Some of my best travel memories have come not from plans going perfectly or the grandeur of a destination itself, but from the adventures along the way.
Visiting Machu Picchu was certainly no exception, and I’m glad I decided to spend four days trekking to the sacred site instead of opting for the train into town—no matter how much more relaxing it sounded.
While I adored the bookends—Cusco and the ruins themselves—seeing the country and its kind people in the up-close and intimate sort of way that only hiking allows enhanced the experience.
If visiting Machu Picchu is on your bucket list, consider trekking your way there. After doing the Lares Valley trek to Machu Picchu, I can’t imagine the experience any other way.
With boots on the ground—literally—trekkers are rewarded with kindhearted locals, life changing challenges and unparalleled views. If you’re not an experienced hiker, there are plenty of tour companies ready to escort you to the ruins. There are almost as many companies as there are tourists, and they will plan all the logistics from hotel pickup to ruins tours. If you’re already in Peru and plan on taking the train to Aguas Calientes, you can still change your mind: you can book some treks as late as a night or two before (and tours tend to be much cheaper that way, too).
Still not convinced? This gallery will change that (or it will just allow you to do the trek without actually doing it … but you should still do it).
Morgan is a Wyoming-based freelance writer and photographer with a lot of love for mountains, environmental literature, horses and pour overs.