Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu is one of the most famous, interesting and important alternative treks to Machu Picchu due to its wide range of flora and different ecosystems, and its Inca site that lies a top and at the back of mountain, and the trail eventually leads to Aguas Calientes, located at the base of the historical and archeological site and within the Machu Picchu complex you also have the opportunity to climb Huayna Picchu mountain (optional hike).
Experience hike in one of Peru's most picturesque landscapes around Cusco in the magical Andes Mountains. You will trek around the base of the sacred Salkantay snow peak (6,271 meters; 20,700 feet), considered by the local natives to be the "Guardian Spirit of the Jungle". The highst pass is on the second day. It is around 4,600 meters and is achieved at your own pace. After that it all seems easier, as it is mostly downhill from there. This can also provide you with the opportunity to experience remote native communities and the region's huge ecological biodiversity, before reaching the Machu Picchu.
Day 01: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha - Soraypampa
Day 02: Soraypampa - Salkantay Mountain - Colcapapampa
Day 03: Colcapampa - Playa
Day 04: Playa - Llactapata - Hidrolectrica - Aguas Calientes
Day 05: Hiking to Machu Picchu
Do I need to book it in advance? The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu has departures guaranteed, but train tickets and entrance to Huayna Picchu mountain are subjet to availability. For that reason, we HIGHLY recommend booking it in advance to ensure you receive exactly what you want!
PLEASE NOTE: May, June and July are peak months of a HIGH TOURIST SEASON in Cusco. It means that train tickets ARE SELL OUT QUICKLY!! Please be aware that the trek leaves daily; however, return train tickets may not be available, if you like to book on last moment. To avoid this inconvenience, please book it several weeks in advance!
If you reserve this trip, you will be making a donation to the school for special needs children, click here please
Inca Trail Machu DOES NOT permit this exploitation!! We guarantee that our porters carry only an amount given by the Peruvian law!! There is still a long way to go when it comes to a reserve of adequate meals, backpacks and warm dry sleeping accommodation.
Early morning pick up at your hotel to after doing a 3 hour bus ride from Cusco (3400m)- to Mollepata (2700m), and one and a half hour drive more to Soraypampa (3750mt). Briefly stop in Limatambo or Mollepata to have breakfast and then carry on our journey to the trailhead in Soraypampa.
We start a gentle hike at the head of the valley. The trail goes steep uphill and comes to a series of zigzags. All around, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of Humantay and Salkantay. Then, to catch our breath, we will drop gently down to the small laguna Soyrococha where we stop for lunch.
After walking 4 hours up, we reach the highest pass (4,550m) from where we can have a stunning scenery of the sacred mountains in the Peruvian Andes Humantay and Salkantay. That will compensate the great effort in reaching the top which is marked by a pile of stones that grows daily as each traveler adds his pebble to thank the Apus (mountain spirits) for a safe trip and good luck. Then we descend to our First campsite at Huayracmachay (3750m).
Estimated trekking time: 6 hours
Trekking distance: 10 Km
Max. elevation: 4,000 m
Min. elevation: 3,400 m
After an early breakfast, we will leave the beautiful pyramid shaped peak of Salkantay behind us. From now, the fauna and flora change as we enter the tropical cloud forest and discover its lush vegetation of wild orchids, bromilias and also beautiful birds. This level is known as a cloud forest. Continuing our descent through the groves of bamboos; don't forget to keep looking back at the snow-peaks behind you, framed by bamboo fronds.
After 4 hours of heading down we arrive in the tiny settlement of Collpapampa where you set up our camp site, and have lunch and afterwards take a relaxing bath at the natural hot springs and take the same way back up to the camp site at Collpapampa.
Estimated trekking time: 8 hours
Trekking distance: 20 Km
Max. elevation: 4,500 m
Min. elevation: 2,800 m
After a healthy breakfast, the trail continues down the valley into the forest, from increasingly tall trees and groves of bamboos, providing some bird watching opportunities without missing the view on the chaotic river.
You will be going across some amazing untouched path where strawberries grow at your feet and passion fruit are above your head in a decor of begonias and purple orchids! To finally arrive to our Camp site in La Playa.
Estimated trekking time: 5 hours
Trekking distance: 13 Km
Max. elevation: 2,800 m
Min. elevation: 2,200 m
We wake up early on this day to start a fair way up hill which will give us some amazing views on the valley. After 3 hours, we will enjoy a break in a Pampa overlooking one of the main tourist destinations in South America Machu Picchu. It s a magical view given to us, that the main part of tourists will never see.
A 3 hours going down the path easily leads the hikers to the bamboos groves and into a forest of increasingly thick vegetation and tall trees. There are many excellent bird watching opportunities
Reaching to la Hidreoelectrica we follow the rail tracks heading up the Urubamba valley to our last night is in Aguas Calientes town (Machu Picchu).
Estimated trekking time: 6 hours
Trekking distance: 18 km
Max. elevation: 2,700 m
Min. elevation: 1,200 m
After an early morning breakfast we will take a bus up to Machu Picchu sanctuary and enter early for the best photos opportunities and low crowd numbers and then spend the rest of the morning visiting and exploring the ruins. Before leaving, consider taking the time to climb up to Huayna Picchu Mountain (45 min) or Machu Picchu Mountain (both within the Machu Picchu citadel complex) before heading down to Aguas Calientes to aboard the train back to Ollantaytambo and bus to Cusco.
Local flights: No local flights are included in the trek´s price!
Day 1: We pick you up from your hotel at 6:00 am and we take a 2 and a half hour ride from Cusco to Mollepata. Breakfast, then we continue the bus journey for 45 minutes more to the trailhead at Challacancha (3,400 m). We start our 4 hour Salkantay trek by a gentle ascend towards Soraypampa (3700 m). Then we climb up 2 hrs to Umantay Lake, camping in Soraypampa. First camping in Salkantay Trek
Day 2: Wake up at 06:00 am and we continue the trek to Salkantay and climb to the highest point of the trek - Salkantay Mountain Pass (4,550 m). Then we descend 3 hrs to Colpapampa campsite.
Day 3 - 4: Wake up at 06:00 am and this day involves a gentle gradual hike, we walk down through the upper jungle region, through streams, past waterfalls and across gorgeous valleys. We arrive to La Playa. At this point you can choose from two options for your hike to Machu Picchu.
If you choose this option, you will continue the hike for 2 hours from La Playa to Aobamba camping where you will stay the night. On the following day, wake up early and we walk up to Llactapata Mountain, 4 hrs. We get to the lower (and warmer) subtropical areas observing the different landscapes and the Incan ruins of Llactapata. Then we walk down 3 hrs to Hidroelectrica, lunch, then you we continue the trek to Machu Picchu 3 hrs, accommodation in Aguas Calientes town.
The easy route down the valley to Santa Teresa. If your group decide to go straight to Santa Teresa you will take the bus for an additional cost. At Santa Teresa you will visit the hot springs (USD 8 Dollars) where you can relax. Next day, we will wake up 07:00 am and we continue the trek to Machu Picchu or you can choose the other activity, ZIP Line (USD 40 dollars). Lunch in Hidroelectrica. The last stretch of the trail, we follow the railway, which goes along the Urubamba River to Machu picchu.
Day 05: The last day we enjoy hike to Machu Picchu as well as its guided tour. In the evening of the same day you take a train to Ollantaytambo, from where you are picked up by private vehicle, bringing you back to Cusco.
Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are two mountains situated just above the antique city of Machu Picchu and they both serve to take some panoramic photos of Machu Picchu. Each mountain entrance has to be booked ONLY TOGETHER with Machu Picchu entrance!! The booking needs to be done enough time in advance as there is a limited number of spaces a day (400 permits per Huayna Picchu and 400 permits per Machu Picchu Mountain as well)! Huayna Picchu is for an extra cost of USD 15 dollars Machu Picchu Mountain is for USD 10 extra.
Your Tour Guide always organises a Machu Picchu guided tour to allow enough time to enter either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Please note that your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu/Machu Picchu Mountain always displays your name and passport details so it is NOT TRANSFERABLE to another person and NOT REFUNDABLE either!!
Check out this amazing link to find how views from Huayna Picchu and from Machu Picchu Mountain look (The presentation starts with a view from Huayna Picchu, to move around, click on the right side of the picture. If you like to see views from Machu Picchu Mountain, choose from the menu on the right side - these are the "Classic view of Machu Picchu" and the "View from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain" options.) Click Here
If you need emergency assistance, you can contact us locally at the following
Phone numbers: Cell: +51 984 004472
Phone: +51 84 226547 Local Office
We recommend that you bring a backpack with extra spaces and pockets. This should not weigh more than 45 litres (5 kilos).
You will be provided with a duffel bag that will be carried by our horses. Horses are regulated to 5 kg per hiker and will not be permitted carry more. If you belongings are heavier than 5 kg you must pay USD 130 extra for the extra horses.
Duffle bags - Upon your return to Cusco, please leave the duffle bag at reception
Hiking pants and T-shirts are recommended during the day, layered by sweaters, fleeces and waterproof jackets. It is very convenient to have light raingear available in the daypack (rain poncho or jacket and/or rain pants) as the weather changes easily and rains can suddenly occur. At night, warm clothing is required in the first two campsites, warm coats can be useful, otherwise a fleece and a jacket. During the third day (if sunny) and in Machupicchu, convertible hiking pants are useful, as can be switched into shorts if necessary. Machupicchu has a warm climate, getting only cold at night. Check our “What we recommend that you bring” list for further information
Climate: The highland Andes region of Cusco has two distinct seasons. Rainy season and non rainy season. Non rainy season is between May to October. Winter is between June-August and is very sunny and warm in the day time but the temperature drops to near freezing at night. Rainy season is from October to May, though it does not rain all day. It is advised that even in the dry season all belongings should be packed in plastic bags as the climate in the Andes can be unpredictable!
All people who undertake the trail must be in a fit physical condition, althought the distances are not great the altitude and the cold nights make this a challenging trek.
If you are ill or have been ill in the past few days you SHOULD NOT undertake the trail
All prices are in USD
Inca Trail Machu has been responsible to offering low-impact tours that benefit traveller and host alike. We work with local communities, businesses and individuals to develop sustainable tourism opportunities that help local economies while minimizing negative environmental and cultural impacts.