Salkantay and Lares Valley to Mapi are 4 or 5 day treks that bring trekkers to equally impressive close-up views of glaciated peaks over high mountain passes and traverse several incredibly different ecosystems. They also end at Machu Picchu; allowing the same kind of jaw-dropping amazement upon encountering this incredible example of human ingenuity from several centuries ago, after days of looking at some of the most impressive work Mother Nature (Pacha Mamma) has to offer.
Choquequirao is another 4/5 day trek that more than one of my friends has described as ‘the most amazing thing I’ve ever done’. The natural surroundings are as dramatic as any in this area, and the highlight of the trek is the Choquequirao Inca archeological site that reportedly rivals Machu Picchu in scope and beauty. The trekking route is apparently somewhat challenging: multiple days of steep ups followed by steep downs, but if the vast majority of people who report back after the trip are to be believed; it’s absolutely worth it.
If you are planning your trip to Peru for this summer, do try to get permits for the Inca Trail: it’s an amazing experience all around. But, don’t change your plans entirely if you don’t; there’s too much to see in Peru to put the trip off for another year.