Hello. I will be in Peru starting March 4th. My brother and I are wanting to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu hike, however; he does not want to go with a group. He wants to do it on our own. I know that you can't go on the trail without a guide, but has anyone ever heard of/or done the 'back way' to Machu Picchu hike? We read a little about it in an Outdoor Magazine, but am curious as to if others have information about it.
How long is it? Is it safe? Anything we should know/be aware of?
I'm not familiar with the name, but there is a large number of tracks in the Sacred Valley, many of which end in or near Aguas Calientes. If you buy a decent map (which is what you should do in your case, anyway; LP has a guide on Andean trekking that mentions a number of map suppliers), you should be able to figure one out that suits your wishes.
The other popular track that is offered by agents in Cusco is the Salkantay trail; maybe that is what you mean. I can tell from personal experience that it's worth doing and easy to figure out by yourself. Bear in mind it's considerably more strenuous than the Inca Trail, though; good boots are indispensable, trainers will get you in trouble.
For whatever track you decide to do, the best way is probably to form your own little group (2 is too few, even dangerous; 3 or 4 is ideal), and rent equipment and a porter/guide/cook outside Cusco. The village where the actual Salkantay trail starts is ideal for that.
Not long ago someone posted a forum about doing this. Said it took 11 or 12 days I think. Have a search for it and it may help you.
I am doing the Trail at the end of March. Looking forward to it very much.
I think this is about the 'cheap train'. I posted more info in another thread.
Not too sure on this as we heard "rumours" about "taking Machu Picchu up the back passage" (so to speak) and it turned out to be the Saltankay circuit and you still have to go to the normal entrance to Machu Picchu as if you were on a day trip.
Personally, I´d recommend doing either the Saltkantay treck as suggested earlier (which is cheap enough to do it as a group (you can say you want a personal trip at the agency with no others and they can arrange this.... will cost more... however.... you can also go to Ollataytambo as suggested and arrange a trek from here as it´s much easier to arrange a porter / guide to go with you from here for much less)
Any other info on the treck... check out the Wiki Travel Guide on the Trek, under Peru. There´s also a long Blog I commented on this a few weeks ago... you might be able to glean something more from there.