One ideal alternative hike to the classic Inca Trail is the <strong>Mountain Lodges of Peru</strong> or MLPtrek (tel. <strong>011/511-421-7777</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.mountainlodgesofperu.com" target="_blank">www.mountainlodgesofperu.com</a></strong>), which gives hikers a feel for the Inca Trail without being quite so rough. This new hike follows a string of ancient Inca roads and mule trails for about 40-miles eastward to Machu Picchu (versus the western-bound route of the classic trail), and hikers following this route stay in four comfortable Mountain Lodges along the way. You can book directly with Mountain Lodges of Peru; a number of leading adventure travel operators also offer the trip, throwing in private tours and airfare for a bit more money. <strong>Backroads</strong> (tel. <strong>800/GO-ACTIVE</strong>; <strong><a href="http://www.backroads.com" target="_blank">www.backroads.com</a></strong>) is one highly recommended MLP operator. It's known for both its personal service and its dedication to small group sizes; this photo shows half of an average group setting off on a hike.

Hiking to Machu Picchu

When the classic Inca Trail gets booked up there are thankfully other ways to hike to Machu Picchu.
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