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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

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 5 day Salkantay trek is considered among the best in the world, enjoy the tranquility and privacy that only an alternative route like this has. During this trip, 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 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.

Quick Itinerary

Day 01: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha - Soraypampa

Day 02: Soraypampa - Salkantay Mountain - Collpapampa

Day 03: Collpapampa - Playa

Day 04: Playa - Llactapata - Hidrolectrica - Aguas Calientes

Day 05: Hiking to Machu Picchu

Important Information:

  • Location: Department of Cusco, Ocongate (3 535 masl), province of Quispicanchis
  • Climate: Temperate to cold   Average temperature: 14 ° C 
  • Season: From April to October 
  • Access by air: From Lima and Arequipa to Cusco 
  • Access by land: From Lima and Arequipa to Cusco Cusco - Urcos (47 km S) and Urcos - Ocongate (78 km)
  • Level: medium and high
  • Time: 5 days

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!


Interesting Information

Day 01: Cusco - Mollepata - Challacancha -Soraypampa

Early morning we pick up at your hotel to 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: Huayracmachay (3750m).


Estimated trekking time: 6 hours

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

Day 02: Soyrapampa - Collpapampa

After an early breakfast, we will leave the beautiful pyramid shaped peak of Salkantay behind us. During the rest of the Salkantay trek cheap 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
Difficulty: Challenging

Day 03: Collpapampa - La Playa

After a healthy breakfast we continue 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
Difficulty: Moderate

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

We wake up early to 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
Difficulty: Moderate

Day 05: Machu Picchu - Cusco

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 Salkantay trek cheap.

What is included in this trek?

  • 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; 
  • An emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if are a little slower;
  • 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
  • Day Pack Rain Covers;
  • 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 down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes Town;
  • Tourist train from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu) to Ollantaytambo;
  • Tourist bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco;
  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle.

Not Included

  • Breakfast on the day 1 and lunch on the last day;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Entrance fee to Huayna Picchu ($25);
  • A shuttle bus between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu (U$12 - one way);
  • Tips to local staff (please note: it is a custom to give tips in Peru; however, it is not obligatory);
  • Other extras not mentioned.

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

5 reasons to book the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu

  • 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

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:

  • Trekking shoes
  • Bottle of water during the first day until lunchtime 
  • Purification tablets for water (Micropur) 
  • Extra money for additional personal expenses, such as: drinks, snacks, thermal baths, other 
  • Original passport in 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, wind breaker, poncho, gloves) T
  • rekking 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



  • Walking sticks or poles cost $20 to rent.
  • Daypack for your hike U$ 10
  • Rain Poncho U$ 10 
  • 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

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


    Where is located the Salkantay? 

    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. 


    Altitudes in Salkantay trek Cheap

    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 5 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.

    From $ 500.00
    per person
    Code SMTSC
    Activity level
    responsible people foundationThe Responsible People Foundation is registered under Peru’s not-for- Profit Organization Act. With an annual contribution from Tierras Vivas to support our operating costs as well as a significant portion of project development costs. If you would like to help us. You can bring clothes for the cold or school supplies and you can win a Rainbow Mountain free or other tour in Cusco. Do not worry if your gift is not new. Only help us to help the children and families.
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