Salkantay Trek, from Mollepata to Machu Picchu, and the picturesque Lares Trek to further afield Quechua communities, home to traditional weavers and remote farming communities.
The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail has become something of a rite of passage for visitors to this stunning corner of Latin America. And, while it once saw hordes of independent walkers, and huge groups of hikers, tackling its pretty, ruin-dotted valleys and occasionally steep ascents, today the numbers are strictly limited to just 500 people a day – made up of around 200 tourists and 300 porters. As such, it's regained some of its mystique, and provided some much needed protection to the environment. The entrance to Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate at dawn remains one of the great experiences in world travel.
This Inca Trail alternative takes you through the beautiful Salkantay Valley And, while it doesn't have the cultural allure of its more famous sibling – you won't pass the same number of Inca sites, or indeed arrive directly at Machu Picchu – it does have the advantage of fewer trekkers and a wider variety of scenery – from high mountain passes to cloud forest and light jungle. The accommodation, too, is a step up from the pitched camping of the Inca Trail, with a series of mountain lodges providing comfortable accommodation and the likes of wine-paired dining and outdoor jacuzzis.