Travelling is an adventure that stretches the legs and opens the heart. For travellers seeking to go that extra mile, there are some incredible climbs across the globe that can take you to new heights of adventure and discovery. Machu Picchu in Peru and Kathmandu in Nepal are two incredible trekking destinations, both offering a variety of trails and extraordinary views. So how do they differ when comparing the two?
Scenery / Activities
Both Machu Pichu and the mountains of Kathmandu offer breath-taking vistas, fascinating history, and culture, and some of the most iconic trails in the world. Whilst Kathmandu is home to the icy and imposing Himalayas and the iconic Mt Everest, Machu Picchu is the ancient lost city of the Incas perched on a ridge where the Andes meets the Amazon.
There are a number of trails that lead to Machu Picchu that vary in length and difficulty, though each is sure to leave any hiker in awe. The Inca Trail takes hikers along the ancient pilgrimage path of the Incas. Walk across narrow ridges, steep ascents, flowing rivers, and leafy jungle paths. Step carefully over the Warmiwanusca (Dead Woman’s) Path and make your way safely through the cloud forest to the Phuyupatamarca ruins.
The Salkantay Trail is for more experienced hikers, seeking a more challenging trail. It begins higher up in the Andes Mountains as walkers journey past glacial lakes, and across mountain terrain.
For those who are seeking a dose of adrenaline or a more active adventure, book the Inca Jungle Trek. This five-day package includes downhill mountain biking, zip trekking, cacao making, and white-water rafting (when it isn’t rainy season) as well as walking through parts of the famous Inca Trail.
All the hikes finish with a sunrise hike up 1,600 steps to the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu. Stamp your passport before exploring the majestic beauty of the ancient city. For those who want to visit without the weary climb can take a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and take a bus from there to the entrance instead.
Whilst Machu Picchu can be accessed by hikers of all ages and skills, many of the most sought-after climbs in Kathmandu, are not for the inexperienced adventurer. With eight of the world’s tallest mountains based in Nepal, it is an incredible landscape for serious mountaineers and active adrenaline seekers.
Climbing Mt Everest is for the few, but those who venture on the more accessible Everest Base Camp trail are rewarded with dramatic glacial landscapes, snow-capped mountains and pristine lakes, as well as seeing the famous Camp.
Hike through the Himalayan foothills with local communities and groups, and enjoy the quaint beauty of terraced farms, traditional cottages, and charming villages.
More novice trekkers can take on the Tamang Heritage Trail that connects Langtang to Ganesh Himal. Wander through picturesque rice fields, cosy villages, and tranquil valleys. Finish the hike with a soak in the hot springs at Tatopani.
Kathmandu is mountains of fun!
Whilst the Machu Picchu trails range from cool Andes air to tropical rainforest temperatures, the Kathmandu climbs are much colder and rest at higher altitudes.
Both places are breathtaking with so much to explore. Kathmandu wins this round with 9.5/10 for some of the world’s most famous trails, and Machu Picchu just behind with 9/10 for an iconic Ancient Site that is accessible to everyone.
Food / Restaurants
Both Nepal and Peru have fabulous local cuisines that are perfect for fuelling any adventure. Many of the excursions both to Machu Picchu and in Kathmandu include meals served by local lodges or cooked by your camping porters.
These comprise local ingredients and traditional recipes that offer the ideal replenishment. Walkers are also welcomed to support the local communities and villages by buying snacks, drinks, and souvenirs along the way.
Restaurant Indio Feliz is a popular choice, serving Peruvian-French fusion dishes, or trying traditional Peruvian dishes in a beautiful jungle setting at Café Inkaterra.
If you book a package hike to Machu Picchu, many of the tours include two days spent exploring nearby Cusco. Enjoy an elegant dinner in a cobbled courtyard, located within the city’s Pre-Columbian art museum at MAP Café.
The ‘Lost City’ is found!
The city of Kathmandu also has a huge variety of options to treat yourself after tough days of trekking. For the best momos (Nepalese dumplings) in town, head to the Yangling Tibetan Restaurant. Rosemary Kitchen is an attractive spot with courtyard seating, European-Asian fusion dishes, and an excellent wine list. Le Sherpa is a fantastic restaurant serving exquisite fine-dining dishes in an elegant yet simple setting.
Kathmandu wins this round for me, as a lover of Nepalese cuisine with 8.5/10 and Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco just behind with 8/10.
Book your adventure to Machu Picchu or Kathmandu with JourneyHero!
When the hikes are your focus, the night is for resting, but both Machu Picchu and Kathmandu have some after-dinner activities for those who have the energy.
In Aguas Calientes try local craft beers at Mapacho or enjoy a late dinner and drinks on the balcony at Full House.
In Cusco, the nightlife scene is more lively, excellent for when you’ve recovered from your trek.
Try perfect pisco sours at República del Pisco or dance the night away to Latin beats at Mama Africa nightclub.
Kathmandu has a party reputation, with a fun selection of bars and nightclubs mainly focused in the Thamel region of the city. Thamel Street lights up after dark, with night markets, bars and people filling the lanes and alleyways. Enjoy funky beats, reggae music and terrace views at Sam’s Bar, or dance into the small hours at Club Dejavu.
Both destinations have plenty of nightlife options on offer, and they score equally in this round with 8/10.
In both Machu Picchu and Kathmandu, accommodations vary depending on which route you choose to embark on. The nearby cities also have a range of accommodation options from backpacker hostels, and boutique boltholes to luxury hotels.
Pack proper sleeping bags and camping equipment for the more challenging routes. Temperatures in Kathmandu can drop significantly in the evening, and many of the mountain lodges don’t have heating, so a suitable sleeping bag is essential.
On the Machu Picchu walks, camping is at more comfortable temperatures, and many are set up by your porters. You will also stay in local lodgings which offer cosy shared rooms.
Alpaca my bags!
Casa del Sol offers an idyllic location on the banks of the Vilcanota River, looking up to Machu Picchu. Enjoy a well-earned post-trek treatment in the hotel’s spa.
Cosy up next to the fireplace in beautifully decorated rooms, at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel or in Cusco, the Belmond Hotel Monasterio is an excellent choice.
In Kathmandu, enjoy the experience of staying in quaint mountain teahouses with local families during your treks. In the city, stay at the hotel Yak and Yeti and enjoy outdoor swimming pools, old-style character, and comfortably designed rooms.
There are more options to choose from in Aguas Calientes and Cusco near Machu Picchu, so Machu Picchu wins this round with 8.5/10, and Kathmandu 7/10.
So how do these two exciting destinations compare? In terms of numbers, they come out very close with Machu Picchu scoring 8.3/10 and Kathmandu 8.2/10. Machu Picchu is the more accessible adventure, whilst Kathmandu is a haven for adventure seekers and mountain enthusiasts. Go to both for an unforgettable experience.