Iconic Machu Picchu in Peru makes our list almost every year. We try to be original—but it’s a classic travel favourite, is immensely popular, and can leave readers irate when we deem to leave it off!
Although the Inca Trail is better known, the Salkantay is an equally beautiful route to the ancient Andean city, one taken still by fewer trekkers.
On this tour you enjoy Inca ruins and spectacular scenery from glacier-fed Lake Humantay and breathtaking Mount Salkantay, to verdant cloud forests and the snowcapped Vilcabamba Range. You’ll see banana, granadilla and avocado orchards, and stay in mountain luxury lodges with fantastic cuisine and views, all before arriving at the famed Lost City of the Incas.
Day 1: Visiting Incan ruins in Mollepata before embarking on a six-hour trek to the valley's luxurious Soray Lodge
Day 2: A four-hour hike to the pristine Lake Humantay, well off Peru's beaten path
Day 3: A challenging full day of hiking to the highest point on the Salkantay Pass, more than 4,600 metres up
Day 4: Descending into the Cloud Forest, filled with orchids and rare butterflies
Day 5: Traversing the Santa Teresa River Valley for up to six hours, passing the valley's rural farmlands
Day 6: Catching a first glimpse at Machu Picchu after a roughly five-hour hike from the southeast
Day 7: Entering Machu Picchu, with free time for travellers to explore independently or follow the guide up Huayna Picchu for the site's finest panoramic view
Mountain Lodges of Peru • 877.491.5261 Length/Departs: 7 days/Mar.-Dec. Accommodation: Lodges Price: $3,240 USD Difficulty: Moderate