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The Inca Trail – those three words carry worldwide recognition; this iconic trek through Peru’s jungles to the lost city of Machu Picchu is one of the most famed and prestigious in the world. But it’s not the only one.

There are secret paths that wind through the Peruvian Andes, every bit as beautiful as the Inca Trail, but far less travelled upon. This is the Moonstone Trek, named after an ancient and mysterious stone carving along its route, this is the little-known alternative to the Inca Trail.

We’re one of the only companies who follow this route at all, so we’re pretty well qualified to speak about the subject! Join us as we break down the differences between the Moonstone Trek and the Inca Trail, and hopefully help you figure out which is right for you.

Escape the crowds

The desolate Moonstone trekThe desolate Moonstone trek

It’s no surprise that the Inca Trail receives thousands upon thousands of visitors per year. What may surprise you, though, is just how few the Moonstone Trek receives.

No less gorgeous than the Inca Trail, the Moonstone alternative is hardly touched. You could very easily follow the route in its entirety and never encounter another group of adventurers. 

Wild campsites

Wild camping on the Moonstone TrekWild camping on the Moonstone Trek

Wild. Remote. Clear. Camping on the Moonstone Trek is a far cry from the busy Inca Trail campsites and you’ll virtually have the mountains to yourself!

No limits!

The Moonstone Trek pathThe Moonstone Trek path

While only human porters are allowed on the Inca Trail, no such limitations exist on the Moonstone Trek; horses will carry your luggage which means that there are no weight restrictions. You can take as much as you like!

Challenge yourself

Challenging peaks of the Moonstone TrekChallenging peaks of the Moonstone Trek

There’s not much in it, but the Moonstone Trek is a little higher than the Inca Trail. At these high altitudes, every meter counts, so it is considered slightly more difficult to climb. You’ll have to be prepared for the extra challenge.

No permits

Hiking on the Moonstone TrekHiking on the Moonstone Trek

Good news! Unlike the Inca Trail, you won’t need a permit to travel on the Moonstone Trek. This gives you a little more leeway when it comes to booking as it’s more flexible. What’s more, if Inca Trail permits are sold out, the Moonstone Trek is offered as a substitution free of charge!

Witness Machu Picchu

View of Machu Picchu and the Sun GateView of Machu Picchu and the Sun Gate

The end of the Inca Trail is famously the Sun Gate, which dramatically overlooks Machu Picchu. While the Moonstone Trek ends in the dramatic ruins of Ollantaytambo rather than at the Sun Gate, you’ll still get a guided tour of Machu Picchu the following day, and you’ll be able to trek up to the Sun Gate then. 

The Inca Trail known throughout the world today is, in fact, just one of many. If you’re after an adventure into the heart of a lost civilisation, with all the beauty of the Inca Trail but none of the congestion, then the Moonstone Trek is for you.

Find out more with our Inca Trail and Moonstone Trek tours below.