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salkantay trekking
alternative treks
To Machu Picchu
SAM Travel, “Off the Beaten Track”
Enjoy Glaciers, blue lakes, waterfalls & alpacas
Meet the indigenous people in remote villages
Soak tired muscles in the Lares Hot Springs
Designed for all ages, abilities, and families too
What to Expect when Booking
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Private campsites with bathrooms
Highly trained English-speaking guides
Alternative Treks
Explore SAM Travel’s “Unique Lares Route”

Alternative Treks to Machu Picchu

The Classic Inca Trail is not the only way to get to the ruins. The Lares trek to Machu Picchu, for instance, is an alternative trail you can take.

Alternative Treks to Machu Picchu are treks that are not hiked on the Classic Inca Trail. Most alternative treks do arrive at Machu Picchu to allow the hiker to get the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu Citadel, however the trail does not lead to Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate. There is a huge variety of alternative treks available through SAM Travel Peru to meet the needs, abilities and desires of most hikers. The type of trail, level of difficulty and number of days varies. There are also alternative treks combined with the Classic or Short Inca Trail, where the trekker gets the best of both worlds, a chance to walk on the Inca Trail and the beauty and or culture of an alternative trek. Some of our most popular alternatives treks are the Lares Trek, Salkantay Trek, Wilderness Salkantay Trek and the Choquequirao. Some treks are very scenic such as the Salkantay Trek and others like the Lares Trek are both scenic and cultural.

Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect from some of the alternative treks to the ancient citadel:

Salkantay Trek

This trail is great for mountain lovers. The route offers stunning views of the snow-capped Mount Salkantay, the tallest peak in the Vilcabamba mountain range with a height of just over 20,300 feet. The trek has a maximum altitude of more than 15,000 feet) and usually takes five days to complete.

Wilderness Salkantay Trek

This four-day wilderness journey takes you around the astonishing peak of Mount Salkantay. You’ll explore a magnificent turquoise glacial lake, hike through the amazing Peruvian cloud forest and get a chance to sample some fresh fruit grown in that area, such as pineapples, avocados, oranges and bananas.

Lares Trek

This trek is perfect for travelers who want to experience authentic Andean culture. The route goes through a number of unique and fascinating local villages. Some of these communities, in fact, have stayed the same for hundreds of years. You’ll get the opportunity to meet and interact with local weavers and farmers wearing traditional Andean clothing.

Apart from the charming villages, the Lares trail to Machu Picchu has amazing mountain views. Take note that you’ll need to scale a few 13,000-foot passes to get to your final destination.

Inca Quarry Trek

This Machu Picchu alternative route is great for those who want to see the remote and rarely visited quarry ruins. You’ll be passing through the old quarry where the Incas built the Ollantaytambo Inca city by carving the rocks. You’ll also be hiking up to the remains of old Inca storehouses on the hillside.

The SAM Travel website has detailed descriptions of each of the treks. Please feel free to consult with our expert staff.


SAM Travel highly recommends that if you have specific dates you need for your trek to book as early as possible. Otherwise you may not get all the options you would like to have as a part of your tour. The demand for treks to Machu Picchu has increased over the past couple of years. Alternative treks can be booked closer to your departure date unlike the Inca Trail that has to have a permit which may sell out. If you are booking an alternative trek combo with the Inca trail included, then you do need to book as early as possible to be sure you get your Inca Trail permit.
Please be aware that even with alternative treks that include Machu Picchu Citadel and the train there can be issues to get the entrance tickets you may desire. The government has added more restrictions and changes in scheduling and options. For example, permits for the Inca Trail, tickets for Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, and train tickets that will coordinate with the time table of your trek, now are selling out much earlier than before.
Booking ahead of time allows SAM Travel Peru to be able to purchase tickets for the entrance times and or trains required to coordinate time wise all the parts of your tour for a relaxing trek and tour to Machu Picchu. SAM Travel wants your trek to be the vacation that you have been dreaming about. By booking early, you ensure that SAM Travel will be able to fulfill all your desires and hopes for every aspect of your trek to Machu Picchu.

***Please note below why purchasing the tickets and or permits for the Short Inca Trail (if a combo trek) required for your desired trek dates need to be purchased as early as possible. Entrance tickets are now being sold on a limited basis and or for shorter time frames to protect the Machu Picchu Citadel site and the Inca Trail from potential damage.


1.MACHU PICCHU CITADEL: All visitors will now be limited to 4 hour visiting sessions. Tickets to Machu Picchu will be divided into three daily sessions: early morning (6AM – 9AM), late morning (9AM – 12PM) and early afternoon (12PM – 3PM). Within these sessions, visitors must choose a specific hour to visit. This is to regulate and reduce visitor traffic within the citadel– each hour will be limited to 600 visitors.

2.HUAYNA PICCHU OR MACHU PICCHU MOUNTAIN: The new regulations have a direct impact on: Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain (not to be confused with the citadel itself). To enjoy your tour of the citadel and hike the additional mountains, you will need to purchase an extra entrance ticket to the ruins extending your time allowed inside. These tickets can sell out 2 to 4 months in advance. Plus, this means that Huayna Picchu tickets will go up from $35 per person to $75 per person.

3.SHORT INCA TRAIL PERMITS: To protect this historical trek, the Peruvian government heavily regulates it. There are only 500 permits issued per day for the short Inca Trail. In past years there were usually enough permits for the short Inca Trail trek, however due to the high demand in the months of May through September, some dates are now selling out.


It may be possible to book at the last minute in the low tourist season but in high season you will likely not get all the options you would like as a part of your trek, such as the time of day you prefer to enter Machu Picchu, or tickets for Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain are sold out for your specific date. Also, you may have to take a very early or late train because the best train times are already gone. In addition, if you want to trek the Short Inca Trail as a part of your combo trek, it is possible the permits may not be available. If you book at the last minute you must be very flexible with your dates and times and in addition you may not get all your chosen options. Please do not wait until the last minute, book now if you have set dates! Feel free to talk with our expert staff and they can let you know what is possible at the time you wish to tour.

***Read why to book early above


SAM Travel needs your personal details and they must match your passport. What is required is your full name as written in your passport, passport number, date of birth, nationality and gender. Once again, it must match exactly your passport! After booking, please send us a copy of your current passport or driver’s license if you are booking with that.

If you are renewing your passport, SAM Travel can book with your old passport number (or your driver’s license number) and we will update once your new passport arrives. Further details are written below.


If you are still in the process of obtaining your passport, you can still book with your driver’s license information and when you obtain your new passport then simply email SAM Travel a photo of both your new passport and your driver’s license and we will update your permit information at the government office. Please bring your drivers license and new passport when you come to Peru.
If your passport will expire before you trek, you can book the tour with your current passport and when you obtain your new passport take photos of both your old and new passports. Then email SAM Travel those photos and they will update your information. It is also wise to bring both your old passport/drivers license if you booked with that and your new passport to Peru when you come.


Yes, it is possible to do some alternative treks if the Inca Trail is not included without a tour provider. Hiking in the wilderness of the Andes Mountains without an experience guide is dangerous, accidents happen and the chance of getting lost is very possible. SAM Travel does not recommend this for your own safety and enjoyment. SAM Travel has highly train guides in 1st aid and altitude sickness, satellite phones for emergencies, and guides that are knowledgeable of the Andes trails, people and culture.

That said, purchasing tickets and entrances have become much more complicated due to new regulations for Machu Picchu Citadel and the increased tourist traffic. It has become very complicated to coordinate all the entrance times, trains, and transfers required to be able to experience a hazzle free trek. If you wish to trek the short Inca Trail as a part of your trek, please note that the government of Peru strictly controls the Inca Trail. This hike can only be booked by a fully licensed tour operator. SAM Travel Peru is a 100% licensed Inca Trail tour operator by the government here in Cusco, Peru. (Not all tour operators can do the Inca Trail).

***Please read above all the reasons under why booking early is important to fully understand why it is difficult to be able to do a coordinated tour to Machu Picchu without a knowledgeable tour operator.


SAM Travel specializes in small intimate groups of 2 to 8 persons! We want to guarantee the best possible experience for all our clients who choose to trek with us. Small groups allow you to get to know better the individuals trekking with you and to receive lots of individual attention from your guide. We want you enjoy your hiking experience and make memories that will last a life time. Also, unlike other tour companies, if 2 persons book we guarantee you go even if no other people book. You book, pay your deposit, you go!


YES, you absolutely can book a private trek at an additional cost! The cost varies depending on the size of your private group. A private tour means that you will have your own personal guide, chef, horsemen, and only the members of your group will be part of the entire trek group. Of course, there will be other tour groups from SAM Travel and other travel agencies at the sites you visit or on the Inca Trail except for the Lares Trek which has its own campsites.


Booking with SAM Travel is easy. All you need to do is click on the BOOK NOW link and follow the instructions. If you have questions, please chat with us or give us a call using the phone numbers on the top of the main page for the Peru office or the USA office.

***Please be sure you have all your passport information ready when you book and send us a copy of your passport via email afterwards. (see earlier instructions if you do not yet have a passport or it will expire before the trek begins. It is still possible to book now!

As soon as we receive your completed booking form and your $200 deposit per person, we will email you a confirmation.


Tree Planting Project

SAM Travel Peru is a socially responsible tour operator concerned about the environment. Our Plant A Tree campaign creates awareness to local communities and the citizens of the city of Cusco that deforestation issue in the Andes Mountains is a serious one. As each year, many mountain slopes are void of trees and that causes a huge decline in the wildlife.

Dreams Come True For Student

December of 2017, SAM Travel Peru fulfilled the dreams of 36 children and their parents from the indigenous community of Pampamarca way up in the Andean mountains in the south of Cusco. They got to tour Cusco City, Sacred Valley and the Citadel of Machu Picchu all paid for by SAM Travel Peru. These are children do not have the resources nor ability for many reasons to be able to experience the historical sites of their Inca heritage. Sam Travel Peru wants to give them a once in a lifetime experience up close and in person of their heritage and restore their pride in their culture, history and Inca heritage.

Our Christmas Party In The Andes

We kick off our annual Christmas social project focused on helping communities surrounding the imperial city of Cusco and the Sacred Valley. We journeyed towards the community of Pacchanta, located within the district of Ocongate (home to Ausangate Mountain). This quaint and isolated community is home to about 400 people or so. SAM Travel Peru was able to complete this project successfully with the help of its dedicated team members!

Developed By SAM Travel Perú