Choosing a hike in Peru? Inca Trail vs Quarry Trail

written by Jenna Hoare July 31, 2018
hiker on Inca Trail

Everyone knows about the Inca Trail – your friends may have trekked it and it’s the echo heard in return when the name Machu Picchu is called throughout the Andes.

No matter what trail you take, hiking in Peru gives you jaw-dropping perspectives of old mountain peaks, delivers with the rewards of a physically demanding trek and takes you on a journey as you meet locals along the way.

While many travellers find themselves in a panic googling ‘other hikes in Peru’ after finding out Inca Trail permits have sold out, you may even consider the Quarry Trail as a better option for you.


For whatever reason you’ve found yourself at a crossroads trying to decide, here’s a quick rundown on what you’ll get out of both incredible hikes.

Inca Trail

male hiker inca trail

A chance to take in the scenery on the Inca Trail. Image by Patrick O’Neil.

  • The trail takes you along the ancient trade route used by the Incas.
  • Hike through the cloud forests of Peru – an experience in its own right.
  • Over four days you’ll cover 45 km (27 mi) with the highest point reached at ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’ at 4200 m (13779 ft).
  • Local porters assist with carrying camping equipment.
  • You’ll finish the hike at the Sun Gate with magnificent views over Machu Picchu.

Quarry Trail

female hiker at the top of the Quarry trail

At the top of the Quarry Trail. Image by Ciara Johnson.

  • You get Andes scenery all to yourself away from the more popular route.
  • Visit three significant archaeological sites unique to this trail – learning about the methods used by the Incas to excavate stone.
  • The total distance is 26 km (16 mi) over three days and the maximum altitude reached is slightly higher than the Inca Trail – the highest point at 4450 m (14599 ft).
  • Since permits are not required for this trek when you book you’re ready to go. Easy!
  • Horses accompany you to help carry your bag and camping equipment. And are there to help provide a leg up if you find yourself struggling.

What both hikes offer

Group at Machu Picchu

An Intrepid group overlooking Machu Picchu. Image by Martin Ruffo.

All our treks provide the same standards you’d expect across the board: being safe, having expert guides, out of this world views and opportunities to interact with local communities. Both hikes require a moderate level of fitness. Meals and camping equipment are provided with the option to hire additional hiking gear such as hiking poles. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy it!

Ready for a trip to Machu Picchu? Discover Intrepid’s range of small group adventures now.

Hero image by Patrick O’Neil.

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