There are many different treks that can be done using the city of Cusco as a starting point. Those other than the classic Inca Trail are typically referred to as "alternative treks". Part of the reason for this is that many people only choose to go on them when they are unable to secure an Inca trail permit for their preferred travel dates.
The so-called alternatives however often offer far more interesting trails for true trekkers, as opposed to travelers simply looking to cross something off their bucket lists. One of these is the trek to Vilcabamba.
When Hiram Bingham was exploring and found Machu Picchu, what he was looking for was the "lost city of the Incas" which he thought he\‘d discovered in Machu Picchu. The city in question was the one that the Incas retreated to as their last hold out from the Spanish. Rather than being Machu Picchu, however, the city was actually Vilcabamba, a site that Hiram Bingham found prior to Machu Picchu and thought was unimportant.
The length of the Vilcabamba trek varies, depending on the exact route that\‘s taken. The shortest is generally 5 days and 4 nights, with the final night being a night\‘s lodging in Aguas Calientes followed by a tour of Machu Picchu the following day. You can also find treks of 6 days, 7 days, 8 days and even 11 days in length. If your trip itinerary doesn\‘t include Machu Picchu and you\‘d like to, discuss adding it with the agency you use as, depending on the itinerary, it may be quite easy to travel there from your last stop before Cusco.
Some routes include a variety of climates, particularly mountains and jungle. Others spend much more time in the jungle and, therefore, are a much warmer trek with a greater amount of vegetation and birds to be seen. It\‘s a good idea to read over the itineraries before you make your choice and choose according to your time availability and preferences. All will offer some incredible landscapes that are not frequently traveled through.
What\‘s left to see at the Vilcabamba site may not be as impressive as that of Machu Picchu but they are still fascinating considering the history and the fact that you will not have to share them with hundreds of other tourists. The trek is not one of the more commonly taken alternatives. If you have the time and can do one of the longer versions, you can take one that includes Choquequirao. This site is equally as impressive as Machu Picchu and, due to the difficulty in reaching it, you will likely have it to yourself, at least part of the time.