New Trails around Machu Picchu
Several new routes have been opened within the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary in the late 1990s. All of the hiking within this region is spectacular; and these routes only fall short if compared to the Inca Trail itself. But the Inca Trail is often horribly crowded, and these are the trails less traveled. This is also the way to go for moderate hikers who recoil from the several days and 4,000 m. passes of the Inca Trail. See The Detail of the classic Inca Trail
Km. 82 to Km. 88
A dirt road now reaches down the north bank of the Urubamba to the edge of the Machu Picchu sanctuary, through Ollantaytambo and Chillca to Km. 82 on the railroad line. At Km. 82 there is a new footbridge across the Urubamba River, so that you can walk on either s ide of the river. The south (non-railroad) side is shorter if you intend to take the main Inca Trail, because on the north side you have to walk somewhat downstream to reach the bridge at Qoriwayrachina, and then double back to Patallaqta. However, north of the river there are some interesting ruins: Salapunku, a sort of miniature Sacsaywaman with zig-zag terraced walls and fine gateways; Pinchanuyoq, a small “Waca”; and the Inca Bridge built onto a huge carved outcrop at Km. 88, which is another “Waca”. This route follows the railroad tracks, although the footpath travels mainly above it.
Km. 88 to Km. 104 & Machu Picchu or Aguas Calientes
Inca trails follow the Urubamba valley down towards Machu Picchu. There are various places to camp along the trails, and again you have two choices: north or south of the river. There are footbridges at Km. 82, 88 and 104 of the railroad. Allow two days with an overnight camp to reach Machu Picchu or Aguas Calientes on these routes.
the agricultural terraces of “Q’ente” stretch along the first part of the hike after Km. 88. A side trip from here takes you up to the small Inca site of “Wayna Q’ente”. The trail undulates along the south bank of the river, through some delightful forest, which gradually becomes more tropical until you reach the bridge at Km.104. lf you prefer to continue to Aguas Calientes, cross the bridge at Km. 104 and follow the railroad to Km. 110.
This trail follows close to the railroad. However, traffic is infrequent and hardly interrupts the peacefulness of the experience. The “Waca” above the bridge at Km. 88 is worth a little time, before you continue down the valley to “Torontoy”, where there are also interesting ruins. Here there is an Inca construction stone which puts the famous 12-angled stone of Cusco to shame, by having 44 comer angles in one plane. Cross the bridge at Km. 104 far Machu Picchu, or stay on the north bank for Aguas Calientes.
The Mini Inca Trail.- A one-day or very leisurely two-day (with overnight at Wiñay Wayna) hike to Machu Picchu. Distance is about 6 km. to the visitor center at Wiñay Wayna, thus about 14 km. total to Machu Picchu. Take the train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo, and alight at the bridge at Km. 104. Shortly after the bridge, you will pass some. Recently-built concrete blockhouses (possibly designed to harmonize with the visitor center at Wiñay Wayna), where you will be controlled the permits of the Inca Trail (very important to reserve several months in advance) Shortly after this point the trail passes through the interesting but heavily rebuilt ruins of Chachabamba, and then begins to climb around the mountainside into the ravine below Wiñay Wayna. After a spectacular waterfall, you climb through the ruins of Wiñay Wayna and join the main Inca Trail, continuing to Machu Picchu.
It’s also possible to take a variant route from Km. 104, continuing on downstream along the banks of the river to the ruins of Choquessuysuy at Km. 107,and thence taking a very steep Inca path which climbs up the west side of the same ravine to join the other trail at Wiñay Wayna. This route is highly recommended for the forest and orchid habitat, though the final climb is hard.
Further progress along the south bank is not possible, because the route is blocked by the hydro-electric plant.
Trail to Putucusi
East of Machu Picchu on the north bank of the river stands the small rounded peak of Putucusi. A very steep trail leads to the top of it, starting near the railroad, just downstream from Aguas Calientes. Ask for directions to the trailhead in Aguas Calientes. About three hours round-trip.
Trail to Mandor ravine & waterfall
lf you are staying at Aguas Calientes, it is possible to walk downstream along the railroad tracks, beyond the old railroad station at Puente Ruinas. About 3 km. beyond Puente Ruinas station Mandor ravine enters the Urubamba gorges from the north bank of the river. About twenty minutes climbing up this ravine brings you to “Mandor waterfall”, an exceptionally lovely spot. (Birdwatchers: early in the morning or at dusk, this walk features a lot of birdlife, including, if you are lucky, the spectacular Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola Peruviana saturata).