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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

The 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, different ecosystems and beautiful landscapes.


The 5-day Salkantay trek is considered among the best in the world, enjoy the peacefulness and diversity that only an alternative route like this has. During this trip, we progressive ascent from the point of Challacancha 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, and lush vegetation until we reach Machu Picchu.


Experience a 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 city 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 the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu is another alternative for tourists. During the trek, you will have the chance to see impressive scenarios of different snowy peaks, the cloud forest of the Amazon rainforest, with subtropical zones, and 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.

Tour Overview

Sustainable Tourism: Inca Trail Machu is very keen and happy to promote and practice sustainable tourism by being eco-friendly and supporting local communities

Physical Activity: 3-Moderate to Difficult - Some points are high

Service Level: All Inclusive & Quality service

Age Requirement: 4+. Please note: all participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Local Tour OperatorInca Trail Machu since 2016

Salkantay Permits: Is included the Salkantay Trek permits and Machu Picchu Tickets. If you want to climb Huayna Picchu, please request in advance (Not included).

Inca Trail Machu Staff: Professional tour guide, trekking chef, muleteer and horses during the hike!

Accommodation: 3x campsite, 1x Hotel.

Meals: 4x breakfast, 4x lunch, 4x dinner, 3x afternoon tea.

Transportation: Van, 1x train.

Camping equipment: A double tent, air mattress (therm-A-Rest), and a sleeping bag; For more information click here.


Resonsible Travel Salkantay Trek


Quick Itinerary

Day 01: Cusco - Mollepata - Soraypampa

05:00 a.m. Pick up from your hotel and transfer Cusco - Mollepata

07:30 a.m. Breakfast at Mollepata

08:00 a.m. Driver to the Soraypampa (1h 30 min. approx.)

10:00 a.m. Trek to Huamantay Lake (2 hrs. approx.)

01:30 p.m. Lunch at Soraypampa

02:30 p.m. Trek to Salkantaypampa (4 hrs. approx.)

06:00 p.m. Arrival to the campsite

05:30 p.m. Tea time

06:30 p.m. Dinner

Overnight at Salkantaypampa Campsite


Day 02: Salkantaypampa - Salkantay Mountain - Huayracmachay - Chaullay

05:30 a.m. Breakfast
06:00 a.m. Start uphill from Salkantaypampa to Huayracmachay (4 - 5 hrs. approx.)
12:00 p.m. Lunch at Huayracmachay
01:00 p.m. Start downhill from Huayracmachay - Chaullay (3 hrs. approx.)
05:00 p.m. Arrive to Chaullay campsite
06:00 p.m. Tea time
07:00 p.m. Dinner

Overnight at Chaullay campsite


Day 03: Chaullay - La Playa

06:00 a.m. Breakfast
06:30 a.m. Start downhill to Playa Sahuayaco (5 hrs. approx.)
12:00 pm. Lunch

06:00 p.m. Tea time
07:00 p.m. Dinner

Overnight at La Playa campsite


Day 04: La Playa - Llactapata Mountain - Hidroelectrica - Aguas Calientes

06:00 a.m. Breakfast

06:30 a.m. Start uphill to Llactapata ruins (4 hrs. approx.)

10:30 a.m. Guided tour of Llactapata ruins

11:00 a.m. Start downhill from Llactapata to Hydroelectric power station (4 hrs. approx.)

03:00 p.m. Lunch near the Hydroelectric power station

03:30 p.m. Start walking from Hydroelectric power station to Aguas Calientes (2 hrs. approx.)

05:30 p.m. Arrive to Aguas Calientes

06:00 p.m. Dinner at Aguas Calientes

Overnight at a hotel in Aguas Calientes 


Day 05: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco

04:00 a.m. Breakfast,
04:30 a.m. Start uphill from Aguas Calientes  to Machu Picchu citadel (1h 30 min. approx.),
07:00 a.m. Guided tour at Machu Picchu,
09:00 a.m. Free time in Machu Picchu,

02:00 p.m. Bus down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes (30 min. approx.)

04:22 p.m. Train trip from Aguas Calientes to ollantaytambo (schedule subject to availability)
06:10 p.m. Arrive to Ollantaytambo Train Station,

06:20 p.m. Transfer from ollantaytambo Train Station to Cusco (2 hrs. approx)


Salkantay Trek Map - Distance & Altitude

Salkantay Trek Map


Essential Information:

  • Location: Department of Cusco, Mollepata (3 535 masl), province of San Teresa
  • Climate: Temperate to cold   Average temperature: 14 ° C 
  • Season: From April to October 
  • Level: Difficult and Moderate
  • Time: 5 days

Departures 100% guaranteed!!

Do I need to book it in advance? The Salkantay Trek 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!


Interesting Information

Day 01: Cusco - Soraypampa - Humantay Lake - Salkantaypampa
Inca Trail Machu

Day 01: Cusco - Soraypampa - Humantay Lake - Salkantaypampa

We rise about 5 am and go from Cusco (3400masl)on bus for about 4 hours to Mollepata village (2700 masl). You will arrive around 7.30 am, we stop for 45 minutes and have breakfast in a restaurant if the group wants (not included in cost) and can buy some last minute supplies. (not included)Then we continue our ride uphill, for 1 more hour until we reach Soraypampa 3750masl (the trail head).


There we meet our support staff, who will pack the equipment on the horses and mules. We need to have 2 backpacks. One which will carry all our personal items (up to 5kg) that will go on the horses (Our guide will provide the duffel bag) and a daypack with just necesities that you will carry. From there we will climb the Humantay Mountain for 2 hours to visit the Humantay Lake, a superb lake in the mountains and we then descend back to camp at Soraypampa. Where we have lunch. After lunch,  we hike for about four hours to Soraypampa, which is burrowed between the snowy mountains (3850 masl), on a trail which is a mixture of uphill, downhill and flat path, during which we will have sweeping views of the impressive Salkantay, other snowy mountains and the valley of the Apurimac River. We reach our campsite.


There you will find the dining tent set up for afternoon tea  with tea, mate de coca, coffee, chocolate etc. You can rest and later are served dinner.


Estimated trekking time: 8 hours

Trekking distance: 10 Km
Max. elevation: 4,000 m
Min. elevation: 3,400 m
Difficulty: Challenging


Salkantay Trek Map – Day 1

Salkantay Trek 1 day Map



Day 02: Salkantaypampa - Salkantay Mountain - Chaullay
Inca Trail Machu

Day 02: Salkantaypampa - Salkantay Mountain - Chaullay

An early start, we have a fine breakfast and prepare ourselves for the longest and most difficult day of the excursion. We start on a moderate pace for 1 hour till we get to Soyrococha. Then we hike uphill for around 3 hours more till we reach the high pass, at 4,800m close to the wonderful frosty peaks of Salkantay (6,271m) and Humantay (6,100m), the second highest peak in the Cusco region.


Here we enjoy the stunning scenery, you will also see heaps of stones called Apachetas. From here we descend for 1 hour to Wayracmachay (3,800m) where we have lunch and a rest. Then follows a 3 hour hike to our campsite Chaullay.


Estimated trekking time: 8 hours
Trekking distance: 20 Km
Max. elevation: 4,500 m
Min. elevation: 2,800 m
Difficulty: Challenging


Salkantay Trek Map – Day 2

Salkantay Trek 2 day Map

Day 03: Chaullay - La Playa
Inca Trail Machu

Day 03: Chaullay - La Playa

Another  early start after breakfast, on this part of the hike we walk on a narrow trail on the mountainside, discovering various types of orchids and species of plants, some cornfields and fields of fruits. We also get the chance to pass an exquisite waterfall on the path.

After walking for around 5 hours we reach La Playa. From here you have 2 options, if you choose the Santa Teresa option, we take a bus to Santa Teresa town. That will take about 45 minutes. Upon arrival we set up camp and have the opportunity to go to the hot springs nearby - about 45 minutes from town. (optional). In the evening we have dinner and rest at camp.

The other option, if you want to see the Llactapata ruins is a two hour hike to Aobamba, where you camp for the night.


Estimated trekking time: 5 hours
Trekking distance: 13 Km
Max. elevation: 2,800 m
Min. elevation: 2,200 m
Difficulty: Moderate


Salkantay Trek Map – Day 3

Salkantay Trek Map Day 3


Day 04: La Playa - Llactapata - Hidroelectrica - Aguas Calientes
Inca Trail Machu

Day 04: La Playa - Llactapata - Hidroelectrica - Aguas Calientes

If you chose to go via the Llactapata ruins, you start the day with breakfast and then a 4 hour hike to the restored ruins (2,860m) from where you can view both Machu Picchu and Salkantay Mountain! Our tour guide shows us around the ruins. After that, we start descending for about 4 hour to Aobamba River through lush bamboo groves, orchards and coffee plantations providing us some excellent bird-watching opportunities. This way brings us to the Hydroelectric Plant (Hidroelectrica), a place where we have lunch to later and continue along trails leading us to our hotel in Aguas Calientes town!


If you chose the Santa Teresa option, we have breakfast and after a short bus trip (1hour) we hike for about 2 hours past the Urubamba River and onward to the Hydro Electric Station, where we have lunch nearby. We then continue to the town of Aguas Calientes crossing the bottom of the valley for about 3 hours along the train tracks until reaching the town. Once ther we go to our hostal. We have dinner and rest for our next day at Machu Picchu.


Estimated trekking time: 6 hours
Trekking distance: 18 km
Max. elevation: 2,700 m
Min. elevation: 1,200 m
Difficulty: Moderate


Salkantay Trek Map – Day 4

Salkantay Trek Map Day 4

Day 05: Machu Picchu - Cusco
Inca Trail Machu

Day 05: Machu Picchu - Cusco

An early start to continue hiking to Machu Picchu and see the sunrise over this glorious old city! We walk for about 2 hours to the ruins of Machu Picchu and have a full guided tour that takes about 2 hours.

After you have plenty of time to traverse the fortress on your own, and maybe climb Huayna Picchu (if you have a permit) or the Inca Bridge.

Afterwards you can take the bus to Aguas Calientes. You can have lunch at Aguas Calientes (not included in the cost).

In the afternoon, we return by train to Ollantaytambo and transfer to Cusco.


Machu Picchu is both, the best and the least known site of the Incas as it is not mentioned in any Spanish conquistador´s chronicle so that contemporary archaeologists can not do anything more than just speculate on its functions. Local Quechuan farmers had known about Machu Picchu for centuries before an 11-year-old boy showed the American historian Hiram Bingham (who was in a search of Vilcabamba) this site on the 24th of July 1911. At that time, all the rest of the world became aware of its existence. However, the site was covered with thick vegetation so Hiram Bingham along with his team returned and within the years of 1912 and 1915 cleared its surface. Over the years, plenty of work has been done on excavating and studying the site. Despite these efforts, many unanswered questions remain!


Salkantay Trek Map – Day 5

Salkantay Trek Map – Day 5

What is included in this trek?
Inca Trail Machu

  • Pre-trek briefing (Our guide will visit your hotel a day before for your briefing);
  • Early morning transfer by private bus to Challacancha - the initial point of the trek;
  • Accommodation: Campsites (3 nights) and a Hotel in Machu Picchu (1 night);
  • Entrance fee to the red of Salkantay and Machu Picchu;
  • Meals: 4x breakfast, 4x lunch, 4x dinner and 4x afternoon hot beverages (please advise us in advance if you are a vegetarian; this option is for NO extra additional cost);
  • Snack every morning;
  • Professional bilingual Tour Guide (a group of up to 8 participants receives 1 Guide, a group over 8 persons receives 2 Guides);
  • Professional Chef;
  • Horses to carry food, camping and cooking equipment and 7 kg of each passenger's stuff; 
  • Water every day (excluding the first 4 hours of the trek when you need to bring your own);
  • Camping equipment: Personal double tents (4 person tent which allows for greater comfort, and also storage of backpacks);
  • Inflatable mattress (Term-a-Rest Mattress); 
  • A sleeping bag (for up to -5°C);
  • A blanket per person
  • A pair Hiking poles
  • A pillow
  • Tables and chairs, a cooking tent with cooking equipment, dining and toilet tents and bottled gas;
  • Rain Ponchos;
  • Duffel bag (for your personal belongings);
  • A T-shirt of the Salkantay Trek Map;
  • A shuttle bus up and down to Machu Picchu;
  • Tourist train from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu) to Ollantaytambo;
  • Tourist bus from Ollantaytambo train station to Cusco;
  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle.

Not Included:
Inca Trail Machu

  • Breakfast on the day 1 and lunch on the last day;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Entrance fee to Huayna Picchu ($80);
  • An emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if are a little slower (U$ 60);
  • Tips to local staff (please note: it is a custom to give tips in Peru; however, it is not obligatory);
  • Other extras are not mentioned.

Local flights: No local flights are included in the trek´s price!


Optional Services to be hired

  • You need to take 7 kilos of personal belonging included in the tour price carried by horses. If you would like to request more porterage for personal items each extra 3 kilos requested is USD 60 additional charge but you can just request this in the office at your checking.
  • Maybe you have doubts to walk on this trek, you can hire extra emergency horses, the price is USD 60.

Camping Equipment Included
Inca Trail Machu

Camping Equipment Included

During the Salkantay trek we spend three nights full-service camping, meaning that our camp staff will erect and dismantle the tents, cook, and do all camp chores for you: you need only carry your day pack. There will also be dining and toilet tents and bowls of warm water are provided both morning and evening for washing with. and last night you spend a small hotel.

Our tents are of the brand MOUNTAIN PASS 3XTE or DOITE 3 ST designated for 4 seasons. We provide with 3 person capacity tents; however, just 2 trek participants use it! In this way, we provide you more space and comfort. In case of a single traveller, we provide with a 2 person capacity tent. After each trek, we carefully check our tents and fix them if necessary!

We provide the sleeping bag, inflatable pillow, inflatable blanket.

Train Service & Transfer Included
Inca Trail Machu

On this hike is included the following train services:


PeruRail - Expedition Train


Machu Picchu to Cusco

  Departure Arrival to Ollantaytambo Arrival to Cusco
Expedition 74 14:55 16:31 18:30
Expedition 84 18:20 20:05 22:00
Expedition 86 20:50 22:50 23:50


IncaRail - The Voyager Train


Machu Picchu to Cusco

  Departure Arrival to Ollantaytambo Arrival to Cusco
Expedition 74 14:30 15:56 18:40
Expedition 84 19:00 20:41 22:30
Expedition 86 20:20 21:59 23:00
  • On the Expedition and The Voyager is not included extra service inside the train.
  • Our driver will drop off in your hotel.

Hotel in Machu Picchu
Inca Trail Machu

The hotel in Aguas Calientes town is a 3-star hotel clean, safe, and comfortable with a friendly and very helpful staff. They have private Twin, Double and Triple rooms, with small private bathrooms and a hot gas water system. The hotel has one of the best locations in town, only a few blocks from Train and Bus Station and you don't have to walk too many long uphill hikes to get to your room! It is about 10 minutes from the hot spring pools. 


The following hotels are used to accommodate you during your tour:


Hotel Wiracocha Machu Picchu


Raices Machu Picchu


Single Accommodation: If you are traveling on your own, and would prefer to share a tent, we'll pair you with another trekker of the same gender and there will not be an extra cost. If you prefer to have a tent to yourself a surcharge of USD 50 will have to be paid. If you want an upgrade any service to the train or accommodation or do you want to stay an extra night in Machu Picchu, contact us.


IMPORTANT TO ACCOMMODATION: You must present your passport with the TAM immigration slip (copy) to all hotel accommodations. The national sales tax (18%) is charged to all Peruvian citizens and foreigners staying 60 consecutive days or more. In case the room is shared by both a taxable and non-taxable guest at the same time, the sales tax will be applied to the whole room. So please take every caution to not lose this piece of paper. You need to bring it to the Cusco office for your checking.

5 reasons to book the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu
Inca Trail Machu

  • Conquer the sacred snowy Salkantay: Both the trekking fanatics and the adventurers who go for the first time will recognize the majesty of the sacred snowy Salkantay and its 6271 meters of altitude. Its snow-capped peaks and the Andean landscape as well as the challenger are worthy of any cover photograph. The highest pass is 4650 meters of altitude. Conquering such a height is a privilege for the most intrepid and challenging. Do you dare to go through rough roads and a lagoon to get to Salkantay? 
  • Get to know the Inca culture up close: When you reach the Salkantay pass, you will notice an atmosphere of mysticism in the place and we are sure that you will be curious about the piles of snow-covered stones that can be seen everywhere in the Salkantay pass. The "apachetas" are offerings made by the walkers to the apus, the sacred Inca mountains and the Pachamama, the mother earth. Before continuing, the guide will make an offering of the best coca leaves to ask for protection during the trip and as thanks. Do you want to see this ritual more closely?  
  • Discover the beautiful turquoise lagoon of Humantay. After the first day of walking many may be tired, but there is a hidden place reserved for the most intrepid adventurers. After an extra hour of walking there is the beautiful lagoon of Humantay, surrounded by sacred apus and a fascinating turquoise color in its waters.  
  • Travel authentic tropical sub plantations: The Salkantay trek cheap not only has Andean mountain and snowy landscapes, but also sub tropical forests with tropical species plantations with traditional farming methods. The people of the valleys live off agriculture. During the trek you can see plantations of coffee, cocoa, granadilla, banana and other species of the area according to the season. They will be able to converse with the people and feel the sub tropical environment of the valleys of the jungle brow.  
  • Relax in the revitalizing thermal waters of Cocalmayo: The fourth day you will relax in the hot springs of Cocalmayo, in Santa Teresa. You can relax the muscles in these medicinal waters surrounded by the vegetation of the jungle brow.

Acclimatization for the 5 day Salkantay trek
Inca Trail Machu

Acclimatization is necessary in Cusco, two days before starting the hike. 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.

For the Salkantay trek we recommend you bring:
Inca Trail Machu

  • Trekking shoes
  • Bottle of water from the first day until lunchtime 
  • Purification tablets for water (Micropur) 
  • Extra money for additional personal expenses, such as drinks, snacks, thermal baths, and others 
  • Original passport in an airtight plastic bag, it can get rainy 
  • Mosquito repellent 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Lantern 
  • Pills for altitude sickness (buy easily in pharmacies in Cusco) 
  • Warm clothes (hat, scarf, windbreaker, poncho, gloves) T
  • Trekking boots (In case the socks get wet, it is always good to have hot and dry feet).
  • In the rainy season, it is important to have your personal things in plastic bags 
  • Toilet paper 
  • Snacks 
  • Camera



  • There are emergency porters available for rent along this trek if you are unsure you will be able to complete the hike, cost $80.


Doubts and Frequent Questions about Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu
Inca Trail Machu

Here is everything you need to know about the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, one of our most impressive routes. 


Where is located the Salkantay?

The "Salkantay" snow is the highest peak of the Vilcabamba mountain range, part of the Peruvian Andes. It is located 60 km at northwest of Cusco city. It is the 38th highest peak of the Andes and the 12th highest peak in Peru. 


Altitudes in Salkantay trek

During the tour, we will find the following altitudes: 

  • Starting Elevation “Mollepata” 2,803 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Marcocasa" at 3,500 m.a.s.l.
  • "Rayuska" at 5,350 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Sayllapata" at 3,600 m.a.s.l. 
  • “Soraypampa” at 3,750 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Humantay" at 5,917 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Salkantay" at 6,271 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Salkantay Pampa" at 4,100 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Frozen Inca Pass" at 5,100 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Pampacawana" at 4,000 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Paucarcancha" at 3,205 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Wayllabamba" at 3,000 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Llullucha Pampa" at 3,855 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Dead Woman´s Pass" at 4,200 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Pacaymayo Valley" at 3,300 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Abra Runkurakay" at 3,860 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Chaquicocha" at 3,670 m.a.s.l.
  • "Phuyupatamarca Pass" at 3,670 m.a.s.l.
  • "Phuyupatamarca Incan Complex" at 3,600 m.a.s.l. 
  • "Wiñayhuayna" at 2,700 m.a.s.l. 


How many kilometers is walked and how many hours do we walk per day? 

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.

  • Mollepata to Sayllapata: 14 Km (Trekking time: 7 hours) 
  • Sayllapata to Salkantay Pampa: 10 Km (Trekking time: 6 hours) 
  • Salkantay Pampa to Pampacahuarina: 14 Km (Trekking time: 7 hours)
  • Pampacahuarina to Llullucha Pampa: 13 Km (Trekking time: 7 hours) 
  • Llullucha Pampa to Chaquicocha: 12 Km (Trekking time: 7 - 8 hours) 
  • Chaquicocha to Wiñayhuayna: 10 Km (Trekking time: 5 - 6 hours) 
  • Wiñayhuayna to Machu Picchu: 4 Km (Trekking time: 3 hours) 

What does "Salkantay" and "Machu Picchu" mean?

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. 


How difficult is the day Salkantay trek

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.  


Is it possible to do the Salkantay trek Cheap on my own? 

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 cheap 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.


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