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.
The Salkantay trek is considered among the best in the world, enjoy the tranquility and privacy that only an alternative route like this has. During 5 day Salkantay trek, we progressive ascent from the town of Mollepata to the Salkantay pass, located at 4600 meters above sea level, is covered. Along the way we will appreciate diverse ecosystems such as towering mountains, giant rocks, snowy peaks, lush vegetation until we reach Machu Picchu.
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 route starts along the old Inca road carved into the rock leading to the citadel of Machu Picchu and crosses a mountain pass between the snowy Salkantay and Humantay (5,917 masl), to continue along the Aobamba river ravine to reach the archaeological site.
This is a remote and ancient road. The route from Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu is another alternative for tourists. During the Salkantay trek you will have impressive scenarios of different snowy peaks and ending in the cloud forest of the Amazon rainforest, with subtropical zones, glacial peaks, to arrive at the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu.
The Andes are considered a young mountain chain according to geological studies. They were formed 60 million years ago by the different movements of tectonic plates, so the location of Cusco in the Andes makes it one of the best places for walks. Each chain of mountains and its noble inhabitants, maintain a special landscape. This variety of landscapes and people, combined with the unique history of their ancestors, the Incas, offer walkers and explorers a true adventure.
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
Departures 100% guaranteed!!
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!
Early morning pick up at your hotel to start the 5 day Salkantay Trek after 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 Salkantay trek campsite: 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. During the rest of the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu 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 Salkantay trek 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, the fourth day of Salkantay trek we will climb up hill and appreciate 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. This is the end of our 5 day Salkantay trek.
Local flights: No local flights are included in the trek´s price!
Acclimatization is necessary in Cusco, two days before starting the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. For a good acclimatization it is necessary to rest as much as possible, eat little, drink plenty of fluids; especially the mate de coca that has known healing and digestive properties. An adequate acclimatization prevents it from affecting the "soroche" or altitude sickness, which could cause numerous discomforts to health; and enjoy the full Salkantay trek.
Here is everything you need to know about Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, one of our most impressive routes.
The "Salkantay" snowy is the highest peak of the Vilcabamba mountain range, part of the Peruvian Andes. It is located 60 km at the northwest of Cusco city. It is the 38th highest peak of the Andes and the 12th highest peak in Peru.
During the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, we will find the following altitudes:
The total distance of Salkantay trek involves about 74 km, climbing about 1 800m through glaciers, snow, and some rock; that´s why accessing the route typically involves three days of travel from Cusco.
The name "Salkantay" comes from "Salka", a Quechua word meaning "wild", uncivilized. So, the name is often translated as "wild mountain". "Machu Picchu" means 'Old Mountain' in the indigenous Quechua language. "Machu Picchu", the lost city of the Incas, is an unprecedented historical, natural and architectural complex, a tourist destination that has earned the category of inescapable.
This Salkantay trek has a moderate to strong difficulty, it is recommended to have good physical preparation, and arrive in Cusco at least 2 days before starting the tour for acclimatization.
The Salkantay trek unlike the traditional Inca Trail, in which it is mandatory to hire an agency and is difficult to adquire a ticket for entrance, the Salkantay trek allows its realization on your own. The 5 day Salkantay trek begins in the village of Mollepata, where you have to pay a registration at the checkpoint in the main square, that has an approximate cost of 130 soles or 40 dollars.